This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
For a movie about developing the greatest energy source in the universe, “Max Steel” is surprisingly bland, and it comes limping quietly into theaters without being shown to critics before opening day.
Based on the Mattel line of games and toys, “Max Steel” serves as an origin story clearly aimed at tweens and teens with hopes of launching the next big sci-fi/action franchise. But it’s borderline incomprehensible regardless of your age. Director Stewart Hendler, working from a script by Christopher Yost, serves up a series of noisy, murky set pieces that grow repetitive visually and tonally. At the same time, though, the actual nuts and bolts of the story become increasingly confusing, leading to a spectacular conclusion that’s unintentionally hilarious.
The Orlando Bloom-esque Ben Winchell stars as Max McGrath, a shy 16-year-old who’s sick of moving from town to town with his widowed mother, Molly (Maria Bello, whose mere presence is the only reason this movie gets half a star). At the film’s start, the two have just come back to the hometown of his late father (Mike Doyle, seen in flashbacks), a scientist who died long ago in a mysterious, explosive accident. Dad’s former partner, Miles (Andy Garcia, hamming it up big-time), who’s now in charge of the company the two built together, arrives soon afterward to help them get settled.
In no time, Max starts discovering that weird things are happening in his body—like, he can shoot blue-tinted streaks of liquid energy from his fingertips. Appliances start malfunctioning when he’s around, and sometimes he just straight-up blows things up by accident, like a boom box or a lamp.