Hello, Spongey here.
After…the interesting last review, where I looked at a famous old film, I think it’s time to go back my roots: Crappy recent movies! While I watched as many hated 2016 films as possible for my worst list, I did leave some unseen because they weren’t on DVD yet.
So for this month, I wanted to choose from two examples of that which had finally come out for my viewing “pleasure”. I teased Collateral Beauty because it seemed funnier to tease, but I did intent to watch both.
Collateral Beauty was…weird for me. I should review it, as it was really manipulative, and has the main characters “friends” do awful acts even the It’s Always Sunny cast would find cruel. It also has weird pacing and structure at times.
However, a fair amount was just kind of eh, without much to comment on. Some of the scenes with Will can be seen as…fine, if you don’t know the context. The acting is also good, at least as good as it can be.
The movie was certainly not good, but it would just be odd to review for me, and it wasn’t bad ENOUGH all the time. Thankfully, my other choice did give plenty to rip into so here we are. At least thar felt like a completed film with a reason to exist.
But first a brief backstory. Max Steel is a Mattel toyline that had a couple cartoons, most notably the 2013 one, which I had never heard of or looked into this before movie came out. Clearly it had some kind of fanbase to last long enough to be rebooted but I wouldn’t say it’s super popular, just a thing people like.
I’m sure it’s fine but I’m sure no one was asking for a movie. But hey, I’ve liked movies based on things I’ve never heard of, or had little knowledge of. But it’s clear they had no intention of making this for the fans of the franchise.
They gave it a measly (by Hollywood standards) budget and plopped it out in October of 2016, only a couple months after releasing the trailer. They gave it a somewhat small release with very little advertising. The result? Bombed horribly.
The Critic Reaction was…um…well…it has a whopping ZERO on Rotten Tomatoes, with no Census. That’s right, no one even wanted to review this thing. That’s said. The few people who saw it hated it and I can’t exactly blame them.
I have seen worse, hell it wouldn’t crack my 2016 bottom 5, but it would be in the Dis Honorable Mentions somewhere. It’s a mix of dullness and bad writing that makes it pretty bad.
It has it’s slow parts, but I thought it was mostly worth reviewing, so here we are. First off, it was filmed in 2014 bcause of sort it sat on a shelf. It can sit alongside amazing movies like A Thousand Words and Monster Trucks!
The director did Sorority Row, because naturally you want a horror director for a Merchandise Driven Superhero film. The writer is more fitting, as he has tons of Superhero credits like Thor 2 and being a head writer on Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
I think there was some studio interference for the movie to turn out like it did. But let’s see why this thing fails to the max.
This, is Max Steel
After a whopping 55 seconds of logos, the movie opens with our main character Max as he is moving into a new house. You can tell from this first scene how dull he’s going to be, with how he shows little emotion here. Can’t quite blame the acting, given how weak the writing is to begin with. Well, aside from the fact he looks too old to be a high schooler.
(Still better than Monster Trucks in that regard I suppose)
They clumsily explain that he’s moved a lot, and his Mom is played by Maria Bello. I’d complain but she’s easily the best part of this movie. She’s actually trying at least. He’s hanging around when he notices he can mess with technology with his hand.
This is meant to be just a quick little thing before the title and they drop it for a bit, so I guess I can’t complain too much here. I can however make a joke about how right after the title, he’s in the bathroom with his shirt off.
Did I mention Taylor Lautner was supposed to be in this at first?
This is the next morning and he leaves and bumps into the love interest. He acts loopy since he just had a little spill on his bike.
“Meet me after school, okay?”
….Why? He’s never seen you in his life. You want to actually help him instead of saying that and just leaving? Okay then.
He walks into school late (a cliché that never happens in real life, no matter how often you see it) and we find out though more bad dialogue that he’s the son of some remarkable scientist person. He’s dead now so way to open some wounds, teacher guy.
After school he does meet up with the girl and just goes with her. I’m confused, they clearly set up this being his first day of school and she just randomly wanted him to meet her after school for no real reason?
She fixes up his bike but she never said “Hey, I can fix your bike”, she was just needlessly cryptic and Max said nothing because he’s dull and emotionless. You know a movie is bad when it can’t get a basic scene like this right.
He goes home and sees his Mom talking to a guy named Miles, who worked with his Dad. They partake in a boring dinner scene and they randomly cut between this and a scene of this big accident happening at this…Science…Place. They don’t have one scene than another, they put them together in this big mess.
With how dull the dinner scene is, it’s very jarring when something mildly interesting happens in the middle of it. It’s like they knew the movie was boring and tried to wake me up. The dumb thing is important information is revealed here, like that Miles was there the night of the accident that killed his father, but they still cut to this other crap.
I’m just saying it’s jarring and badly edited.
Thankfully, it ends and Max goes to Google…with his shirt off. Again, Taylor Lautner had this role at one point. He wants to know more about the accident but he is interrupted by his glowing hand. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
The next day he screws around with these powers which more or less do whatever the plot demands, but it’s mostly connected to technology and such. At Lunch, his powers go a bit crazy and make the vending machine spew out soda, and the students just swipe them without questioning it.
To be fair, that’s exactly what I would do.
Later, he googles “My fingers emit liquid energy”. Kinky. Then he googles “What am I????????”. He does this while showcasing no emotion whatsoever. Have you find a big problem with this movie yet? Because I see nothing wrong here, clearly.
Max talks to Mom and asks for more information what Dad but she says it’s complicated and he might not be ready. That will just make him more curious and get him into this big “Adventure”, good going.
The next day, he meets with the girl as they have forced “chemistry”.
“You haven’t hooked up with any cliques, but you’re friendly with everyone. You don’t attract a lot of attention, but you talk just enough so that people don’t think you’re weird.”
We have not seen any of things. We’ve had like two small scenes in school and I could not see evidence of any of that. Either some scenes were cut or this is a horrible case of telling and not showing.
He has a little freakout with his powers that I can’t really explain but then we cut to him waking up at home, so I guess that scene didn’t matter. Cool.
When he wakes up, he finds a small flying robot dude in his room. ….Yep. And he talks. And he’s annoying. It’s hard to describe why he’s annoying, I just dislike his voice. His dialogue isn’t much better but it’s not like, obviously bad like other annoying sidekicks.
I can say that he pops in so suddenly, it feels like there’s no build up when there kind of was. His name is Steel and we immediately get into ET type hijnks when Mom comes up. There’s not a ton more of it but there is sadly more of it. Oh, and they reference ET directly right after to make it even more subtle.
I also love how I don’t care about the lead because he’s so boring before this happens, so I couldn’t give less of a crap about any of this. Plus, as I said, Steel is already annoying.
Steel explains that he has to be around to suck up Max’s excess energy so he doesn’t explode. This is a neat idea but poorly explained. They spot random suscopus guys with guns and run off and Max says they must go somewhere safe where they “wouldn’t attack us”
So to school, which is full of kids. GENUIS!
I know they want more “hide the alien” crap but this is so stupid. It’s just a bad excuse for lame “comedy” where Steel gets more annoying. It’s even pointless as we don’t get more school stuff with Steel after these small scenes.
“Seems like that girl creature has put out some kind of mind control virus on you. We should probably kill her”
Our hero’s sidekick, ladies and gentlemen!
“It just sucks”
You’re right, this movie does suck.
They attempt to have a serious moment with the two but right after that one joke, it’s a bit Mood Whiplash-y. There actually is one funny moment when they go to this one place and Steel says they have to obey a Restricted sign because it’s in ALL CAPS.
“It’s in all caps, looks pretty serious”
Doesn’t make up for the rest of the “Comedy” with him but whatever. They are at this factory place where they drop their quest for a moment to mess around as they find out they have more cool powers when they work together.
After enough messing around, they combine to create that thing on the poster. They don’t actually say Max Steel in the movie because it’s trying to be a “dark and edgy”. With that title. Yeah.
A bit later, some creepy looking vans appear and they try to run. Max is able to get a ride from Sofia which leads to more award-ness from them. They talk about naming his bike because why not. How did we get from a “Tense” chase, to awkward romance humor?
Max and Sofia goes to Miles’ so Max can ask him what he knows about his father’s death. He doesn’t say that much as a freak out makes Max leave, making this scene almost pointless. It does have a point though, to show us a creepy shot of Miles that made me call that he’s the villain.
Oh, like you care about spoilers.
Speaking of the freak out, sometimes Max gets random flashes that show him that accident that killed his Dad and he’s been finding out bits and places, like how Steel was there but Steel doesn’t recall anything. This should be interesting but it just…isn’t.
Anyway, he runs out as a storm starts up and eventually Steel shows up so they can form Max Steel. A bad guy that Steel alluded to earlier pops up and they gotta fight it. By the way, Max can see out of the suit via Iron Man Rip off Technology!
Now that’s shameless.
This first action sequence would be good if we could see anything. Yeah, it’s one of those movies where the lighting and camera work makes it hard to make out anything, although it’s not AS bad as some other movies I guess.
Insert obvious jokes here.
Max gets a flash that somehow tells him Steel is an “Ultralink” which Steel says are the bad guys and being an idiot, Max gets mad even with Steel saying he”s “not like them”. We’re almost an hour in, so it’s time for the duo to pointlessly breakup over something stupid.
Told you every movie ever did this, and it’s pretty stupid here. If only because I do not give a single crap about either character. One is dull as dirty, and one is annoying. Your characters don’t have to be amazingly complex, but we need a reason to care about what’s going on. You also need…good writing, which is not here. At all.
Through a confusing series of events, Max finds out bad guys have taken Mom and calls Miles who reveals he knows of the “Ultralinks” (not the dumbest name ever but close) and that they want Max.
He goes this factory place to find her but Sofia calls her and finds out she’s safe at home. After their call, Mom turns to…these random suspicious looking guys.
“Miles Edwards ordered you to kill Steel”
“I am the largest share holder at N Tech, so the only person you take orders from is me”
When I first saw this, I thought it was about to turn out that she is the villain. But nope, that would actually be amazing. Instead, this bit doesn’t make any sense.
Also, I likely got the company name wrong but I don’t care at this point.
We finally get the full flashback showing how Max’s Dad died. He did an experiment, it went wrong and he died. Also, Miles was behind because he’s evil, what a twist. Yeah, everything about this backstory is very predictable because they more or less telegraphed it or told us this stuff before.
Even the added twist of Dad sacrificing himself is just…eh, because it’s also cliché and I really just don’t care enough for this to matter. Miles shows up in his Power Rangers cosplay and to Andy Garcia’s credit, he’s the only member of the cast who is at least trying to have fun. He yells every other line here and it’s…almost amusing.
He wants Max’s energy because….he’s evil, I guess. Also, his dad is an alien making Max a half breed. That part is yet again poorly explained and even the half breed thing is done to death. Honestly, I can forgive any of this is they either explained it more or made the characters and story engaging in the slightest.
He has Max strap himself to this thing to suck up his energy.
“That’s too much energy”
At least it’s not Pink.
He forms Max Steel and we get our climax…filmed in a dark and dank place where we can’t see shit. Gripping.
“We have stealth mode”
Hooray for pulling things out of our asses. It doesn’t even help as Miles catches him right after. Those guys Mom was with show up but they end up doing jack as Miles takes them out.
“You can choose smart, or you can choose dead. I chose smart, your father chose differently”
That line is amazingly bad. Also, no one in this thing chose smart. Max gets the drop on him and gives him too much energy, which makes him explode. That was kinda smart on his part but it feels pretty anti climatic in execution.
Oh, and they try to make us think Steel is dead…for all of 5 seconds. Yay.
Mom shows up.
“You totally married an alien?”
STEEL: Hey, what’s wrong with that?
Sometime later, Mom gives him the whole story and admits she should have told him given there was a chance of him possibly exploding or something. I agree, you’re kind of an idiot that way.
“I never suspected Miles”
Because again, you’re an idiot.
“It was Miles who suggested we come back..in case the energy manifested in you”
….He willingly took Max to the place where he cold bump into the one thing keeping him from exploding many times in the films, instead of keeping him away. …..I apologize to Mom, he’s the biggest idiot in the movie!
If they explained the Max exploding thing better, maybe this would make more sense. Why was he only in danger of exploding when he got here, given Max never says anything about going through this before? If the city itself is why, it raises more questions about Mom’s decision.
And how did no one know Steel is alive? He left before the explosion but where did he go? Why did he have no memory? EXPLAIN! OR EXPLAIN BETTER!
She says there are more Ultra links out there and they will come for Max eventually. Can’t be a crappy cash in film without a hook for a sequel that will never happen!
Max goes to Sofia, who the film remembers exists. Yeah, her vanishing before the climax really shows how strong of a character she was. She mattered so little to the overall story that this scene feels tacked on.
“Maybe it was good we didn’t kill her”
Too bad we didn’t kill you.
Max forms Max Steel to fly, which they couldn’t do before but I don’t care because roll credits! Yeah yeah rushed endings but at least it’s over. And thankfully, there’s no mid or post credits scene to further rip off other Superhero movies.
I’ll start with the positives. The effects are decent, and a couple actors like Maria Bello are at least trying. The rest on the other hand, is not only bad but flat out DULL. I apologize if this wasn’t my best, this is a film that’s mostly boring and sometimes did not explain things well.
It was just barely review able with how it got sometimes. This isn’t the worst movie of 2016 but it’s still bad. The main problem is how boring and generic it is. It feels like so many other films of it’s kind, and does nothing that interesting.
It doesn’t help that the lead is incredibly boring as well. He has no personality to speak of, and there’s just no reason to care about him. The rest are just as dull, from the one dimensional villain, to Steel who is pretty annoying.
In some films the situation itself could save some character issues but there they don’t do anything with the few decent ideas it has. The story goes in every direction you expect and the way it plays out is just flat
And also very stupid. As I said, nothing really makes any sense and they either have no explanations, or explanations that raise too many questions. And the way it’s written makes it so I don’t care to look further into it. So don’t try to explain it to me, I don’t care. (I know I may have missed something but either way it could have been explained better).
The whole thing just reeks of being a cynical cash grab. Any attempts at heart are snuffed out by the weak writing and how dull the whole thing is. It’s fairly typical in it’s problems, and isn’t quite awful, hence why it’s only at 11 as far my Bottom 11 of 2016 goes. (It’s worse than Mother’s Day and Nine Lives, but better than Wild Life and Mr Right0.
So yeah, the movie is a bust. It’s mostly generic and boring, with a few dashes of incompetence to make for a totally weak cinematic experience. It’s not even interesting bad like even Jem is, it’s too boring for that. Just skip it.
That was…dull, but at least interestingly so. As for next time, I think I should do a kind of movie I haven’t done yet, as I’ve crossed off some other types on the “Every Reviewer must do this” list. I think I know the type, but which one should I do..
….This will be fun.