Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Max Steel


I don’t like Max McGrath or more accurately I don't like Ben Winchell. What works is the reluctant hero or the pompous one who’s been taken down a peg. To me Ben was neither. 

He looks like a jock yet the story did not have him act like a jock, so my emotions were split into uselessness. Ben just doesn’t work.

There was an overselling by the music in the opening scene going to the wrong direction. I really thought Max was a jock because of it. The camera came creeping slowly from the farthest shot to a close-up on the roof where Max was, on his sketch pad. At this time I was thinking an opening the likes of Gladiator when the story starts in the middle of a fight.

He looked really serious sketching an industrial plant which means in cinema, places a villain might be found. Music plus hero plus probable villain hideout; sure he’s a jock. Max is going into battle at the first instance.

And then…the story fragments, playing sympathy card. Instead of an attack Max is developed as the average guy who didn’t want the power. He’s really just looking for a place in this world being a child in a single parent household; father died. 

The opening scene with Max and his mom (Maria Bello), was about them setting up the house. It was the original house they lived in when Max was born in the town where his father died. Memories must be hanging in Max’s head by now. Yet what I am curious about is how can people own the original house moving 9 times? 

I am not feeling Max at all being oversold a hero by that opening music which is still playing as he walks around his old house. This is where I am suppose to empathize with him now, moving around has hardened him into a loner.

Selling Max as a loner took a nose dive at the school scene when the first student he bumps into is the beautiful Sofia Martinez (Ana Villafañe). She’s really beautiful like a young Rachel Leigh Cook. I can’t say I remember any of his classmates, anything that might say he’s an outcast looking for a place in the world. Where is the normal guy, the loner, the wimp? With a beautiful girl now in the scene he can’t be doing badly. Have you noticed Ben looks like Robert Pattinson?

Ben is absolutely getting no help from the narrative. He’s been made to carry it all but he’s not that good. I am split between jock and wimp and buying neither. After a while I begin to notice that Max has done nothing heroic. Not a jock, a wimp, and maybe not a hero too.

Turns out the actual origin of the hero in this origin story comes in the end of the movie. The filmmakers went for the more mysterious vibe. There’s nothing wrong with the villain reveal left for last because it can function as a plot twist, but knowing how the hero got his power is usually settled before half. I think it would have helped in getting the reluctance hero vibe, Max knowing his power and saying: this can’t be me, this can’t be me.

What’s the use of the mystery when he’s being trained after all by Steel (Josh Brener). Trained and not doing anything heroic. When Max knows his origin he knows the villain, so they’re both doing nothing.

A mystery makes it darker than a usual discovery of a new powered self. The fun of an origin story is the discovery of the new powered self which interferes with the hero’s regular life, yet the hero overcomes. But Max doesn’t anything going in his life or as a hero; how can anything work in this movie?

Certainly not the action. The key to both hero and villain is the ability to harness energy. Steel helps Max with this and combined makes a suit. As narrated by Steel among what’s possible among others are speed, strength, energy blast but all I remember is kickboxing strangely enough. Martial arts in an armor like suit reminds me of Power Rangers and in this post Iron Man era that is a letdown. Max Steel flew only just before the end credits, after all the fighting is done.

To conclude, I think, I was just not set up to be in the proper mood. From the casting of Ben to the false anticipation of attack because of that music, I was never into it. Max Steel was attempting to go all over the map emotionally but achieving nothing in the process.  

The loner looks like a jock, even has girl to easily going with him. The discovery of self took an air of mystery. Max Steel is emotionally dead and disjointed.

Maybe M. Night Shyamalan can give Max Steel’s director some pointers on minimalist, mysterious hero type. I’m talking about Unbreakable. But since Max Steel is adapted from a cartoon the movie should have just went all out flashy and direct to the point.