Max Steel (film)

Max Steel is a 2016 American superhero film based on the action-figure line of the same name. Directed by Stewart Hendler and written by Christopher Yost,[4] the film stars Ben Winchell, Josh Brener, Ana Villafañe, Andy García, Maria Bello and Billy Slaughter. Based on the eponymous toy line by Mattel, the film chronicles the adventures of teenaged Max McGrath (Winchell) and alien companion Steel (Brener), who combine their powers to form the superhero Max Steel.

Max Steel
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStewart Hendler
Produced by
  • Bill O'Dowd
  • Julia Pistor
Written byChristopher L. Yost
Based onMax Steel
by Mattel
Music byNathan Lanier
CinematographyBrett Pawlak
Edited byMichael Louis Hill
Distributed byOpen Road Films
Release date
  • October 14, 2016 (2016-10-14)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
United Kingdom
Budget$5-10 million[2]
Box office$6.3 million[3]

Filming began on April 29, 2014, in Wilmington, North Carolina and wrapped in late May 2014. Dolphin Films and Mattel Playground Productions co-produced the film.[5] The film was released in the United States on October 14, 2016, by Open Road Films[6] and was a critical and commercial failure.


Teenager Max McGrath moves with his mother to the town of Copper Canyon, where he had been born and where his father had died in a supposed storm. He discovers he has a unique form of tachyonic energy and encounters alien creature Steel, with whom he can symbiotically bond to become the turbocharged superhero Max Steel. Max learns to control and harness his powers and learns the truth about his father's life through flashbacks. Steel, a member of the Ultralink alien species, had worked with Max's father Jim to repel an attack from his fellow Ultralinks on the earth; however, Jim had been betrayed by his partner Miles Edwards and been compelled to sacrifice himself. Max lashes out at Steel when he learns the truth, but is forced to work with Steel again when Edwards entraps Max, seeking to harvest his tachyonic energy for himself. Learning to use his armored form as Max Steel, Max defeats Edwards and finally learns all of his father's story from his mother. The film ends with Max learning to fly in the armor with Steel's assistance.




An early attempt to create a Max Steel film occurred in December 2009 when Paramount Pictures purchased the rights to the franchise.[12] Taylor Lautner was an early choice for the starring role, although he later dropped out due to commitment to the Stretch Armstrong film.[13] In January 2013, production was suspended when Max Steel was developed into a television series of the same name in 2013.[14] In August 2013, plans for a new film adaptation resumed with Mattel partnering with Dolphin Entertainment to fund the film.[4]

In February 2014, Ben Winchell and Ana Villafañe were cast Max McGrath and Sofia Martinez, respectively.[7] In April 2014, Billy Slaughter was cast as Agent Murphy.[11] That same month, the press officially confirmed Andy García's casting as Dr. Miles Edwards.[8] In May 2014, Maria Bello and Mike Doyle joined the cast as Molly and Jim McGrath, Max's parents.[9][10]


Principal photography commenced on April 29, 2014, in Wilmington, North Carolina,[9][15] and ended on May 31, 2014.[16]


Box office

Max Steel grossed $3.8 million in the United States and Canada and $2.5 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $6.3 million, against a production budget of $5–10 million.[3]

Max Steel opened on October 14, 2016, alongside The Accountant and Kevin Hart: What Now?, and was expected to gross $5–7 million from 2,034 theaters in its opening weekend.[17] After grossing just $637,795 on its first day the film went on to open to $2.2 million, finishing 11th at the box office.[18] In its second weekend the film grossed $680,104 finishing 17th at the box office, making it a box office bomb.[19]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 0% based on 21 reviews, with an average rating of 2.32/10.[20] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score 22 out of 100, based on reviews from 7 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[21] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[22]

IGN critic Alex Welch gave the film a score of 4 out of 10, summarizing his review with: "Max Steel is one of the more forgettable and pointless attempts at a superhero franchise in the current post-MCU Hollywood market, lacking any of the originality or vibrance that could give it even a remote shot at a successful future."[23] Variety's Joe Leydon gave a negative review, describing it as: "A half-baked, time-wasting curtain-raiser for a superhero franchise that is never, ever going to happen."[24] Christy Lemire for gave half a star out of 4, writing: "For a movie about developing the greatest energy source in the universe, Max Steel is surprisingly bland" and that "a movie based on a toy should be a whole lot more fun than this."[25] The Hollywood Reporter critic Frank Scheck gave an unfavorable review, writing: "Even tweens may find themselves underwhelmed by the new live-action film based on what — for many of them — may be their favorite Mattel action figure. Delivering a bland cinematic origin story which seems calculated to boost Christmas toy sales, Max Steel is a stillborn, would-be franchise starter, sneaked into multiplexes without advance critic screenings."[26]

Home media

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released Max Steel on Digital HD on January 3, 2017, then released the movie on Blu-ray/DVD on January 10, 2017.[27]

See also


  1. Scheck, Frank (October 14, 2016). "'Max Steel': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  2. Shepherd, Jack (November 24, 2016). "The biggest film flop of 2016 has been named and shamed". The Independent. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  3. "Max Steel (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
  4. Kit, Borys (August 2, 2013). "'Max Steel' Back in Action at Dolphin Entertainment". Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  5. Graser, Marc (November 5, 2013). "Mattel's Bold Plan to Take Control Back From Hollywood". Variety. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  6. Polowy, Kevin (August 31, 2016). "'Max Steel' Exclusive: Watch the First U.S. Trailer for Long-Awaited Action Movie (Plus a Director Q&A)". Yahoo Movies. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  7. Roxborough, Scott (February 5, 2014). "Ben Winchell, Ana Villafane Join 'Max Steel'". Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  8. "Andy Garcia Joins 'Max Steel'". Deadline Hollywood. April 29, 2014. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  9. Sneider, Jeff (May 13, 2014). "Maria Bello Joins Andy Garcia in Young Superhero Movie 'Max Steel'". Retrieved July 3, 2014.
  10. Kroll, Justin (May 20, 2014). "'Jersey Boys' Actor Joins Open Road's 'Max Steel'". Variety. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  11. "Max Steel adds Billy Slaughter to cast". April 23, 2014. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  12. Graser, Marc (July 12, 2009). "Paramount toys with 'Max Steel' pic". Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  13. Finke, Nikki (December 4, 2009). "Taylor Lautner To Be Paramount's Next Big Action Star". Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  14. Tartaglione, Nancy (January 28, 2013). "Mattel Rebooting 'Max Steel' Property With New Animated TV Series". Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  15. Christine (April 22, 2014). "'Max Steel' begins filming in Wilmington, NC". Retrieved May 7, 2014.
  16. "'Max Steel' wraps local production this weekend". Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  17. "Ben Affleck's 'The Accountant' is expected to unseat 'Girl On the Train' in slow box office weekend". Los Angeles Times.
  18. "'The Accountant' Calculates $27.7M Opening; 'Max Steel' Rusts". Deadline Hollywood.
  19. Anthony D'Alessandro (October 23, 2016). "'Madea' To Push Well Past $27M As 'Jack Reacher' Takes $22M to $23M; 'Joneses' Can't Keep Up – Sun. AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  20. "Max Steel (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
  21. "Max Steel reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  22. "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  23. Welch, Alex (October 14, 2016). "Max Steel Review — A meandering and lifeless superhero origin story". IGN. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  24. Leydon, Joe (October 14, 2016). "Film Review: 'Max Steel'". Variety. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  25. Lemire, Christy (October 14, 2016). "Max Steel Movie Review". Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  26. Scheck, Frank (October 14, 2016). "'Max Steel': Film Review — This teenage superhero movie recounts the origin tale of the character based on the Mattel action figure". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  27. "Max Steel DVD and Blu Ray release dates". Retrieved January 10, 2017.
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