"Max" is about a war dog (Max) who's trainer (Robbie Amell) dies in combat, thus, ends up in the hands of his brother (Josh Wiggins). Not going to lie: I had low expectations for this movie going into it. The one trailer that I saw gave a very cheesy vibe to the movie and I almost didn't end up seeing it due to this. However, I did end up seeing it, so let's talk about it.
Getting the bad out of the way first, the story in "Max" is very predictable. The film goes through the usual motions a film like this would be expected to go through (Ex. Dog doesn't like people; Kid gains dog's trust; Parent doesn't like dog; conflict; resolution; happy days). As such, there was very little suspense in this film at all for me as well as no emotional moments which got to me. The most I teared up while in the theater was during the trailer for "Batkid Begins." That should show you right there how much of a sap I can be for these films. But the fact that it followed these film tropes so closely that nothing was surprising worked against it.
The transition which the main character goes through is a little hard to believe as well. He starts out as an asshole, refusing to speak to his brother who is serving overseas via Skype due to some misplaced jealousy thing, but once the dog comes into his life, oh hey, he's a decent human being suddenly. It just didn't really work and seemed like the change happened for the purpose of moving the story along, thus losing some realism.
Another thing, and this is something of a spoiler, and I forgot to mention this in the video review, is that there is a military character who Justin (Higgins) talks to about a shady character who knew his brother. Later in the story, something happens and Justin tells the military character (who has done nothing wrong) to not contact him anymore. The guy even asks if Justin is in trouble and then proceeds to do nothing, even with the very large indication that Justin is, indeed, in trouble. We never see this character again in the movie. Just something strange.
Now for the good. The performances in this movie are actually really strong across the board. I didn't really notice any issues which any of the acting and everyone seemed very genuine. Even the child actors, who have a larger role than most of the adults, pull off strong performances. The pacing worked as well, as the film never felt too rushed or dragging, even though there was a notable change in feel of the film after the first fifteen minutes. Seeing the relationship between Justin and Max worked nicely too. The progression they show in the friendship works as well as the levels of trust they build up between each other. Lastly, the end credits were neat as they showed pictures of service dogs in the military from World War I to the present day. As this was something I didn't really know was a long lasting thing for the military, it was cool for me to see this.
"Max" isn't a great movie by any means, but it's not terrible either. The story is very predictable if you've seen any films of this sort before and some of the thing events which take place don't really fit in regards to their realism. However, the performances are strong and the pacing works nicely, allowing me to stay invested for the whole time. Honestly, this film probably won't last long at the box office with the likes of "Jurassic World," "Inside Out," and "Ted 2" claiming spots in the top 5 this weekend, along with "Terminator Genisys" coming out next week. But it works fine as a film and if you're into this kind of plot then you'll enjoy it.
But those are my thoughts. Leave yours on "Max" in the comments below!
Check out my video review of "Max" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gGHQ6abIz8