Movie about dogs are nothing new, especially when it comes to family films. There have been plenty of movies out there about boy (or someone) befriending a K-9 companion; who then go on merry adventures together. Yet how many movies have been about a boy and a military trained dog? I can say not much but now changes with the new adventure film: Max. Directed by the man behind Remember the Titans, Max tells the story of a dog named Max and how befriends a boy after returning from service. The trailer seemed rather straightforward with the movie's premise as it look to be a general family adventure. Yet perhaps Max would be full of surprises; then again maybe it was just another dog movie.
The plot deals with a marine dog named Max. When his handler Kyle (Robbie Amell) is killed in action, Max returns to the states where Kyle's family figure out what to the with the K-9. Max becomes the responsibility of Kyle's younger brother Justin (Josh Higgins). After a rocky start, Justin begins to care for Max and the two become friends. However the two find themselves in the thick of danger when former marine Tyler (Luke Kleintank) returns home and starts trouble for Justin and his family.
The story to Max was rather straightforward. The plot centers on the idea of the story of boy and his dog; and the movie sticks with that concept. The issue with that though is that story had an interesting premise as it dealt with a marine dog. This is something that you usually do not see when the marines are depicted on the silver screen. If the movie went more into this area in the Marines then the story could have been something else. Instead the plot to Max was fairly cliched as it added nothing new this movie type. Yet that was not to say that the movie's story was bad. Though it was cliched, the story did have its moments as it did stay true to its premise. So though I was hoping for a little more in this factor, I cannot deny that story to Max was handled well; even if there were some issues in the plot's execution.
The cast to Max was not the best I have ever seen, but most of the characters were tolerable. Josh Higgins as Justin was better then I expected. Granted his performance was not earth shattering but Josh's presentation did work for the character of Justin. Justin's friends were decent enough. Dejon LaQuake as Chuy was a standard sidekick character while Mia Xitali as Carmen was more or less a typical love interest for Justin. However both of these young actors pulled off believable performances. Laura Graham as Justin's mother, Pamela, did her job of being a supporting character. Thomas Haden Church, on the other hand, was a bit inconsistent as Justin's father Ray. Church's performance at the beginning of the movie was rather wooden, but as the film progressed, he did pick up his acting. Robbie Amell as Kyle was good for the time he had; while Luke Kleintank was a typical villain character as Tyler. Then there was the true star of the film: Max. Max was easily the most likable character in the movie as you could really get behind this fury war . You would that dog being the best actor in a movie is a bad thing, but truthfully this is not uncommon for movie like Max.
There was not much to see when it came to the film's technical aspects. The score by Trevor Rabin had its fair share of soothing moments;but there was nothing to Max's music that truly stood out. The cinematography to the film was questionable. For the most part Max's camerawork was alright, but some decisions like using hand cam shots was had me scratching my head. However even with the questionable shots, most of the cinematography did work for this family film.
Max is not a spectacular film, but nor is it a bad one. While the movie does had issues in storytelling and general filmmaking, it still managed to get its point across by sticking to its concept. Max is a simple family film and though it could have been so much more, this dog film was still a tolerable experience.