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“Max Beyond” Is Thrilling If Clunky

Written by: Adam Vaughn | April 22nd, 2024

Max Beyond (Hasraf Dulull, 2024) 2½ out of 5 stars

As feature films based on video games continue to proliferate, director Hasraf “HAZ” Dulull (2036 Origin Unknown) deviates from the mainstream trend to bring a cinematic rendition of a more obscure but fascinating such game. The movie takes place in the distant future, where a young boy, Max Walker (voiced by Cade Tropeano, Disney Junior’s Eureka! series) has the ability to see and teleport through multiple dimensions. Max is held as a patient at a science research facility, and is only hope is older brother Leon (Dave Fennoy, The Haunting of Hell Hole Mine), a former marine who seeks to free Max from captivity. Battling heavily armed cybernetic security forces, Leon must not only reach his brother in one universe … but across the span of multiverses!

Sadly, the concepts and ideas explored here are things we’ve seen in the past, such as the bond between brothers, science pushing boundaries into uncharted territories, and the dangers of messing with the multiverse, etc. Dulull’s strongpoint is sadly not his storytelling, as we waver between various clichés and exposition. Furthermore, while all the main characters are relatable and form strong connections, there are no fresh or new ideas formed, much less explored in depth. Overall, Dulull copies and pastes the plot of a videogame onto the screen, and once one gets past an intriguing bit of worldbuilding, the rest is somewhat dull.

l-r: Max (Cade Tropeano) and Leon (Dave Fennoy) in MAX BEYOND ©HaZimation

Where Max Beyond is at its strongest is in its ability to capture action in a vivid science-fiction setting utilizing the 3D animation tool Unreal Engine, delivering a strong homage to the game, which has a new installment coming out soon. Surely, any gamers who become fans will love the intense and militaristic, somewhat-dystopian setting. While the film may not have anything new to convey, it does succeed in keeping its pace effective, its entertainment high, and its narrative solid enough to put it all together. Still, the effects for Max Beyond are often wonky, with awkward character movements and timing.

Beyond its status as a fun exercise using today’s latest visual FX software, Max Beyond most likely will not stand the test of time. Lacking any original voice and direction to truly rise up and be a masterful work of art, Dulull runs with a pre-established concept and aesthetic and focuses heavily on the storyboarding and compositing. While this film may be impressive as an individual achievement, the overall impact of Max Beyond  is low, serving solely to promote and connect to the video game of the same name.

Max (Cade Tropeano) in MAX BEYOND ©HaZimation

Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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