Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.


Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

It's hard being a handsome, winsome teenager with a tragic backstory.

Take Max McGrath, for instance. Max's father died in a tragic and mysterious tornado accident when he was quite young. He and his mother, Molly, have been moving around the country ever since. They're in their ninth home now, a place where Molly hopes they can both have a "fresh start."

'Course, this fresh start is actually where Max started: their first family home, located in the very town where said tornado struck. I can only assume that, had Max's father died in a traumatic merry-go-round accident, Molly would've suggested they live in an amusement park.

But Max doesn't have time to dwell on his mother's peculiar residential affinities. He's got a new school to adjust to. New friends to not make. A new girl, Sofia, to awkwardly hem and haw around. And then there's this new … thing going on with his hands. He can't quite put his finger on it at first, but after a while, he nails the sensation: Blue, liquid energy of some sort is leaking from his hands, and that sort of thing is nothing to thumb one's nose at.

At first, the energy thing seems kinda cool … until it starts shorting out his smartphone every time he touches the device. It tends to burn out lightbulbs, too. It can give him headaches. Oh, and one memorable evening (or it would've been, had Max not blacked out), the built-up energy almost caused Max to, well, explode.

Now, adolescence can be a tricky time. Every teen probably feels like he's going to blow up now and then. But this sort of thing seems altogether different from what he learned about in health class. And it'd sure be nice to talk with someone about it.

But who?

Not his mother. No, no. She's his mom, for cryin' out loud, and everyone knows that teens don't talk to their mothers. Plus, the minute he mentioned the whole near-explosion thing, she'd likely want to move to a dynamite factory.

Sofia? Heavens, no. She may be the only person Max talks to in school, but she's pretty. What would she think of him? Blue liquid energy is, like, a thousand times worse than cooties.

No, it seems as though Max will have to deal with his explosive energy problem all on his own … until he meets a strange, indigo-glowing alien who not only understands Max's strange energy output, but literally eats it up. They share some sort of strange, symbiotic connection, and somehow the alien's presence allows Max to run faster, jump higher and do Bruce Lee-like flip kicks. Why, the alien can even coat Max in a nifty living suit of armor when the need arises—perfect for all the pair's future battling needs.

The alien's name is Steel—an admittedly odd name for an alien creature, but no matter. Because the key thing is that Max has what Steel wants. And Steel just may be the friend that Max has been looking for.

'Course, they'll have to battle sentient, alien-powered tornadoes before they can truly cement their friendship. But now we're getting ahead of ourselves.


Positive Elements

Max seems like a nice enough teen. He helps bullied schoolmates pick up their books. He listens to his mother when she tells him not to lean back in his chair. He only whines occasionally. And given his age and lot in life, that's not too shabby.

But eventually he comes to understand that he and Steel are the only two things standing in the way of Earth's hostile takeover by sentient tornadoes. And we all know that self-motivated weather disasters are nothing to mess around with. Despite the odds, Max and Steel—or, Max Steel, as the movie seems to suggest we should call them—risk their lives to save the world, and occasionally make side trips to rescue the people they love, as well.

We should also note that despite Molly's overprotective nature (as the movie sees it), as well as her strange desire to move back to the site of a family tragedy, Max's mom is quite nice and loving. And before the movie ends, both Molly and Max realize that sharing with each other—talking about each other's trials and tribulations, no matter how ridiculous they might seem—is really a healthy, positive thing.

Spiritual Content

[Spoiler Warning] Max's odd abilities can feel a little like psychic powers that have drunk too much espresso. We learn, however, that they're simply a byproduct of Max's dad being an alien.

Sexual Content

Sofia and Max kiss once. They touch hands. They stare at each other with some frequency while they try to think of something witty and clever to say. (They never, ever succeed.) Clearly, they are in love.

Max sometimes walks around without a shirt for no discernable reason.

Violent Content

Max's energy acts like water—sometimes running out of the guy as water does from a hose, sometimes building up inside as if Max were a water balloon. As such, sometimes Max accidentally blows things up (lamps, alarm clocks, etc.). And, of course, we've already mentioned that the energy could blow Max up unless it's siphoned off in some way. Max collapses after his close call, finding himself in bed with strange-looking wounds on his chest, while his shirt and bedsheet have holes burnt in them.

Things get better when Max meets up with Steel, but their afternoon of training is fairly perilous. Max falls from a great height and smashes his fist painfully into a concrete pillar.

Once he's all trained up, Max must deal with all manner of evildoers. A gigantic cyclone with seemingly a red, glowing eye chases him through the wilds as a terrific lightning storm threatens to fry him with bolts of electricity. (Max hides under, metal train cars and in a metal pipe, which seems counterintuitive.) He and a similarly suited adversary exchange punches, kicks and throws.

There are a few energy-based showdowns that seem to vaporize a couple of people. Mysterious operatives in black SUVs pursue Max and Steel, shooting bullets at both on occasion. When Steel breaks loose from his terra-based prison near the beginning of the movie, he causes a great deal of destruction and havoc among those who are supposed to be guarding him.

The fate of these guards and scientists is unseen for the most part, but we do hear them fire weapons and shout and scream in panic, and there's a suggestion that rubble falls on at least some of the humans. A bad guy seems to kill at least one adversary with a prong-like arm attachment. Others are somehow dispatched, but off camera. We see people running from tornadoes. Sofia nearly hits Max three times with her ancient SUV. (Max flies off his bike and lands hard in the grass during one of these near mishaps.)

Steel tells Max that he's committed to "protect you from everything that's trying to kill us," but he sometimes gets a little overzealous in his mission, threatening to kill several classmates—including Sofia.

Crude or Profane Language

Max utters what seems to be the first part of the f-word after punching a concrete pillar. There's also a suggestive "sh…" that trails off into nothing. Characters also say "d--n" twice, "h---" once and misuse God's name about 10 times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Molly and an old family friend have glasses of wine in front of them during a meal.

Other Negative Elements

Molly withholds information about Max's dad from him. Max and Steel break into an old, deserted laboratory. "NO TRESPASSING," Steel reads. "All caps, Max. Looks pretty serious to me."


Max Steel is what would happen if the movies E.T. and Iron Man somehow had a baby. Based on two television shows and a Mattel toy of the same name, the film is just as lightweight as you'd imagine and, if possible, even worse than you might expect.

Oh, I can hear you now, you movie-lovers, you. "Paul," you say, "just how bad can a movie with intelligent roving killer tornadoes be?" And it's true, when you put it like that, you'd expect this film would have some promise. But alas, Max Steel never really reaches a level of goodness to be truly entertaining, nor a level of badness to be unintentionally funny. For all the weather disasters and wisecracking aliens and other feats of CGI wizardry, the whole movie feels like kind of a slog.

That said, from a Plugged In perspective, it could be worse. A lot worse. There's no sex to speak of, and the violence—despite a few presumed fatalities here and there—rarely reaches a fevered pitch. It offers some nice messages about family and the importance of communication. If you're going to sit through a nearly two-hour commercial for Max Steel action figures, you might as well have a positive message or two to glean, right?

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!