Sunday, August 26, 2018

Movie Review: "A-X-L" (2018)

Director: Oliver Daly
Year: 2018
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

A teenage Motocross racer finds an escaped robot dog that he bonds with and wants to keep from its owners, who are developing it to be an ultimate military killing machine.

"He, not it." (Image Source)
"A-X-L" is what you get if Number 5 from "Short Circuit" had been designed to look like a dog. This film is written and directed by Oliver Daly and serves as his feature film writing and directorial debut. The story revolves around a young Motocross racer named Miles (Alex Neustaedter), who is an excellent racer despite that his team, which consists of him and his dad Chuck (Thomas Jane), have no money for parts or a better bike. Another racer named Sam (Alex MacNicoll), whose team has tons of money and opportunities, invites Miles to join them on an outing to the desert one day. Miles, Sam and his crew drive out to the middle of nowhere and sabotage Mile's bike, stranding him and forcing him to make it home on his own. In a nearby scrapyard, Miles finds a giant robotic dog called A-X-L. A-X-L has recently escaped from CRAINE Industries, who are developing what they hope will be the ultimate battle-ready war dog for the military. Miles sees that A-X-L is riddled with bullet holes and other damage, so he decides that its owners don't deserve their property back. However, CRAINE doesn't want to let their multi-million dollar piece of military hardware go without a fight, so they send out a security team to retrieve it.
"He's not some kind of stray dog, he could hurt someone." (Image Source)
If you've seen the trailer for "A-X-L," you may have guessed that it would be a generic action film meant for kids. You're not wrong. The plot is eerily similar to that of "Short Circuit," but with a dog-robot instead of a robot-robot. The tone, and our experience watching it, on the other hand, falls somewhere between that of "Monster Trucks" and "Max Steel." There are times when this movie can be entertaining, though these moments are few and far between. Much of the story focuses on a relationship between Miles and female lead Sara ("Power Rangers" star Becky G). The way A-X-L looks boasts a decent special effects job, but as a character, he is kind of weak considering he is supposed to be this hugely groundbreaking military weapon. A-X-L gets outmaneuvered by teenagers on multiple occasions and spends most its time running to avoid capture. Some war dog! It is clear to us that the filmmaker wants the audience to view A-X-L as if he were a normal canine as opposed to a military-made killing machine. We don't think this sentiment is achieved considering he nearly wastes a bunch of kids on multiple occasions. Our pug would never... right? A-X-L is very much underutilized throughout the story. His maximum potential is entirely squandered in favor of a generic late-teens romance between two people who can't carry a feature-length film by themselves at this point in their careers.
"The entire OS is useless without that kid!" (Image Source)
Though "A-X-L" has its occasional moment of adrenaline-fueled fun, it is it far too derivative and far too predictable to be worthwhile. If you have young kids between the ages of 7-12, this might be the film for them. Beyond that, we think it would behoove you to avoid this film and go see "Alpha" instead. There are far better action films for viewers young and old to watch rather than wasting your time and money on this.

My Rating: 4.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~4.9/10
RT Rating: ~22%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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