Of the three dog movies (Dog Days and Alpha are the others) released this summer, A-X-L about a robot war dog that escapes the lab and is befriended by a dirt motorbike loving teen, is the last place winner. The movie is the epitome of good code but average screenwriting: it takes everything into account but doesn’t do more than fill in the lines.
A-X-L’s R-rated war dog idea doesn’t mesh with a kid and teen friendly PG rating. It’s like Cujo being stuffed into Benji’s body— not something that will be met by rabid parental enthusiasm. Don’t especially have the A-X-L schematic animation showing the canine machine gunning down enemies by the dozens and never deliver anything but a nasty onscreen snarl.
This is a boy and a dog story with Transformers stylings that sticks to the traditional beats of the genre. All the bad code has been scrubbed leaving only competent functionality that runs blandly along. In the hands of a genre bending director like Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, From Dusk to Dawn, Machete Kills, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) this concept would kill.
A-X-L is a bad dog stuck in a good dog film. It would have been better to make it the AIBO movie.