Transformers meets Mowgli meets Fast and Furious
Smarter than I expected from the trailers, this film is superficially a lot of vrooming engines, flying dirt bikes and girls trying to look cute. Underneath that is a good hearted humble hero boy trying to make the right decisions, scientists maybe making the wrong decisions, and questions about technology and how we use it: to protect our soldiers? Or to kill more efficiently? AXL the robot wardog demonstrates how high tech can both be dangerous and beneficial/protective. The (not necessarily evil) humans, military and scientific, around him demonstrate the potential we have to misuse our technology. Much use is made of AXL's viewpoint through a screen display that viewers can read (as they might in a video game), lots of story and character development info there which would be lost on younger kids who can't read that fast, but a clever storytelling device for older kids and adults. A chaste romance/friendship, an ending that involves sacrifice... and hope... and both hero kids going off to college to learn more about their own gifts in science and art. This film feels like the pilot episode for a potential series. At least it might inspire some discussions or fanfiction about what happens next. Clever parents can discuss the decisions characters make, and how technology affects us, good or bad. And whether there were enough intelligent, strong role models for girls, or whether it was all about trying to look cute and get the boy (while the girl is shown helping to rebuild AXL at one point, she is no Captain Marvel).