So much controversy has been swirling around the release of "Max" -- a fictional film about a Jewish art dealer in post-World War I Germany who takes an angry young painter named Adolf Hitler under his wing -- that an important fact has been lost in the debate: the movie just isn't very good.

Criticized for potentially humanizing the most systematically monstrous racist and tyrant of the 20th Century, the picture really has the opposite problem. Hitler, played by the talented Noah Taylor ("Shine"), is so nervously seething with bile, resentment, fear and anger that it's difficult to take him seriously during pivotal scenes in which the young Nazi party organizer is spitting his venomous but empty anti-Semitic propaganda to crowds on the streets of Berlin.

Writer-director Menno Meyjes (making his directorial debut after scripting such films as "The Color Purple" and "The Siege") seems to realize this problem too. He keeps cutting away to audience members nodding emphatically to lend the character credibility he would be hard-pressed to find without such a scripted peanut gallery.

Continue reading: Max Review