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Review

With Max, Netflix hopes to bring the fun back to choosing movies

As a subscription service, Netflix wants desperately to be seen as a useful and integral part of your everyday entertainment routine, so it makes sense for the company to be able to recommend new content that you actually enjoy. Of course, getting everyone to voluntarily rate movies and shows they've watched is not an easy task, so Netflix decided to turn it into a bit of a game. They've called this new feature Netflix Max, and it turns out to be a pretty nifty little addition, even if you only use it once.

When you first boot up Netflix Max - currently only available on the PlayStation 3 system, though more platforms are slated to receive the service shortly - you are introduced to, wait for it, Max. Max starts off by thanking you for having a Netflix subscription and then gets right into determining what types of content is best suited to your tastes. After figuring out what type of movie you're in the mood for and going through a "Ratings Game" where you assign scores to various movies you've already seen, Max will provide you with a single recommendation.

If you choose to accept his wisdom, you can begin the show immediately, but you can also skip it and have Max recommend something else. There are even 30-second "pitches" provided for certain flicks that Max will read to get you hyped up for the movie in question. Eventually, you're bound to find something that piques your interest, and in my own testing that happened sooner rather than later the majority of the time. In fact, one of movies Max recommended has become something of a favorite in my household - meaning that both my wife and I enjoyed it equally - and that's something that rarely happens.

The best things about Netflix Max are that it's 100% optional and extremely easy to use. If you don't want to play Max's simple game, you don't have to, but if you choose to you'll be done before you know it. The entirety of the Max experience can be over in as little as a couple of minutes, and Max's humorous chatter is enjoyable most of the time - even if it can be a bit repetitive.

All-in-all, Max is easier and more fun than the "old" way of rating movies and TV shows, which basically amounts to assigning scores to content you've seen and then hoping something decent pops up in your "Top 10 for you" queue. Max's pitches offer a good bit of detail on the content he recommends and he has a habit of promoting things you probably would never have considered. Since it's already part of the Netflix service on PS3, if you have access to it you may as well give it a shot. It just might impress you.