Steel (1997)

How's this for diminishing returns?  In BATMAN AND ROBIN, George 
Clooney battled Arnold Schwarzenegger.  In SPAWN, it was Michael 
Jai White versus John Leguizamo.  In STEEL, the third and presumab-
ly *final* superhero stretch of the summer, Shaquille O'Neal dons a 
high-tech, hand-crafted suit of armor to combat the earth-shaking, 
world-shattering, super-duper-ultra evil menace of... Judd Nelson?  
Holy economical casting!  The latest synergistic teaming of Warner 
Brothers and D.C. Comics is a strictly third-rate affair, with a 
forgettable hero (Shaq, all size and smiles in his ridiculous cos-
tume) performing forgettable feats (stopping a mugger, shooting 
back at bad guys) while in pursuit of a forgettable villain (Nel-
son's revenge-seeking arms dealer, whose sole super-power appears 
to be the ability to stifle laughter among those actors sharing 
scenes with him).

Pure cheese, but it's well-intended.  There's lots of family love 
and a majority of minority characters and one disabled person (An-
nabeth Gish) that the story makes a bit of an embarrassing big deal 
about, but later redeems itself by giving her a kick-ass laser-fir-
ing wheelchair.  (Let's see *her* action figure go up against 
Share-a-Smile Barbie.)  The amount of gratuitous violence is quite 
reasonable and there's enough scattered laughs to hold a bored 
parent's attention.  (I enjoyed Richard Roundtree's SHAFT refer-
ence, a couple of hilarious comments about the Internet, and one 
whopper of an Ahnuld gag at the end.)  If only the lack of realism 
wasn't *quite* as distracting.  I know, I know, not exactly a valid 
complaint in a movie based on a comic book, but, good God, a Man of 
Steel with an exposed mouth and lower jaw?  And who spends half of 
his time engaged in gunfights?  Sigh.  Written and directed by Ken-
neth Johnson, an old TV hack whose credits include "Alien Nation" 
and "The Incredible Hulk."  Eat the hot dog, don't be one. (Rated 
"PG-13"/105 min.)

Grade: D+

Copyright 1997 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: August 24, 1997

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