Shaquille O’Neal as John Henry Irons / Steel
Annabeth Gish as Susan Sparks
Judd Nelson as Nathaniel Burke
Richard Roundtree as Uncle Joe
Irma P. Hall as Grandma Odessa
Ray J as Martin
Harvey Silver as Lamont
Charles Napier as Col. David
Kerrie Keane as Sen. Nolan
Eric Pierpoint as Major
Tembi Locke as Norma
Thom Barry as Sgt. Marcus
Gary Graham as Detective
Eric Saiet as Young Cop
Hill Harper as Slats
Dolby Surround Stereo Sound
Running Time: 97 Minutes
The following is the official description of the film:
“With awesome weaponry and big hearted style, NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal unleashes a Shaq attack of heroics and humor in ‘Steel,’ a jovial action adventure movie based on the popular DC Comics characters.
Justice. Safe streets. Payback. Metallurgist John Henry Irons vows to claim them all when a renegade military reject puts new superweapons in dangerous hands. With the help of an electronics wiz and an imaginative scrap metal worker, Irons becomes ‘Steel.’ Wearing body armor, wielding a fearsome electrohammer and riding a gadget-packed motorcycle, he’s ready to wage war — if he can fix the untimely glitches that pop up in his untested gear. ‘You all be cool now,’ the good guy hero tells two crime victims he rescues. There’ll be a lot of thrillin’ before Steel himself can start chillin’.”
“Steel” is rated PG-13 for some superhero action violence.
Warner Brothers has created a new “Archive Collection” to release smaller films that may or may not have had wide DVD sales in the past. This is good news for movie fans because they’ll get to add a lot of cinematic rarities to their collections. But it also means that films like “Steel” get re-released in stores. While the movie is oft maligned, I’m surprised that it hasn’t been more widely available on DVD. After all, “Steel” is part of the Superman universe and you would think that association alone would mean there would be some market for the movie. I had never seen “Steel” before, so I was interested in seeing what it was like. I went into it fully aware it would likely suck.
Several things surprised me about the film. The first was that Kenneth Johnson seemed to handle Shaq’s acting abilities, or lack thereof, pretty well. His lines were minimized and the action scenes were maximized. You didn’t have long to dwell on the believability of Shaq being a military weapons specialist. If you’re stuck with a sports star as you’re lead actor, Johnson handled it well enough. That’s not to say he was good, but he could have been worse. The heart of the film is also a pretty good idea. It’s kind of a mix of the plot of “Iron Man” and the Luke Cage comics mixed together. The idea of a guy cleaning up his neighborhood and ridding it of illegal advanced weapons works pretty well. I was also amazed to see Eric Pierpoint and Gary Graham from the “Alien Nation” TV series in the movie. I didn’t realize that Kenneth Johnson was writer, director, and producer on that series (as well as “V”).
Unfortunately, the movie falls short in almost every other respect. For one, they can’t seem to figure out who their target audience is. I figured this would be a great movie for kids since it is kind of campy, has cheesy action, and featured the kid-favorite Shaq. But there’s a lot of language in it. Amid the numerous profanities is the line, “Well dip me in s**t and roll me in bread crumbs!” That tells me they either mistakenly thought that language was OK for kids or that they actually thought they were making a film for adults. In either case they were way wrong. The dialogue is also pretty bad. In one scene Judd Nelson tells a thug, “Eat the hot dog. Don’t be one.” Wow. Just wow. There are other cringe-worthy lines in the movie, but you get the idea. “Steel” is also terribly dated. The clothes, slang, and everything else screams 90’s. It’s a film that hasn’t aged well. But it is an interesting time capsule of sorts. It shows what comic book movies were like in the 90’s before “Blade” and “X-Men” came along and brought a renaissance to the genre. You can’t appreciate where you are until you look back at where you’ve been, and “Steel” certainly does that.
I think if “Steel” had the language cleaned up, you might have had a movie that kids could enjoy and it would have created a cult following. But as it is, it’s probably better suited for a “Mystery Science Theater 3000” type of screening.
There are no bonus features included on this DVD.