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Saturday, March 17, 2012

My 100 Worst Movies of the 90's - 21 - Steel (1997)

Steel (1997; Warner Bros. Pictures)
If you hated Kazaam, then you’ll reaaaaly hate Steel.  At least in Kazaam, Shaq has a comical Darth Vader “Noooooo!” moment.  Well, he has that here too, but here he shows even less emotion in it.  Steel is a mindless action film about a weapons designer who turns to crime fighting in the most impractical costume ever, wielding the most impractical weapon ever.  

Henry Irons (GET IT!?) has developed a weapon that can safely knock out dangerous attackers but his demonstration is rigged to fail.  When his weapons end up on the street and his partner and best friend ends up in a wheelchair he makes a totally conspicuous “secret” lair and crafts a suit of armor and a hammer (what..?) to fight the bad guys and get his guns off the street.  

This is a no-thrills action movie.  But it’s worse than that.  It’s a badly acted, no-thrills action movie.  The script is as cliched as they come and Shaquille O’Neil is as bad as you’d expect him to be here.  The supporting cast, which includes Annabeth Gish (supposed descendant of silent film start Lillian Gish), Judd Nelson and Richard Roundtree (Yeah! Shaft!  Yep, I was pissed too.) do what they can with the material, but Kenneth Johnson’s screenplay is written at about a fourth-grade reading level.  Johnson also directed, and this is his only major directorial credit, for good reason.  This is an uninspired movie.

The action is on par with a cheap dinner show and the bad guys are exceptionally unconvincing.  We believe Judd Nelson could be a crooked and traitorous arms dealer, but not in this movie, maybe in something with a little more depth.  However, Steel is just a shallow movie aimed at younger audiences who love Shaq the b-baller who the producers hoped had forgotten all about Kazaam the year before.  Alas, this movie was destined to failure despite it’s strong marketing.  It made a pitiful 1.7 million at the box office (just a shade over ten percent of its budget) and was Shaq’s final major film role until he was resigned to cameos and bit parts in a few more movies.  

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