Monday, January 27, 2014
After DC comics killed off Superman in the 1990s, several characters stepped in to fill his void. One of these was John Henry Irons, known as the superhero Steel. DC pushed the character heavily in the 90s as he was not only involved with Superman's storyline but also had his own solo series and even appeared in Superman: The Animated Series. Michael Dorn did a good job voicing Steel in Superman: TAS and I think he could've also played the role well in a live action movie.
I love Shaq but he is pretty bad here. Of course he doesn't have much to work with other than some hilariously awful basketball puns. It's a shame that Shaq had to be in this movie and Kazaam instead of Space Jam where he would've been a good fit.
Judd Nelson plays the villain, a corrupt military man. Although Nelson is over the top it keeps things somewhat interesting. Richard Roundtree has a small role as "Uncle Joe." I'm pretty sure that Roundtree was only brought in so that parents could listen to the Shaft theme in their heads for the rest of the movie while their kids fall asleep. As for the rest of the acting, Annabeth Gish's character functions like Barbara Gordon as Oracle in the Batman comics and Charles Napier is also in the cast.
You may have noticed that I haven't gotten to the plot of the movie yet. That is because I don't remember it. I seem to recall a subplot about a grandmother making soufflé but that's about it. Upon looking it up, the story was reminiscent of Iron Man with a weapons designer becoming a superhero and the unauthorized use of the superhero's weapons. To be fair, it has been a year since I saw the movie and I didn't take many notes. But this movie is pretty forgettable and I probably didn't think about it even a week after I saw. However, there is one part of this movie that is very memorable: the theme song! It is stuck in my head as I am writing this and I'm not ashamed because it is pretty awesome! It's too bad that it had to be used in such a bad movie. Therefore Steel has a bad case of Pluto Nash Syndrome, meaning that it's a crappy movie with good music.
Steel was directed by Kenneth Johnson who has mostly done TV work and has only two theatrical movies (the other is Short Circuit 2) to his credit. This makes sense as Steel has the look and feel of a TV movie. Johnson has some recent TV credits but, to nobody's surprise, hasn't directed a theatrically released movie since. Given the current state of superhero movies it's kinda funny to be reminded that there was a time not too long ago when not all of them had big budgets or well-known stars.
Steel is certainly bad but still in watchable territory. I'll take Steel over Kazaam any day but that isn't saying much, is it?
Steel doesn't bother to mention Superman or any other elements of the DC universe. Like in Catwoman, that is for the best. Though I kinda hope there is an alternate universe where Tim Burton's Superman Lives was actually made and features a cameo from Shaq as Steel!