Who

What

CS Archive

News

Film

TV

SF/Fantasy

ComicBooks

Leftovers

Video/DVD

Links

Contact

Home

 

 

 

 

Steel

(This review originally appeared in the August 21-27, 1998 Long Island Voice.)

Reviewed by Beth Hannan Rimmels

Steel could have been gold if Warner Bros. had put more effort into promoting it rather than hyping Batman and Robin to death. Steel is the better film.

Steel isn’t perfect. It’s predictable and the villains are cardboard — but that’s not a mortal sin in the summer action films. Shaq is no Olivier either, but Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first few films were much worse and look where he ended up. Director and scriptwriter Kenneth Johnson played up Shaq’s strengths and downplayed his weaknesses as an actor. Plus, Shaq is charismatic, and that charm and his smile light up the screen at the right moments.

John Henry Irons — no, the story isn’t subtle — was a metallurgist designing weapons for the military that would only stun enemy troops. But egomaniac Nathaniel (Judd Nelson) Burke shows off for the senator visiting the test site and he cranks the gun to the max despite Irons’ attempt to stop him. The senator is killed and Irons’ design partner Lt. "Sparky" (Annabeth Gish) Sparks is crippled in the backlash.

Disgusted, Irons heads home to Los Angeles when his enlistment is done. The dishonorably discharged Burke also heads to Los Angeles with stolen weapons plans and a score to settle against Irons. Within a short period of time, Irons nearly loses a second friend when Burke tests his version of the sonic gun with a bank robbery. Determined to get the weapons he designed off the streets, Irons pulls Sparky out of her self-pity and the VA hospital she was in to recruit her and Uncle Joe (Richard Roundtree) to help him make armor so he get the guns off the street. The trio has nice chemistry, particularly Gish and Shaq, and Irma P. Hall as Grandma Odessa is great.

Steel isn’t terribly original, but it’s a lot of fun. It manages to poke fun at itself — in jokes are sprinkled through regarding basketball, Superman and Shaft — without descending into camp or parody. Steel is based on a comic book of the same name and the character emerged from the "Death of Superman" storyline. Pulling Steel’s origin away from the complicated boondoggle of that plot was a smart move, otherwise viewers would have been lost in too much back story. isn’t terribly original, but it’s a lot of fun. It manages to poke fun at itself — in jokes are sprinkled through regarding basketball, Superman and Shaft — without descending into camp or parody. Steel is based on a comic book of the same name and the character emerged from the "Death of Superman" storyline. Pulling Steel’s origin away from the complicated boondoggle of that plot was a smart move, otherwise viewers would have been lost in too much back story.

Producer Quincy Jones wanted a film about a contemporary hero without superpowers kids could look up to. He succeeded. Steel is enjoyable and unlike Spawn, you don’t have to worry about the younger kids getting nightmares.

(A Warner Bros. release. Directed by Kenneth Johnson.)

 

Review 1997 Long Island Voice.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click Here!