The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Steel (1997)

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This is a film that my box office bomb wild card review was made for. The only problem was, it wasn't out on DVD, so I put off getting it. When I decided to do this series of comic book movies, I had actually forgotten this was based on one, and didn't consider it, until a few readers suggested it. That's when I realized it was time to stop procrastinating and make this sack-of-asscrack happen.

Steel has Shaq as a dude who makes weapons for the Army, along with Judd Nelson and Annabeth Gish. While trying to impress a visiting senator, Nelson gets overzealous with one of the weapons, things go bad, and in the process Gish ends up paralyzed, Nelson is dishonorably discharged, and O'Neal quits the service. When he gets home, though, he starts seeing his weapons pop up in the hands of the local street gangs. He calls in Gish and an old buddy in Richard Roundtree, and together they take down Nelson before he can sell his guns to anyone bad.

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There are days when I absolutely love what I do here, when I find some great gems, or someone sends me the funniest bad movie ever. Then there are times when I wonder if it's worth it to put myself through the ringer-- and this was one of those times. I knew I was in for it it when I hit the display button to see how far in I was, thinking it must've been like 45 minutes, only to discover to my horror that that 45 minutes was merely 18 minutes of real movie time. They should've had Mr. T in the very beginning, warning us "My prediction for this movie: Pain!" It's almost traumatizing to relive it again so soon, considering I only saw it a few hours ago.

I don't know what was worse, the script or Shaq's acting. It's amazing that a guy that's so naturally charismatic could be so bad at reciting lines in a manner that sounds like something more than just a guy reciting lines. At times I wondered if he was on SNL reading from cue cards off set because the writers just got done with it with no time to rehearse. And maybe that's how this whole thing was done, because the script at times sounded like something Ed Wood would've thrown together, especially at the end. It seemed like it wasn't even proofread. It was hard for me to reconcile that this was a feature film that played at my local movie theater, as opposed to one long sketch on Mad TV.

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There was one very bright spot, though, and that was Judd Nelson as the head baddie. If he didn't make such a great villain, I would've been rooting for him over Steel, but because he did such a great job being evil I wanted Steel, no matter how ridiculous he looked, to win. My friend at Movies in the Attic has been on me to get more Judd Nelson on my site, especially since this is the first film of his I've reviewed (I think). I couldn't agree with him more. Not only that, but Nelson is from Portland, ME. Who knew?

I have very little exposure to the comics that this character is based on, so I went on Wikipedia and gave myself a crash course. One striking thing about him is he's the exact opposite of Superman. Superman's has so many superpowers, the writers had to invent Kryptonite to make him vulnerable to something; while Steel has no superpowers whatsoever, he's just a human who's very smart. Also, Steel fits your classic hero paradigm-- he's John Henry Irons naturally, and dons his costume to become Steel. Superman is the opposite-- he's Superman naturally, and he dresses up to be Clark Kent. It's almost like Steel is Batman more than he's Superman.

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I had always considered that Shaq, between his charisma and athleticism, would make a good action hero. One could teach him martial arts pretty easily, and he'd be a natural on screen. Obviously, after watching this, I can see that the natural on screen part is out, but I also saw why he wouldn't really make it as an action star: he's too tall. In one scene with A-List That Guy Charles Napier, it was just really awkward as the two walked down the road together. I still think he'd make a great baddie or baddie's hatchet man if he learned to fight, but leading man would be too much. Dolph or Dennis Rodman is probably the ceiling on height.

I used to complain that this wasn't out on DVD yet, but some movies just don't need to be transferred. You could even say some movies don't need to be made when you're talking about something like this, let alone released on DVD. If you're a sadist, or maybe you did something bad and want to repent in a way that won't leave any visible marks, by all means, check out Steel. Just remember, though there may be no visible scars, the ones on the inside might be even worse.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120207/

6 comments:

  1. I actually enjoyed this movie on a totally ridiculous level, I knew Shaq wasn't much of an actor, so seeing him turn in a wooden performance didn't surprise me in the least(though I did laugh at his joke about not being able to amke free throws)and like you said Nelson made a great villain, though his best performance was in Relentless IMO, another film of Nelson's oyu should review is Blue City, which was also a box-office bomb, though that's actually on DVD, and I just happen to own it and definitely wouldn't mind giving it away. All in all I had a pretty good time with this film, as far as comicbook adaptions go i'd certainly rather see Steel again then say Ghost Rider or Ang Lee's Hulk. One thing i'm surprised you didn't bring up was Richard Roundtree, the biggest laugh I got in the film was when he made his not so subtle Shaft in-joke.

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  2. Yeah I remember this film being pretty awful. Although it could've worked with a better star. Like say Michael Jai White or Wesley Snipes could've made this work. With Shaq they made the film for kids, much like they made all Hulk Hogan movies for kids after No Holds Barred. Shaq was okay in Blue Chips by the way, it's just that this film was a groanfest. Judd Nelson was the sole redeeming quality in the film. Nelson is actually a decent actor who deserves a second chance, I mean he makes for a great villain (Especially one with sleazy undertones) indeed if you made a courtroom drama and they needed a bad guy prosecutor, one can't imagine a better actor for such a part.

    Like I said, a Judd Nelson binge is in order. In fact you should check out the one where him and William Shatner play renegade mercenaries (Falcon Down)

    Speaking of which i'm surprised you didn't tag Nelson, since he's a name on par with C. Thomas Howell, Michael Pare, Jeff Fahey and Dean Cain.

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  3. I got an image of Richard Roundtree up, but you're right, I should've given him a mention as well, if only for the "I'll be dipped in shit and rolled in breadcrumbs line."

    I don't even know that a better actor could've solved this. The suit looked ridiculous, for one thing. Also, I wouldn't even really say it was a kids movie, because there was a lot of killing in it for that. It was just sauteed in wrong sauce all around.

    As far as tagging Nelson goes, I thought I needed to do some more of his films first, which will happen soon enough. I guess you're right, though, I might as well tag him now and get it over with.

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  4. Nelson is always great as a low-rent basically DTV baddie, the latest of which I enjoyed was 'Boondock Saints II'.

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  5. Good review! Always wanted to see this one for the Judd Nelson, Richard Roundtree, and Charles Napier factor.

    Shaq as an action hero is a really funny idea.

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  6. Ty man, this is right in your wheelhouse, you should check it out.

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