It takes a full hour for Shaquille O'Neal to don his metal suit and become the superhero known to DC Comics fans as "Steel." Perhaps that's a good thing, because the second he put on that ridiculous helmet all I could think of was that mutant down in Zed's basement during "Pulp Fiction." Given the implications of that particular scene, is it just coincidence that Shaquille's character, John Henry Irons, gallivants around with a long, steel hammer? Someone call the phallic symbol hot line.
John Henry Irons adopts his superhero alter ego to combat Nathaniel Burke (Judd Nelson), a former army buddy who starts manufacturing and distributing high-tech weapons. To stop Burke, Irons enlists the help of Lt. Sparks (Annabeth Gish), a paralyzed computer expert who needs the motivation to keep on living that only a seven foot black man in a metal suit can provide. There's also Richard Roundtree as Uncle Joe, who apparently came as a package deal with the soundtrack from "Shaft."
What barrel did the filmmakers have to scrape to come up with Judd Nelson as their bad guy? Was Emilio Estevez tied up doing "Mighty Ducks 4"? Then there's Annabeth Gish and her rocket-powered wheelchair, which sounds like a preschooler's answer to the question: How do you empower a paralyzed female heroine?
It's no secret that Shaquille O'Neal is to acting what Billy Barty is to basketball. His thespian narcosis immobilizes the movie in a thick coat of dramatic tranquility. If there were something that could be done to Shaq to get him to stop acting that didn't involve jail (perhaps just the threat of jail), I'd be the first to pledge both ideological and financial support.
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