Steel

1997

Steel

Critics Consensus

Steel is a badly-acted movie that indulges not only in superhero cliches, but also the sappy TV-movie-of-the-week ones.

12%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 26

16%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,045
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Steel Photos

Movie Info

Low-rent, poorly-lit superhero action is the order of the day in this film from television director Kenneth Johnson -- who makes several references to his series Alien Nation throughout the course of the movie. NBA basketball superstar Shaquille O'Neal stars as John Henry Irons, a weapons designer and metallurgical genius who is developing a new sonic weapon for the military with the help of Sparks (Annabeth Gish), a computer whiz. When an accident caused by unscrupulous superior Nathaniel Burke (Judd Nelson) leaves Sparks paralyzed, Irons quits his job in disgust. It turns out later that Burke has begun mass-producing the weapon and selling it to terrorists and L.A. street gangs, so Irons and Sparks team up with Uncle Joe (Richard Roundtree), a junkyard artist, to create a suit of armor and a gadget-packed sledgehammer. Irons dons the suit and becomes known as the superhero Steel, who kicks criminal posterior all over the city with his impenetrable get-up and high-tech gizmos. Before long, Burke's comeuppance is in the offing. Although specific references to it were excised between the source material and script, the original DC Comics version of Steel was a spin-off of the Superman comics series. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

Cast

Shaquille O'Neal
as John Henry Irons
Annabeth Gish
as Lt. Sparks
Irma P. Hall
as Grandma Odesa
Ray J
as Martin
Judd Nelson
as Nathaniel Burke
Thom Barry
as Sergeant Marcus
Kerrie Keane
as Senator Nolan
Gary Graham
as Detective
Eric Saiet
as Young Cop
Joseph Palmer
as Holdecker
Eric Poppick
as Mr. Hunt
Rutanya Alda
as Mrs. Hunt
Steve Matilla
as Big Willy Daniels
Tim De Zarn
as Skinhead Leader
Michael Shamus Wiles
as Skinhead No. 2
Kamau Holloway
as Skin No. 1
Norris Young
as Skin No. 2
Maurice Chasse
as French Mercenary
Josh Cruze
as Colombian
Nancy Wolfe
as American Overload
Danny Hartigan
as Chauffeur
Rick Worthy
as SWAT Man
Marabina Jaimes
as SWAT Woman
Scotch Ellis Loring
as SWAT Officer
Ben Lavington Martin
as District Attorney
Dirk Wallace Craft
as Officer Craft
John F. O'Donohue
as Federal Reserve Guard
John Patrick Hayes
as Pre-Teen No. 1
Cyd Strittmatter
as Lieutenant
John Donohue
as Crewman No. 1
Jody Fasanella
as Matronly Secretary
Kevin Sifuentes
as Reed Driver
Joe Wandell
as Reef Gunman
Joshua G. Adams
as Basketball Kid No. 1
Zane Graham
as Basketball Kid No. 2
Charles Napier
as Col. David
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News & Interviews for Steel

Critic Reviews for Steel

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (3) | Rotten (23)

Audience Reviews for Steel

  • Jun 06, 2013
    The most atrocious iteration of the Superman series, Steel is an abomination that everyone has since disowned. Shaquille O'Neal stars as John Henry Irons, a former U.S. Army weapons specialist who resigned after a training accident crippled his friend, but he becomes a vigilante after discovering that his weapons have found their way into the hands of L.A. street gangs. O'Neal's acting is beyond awful, and his co-stars are just as bad. The costumes and sets look cheap and cartoonishly stupid, and the music is abysmal. Steel is an appallingly bad film that is nearly unwatchable.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • May 18, 2012
    The Avengers not only broke expectations, but it?s making huge money (above a billion in two and half weeks) which is well earned when you make a great superhero movie. What happens when you do the opposite like putting a basketball player with no acting talent in an adaptation of an unknown DC Comic hero? You get a movie that almost singlehandedly killed the superhero genre. Steel is about John Henry Irons, played by Shaq, who develops weapons for the military and leaves when the military decides to use his weapons despite the danger. That summary in the last sentence is the closest you?ll have to a good story in this movie. There?s a lot missing from this mess of a superhero movie like excitement, drama, fun, and an actual superhero. Let me tell you one thing, Shaq is easily the most unimpressive superhero ever. Not only does he get knocked down most of the times when he?s fighting crime, but he pretty much useless as he doesn?t save a lot of people or do anything super. If there?s one thing I hate more than the boring script is that we actually see boring scenes like a very, very slow chase across even slower free trains where nothing exciting happens. What bad superhero movie is complete without truly awful dialogue like ?Eat the hot dog, don?t be one!?. Thankfully the movie mostly burrows lines from other movies which is still bad, but it?s better than any original dialogue Steel does have. One scene in particular stood out to me when Shaq character was visiting Susan Sparks (Annabeth Gish) with this ridiculous dialogue. John: (about her being crippled) I can imagine how you feel. Susan: No. No you can?t. John: You?re right. I can?t. Now to the movie credit it does make you laugh, though not often, when you hear awful dialogue and some funny bad acting. This is truly poor writing at its worst. Like what kind of evil mastermind would ever sell weapons with the help of an arcade manufacturer? What kind of criminals never shut up about robbing a bank while the robbery is airing on the news? Then come the character Martin (Ray J) who I honestly had no idea what he?s saying most of the time with lines like ?Now you need stud. Hey why you player hating? I got all kind of honey sweating meat?. I stop paying attention to Martin. One last thing I?m going to pick on is the climax when Shaq and Martin are thrown into a room and a henchman throws a grenade inside. The two performs an entire comedy routine which takes around ten seconds; grenades do not take that long to explode! Just from poor writing alone from this disaster is enough to kill the superhero genre. Unfortunately we also got actors in Steel. I want praise actress Annabeth Gish who provided the only good performance in this movie, unfortunately she also gets some poorly written dialogue to deliver. Now Annabeth Gish should have been the hero as she clearly has talents and a wheelchair that can shoot lasers which would make for a better time than watching Shaq getting knocked constantly. Other than Annabeth Gish being one of the few redeeming factors of the movie, everything is as bad as the writing. Shaq acting is especially bad; in one scene he has eyebrows spasm when picking up Sparks from the veteran hospital. Aside from bad acting from the entire cast, with the exception of Gish, production values are really horrendous. Shaq superhero costume is just plain ridiculous and the special effects are truly boring. One example is when Shaq very slowly zip line to the top of a building to run away from the police made me laugh. The music is just as unexciting as everything else in the movie. Almost everything in Steel is awful and it?s a miracle that Steel didn?t kill the superhero genre. Steel is a prime example demonstrating that not every superhero can make an easy transition to the big screen.
    Caesar M Super Reviewer
  • May 04, 2011
    This movie was...Okay. It certainly wasn't good, but it wasn;t too bad either. Shaq can't act, no more than he can shoot a decent free throw, but there was still some good. But as always, we begin with the bad. The basketball puns in this movie were just PAINFUL PAINFUL PAINFUL!!! For example, there is one scene where Shaq has too shoot a grenade throw a hole in the wall with unlimited time and no one guarding him. GEE, I WONDER WHAT THAT MEANS. OUT OF ALL THE BASKETBALL PUNS, IT COULD BE ANY!!! Then there was the acting. Shaq, of course, was pretty bad, but the villain was pretty bad too. I also didn't like the acting of the annoying kid. Just attrocious. There was good though. The special affects in this movie had too be good to make up for the fact that Shaq played the main character, and they were. I felt like I was watching a Terminator film! Particulary the hammer. I lied the costume too, even if the entrance was a little dumb. The plot was pretty good too, for a Shaq movie. It's kind of like Iron Man, but I don't really want to explain it. This movie isn;t perfect, but it isn't horrible. In my opinion, it's smack dad in the middle.
    Marc L Super Reviewer
  • May 03, 2010
    About the same as Kazam in terms of quality, this is basically the poor man's Batman, even circa '97. Again, it has a bizarre unintentional comedy element to it that makes it worth watching. This has too many seriously toned moments though, which makes it tough to even get through. Poor Shaquille O'Neal really wanted to be a movie star.
    Conner R Super Reviewer

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