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