Making the Grades
Looking back over films I've reviewed, one genre seems to be growing by leaps and kicks. You could call it the nonviolent-violent action film. The most benign ones have kicking warriors, while others, like Steel, use superheros with high technology weapons to disguise the fact they are shooting people.
What these films do have in common is the gargantuan amount of violence that coats their messages of love and peace. Give me a break -- all these films are aimed at a young male audience, of whom few are likely to watch these movies hoping to learn how to "love thy neighbor" or anybody else. Instead they're renting the tape to see some action in a PG-13 package that won't have parents pulling the plug on the TV. Enough ranting...
In Steel,real-life basketball star Shaquille O'Neal plays a metallurgist who has been developing super-de-duper weapons for military applications. When a member of the development team decides to make money selling these tools on the street, O'Neal heads back home to set up shop in a downtown LA outdoor junkyard, where he and a couple of friends begin building counter-weapons from stuff that has "fallen from the back of a truck." He also makes an armored suit, which will change him into Steel.
Of course there's lots of bad guys robbing banks, allowing Steel to practice his techniques, but what surprised me was the amount of violence shown on screen. At least five people are shot, using what was described in the beginning as non-violent weapons. Steel also has a bad attitude towards police, spending most of the movie trying to outrun the law. The unintended joke is that even big ol' O'Neal can hardly move in the tin can he has to wear.
Steel is just an excuse for another violent film aimed at young audiences. It may not be as "dark" as some other choices on the rental shelves, but it certainly shoots to kill and overall is poorly acted and written.