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Back when Shaquille O'Neal was in movies because... basketball (?) we got Steel, a superhero movie based on the DC comics character with good old Shaq in the lead.

Willingly ignoring the whole Superman connection to the character save for a shot of Shaq's "Man Of Steel" tattoo, the film instead decides to do its own thing with Steel by packing the story with new supporting characters and giving him another, simpler origin story. Released the same year as Spawn, Steel unfortunately failed to wow critics and audiences alike and it's still seen as one of the most misguided comic-book films out there. Despite a healthy budget, Steel still managed to look cheap somehow with the hero's costume not looking metallic so much as it looked rubbery and thrown together. Shaq's performance also left a lot to be desired as his constant toothy grins and stiff demeanour didn't exactly sell Steel as a moody tough guy going around the streets of Los Angeles making the bad guys nervous.

The film's real mistake, however, is the script which not only gives the actors some truly horrid lines to read but the story is told in an unimaginative way, at a sluggish pace and it makes very little sense. You never buy that this guy would turn into a superhero overnight or that Judd Nelson's villain would be dumb enough to set up such an inane plan. It's easy to see why the film has made it in so many "Top 10 Worst" lists: it's clunky, corny as hell and clueless the entire time. To give the film credit, it's one of the first comic-book movies to have an African American hero as the lead and it's refreshing to see a strong female disabled character in a movie. Annabeth Gish, in fact, almost single-handedly saves the film by being so darn likeable as Shaq's friend Sparky who later reveals a weaponised, jet-powered wheelchair: one of the best things I've seen.

It's not all bad, then, and Steel is still mostly watchable even after such a slow and dull build-up. It's exactly as silly and dumb as you'd think and Shaq, indeed, should have probably not been cast in a role that demanded a more serious actor. Fans of bad movies should have a ball with it, though, and it's certainly worth seeing once for curiosity's sake.

Amusing, well-meaning flop.

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