Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Recap: "Steel" Part 2: Rebound

And so, in the first part of Steel, Steel did not show up. Great start, everyone.

Is it too late to hope that Shaq won't show up for the rest of this?
An indeterminate amount of time after our "hero" got Shaq-attacked, Shaq John is on the phone with his old colonel, demanding to know how the weapons got on the streets. Apparently, all the prototypes are accounted for and the colonel isn’t really listening. John hangs up so hard that he breaks the payphone, and walks off. He talks to Martin about this gang all clad in purple, and gets some info on where they hang out before going off to whip their butts into shape. Meanwhile, the hoodlums are playing pool in their usual hangout while watching TV footage of the robbery and cheering and bragging about how they did that. You see, Facebook and YouTube hadn’t been invented yet, so these idiots had to stupidly incriminate themselves somehow.

Shaq John shows up to ask the eye-patch wearing leader of these punks, Slats, where they got their weapons from, and they deny everything. They pull some regular guns on John and tell him to GTFO, and he does. Slats phones Burke’s men and tells them about John. Burke tells his go-to guy to murder the one John caught as a lesson to the others, and asks Daniels if something called a “web page” is ready. Apparently, they’re going to create a “web page” on something called the “internet” to sell their weapons to the world. Stop me if I’m using too much technobabble.

The next day, or whenever, John uses the payphone at work to try to get in touch with Sparky. Apparently, she’s been transferred from the Veterans’ hospital she was at to one in St. Louis. In no time flat, Shaq John shows up to visit his old friend. She’s more than a little depressed. She hasn’t responded to any of John’s letters, and spend most of her time sitting and staring out the window.

John: “I can imagine how you feel.”
Sparky: “No. No you can’t.”
John: “…You’re right. I can’t.”

While I do like this treatment of the tired old “I know how you feel” clichĂ©, it looks more like Shaq just decided to give up on acting and ad-libbed a line to explain the lack of emotion on his face.

Sparky: “Shit happens.”
John: “Tell me about it. Good cop, friend of mine, she’s badly hurt. With one of our weapons.”

A few points.

A.  Way to make it all about you, John.
B.  That’s the second friend of yours your guns have badly injured. And since we never se her again, she's dead for all the audience knows.
C.  So now it’s “our” weapons? Jerk.

Shaq John tries to recruit Sparky into his little crusade, but she refuses. He smashes open the window in some kind of symbolism, and gives her an eloquent speech on how you either get busy living or get busy dying.

Shaq: “Girl, you’re outta here.”

Or maybe he just picks her up and carries her away while she protests.

Shaq: “This here’s a prime example of ‘shit happening.’”

And despite her continued protests and cries for help, the heroic fanfare plays and the other patients begin clapping and cheering over what is now technically a kidnapping.

You know, they originally scripted a scene where John talks to one of the counselors at the hospital who was also in a wheelchair. The counselor would notice the Superman logo tattooed on John’s arm (a tattoo Shaq actually has) and talk about what the symbol stands for. Hope. Never giving up. This would inspire John to rescue Sparky from her downward spiral. Unfortunately, Christopher Reeve couldn’t make it to the shoot, and the scene was removed.

Rest in peace, Man of Steel.
Anyway, Sparky quickly gets some Stockholm off screen, and John takes her to a junkyard, where his Uncle Joe, played by Shaft himself, Richard Roundtree. Of course, the first thing that Shaq John shows her is the handicap-accessible restroom like it’s a Ferrari. He also tells her that she’ll be staying at Uncle Joe’s from now on. Sparky finally questions what the heck they actually want her to do. Basically, John tells her that they’re going to make their own weapons out of all these pieces of scrap.

You know a clever movie would make the argument that it's not the mere existence of weapons that creates problems, but the lack of effort to keep them out of the hands of bad people.

Fair point.
So the plan is to make better weapons to take out the ones on the street. While I could criticize the decision to stop weapon proliferation by creating better weapons, I have to admit that John is going to need some kind of way to defend himself now that the weapons are out there.

Thanks again, Eddie.
Anyway, he plans on making this happen thanks to her designs and Uncle Joe’s engineering skills. That he apparently picked up in a junkyard making scrap sculptures. Speaking of Uncle Joe, he shows up with a mainframe someone threw out, which apparently has 500 megahertz, making it top of the line. For 1998. Well, you know, “threw out.”

Uncle Joe: “You would be absolutely moon-eyed to know just how many things will fall off the back of a truck.”
Sparky: “I’ll make a list.”

As she gets to work, Shaq John fills Uncle Shaft Joe (oh, great, another one to keep track of) in on Sparky’s backstory. It’s typical 90’s sad backstory. Dead dad, alcoholic mom. But hey, at least her spirits are improving after her kidnapping. But, hey, Stockholm syndrome does that to you.

Over at Daniels’s arcade, he gets introduced to Martin and sweet talks the kid to ostensibly recruit him. Later, over at the junkyard, Sparky falls out of her wheelchair trying to reach a tool, and instead of helping her, John and Joe stand back and watch as she musters the willpower to climb back in as the orchestra soars. Inspirational? Possibly. Oscar-bait? You know it.

John Henry Irons will soon be risking his life while she will be risking an almost certain Academy award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
John keeps working and gets thanked by Sparky for everything he’s done since kidnapping her, and Martin shows up to invite them to dinner and ask what they’re making. John distracts him by failing at another free throw.

John: “Never could make the free throws.”

Thanks for explaining the joke. John stays to work for a bit, so Martin and Sparky head off while talking about how “dope” Martin’s new job at the arcade is, and how he can make mad cream. …That’s not what he meant.

Sparky: “Cream?”
Martin: “C-R-E-A-M. Cash Rules Everything Around Me. Cream. Get the money. Dolla dolla bills, y’all.”

We get it, you’re black. Stop quoting Wu-Tang Clan lyrics that were already four years old by the time this movie was released.

As gospely music plays, we get a montage of the team putting the finishing touches on everything, including re-using the steel pouring footage from the title sequence. On an unrelated note, is it wrong that I find it hilarious that one of these characters is wheelchair bound in this montage while the lyrics “stand up” are being repeated? We get a close up of Shaq’s actual Man of Steel tattoo, which is the closest this movie comes to feeling like a DC Comics movie, which soon gets covered by a metal plate. Not a bad metaphor for how this movie is covering up its roots.

Kind of hilarious that Shaq has the title of a future much-hated Superman movie on his arm.
After the montage, the team goes over the gadgets they’ve made. Sparky has a computer, a headset, and gives John a transceiver and a camera so she can be his JARVIS. Hmmm, this paraplegic genius is reminding me of some other comic character, but I can't remember or recall which one. Oh, well. It's not like I'll get a random comment, email, or a call to remind me. Yep. On an unrelated note, Mark Hurd is the CEO of Oracle.

Anyway, Uncle Joe worked on a big ol’ hammer because our hero’s named John Henry Irons.

Uncle Joe: “I did the metal work. I especially like the shaft.”

I can dig it.

John goes off to make the helmet, and Uncle Joe points out that it’s kind of stupid that he’s going to take on his own weapons by making better ones.

John: “Sometimes, you gotta fight fire with fire.”

And sometimes, you gotta fight lasers with rubber.
He pulls out the helmet, and Uncle Joe makes a quip about how John Henry Irons is now the Man of Steel. I’d like to point out that it’s now halfway through the movie. At least Tony Stark gave us a suit of armor in the first half hour.

Over in L.A., a hoity-toity rich couple gets mugged in an alleyway. The crook goes off and ditches the wallet while keeping the cash.

John: “Not a nice way to treat someone’s family pictures.”

And so, our hero finally reveals himself to the two-bit mugger.

"That's just adorable."
Oh, where to even begin? The airbrushed plastic armor? The rubber mask that bends when his mouth moves? The fact that he’s still got that big ol’ Shaq grin on his face? The fact that amateur cosplayers have better Steel costumes than this?

I don't know you you are, random DC fan, but congratulations on making a better Steel costume than this movie.
Seriously, what can I say that hasn’t already been said a million times? This costume sucks. You know it. I know it. There’s no reason to dwell on it.

Back at base, Joe and Sparky laugh as Steel hangs the guy from a lamppost and returns the wallet to Mr. and Mrs. Hoy T. Toity, Esq. Hilariously, he leaves by getting on an escalator. It’s just as funny as it sounds. He heads off to take care of a shootout, and gets to test out his bulletproof armor and the sonic blast in his hammer’s shaft.

Steel: “It’s hammer time.”

Great, that’s the stupid joke I was going to use there.

Uncle Joe: “Well, I’ll be dipped in shit and rolled in breadcrumbs.”

Is that one of Gr…

Sparky: “One of Odessa’s recipes?”

Dang it! Stop taking my lines. If I wanted someone else to do a running commentary, I’d get the MST3K crew over here.

A gang fight breaks out again, so Steel activates his electromagnet and all the metal weapons get stuck to his armor. It’s as goofy as it sounds. After all this “crime fighting,” Steel escapes from the cops in an underwhelming chase scene involving lightly jogging over rooftops. There’s a jump that Sparky tells him he can’t make, and what do you know, he can’t make it. He runs from more cops, and gets on a motorcycle to eventually give them the slip, with a little help from Sparky hacking into the traffic system.

Sgt. Marcus: “Where’d that son-of-a-buck go?”
Young Cop: “The Batcave?”

Hello, trailer line.

Our heroes celebrate the successful test run, and John and Sparky do their E.T. thing.

To be continued! Will this success pan out? Will the villain of the movie be in any more of it? And will Grandma Odessa finally get that soufflé to work? Find out in Part 3!

1 comment:

  1. Fun fact: The tattoo wasn't planned, it's one Shaq already had