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1997’s Steel was a perfect storm of crap, and what little audience there was paid the price.

When Superman died, there was a lousy event comic where four different people appeared and either one of them could have been the Man of Steel. It was even intimated that his ‘soul’ could have possessed another body. One of those bodies was John Henry Irons. (Subtle.)

Irons had created an energy cannon that became weaponized by the military, and somehow he didn’t see that coming. So to fight the weapon that was now filtering onto the streets, he made a set of armor and an indestructible hammer to fight crime with, which is a basically an even BETTER weapon to fall into the wrong hands.

It was an attempt to introduce a black character into comics, but it was over a decade before Steel was even bearable.

The Steel movie starred Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq is very charismatic, quick to improvise, and has a huge sense of humor and a deadpan style to go with it. But Shaq is hard to motivate, and no one is more boring than Shaq when he’s phoning it in.

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He phoned it in.

Maybe that’s not fair. Shaq was doing the Summer Olympics, and training for Lakers camp at the same time. He had very little time to go over lines with his acting coach, but that’s why movies star – you know – actors. People whose full time job is acting. It helps with those pesky scheduling conflicts.

The writer/director was Kenneth Johnson, who had spent pretty much his entire career doing television which is why Steel looks and feels like a really cheap TV movies.

This is a boring, cheap-looking movie with bad acting and not the slightest bit of interest from anyone involved. The story is a black version of the Iron Man origin, guy makes weapon, doesn’t want it out there, puts on a suit of armor to fight crime and the spread of the weapon, except in Steel, Irons doesn’t get hurt (because that would be too interesting) his lab partner gets hurt so we lose a lot of time with sappy scenes between the two.

The wheelchair shoots rockets.

The wheelchair shoots rockets.

The villain is Judd Nelson. Steel could have embraced its cheapness and gone for being all out entertaining, but it goes for the pacing of a drama, mixed with one-liners that didn’t work in the 80’s and terrible casting. Also this is one of the worst superhero suits ever made in a movie for wide release. Somehow they found a way to make a man that is naturally seven feet tall, look unintimidating.

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Over the years, comic book movies have taken me through a gauntlet of emotions, from joy to sadness, excitement to despair and all points in between. Before watching Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance however, no film has ever made me feel angry. Why was I so mad? Because I felt like I’d been played.

Thanks for the money, suckers!

Thanks for the money, suckers!

No film has ever been more vapid, more loud, more pointless, or more disrespectful of people paying money to see a film than Ghost Rider 2. A terrible plot with holes the size of the Grand Canyon. Camera work done by an epileptic on PCP. Monks with fucking computers. Honestly guys, what the hell did we do to you?

Why does the devil need to hop in a getaway car to escape? Matter of fact, why does he need a human body? Why does Blackout supposedly decay everything he touches, except the moment that fact becomes inconvenient to the “plot”? Why does Raiden have all those face tattoos? Why does the entirely CGI Ghost Rider have to sway back and forth like he’s listening to “Sailing” by Christopher Cross?

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Who gave Nicholas Cage the drugs, and who said it was OK to give them to everyone?

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As we talked about before, Nicholas Cage’s performances began a swift decline into the terrible right around the time the first Ghost Rider film came out. This decline brought with it some terrible box office returns that coincided with some financial problems for the actor, which seemingly forced him into a number of sub-par stories and productions.

But no one told him he had to be terrible in those films. That was his idea.

The problems with Ghost Rider are not all Cage’s fault – they literally gave him nothing to work with in terms of script and story, and not giving a single crap and still getting paid is an offer I doubt that most people would pass on. But at some point, you have to give at least half a crap about what you’re putting out there, and Cage is past the point where he can phone in lunacy and we’re supposed to act like it’s still funny. You were one of the best out there buddy. It’s time to come back home.

Even worse than Cage is the direction from Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the duo that brought us Crank. They apparently believe that their target audience is squirrels, because they are consistently attempting to keep our attention with shaky camera work and slo-mo scenes in every shot. Perhaps it was an attempt for them to keep us distracted from the nonsense that was supposed to pass for entertainment, but it wasn’t working.

That’s the part that made me so upset; the idea that they could attempt to play on the fact that this franchise is sub-par, and make a film that’s purposefully bad, yet not make any attempt to make it truly fun. It’s by-the numbers mayhem for them, and they expect the audience to eat it up by putting in a bunch of explosions and flaming-chainsaw crane set pieces. (Which, I’m ashamed to admit, was AWESOME.)

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They took over-the-top and turned it into dull, predictable crap, and then, on top of it all, they still have the nerve to look over and wink at you from time to time, as if you are in on the the joke, when in fact, the joke’s on you.

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Don’t wink at me, dude. We are clearly not friends, and where I come from, disrespect like this can get a boot print burned in your ass.

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