It’s amazing what you find in the bargain basement racks sometimes. The worst superhero film of all time, for a start.
The box alone for Iron Hero is brilliant. “The heart of Superman, the mind and body of the Terminator”. “Part Man, Part Machine, All Hero”. Its title rips off Iron Man, the tagline of RoboCop, and the costume actually looks more like the Green Goblin than Iron Man. Actually, despite the title, it’s actually a rip off of The Guyver. Also, this film isn’t even called Iron Hero, it’s called Metal Man.
The blurb on the back talks about a character who isn’t in this movie. The technical information gets both the aspect ratio and the runtime wrong. Oh, and the 15 rating? It’s actually rated 12. The back of the box explains that the film is a 12, but the ‘additional material’ is a 15, despite the fact the DVD contains the movie and nothing else. Since this version hasn’t been passed by the BBFC I’m technically a victim of crime. I certainly feel like it having watched it. It is hands down, the worst film I have ever seen. And I wrote about Highlander II.
In the opening scene, two generic criminals are stealing… paper, when in walks Iron Hero! He poses. Cut to credits. This scene is never mentioned again, probably because they reuse the actors in completely different roles. The credits claim the music is by Mr Magoo. Later, the credits will list an actor’s name as Count Smokula. What? Also, it stars Reggie from Phantasm.
Kyle Finn is just an ordinary super intelligent maths/physics/cell biology/game design student, playing his own video game, Biodeath (although it’s also referred to as Desert Operation). This is actually a plot point later, but for now we get to watch five minutes of PS1-era graphics with the volume turned down and no context whatsoever. Bizarrely, despite later being revealed as an advanced cell lifestyle simulator, the game is actually a WWII flight simulator. He is kicked off the internet when his cell phone rings, because apparently that’s what happens if you go with TalkTalk.
Downstairs, he argues with his parents for a bit, in a scene so badly acted that his parents keep laughing directly into the camera. Then he goes to school. Or university. Whatever.
On the way he meets Lucy, who he makes small talk with. He’s stalking her, and they never talk. Or, they’re boyfriend and girlfriend and talk all the time. This is not a film to pay attention to any continuity like that. Also, next time we see Lucy, everyone calls her Julie. I may have misheard it due to the horrendous sound mixing.
In the lab (well, a garage), we meet Dr Blake (who is sometimes called Dr Breen or Peter Hamilton). He is working on a super secret project, and Kyle is helping him out, possibly for money. This super special secret project is a special helmet (and suit of armour, but no one ever mentions the suit, only the helmet) that may or may not grant the user superpowers. This latest test involves Kyle wearing the special helmet and suit and walking into a freezer, armed only with a calculator (for communication). But something is clearly wrong, as evidenced by the “I’m sorry” he keeps saying. They avoid showing too much of the Iron Hero costume at this point, as we shall later find out it was covered in stickers the producers couldn’t quite remove.
Then, some guys appear out of nowhere. They want the suit, after years of searching. Of course, since Dr Blake goes by any of three names in this film it’s hardly surprising they’ve had to look for so long. They want the helmet to use as a weapon, because it turns out Dr Blake was funded by a supervillain weapons designer all along, and now he wants it back.
What would be nice is if we knew what the suit did. So far, all we know is that it’s resistant to cold, although that might be a cover. I’m going to take a wild guess that this suit is a bit like Iron Man. So, this bad guy takes the spare helmet that Dr Blake has lying around, and then smacks him around a bit (apparently – we never see Dr Blake get injured at all). But this helmet is missing a chip and doesn’t work, so Head Bad Guy sends his baldest henchman to kill Kyle’s parents, just in case.
Meanwhile, Kyle is still in the cold chamber, at an astonishing -40 degrees. No, we’re not told which scale it’s on, so I’m guessing they mean on Newton’s scale, a temperature scale that does not get enough respect nowadays. Dr Blake walks into the chamber and pulls Kyle out, so clearly it wasn’t particularly cold in there. Then, Dr Blake dies for no reason. Fortunately, this death is undone seconds later when it turns out an AI construct of Dr Blake is now living inside Kyle’s head. You can tell he’s an AI because he’s pixellated and covered in static, a bit like RoboCop’s vision.
So, as an annoyingly monotone Dr Blake exposits, this “testing” nonsense was all a ruse to get Kyle into the chamber so he could fuse him permanently to the helmet, turning him into “the most advanced human species on the planet”. He chose Kyle because he’s apparently pure hearted enough not to let the power change him, yet dumb enough that he doesn’t sue him for a massive breach of ethics. And anyway, Kyle isn’t that good hearted, because Dr Blake has to stop him murdering everyone he meets.
Should Kyle decide to kill, however, the powers he currently has are pretty limited. He has the power to not be claustrophobic. No, seriously, that’s the first one we learn. He can also morph back into his old appearance, via a bad bewitched cut. Ok, so those might not be brilliant powers, but who knows, maybe the suit will get more powers as the movie goes on if the plot suddenly demands it.
Back at Kyle’s house, the bad men are there, busy murdering his parents. They have a gun, but that’s okay, because Kyle is now the Iron Hero, and also this film doesn’t have the effects budget for a firing gun too often. Get used to this gun, it’s the only gun prop they have. So the “fight” is that one of them waves the gun around a bit until Kyle pushes him over. You see, it turns out the suit has a new power, super strength!
But there’s more. Outside, three more men attack, this time with pipes! What follows is the single least epic fight scene, filmed in someone’s back garden on a phone, you have ever seen. It features men reeling from punches and kicks that miss them by several feet, and then someone crying on the floor with a stubbed toe. No, seriously.
The back of the box identifies these men as “ninjas”.
Head bad guy Sebastian is chewing out his henchmen for not getting Kyle, when his assistant “Doctor Marissa Lee” comes in, and starts talking about her detailed analysis of the helmet he swiped. Or at least, I’m pretty sure that’s her name. Sometimes people call her Lisa Hamilton, and in one weird bit Sebastian calls her “Major Doherty” by mistake.
Anyway, turns out the helmet isn’t quite working properly, which is what we already knew. Also Marissa has her own assistant, who is a complete arse for no reason, right to her boss’ face. Her analysis is that everyone should try meditating until the problem goes away. Also she’s Marissa’s sister. Or friend. Or employee. It depends on the scene. The credits don’t list her by either the name Diane or Lynette.
The next scene is exposition, but I couldn’t hear any of it because of some weird distortion on the vocal track that I think was supposed to be rainfall. Something about Marissa being the daughter of some guy who worked with Dr Blake. The only bit I did catch fully was them discussing Kyle. I’ll warn you now, this dialogue is delivered completely sincerely.
Marissa: He shows a strong sense of right and wrong. He’s pretty level headed, preferring to think about situations before acting on them. However it does show that he can be quite good at improvising when necessary.
Sebastian: I’m afraid you’ve got to speak to me in layman’s terms.
Time for the big bad’s plan to be revealed. He lies to Marissa, saying Kyle killed his own parents and then stole this helmet thing, and that the only way to defeat him is if Marissa seduces him because “hormones are his kryptonite”. Despite the fact that logically, at this point, he shouldn’t know Kyle has the real helmet. But it’s okay, because this plan is never mentioned ever again.
Then, the goons return, looking completely stoned, and say that they can’t get into Dr Blake’s lab because there’s tape across the door. Idiots. Marissa isn’t supposed to hear this, but she stands right by the door, where she can still be seen, and eavesdrops. Well, at least until she manages to fall over while standing completely still. Idiot. Also, the camera maintains the same angle, even when people get up and their heads go out of shot.
Back to Kyle, who has gone to Blake’s secret hideout. Here, we learn about his food, a “glucose based” energy drink that in no way looks like washing up liquid. This fuels the nanobots in the helmet, which apparently drain Kyle of electrical energy. You know, rather than making up some implausible excuse for why he needs food just to rip off RoboCop, they could have just had Kyle say “I’m hungry”. He “drinks” this energy liquid by pouring it on his shoulder (this qualifies for Epic Music). Then, under the effects of the energy drink, he falls asleep.
When Kyle wakes up he starts arguing with Blake about his purpose. The exchange (paraphrased) is thus.
Kyle: Why can’t I use these new powers to avenge my parents, fight crime, and get the girl?
Marissa and assistant have made a discovery! The helmet they have in front of them isn’t the real helmet at all, but in fact a decoy. This not having occurred to them when it didn’t work, or when they already knew Kyle had the real one anyway. Then again, they aren’t great scientists, as this genuine excerpt shows.
Marissa: What are you doing?
Assistant: Fabricating test results.
Assistant: Why not?
They then discuss why Sebastian is clearly the bad guy because Assistant is a good judge of character, ignoring his armies of ninja henchmen and the fact he has a lab devoted to weapons of mass destruction that THEY ARE CURRENTLY SITTING IN. Also, a lab that is made from 70s stereos and what looks like a rowing machine. Still, it’s a nice change to see the henchman realising their boss is a dick and just decide to mess with him. But don’t get too excited by this minimal character development, as next time we see them Sebastian kills the nasty assistant by making her wear the helmet. I would explain more, but the recording levels for this scene were set wrong, resulting in terrible clipping.
Then follows an odd segment where Iron Hero goes to the shops, and gets mugged. I would say it’s pointless, but it introduces two new superpowers. First, Kyle can now make himself look like a man with a beard, and it is this very beard that annoys some guy. Kyle first tries kneeing the guy in the balls and running away, but then he suddenly remembers the second new power: he has a special anti bullet shield, to complement his already bulletproof, indestructible suit. And then he doesn’t even use it, he just pushes the guy over in a car park and drives off. Iron Hero!
After shopping, Kyle is going… somewhere, but the henchmen have tracked him down. So, we get an almost shot for shot repeat of the last two fight scenes, complete with falling over and weird ninja guys with pipes. Kyle then leaves, without doing whatever it was he was supposed to be doing in the first place. Outside, he saves some girl from some muggers, and finds out he has a new power – the power of healing hands. Also some kid accidentally fires a nerf dart into the shot. Then he heroically steals a car.
Oh no! Turns out the henchmen kidnapped that girl from the beginning of the movie who Kyle was stalking. You know, Lucy? Except now she’s called Julie. But it’s okay, because Iron Hero is storming the compound to save the day! Well, he’s taking out the one unarmed guard. He finds Marissa and says some borderline comprehensible exposition, before Sebastian appears, armed with the one gun prop. Kyle beats him up a bit, and then throws Sebastian to the ground, accidentally knocking over part of the set. But he lets himself get captured to save that girl he was stalking, completely forgetting he has superpowers and could beat everyone up in an instant AND heal anyone’s wounds instantly. In fact, this film forgets Kyle has superpowers as often as it gives him new ones.
So, Marissa starts experimenting, trying to unlock the secrets of the helmet they already know is a fake. But Iron Hero isn’t allowed to kill, apparently, so Marissa tells him to go away. And he does! Although that’s only because he’s left unrestrained, guarded by one of the henchmen he has already easily beaten up… twice. The most interesting that happens in this fight is that a bin gets knocked over a bit. He bravely rescues Julie using yet another new power: handcuff bending!
Marissa then faces off with Sebastian, over a matter of blood tests. She injects him with… something, but it has no effect, except making him a bit angry. As punishment Sebastian makes Marissa wear the helmet. Instead of doing any of the things the helmet has done before, it turns her into a robot. This is never mentioned again.
Kyle is very slowly walking out of the building, when he discovers a new power. He can turn invisible, and also anyone he touches invisible! This would be really cool, except now we’re left looking at an empty corridor for the rest of the scene. And then the henchmen just find him anyway, making the invisibility completely pointless. Unfortunately, turns out this bulletproof and shielded suit wasn’t designed to be shot at or taken into battle at all, making Sebastian’s plan to turn it into a weapon COMPLETELY POINTLESS. This “energy drain” on the suit causes Kyle to walk like he’s drunk, and then collapse in a barn. This is bad, as explained by Dr Blake:
Blake: She’s just tired, but you need to rest. You might have a heart attack or a stroke.
Iron Hero, when he’s tired, he has a heart attack. That’s one bit I didn’t think they’d nick from Iron Man.
It’s at this point the film turns weird. It turns out it was all a dream! Kyle was just getting really into his WWII game and thought he was part of it. You remember that bit in World War II where this guy dressed up like Iron Man, right? To celebrate, he suddenly gets asthma. But before we can appreciate this film ending pleasantly early, it turns out the “it was all a dream” bit was really just a dream! He’s woken up by Dr Blake, who says that even though he’s “low on energy fuel” he’s still ok to fight apparently, and in fact should. Which is good, because outside waiting are Sebastian, RobotMarissa, and a new, previously unmentioned third robot that Sebastian had that is armed with missiles. You know, rendering his entire need to get the helmet COMPLETELY POINTLESS. This new robot is called “Mechaterror”, except in the credits, where it’s listed as “Metal Terror”.
Mechaterror accidentally blows up a passing plane. Against this terror Iron Hero is doomed, as it looks like he might be, er, strangled. But it’s okay, he discovers a new power, he can shoot electricity out his elbows! It doesn’t actually do anything though, and then Mechaterror tries to have sex with him. Then, just as it looks like Mechaterror will win, he explodes. Sebastian gets annoyed, and then shoots him a bit, which doesn’t work. Basically, imagine a fight scene from power rangers, on a farm, but with worse costumes and less budget.
So, how does this end? I’m still trying to get my head around it. You see, it turns out Sebastian had a secret third helmet all along that actually works, which renders the entire film COMPLETELY POINTLESS. In order to defeat this new evil Iron Hero, Kyle has to give Marissa the code (you know, the code?) that permanently attaches the helmet to her so they can team up to beat Sebastian. Which is sort of stupid, but then after he gives her the code Marissa reveals she rigged Sebastian’s helmet so that when he hears the code it kills him. So she knew about the secret helmet? If she did, why did she spend so much time working on the second helmet? Why did any of this film happen?
Anyway, Sebastian turns into giant testicle. It is at this point the film abruptly ends.
Normally, at this point you’d expect a review to end, but somehow the credits are equally as moronic as the rest of the film. Firstly, the credits roll over shots of Iron Hero flying, despite that NEVER HAPPENING. Then, in a Marvel style post credits sequence, we see that Kyle and Marissa are now lovers. And finally, the cast list gets the name wrong of many characters, including the TITLE CHARACTER.
I hate this film and want to go home, even though I’m already home.
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