Movie Review by:
Jim "Good Old JR" Rutkowski
Directed & Written by:
Mark Steven Johnson
Ben Affleck, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jennifer Garner
for action/violence and some sensuality.
"...an exciting, passionately
Every genre of films wears out their welcome
eventually. One idea is a huge success so a bunch of replicant productions move
forward hoping to capitalize on the trend. The comic book heroes have gone
through its similar fits and tremors. Two great Superman films paved the 80s way
for two mediocre sequels, Supergirl, direct-to-video detestations The Punisher
and Captain America, not to mention a Fantastic Four that never saw the light of
day. Batman led to Judge Dredd, The Phantom, Barb Wire, Tank Girl and Spawn.
X-Men reinvigorated the comics once again and with the earth-shattering success
of a certain webslinger, the next recession has yet to begin. More than a few
have been waiting for Daredevil to spearhead it, but they'll have to wait
because I'm happy to report that not only is it a great film, but also ranks
among the best of all the superhero flicks.
Daredevil doesn't exactly hold the marquee value of a Hulk or Spider-Man amongst
those with only a general knowledge of comic history. My only prior exposure to
the character had been a TV movie (The Trial of the Incredible Hulk) with Solid
Gold's Rex Smith in the role. To say that Rex or the film didn't nearly do the
avenger justice is both a pun and the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the
Ben Affleck makes for a far better Matt Murdock, a man who was blinded as a
child but found his other senses heightened beyond imagination. With the
reverberation of sound throughout a room (cleverly presented and never getting
old), Murdock is allowed the appearance of sight as he dedicates his life to
serving justice as he sees fit after witnessing the murder of his father. Lawyer
by day. Red-tighted vindicator at night.
With his preoccupation for protecting the innocent, personal relationships
outside of his business partner, Foggy Nelson (Jon Favreau) are neither
fulfilling nor long-lasting. That's when the smell of Elektra Natchios (Jennifer
Garner) walks into his favorite diner. After some flirtatious chopsocky (on a
children's playground, no less), the two begin a relationship where each has to
let their guard down and come to terms that their may be something more than
what they've solely dedicated their lives too; him, a fighter and her, not a
victim. Their love affair is the heart of the story.
If your senses pick up that I haven't mentioned much of a plot so far, then you
would be correct. There are villains and there is action. But this is a
character-based tale. There is no artificial plot for world domination.
Conflicts and resolutions do factor in, therefore playing out more like an
individual comic book than an encapsulation of an entire history; a risky move
on the part of the filmmakers. Since its already assumed that a Batman or
Spider-Man has a Part Two greenlit during the original production, a B-level
like Daredevil is a gamble to rely all on establishment rather than trying to
cram home 40 years of comics into two hours. Who exactly is The Man Without Fear
Will the Daredevil fans react as strongly to the film as I did? The largest
exclusion storywise is the background training of both Matt and Elektra
(especially hers). No mention of Stick and only a throwaway line to the various
masters she was coached under. Other than that, the aficionados will find very
little to nitpick at compared to the other revisionist histories of their
favorite heroes for sale. Sure, crimeboss Wilson "Kingpin" Fisk is now black,
but can you imagine anyone other the sheer bulk of Michael Clarke Duncan to play
that character? And, yes, Bullseye didn't have the tattooed forehead (until now
as the comics are playing catchup to the movie) but no one can scoff at Colin
Farrell's beautifully mannered portrait of evil. Anything can be a weapon to
this guy, he never misses and he's not discriminate about his victims. Farrell's
Bullseye is a classic villain.
So many things struck me with pleasure during Daredevil that I was both reminded
of my days as a young moviegoer and how the seemingly same old game can still
throw surprises at me. Has there ever been a superhero movie that opens with
them telling the audience he's dying? How great is it to actually take the time
to show us what happens to a crimefighter at the end of the night. Some may go
back to Wayne Manor and watch Leno, but how refreshing is it to see them in
agony with scars, a shelf full of pills and a night in the hyper baric super
soaker chamber? Don't let that "PG-13" rating fool you. This is a brutal film.
Exactly the kind of film the rating was invented for. Not overtly bloody to
qualify for an "R" but way too intense for a simple "PG". I was a bit surprised
at the extremes the filmmakers went to.
It's easy not to expect much from a novice director like Mark Steven Johnson,
who was responsible for the lackluster adaptation of John Irving's (Simon Birch)
and penned both Grumpy Old Men films, but this is a major step forward.
Daredevil is an exciting, passionately executed flick that has the moxie to call
out the critics of major action pictures. Dependent on minimal special effects
(except for the occasional flying/jumping far variety), the character is the
thing here. This is Matt Murdock's story and it's only an introduction into what
I hope will be a further string of adventures. With more efforts like Daredevil,
the superhero franchises may go through its greatest run yet.
DAREDEVIL © 2003 Twentieth
All Rights Reserved
Review © 2009 Alternate Reality, Inc.
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