The plot in a nutshell
A young boy sees a parent killed by criminals in an alley. He vows to
bring justice to the world, protecting those that cannot protect
themselves. He takes on the name of...no, not Batman, Daredevil!
it was a Batman story for Marvel in the early days, but there's a whole lot
more. Young Matt Murdock was blinded in a terrible industrial
accident, but it gives him heightened senses, including the ability to 'see'
using sound, very similar to, well, a bat. He hones his body and his
fighting skills, and goes after the bad guys. Along the way he gets
the girl, loses the girl, gets the girl, loses the girl...and gets the bad
guy of course.
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Relatively Spoiler Free Thoughts
This isn't your friendly neighborhood Spider-man. While the film
obviously will get many comparisons, it's not particularly fair since the
tone and feel of this film is far darker, as it should be.
Still, by giving Daredevil some
pretty amazing acrobatic abilities, they are inviting the comparisons.
And they don't stack up favorably. While the film is fun at times, and
has moments of brilliance, the majority is bland, average action fare.
There are moments - in an
alley, the shadow of Daredevil spreads across a brick wall, huge and looming
over a petty thug - that are truly excellent, but they really are nothing
more than comic book panels, perfect for a freeze frame moment, but not
sufficient to carry a movie. They hint at how cool this could have
been, but the acting and directing don't live up.
Some people will complain about
the handling of the character himself. This isn't the exact comic book
creation, although he's closer to the Frank Miller version than he is to the
old school Murdock. I can live with the changes, and there's nothing
here so obtuse to hurt the overall story line or for the open minded
Daredevil fan to get too upset over.
The fight scenes are
predominately well done, although some times it's hard to tell. The
bar fight is a perfect example, and it goes back to my earlier comment on
comic book panels - as he fights, there's lots of blurred motion, fast
camera work, and speed up film, and them BAM! a frozen moment of cool.
Lather, rinse, repeat. It's hard to see what's happening between these
moments, and that hurst some of the action sequences.
I'd be remiss though if I
didn't point out two major failings with the fight sequences. First,
there is a truly awful foreplay-as-sparring-match scene between Murdock and
Elektra. This takes place in a school yard (why doesn't anyone ever
notice just how amazing Murdock's talents are considering he's blind?) in
broad daylight, and has some of the goofiest sequences I've seen since the
old 70's chop socky films from Hong Kong. The scene brought plenty of
laughter from the crowd, but not when the director might have expected it.
The second problem is the over
dependence on wire work. Really, if there's one blight that Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon's success foisted upon us, it's putting every action
star on wires. Hey, I don't mind it when it's done well (i.e. when it
takes into consideration the reality of gravity), or used sparingly.
But here we see it over and over, and it's glaringly obvious - the scene in
the alley where a young Murdock does a stationary back flip, and when
Kingpin tosses Daredevil around in their required battle are the worst
Still, I could overlook all of
this, if the movie had been great in other respects. Unfortunately, it
isn't. I never felt for anyone in the film, and that's the greatest
problem this movie has - it's empty of emotion. There are at least
three deaths in the film that should make me feel something, either sorrow,
pity, or joy, but none of them connect on an emotional level. I never
get to know any of the relationships between the principal characters well
enough to become attached, and there's little spark between any of them on
screen. Affleck brings little to his role, and while I really like
Jennifer Garner, there's simply no chemistry between the two of them.
Farrell as the evil Bullseye is never quite sure how to go - one minute he's
spooky psycho, and the next he's a goofball.
The best moments go to Foggy
Nelson, played by Jon Favreau, who does a terrific job handling the comic
relief. I found myself looking forward to any scene he was in.
There are some nice homage's to
the comics - watch the marquee to see who Murdock's dad is fighting in his
final bout, watch for the extremely obvious Stan Lee cameo, and the less
obvious Frank Miller cameo as well. There are the use of plenty of
lines, and overuse of the Man With No Fear tag. I was bothered by one
line in particular - "A man without fear is a man without
hope." Please explain that to me - what the hell does that mean?
Rating - Rent It.
I don't recommend spending the eight bucks on this one, unless you got a
free ticket in your X-men 1.5 DVD. It's not a terrible film, and is
well worth renting once it makes it to the local video store. If you
have a surround sound system at home, you're going to love the effects, and
I certainly hope they give us a great DTS ES track on this one.
If you do go to see it, be sure
to stay for the credits! They have a cute scene thrown in there just
for the patient people.
Spoiler Laden Thoughts
So let's talk about the plot in slightly greater detail...
Ah, we're in the spoiler section, so now I can mention Elektra. Does
she die, she sure as hell looked like it. But then, how did she get
Matt that nifty little Braille necklace? It's good business (or as
Kingpin said "It's always business...just business") to keep the possibility
of bringing back what is sure to be a popular character. I was also
glad to see that both Kingpin and Bullseye didn't die, although that brings
up another weird point in the film. Daredevil allows Kingpin to live
"because I'm not the bad guy". But 2 minutes earlier he
tossed Bullseye out a church window to his certain death. Why the
sudden change of heart?
I think this movie suffered
from a weak performance by Affleck, and the lack of chemistry between he and
just about everyone else. The movie had it's other failings, but that
single one is what kept me from enjoying it as much as I should.