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Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Daredevil (2003)

Daredevil is one of those few Marvel Comics movies that has its major problems. It had the potential to be a masterpiece of a comic book movie, but instead feels like something of a missed opportunity.

Personally, I really like it, despite its faults. Ben Affleck had a love for the character and the source material, and makes very good Matt Murdoch. Jennifer Garner, while rather miscast as the Greek assassin Elektra, still puts in a strong performance, and Michael Clarke Duncan is pretty much note perfect at the Kingpin. It is in the film;s structure itself that the problem lies.

Director Mark Steven Johnson has made a serious film that has all the ingredients of a hard, action packed comic flick that does bring Daredevil to the screen in impressive fashion. The thing is, there are elements that feel a little too much like studio intervention. This should have been The Dark Knight of Marvel movies, but at the time there wasn't really a market for darker superhero films (remember, this was in the midst of the X-men and Spider-man era of comic book films), and as such the mix of badass Daredevil action and characterization is mixed here and there with something a tad camp.

There are parts of the film that make me cringe, in particular things like the burning 'DD' symbol on the ground, stolen directly from 'The Crow', and the rather rushed romantic element between Daredevil and Elektra, but there is a ton to love about the film too.

Take Colin Farrell as Bullseye for example. Sure, the costume and makeup is a bit silly, but his deranged performance is great, and he gives the part some real danger. While some of his lines are hokey, he pulls the part off with some class. Michael Clarke Duncan's Kingpin is everything the character should have been, but his integration into the story is patchy.

The Daredevil movie is also set in a much more believable setting than some of the other Marvel films. people bleed. Bones break. It is shot in a gorgeous manner, and that's something I really love about the film. Director of Photography Ericson Core did a hell of a job, and the film looks superb. The framing and construction of each shot is flawless. It's just a shame that the effects work in some shots is below par and takes you out off the action now and again.

It sticks to the skills and abilities of the characters really well, and the fight scene choreography (along wwith the stunts) are straight out off the comics. The climactic battles are spot on, in particular the notorious scene between Bullseye and Elektra (comics fans know the one I mean), which does bring some of the shock from the comics page with it.

An aspect of the film that I was really grateful for is that the origin story doesn't take too long. Origin story movies are great when done right (Iron Man, for example), but there are times you just want to skip straight into the actual action. Daredevil's origins are told quickly and clearly, and bring the non-comics audience up to speed easily without alienating or boring the fan audience.

Daredevil isn't a bad film, but it has its problems. The director's cut is a much better version off the film than the regular cut, but still it has room for improvement. It was a bold film to make, as Daredevil was a rather lesser known character outside of the comics world, and it is a worthy addition to the line of Marvel movies, but it is far from perfect.

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