Sunday, April 22, 2012

Daredevil (2003) Blu-Ray Directors cut

Rating: 4 out 5 origins shared with ninja turtles

Plot Synopsis:  Matt Murdock is the Daredevil, this is mostly an origin story so we get some background, a little bit of lawyerin’, and a little bit of Daredevilin’.  Basically Kingpin get’s Bullseye to the Greek and Daredevil get’s wrapped up in the middle of it.

The Good:

-Colin Ferrell is the best Bullseye ever, in my mind he is the definitive Bullseye.

-At one point the mob boss is giving Jack Murdock a list of names of the boxers he’s beaten (Miller, Mack, Bendis ) and the boxer he fights in the ring is John Romita.  Along with the guest appearance by Kevin Smith you get all the most influential people that have worked on Daredevil throughout its history.  Great call back.

-I love the origin in this even though it’s pretty much exactly what I hate about other origin movies.  We get a good feel for Matt and Jack’s relationship, the motivations behind Matt doing what he’s doing, who he was before being blinded, him coping with that, it’s just a good telling.

-The first partial appearance of Kingpin, you don’t seem him fully but you see when he gets out of the car the car lifts from the weight relief and in one punch he kills Jack Murdock.  Perfect, ominous, atmospheric, builds tension, let’s you know he’s a badass.

-Daredevil’s deprivation chamber.

-Matt Murdock being blind, how he stores his money, folds it, just the little things.  Ben Affleck does such a good job playing blind.

-Showing the realistic fallout of being a normal human being taking on the rigors of crime fighting, scars, soreness, pain pills and in the shower when he loses his tooth it’s all heartbreaking.

-Him suiting up as the Devil, showing off his baton’s with flourishes like a weird wedding band drummer.

-The radar sense is handled really well, it’s exactly how I would picture it.

-The opening fight scene from start to finish is super bad ass.  It doesn’t suffer from cutting camera syndrome where you see everything but the blows connecting, cutting like crazy, like someone or something is on crack, like they don’t want you to see the mistakes, it’s well edited is what I’m saying.  Unlike the previous sentence.  You can just tell by watching it that Ben Affleck tried really, really hard to get the physicality of the role down.  I don’t know how much is actually him but of the scenes where you can see his face he’s doing pretty good.

-When he smacks his baton against the hand rail to even out his radar sense against the noise of the subway train.

-Paul Ben-Victor as Jose Quesada (another comic reference), he plays a small part but does it really well.

-Other cast highlights: Michael Clarke-Duncan as Kingpin, Joe Pantoliano as Ben Urich, Jon Favreau as Foggy Nelson, Kevin Smith as the coroner, Jennifer Garner as Elektra, David Keith as Jack Murdock, Coolio as whoever he plays.  Everyone puts in the effort and does a great job.

-Dardevil’s tumbler lock system on his hideout.  I don’t know if the spin n’ stop method works on tumblers but it’s cool to see him spin those tumblers right round, right round, like a record baby, right round, right round, then listen to them and stop them one by one to unlock his secret devil cave.

-The relationship and interplay between Matt and Foggy.  In the scenes where they talk in the diner a lot of the dialog seems adlibbed and is hilarious.

-Foggy gives Matt mustard instead of honey in an attempt at petty revenge in their argument.

-Jennifer Garner is smoking hot as Elektra.

-The playground fight scene is well choreographed.  That’s really about the only positive thing I can say about it.

-Kinpin’s official introduction, Micheal Clarke Duncan is straight ballin’ as Kinpin.  He’s awesome in the role, perfect casting, even though comic Kingpin is white.

-Bullseye’s intro, perfect music, House of Pain (rap group with Irish roots) soundtrack, him bullseyeing dart after dart, revealing his scar, revealing a paper clip, throwing it.  It’s the greatest intro for that character.

-Bullseye walking through the airport, he lines everything up in the tray with reverence (as its most likely a killing weapon) aligning it perfectly before going through security and scaring the police dog.

-“We’re going for sympathy, it’s not the gong show.”

-Daredevil meets Bullseye for the first time.  It’s a brief confrontation but good.

-Kevin Smith showing Ben Urich Daredevil’s baton.  That IS some pretty weird shit.

-Elektra’s training scene, Jennifer Garner has really got a great pair of sai’s.

-Elektra pulling her sai out of her hand, looks so painful.

-The fight between Daredevil and Elektra followed by Elektra and Bullseye, right down to the playing card to the throat.  Bulleye’s magic baby.

-Daredevil vs. Bullseye in a church.  Highlights include Daredevil catching all of Bullseyes throwing stars on his baton before throwing it and hitting the bullseye scar and Bullseye breaking a window, collecting the shards and dealing them out like playing cards.

-The fight between Daredevil and Kingpin, he’s such a brute, he just man handles Daredevil tossing him around like it’s a Chris Brown car pool.

The Bad:

-I don’t like the beginning, we start and the end of the movie and then the whole movie is told in flashback up until we get to the events depicted in the opening.  I understand why writers do it that way but it just seems lazy.  If we need Matt Murdock to narrate the story so the audience knows what’s going on then how can we watch the climax?  He’s stopped narrating so everything after the point where he flashes back is unknown.  If you’re going to use that format than be more consistent, tell the whole story in flashback.

-Ben interprets ‘blind’ as ‘cross-eyed’.  I don’t know if he just let his eyes relax and that was their natural neutral point or if that was intentional but there are point’s where the man looks like Shaq.

-The playground fight scene is totally unrealistic and very Matrix around the edges.  It comes from nowhere and it goes nowhere.  Other than being a spectacle it really has no place in the movie.

-Kingpin must lose a lot of bodyguards to random murder.  Murder by Kingpin.

-Bullseye is a little too over the top sometimes.  He does more Christ poses than Scott Stapp at a Creed concert and some of it is more funny than menacing.  The only reason it isn’t laughable is knowing that he could kill you at a moment’s notice with literally anything.

-The soundtrack to Elektra’s training scene.  It’s 90’s alternarock schlock.

-How do you set up sand bags like that in your house?  It seems like in a lot of these movies relatively normal people have access to autonomous training gear.  Who set those sandbags up?  How do you replace them when they’re broken, and they get broken pretty quick?  How much does it cost to maintain?  How much did it cost to set up?  How do you use it and not feel like a total tard?

-Bullseye’s Christ pose is a bit much.

-The flash back to Elektra in the rain during the final fight is really unnecessary.  We remember that long ago, you don’t need to remind us.  We don’t have Memento disease.

The Ugly:

-It has the typical early 2000’s alterna-rock sound track which is terrible in points and decent in others.

-It also has the typical early 2000’s CGI which, like the soundtrack, it good in parts and bad in others.

-No seriously, the soundtrack to Elektra’s training scene, Wake Me Up by Evenessence (I think that’s the song).  It’s so played out in this era of film it’s become cliche’, like Rob Zombies Living Dead Girl.  It was in everything and instantly dates the film.

Final Thoughts:  This movie gets a bad rap.  There are indeed things to dislike about it but it’s actually pretty good.  It unfortunately came out at a time when it was popular to bash Ben Affleck and as a result this movie got crapped on in the crossfire.  Say what you will about Ben Affleck, he does a good job here, actually he usually does a good job.  Give him a director and a script he can work with and he usually puts in a solid performance.

            In fact there are really no weak links in the cast.  Everyone puts forth the effort and this is what can make or break not just a comic movie but any movie.  Ben Affleck liked the comics so he brought that love to the character and it shows, the rest of the cast brought a love of acting and if they weren’t comic fans at least became fans of the part they were playing.  The Fantastic Four movie is a perfect example.  You have the actor playing Reed, who as far as I know isn’t into the comics, the actor playing Human Torch, kind of a comic guy and the actress playing Invisible Woman, not a fan of comics, not a fan of the character.  Reed is awesome, Torch is awesome, remove the actress playing Sue and you wouldn’t miss her at all.  Guy playing Reed is a fan of acting and brings that to the table, guy playing Torch brings his love of the character, the woman playing Sue has neither and brings nothing.  Every single cast member of Daredevil put in an effort and there’s something to be said about that.  Just on a side note, in doing research (going to Wikipedia) I found that Ben Affleck started out really positive about this move but then went on to say that wearing the costume was “humiliating”.  I would really like to know why he changed his mind and what caused that change.

            I’ve seen the director’s cut far more than I’ve seen the regular release so I can’t really accurately compare the two.  I really like the director’s cut, the movie is coherent, well paced, very few plot holes or inconsistencies.  The director’s cut is a well made movie worth seeing.  Right now you can get it at Target, the blu-ray version I reviewed here, for less than $10.  I think, it was definitely less than $20.  I’d say it’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of Daredevil or just a fan of decent comic movies.

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