Thursday, August 1, 2013

Daredevil (2003) Review:

Blade (1998) has the credits to say it was the first successful Marvel antihero film, but that was based more on the popularity of Wesley Snipes. This however, would be the next successful (financially at least) Marvel antihero film with popularity rudimented solely on its character itself. And of course, because many people wanted to see what this film would be like based off of their opinions from Spider-Man (2002), Blade (1998), Blade II (2002) and X-Men (2000), which received critical acclaim for unique adaptations. Unfortunately, not many people came out of the theaters too thrilled if at all, having mixed feelings about it.

Ben Affleck as Daredevil
The character of Daredevil is about a troubled soul named Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) who gains supernatural powers after having an accident with biohazard waste material. This accident ends up blinding him, while simultaneously enhancing his other senses and allowing him to "see" where he is, even though his eyesight is shot. Along with that, he draws inspiration from his father who had the boxing nickname title of Jack "the devil" Murdock and becomes the crime-fighting Daredevil. Sticking to its source material, Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan), Bullseye (Colin Farrell) and even Elektra (Jennifer Garner) all have roles in this movie as well, which is appreciated.

Trouble is, fans were split on the whole leather aspect of the movie. Quite frankly, it wasn't that distracting. If there was one thing I don't think fit the bill, it was Colin Farrell dressing up to be Bullseye like he was some alley street punk. Oh and Elektra's headband. That's about it for character design flaws. Affleck as Daredevil though was well performed. He's always surprising everyone of how he's blind but knows where everything is. Garner as Elektra definitely no doubt has the moves of action material and being attractive at the same time. Farrell as Bullseye is comical in the sense of how he gets frustrated when he misses his targets. Well of course if you're on a winning streak any one would get mad. Duncan as Fisk was a nice choice too. He's certainly husky enough as well as his booming heavy voice to boot.

However, what really eats away at these performances here is Mark Steven Johnson's writing. Johnson seems to have an affinity for love interest subplots, which is exactly what happens here between Daredevil and Elektra. This is what is believed to hold up the story of Johnson's mixed reviewed Ghost Rider (2007) as well between Johnny Blaze and Roxanne. Plus, it's not easy writing and directing simultaneously, and I think after this film, Johnson should have seen that he needed a writer and found a writer to cover Ghost Rider (2007). The feel that I get from this movie is that the relationship felt forced or rushed. It just felt too soon to happen and it sidetracked my attention from the action. One thing I do credit Johnson for writing is how Murdock struggles with himself to figure out if what he's doing is right, and if he should continue his crusade. This shows that Murdock is still human even though he has special abilities.

Elektra (Garner) & Bullseye (Farrell)
Speaking of action though, the action sequences were well staged. Comparing that to the action Ghost Rider (2007) had – it was much more frequent and even some of the scenes were fairly brutal. Impalings, broken joints and severed body parts - that's more realistic than fantasy violence if you ask me. It could almost be bordering "Marvel Knights" status with this kind of violence, which is what the next Daredevil film should be under if fans want a dark and gritty tone.  Sadly, this wasn't accentuated enough with the film score provided by Graeme Revell. Revell's score is productive by making a thumping theme for the title character and even a softer motif for the relationship between Elektra and Daredevil, but anything else is generic and uninspired music. It also doesn't help that half the time, soundtrack music from pop culture was used in between as filler. Not needed. In the long run, it is still worth a look though.

This Marvel antihero film has some fairly strong action and a good cast.  However, its writing struggles to compel with an obligatory love interest subplot and poor music placement throughout the running time.

Points Earned --> 7:10

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