Thursday, May 29, 2014

Elektra (2005) Review:

Almost all Marvel characters have their own fan base, including the lesser known ones. Out of this group, Elektra stands right in the middle. Comic book fans and viewers alike remember her from Daredevil (2003), but her presence wasn't the main focus nor was her character arc given much material to work with. But for those who enjoyed her appearance, fans were surprised to find their female antihero have a chance to have her own story told separately two years later. It's one of those times where this kind of attention could help boost popularity of the character or trash it completely. Sadly, this follow up to the already mixed feelings that Ben Affleck's Daredevil (2003) had left behind didn't help leave any sympathy for this when it was released. I really wanted to give it a slightly above positive rating but there are various reasons to why it just doesn't satisfy like it says it would.

This is what we should have.....
The story attempts at keeping fans happy by having scenes that directly connect it to Daredevil (2003) but then immediately stray away off it. Elektra (Jennifer Garner), ends up being reborn from her death caused by Bullseye and from then on, lives as an assassin for hire. One day when called upon what seems to be another routine target, Elektra begins to realize that there's more than meets the eye. Jennifer Garner works as Elektra; her figure and face are attractive along with her ability to perform the required action sequences. The cast does contain a few familiar faces, but the rest isn't memorable nor are they given any depth.

Accompanying Elektra is her agent McCabe (Colin Cunningham), who has a couple of comical lines but other than that doesn't have much of a background to why and how he decided to help her. Elektra also comes into contact with a father and daughter played by Goran Visnjic and Kirsten Prout respectively. Both of which also do not give performances that are anything that'll stick as memorable. The motivations to both characters are wafer thin and written as if they should have emotional attachments by the end of the movie, but don't convey it. It's very difficult for an audience to feel attached and invested in a character that is thrown in just as a plot device. How is it that the three writers, one of which (Zak Penn) wrote for X-Men 2 (2003) couldn't make a screenplay that felt any less original?

Making things even more confusing are the powers that Elektra now has. Instead of just being an assassin, Elektra now has the ability to see possible future events and visualize where her opponents are that are out of her physical sight. When were these special powers given to her? Just because this movie is under Marvel, does not mean every main character has to have super powers. This is just another element that makes the movie feel very generic because it's trying to be like every other superhero movie. Sometimes, being extremely skilled is all a character needs. Look at the Punisher or Batman films, they don't have super powers and they get by in life just fine with whatever skills they learned through their adult life. All Elektra needs are her sais and her ninja like skills and she's good to go.

But perhaps the more frustrating part about the story telling is how reliant it is on flashbacks. There are numerous dream sequences that attempt to show that Elektra is a tragic character, but all it does is create confusion and possible annoyance because of how frequently they keep reoccurring. The familiar faces the audiences will recognize are Terence Stamp who plays Elektra's blind sensei named Stick. Honestly, Stamp doesn't even look like he's acting blind at times, which feels weird because Stamp is an accomplished actor.

Audiences will also see an uncredited Jason Isaacs who gives audiences a brief background to Elektra's reborn mystery. Playing the main villain's father is Roshi played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. He’s always a nice actor to see on screen, although in this movie his presence has no importance what so ever. Then there is Will Yun Lee who plays the main antagonist Kirigi. Lee is good at playing a cool and swift moving ninja but again, he's nothing that truly stands out. However, when it comes to action it is lively. Like it was stated before, Garner can perform the required action sequences and it's awesome when she's in the Elektra garb. Even when fighting off various underdeveloped and uninspired henchmen that follow Kirigi, it is still fun thankfully.

Instead we see more of people like this guy....
Also with those action sequences, the special effects at least blend nicely with the surroundings. There wasn't a scene that looked out of place or extremely fake. However, the action is also very sporadic. The finale works but it takes an awful long time to get there and the action scenes in between aren't long enough to sustain the rest of the scenes entailing exposition and flashbacks. There is one other element that works here though and that's Christophe Beck's score. Beck's music contains a reoccurring theme for Elektra and some very deep string action cues that help elevate the action sequences. Surprisingly, even the scenes that are supposed to be emotional (that aren't), Beck provides the right keys to make it sound emotional. It's a good listening experience for a comic book movie. Sadly, the film as a whole still middles between not bad nor good.

Even with action that entertains, engaging music and an attractive lead, the good is equal to its bad components. The writing is formulaic, generic, contains several unexplained details and has very few performances that stand out. A weak Marvel film that deserved more.

Points Earned --> 5:10

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