Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Movie Review: "Daredevil" by David Pretty

Greetings, People Without Fear!

After my recent review of The Dark Knight, I wanted to have a look at a super hero flick that fell into all the traps that Chris Nolan's film avoided so well.

At best Daredevil is a third tier Marvel character that the general populace is barely aware of.  Turns out he's actually one of my favorite super heroes for the same reason Batman is: he's three-dimensional, relatively vulnerable and betrays several interesting character flaws.

Here The Man Without Fear is burdened by a film adaptation that is not outwardly terrible but is built on a rotten foundation of missteps, some of which are painfully obvious in the theatrical trailer:  

The origin story is quickly (and wisely) dispensed with since it's always been a weak element of the character's comic book genesis.  There's just no way to get the whole "toxic-waste-spilled-on-my-eyes-making-me-blind-but-now-I-have-radar-vision" thing to work cinematically and it results in a few unintentionally funny scenes.  At least the CGI interpretation of how Daredevil's "radar sense" works is pretty well done.

Affleck's voice over in the first part of the film and most of the dialogue that follows is pretty ripe and this really deflates any drama that might be building.  When Affleck appears in costume for the first time we're witness to one of the film's worst blunders since Daredevil ends up resembling a gay biker.  Unlike a lot of people I'm actually with Kevin Smith in my support for Affleck ("A Jaws re-boot?  Affleck could play the shark!") but he seems stilted and self-conscious here.  Even when he's not in the suit he's undone by a terrible haircut and often comes off as unintentionally smarmy.

Around the mid-way point the film's bad calls really start to pile up.  Jennifer Garner, though pleasant to look at, is terribly miscast as the Greek femme fatale Elektra. I can see why she was considered due to her experience in Alias, but to me Garner has always been more of a "girl next door" than a "girl proficient in the deadly use of a sai". 

And then there's the truly horrendous use of music in the movie.  Elektra's training sequence and a somber funereal scene are cast down into "TV-movie-of-the-week" territory with the questionable use of music by Evanescence.  

Colin Farrell seems to realize that he's in a flick without focus or discipline and goes off the deep end with a performance that's totally unbridled.  He ends up chewing scenery as if it's made out of vanilla wafers.

I understand Mark Steven Johnson wanting to create some dynamic fight scenes but when he uses a CGI Daredevil and Bullseye to scamper around a church organ I was looking at my DVD remote as if it were a video game controller.

Finally, Michael Clarke Duncan, though physically imposing, is far too "gentle giant" to really pull off the intimidation factor as Kingpin, Daredevils' arch enemy.  The only role that I really thought was well cast was John Favreau's fantastic turn as Murdock's legal partner Franklin "Foggy" Nelson.

As the director of the vastly superior Iron Man I'd love to see Favreau reboot this puppy himself.  The best way I can summarize Daredevil is that although the film has it's heart in the right place, it also has rocks in its head.

By the way, this review is for the Director's Cut and not the theatrical release. Just knock a star off the rating for the theatrical cut which dispenses with the scant plot and character development and actually feels unfinished.

 Tilt: down.

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