Written & Directed by Mark Steven Johnson
Based on characters created by Stan Lee, Bill Everett and Frank Miller
Coming from the viewpoint of a fan that enjoyed Daredevil even before Frank Miller revolutionized it, I am disappointed in this movie, not solely as a fan of Ol’ Hornhead, but as a film fan in general. It’s just a piece of Action Meringue Pie, tasty at the time yet leaving you empty and unfulfilled in a matter of minutes. My enjoyment for this film quickly dissipated the moment the end credits started rolling.
Daredevil has always been Batmanesque, having no superpowers and using both athleticism and intelligence in his battles. This similarity gave Daredevil second-tier status in comicdom until Frank Miller came along. Unfortunately, the movie suffers the same fate. It’s too reminiscent of Tim Burton’s Batman, especially the storyline of the villain being connected to the hero’s origin. What is the need for that? Does every movie villain have to be part of the genesis of our superheroes? Will the next Sherlock Holmes movie have Professor Moriarty killing Holmes' father, thus driving Sherlock to become a detective? Daredevil’s origin worked the way it was. Matt lost his sight when he was hit in the face with radioactive material, saving an elderly gentleman from an out-of-control truck. He doesn’t catch his father roughing guys up. What seems more heroic: saving a man's life or running away like a baby as the movie has it? Now granted his father was killed by the mob for not throwing a boxing match, but Kingpin wasn’t involved. These alterations do not add anything; they only detract.
The same goes for changing Elektra’s background. Instead of a being a highly trained assassin, she’s just a rich, daddy’s girl who knows martial arts to protect herself. I’m still unsure why Matt chases after Elektra. I know Foggy lets on that she’s good-looking, but why would that matter to a blind guy? Maybe she smelled good. My problem is I’m looking for a little depth to make these characters real when all I supposed to want is cool martial arts fighting. Maybe they are saving all the motivation and character development scenes for the DVD.
In regards to the martial arts, they work fine for the movie, but why does everyone have the same fighting abilities? I thought I was watching Crouching Bullseye, Hidden Daredevil. Daredevil has heightened senses and trains like a gymnast. Bullseye has amazing aim and can use any object like a weapon. They aren't high-flying, black belts. The heroes and villains were interesting in the comics for their different abilities, but everyone post-Matrix is a talented martial artist when they fight. They did the same thing in X-Men with some of the characters. I wonder if the Hulk will know karate in his movie?
The filmmakers did choose a great storyline to adapt, arguably the best, but they shot their whole wad with this tale. They were probably nervous that this would be the only Daredevil movie. After all, some Marvel hero movies don’t see the light of straight-to-video. This is a story that could have made a great trilogy; unless this is just part one. Every studio wants its own trilogy, so it would make sense. And we did get to see Bullseye on the mend during the credits. We’ll have to see how much money Daredevil makes before we know how things will progress. Assuming they don’t use Mr. Hyde and the Cobra in DD2.
As far as the movie on its own…
The cast was very good, even though some of the characters are limited. Even Ben Affleck was enjoyable and he usually makes me wretch. Hopefully, he’ll take the Brendan Fraser route and make more quality pictures among his future choices, but then again, he never listens to my suggestions.
The plot moves too quickly. Characters and plot points are dropped between the fight scenes, giving the film a very generic feel. There is some good action, but the first big fight happens too fast and furious in the shadows to absorb it all. A lot of filmmakers miss this point. Fighting is similar to dancing in films; we need to see the whole body in action or else the moments of impact. All the camera tricks and fancy lighting detract from the beauty of the image.
I understand that fighting has currently usurped dancing as the mating dance between people in movies, but how does Elektra not think twice about a blind guy matching her ninja training? And for Matt to reveal himself in a crowded playground during the day is ridiculous. Did he not hear all the children? Another superhero movie cliché we suffer through is watching Matt’s secret identity revealed to his lover. Actually, it’s revealed three times in this movie, which makes it a bit silly.
Matt's radar vision did look good, but that illustrates the problem of the film. The visual stuff was done well for the most part and seemed to have the most focus, but the story and screenplay come up short. The writer-director leaves me wanting more from this effort. Hopefully, someone with more talent will get behind DD2 because these characters have a lot of potential. A much more interesting film would have been half courtroom drama, half action film since Matt is an attorney.
As an action film it was good, but it was nothing special; however, I did not find myself distracted by how bad the plot was like with the Mission Impossible films. I don't want to lower my standards of enjoyment from "being pleased" to "not being angered," but that seems to be the new bar for action films, so I’ll give it a C+. If you're looking for a little mindless action and you can't wait for CNN to show you Persian Gulf War II, than you should see this movie. For comic fans, you would do better with your two hours rereading the comics.