innocent_man: (rorshach)
[personal profile] innocent_man
Daredevil is a superhero flick from the early naughties starring ol' Hornhead himself. It's pretty much an exercise in missed opportunities and how not to make a good superhero flick.

Let's talk about the good stuff, first. Mugging aside, I enjoy Colin Farrel as Bullseye. I think he could do it better now (he's got "predatory and creepy" down pat for Fright Night, but I like his portrayal of the unbalanced, completely skilled and self-obsessed assassin. I like Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin. Yes, he's white in the comics, I DON'T CARE. His whiteness is not intrinsic to the character, and Duncan seems to have fun as a villain. I love Joey Pantalionanononno as Ben Ulrich, and Jon Favreau is good as Foggy Nelson.

Also, they got Daredevil's movement right. The way he fights and the way he jumps across buildings, those were good representations, I feel, of the comic.

And then there are the starts. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Daredevil and Elektra. OK. Not how I'd have cast the movie, but it's not because they suck. Both of them are capable of acting, and even acting well. It's just that they mostly don't. In this movie, they seem like they're not quite sure how to sell these roles, and some of that is the script.

It's things like this: The "fight" between Matt and Elektra in the park. After they fight, and then he's doing things like telling her that a car ran a light and that he can fight like that (like a fucking acrobat) because he grew up blind in Hell's Kitchen...come on. Elektra is portrayed as being smart and not really amenable to people pushing their way into her life (though it works, which also bothers me, but one thing at a time). Why in the world would her conclusion be "wow, this blind guy is awesome!" rather than "wow, this creep is fucking pretending to be blind to hit on chicks!" A little skepticism, and a little attention to at least trying to maintain a secret identity from Matt, would have been nice.

And then there's little things like at the end, when Matt finds the necklace, touches it, and says "Braille." Seriously? OK, sure, not everyone knows that the little bumpy things are Braille. But if you don't know that, you're not going to grok it from that moment, and if it needs to be explained, there are a billion better places to do it in the movie. Offhand: Have that exposition when Matt's a kid. Not like we'd mind a little more exposition, since they lazily did the voiceover infodump for his whole origin story. And then maybe tell us what the necklace meant in Braille?

I did like that the main thrust of the story isn't the origin story...except then they had to go and fuck it up by making Kingpin the dude that killed Matt's father. That's lazy, on the level of "make Joker the guy who killed Bruce Wayne's parents" in Tim Burton's Batman. The whole point of the superhero is that, while his motives may be personal, he does this shit because he can and he feels he must, not that he's looking for revenge. And if the quest for revenge is intrinsic to the hero's struggle (as it is with Batman, and arguably this portrayal of Daredevil), then the movie utterly fails to make anything of it.

There are flashes of thematic brilliance here. Daredevil kicks a thug's ass in front of his son, and then breathlessly tells the kid "I'm not the bad guy." We don't see that doubt extend for longer than a second, though. The romance with Elektra feels utterly tacked on to support her murder by Bullseye having an emotional impact, but we don't have enough invested in her or their relationship to care. And, if Kingpin is a crimelord who worked his way up from street-level legbreaker, let's see some of that smarts and ruthlessness. "Send the guards home?" Really? It's all business, but I'm gonna let a crazed vigilante into my building with no backup because...I'm from the Bronx? ARRRRRGH.

See, after Batman Begins, X2, Spider-Man, et al, you can't get away with this shit anymore. It's not enough to make the superhero movie and let that be the novelty. You have to do it well if you want the franchise. If the last few lines and images had set the tone for the whole movie, that would have been awesome and way more interesting. But anyway. It wasn't as bad as Elektra.

Hey, Hollywood. Reboot this. With a better director this time.

My Grade: C-
Rewatch Value: Low-medium

Next up: The Dark Knight

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January 2013

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