Daredevil (2003)
Review by HTQ4

Written and Directed by Mark Steven Johnson, based on the character created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, appearing in Marvel Comics
Starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau and Joe Pantoliano


Released by: 20th Century Fox
Rating: PG-13
Region: 1
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Rent it

Like any superhero worth his salt, Daredevil (Affleck) has an alter-ego that allows him to walk around the streets like a human being during the daylight hours, and his name is Matt Murdock. But, Murdock is not your average Joe. Oh no, Murdock has been blind since he was a young lad growing up in Hell's Kitchen. His dad (David Keith) was killed by a man known as the Kingpin (Duncan) because his dad didn't take a dive in the last prizefight he ever fought. So, in addition to fighting crime on the streets of New York on a general level, he also is seeking out the Kingpin to take his revenge for his father's death. There's one other little problem: the Kingpin has sent a man by the name of Bullseye (Farrell) out to kill Murdock's would-be girlfriend, Elektra (Garner), not to mention her entire family.

So, it follows the generic comic book superhero screenplay formula, but if you go into this movie with pretty low expectations, you can allow yourself to just have a good time. For one thing, the movie doesn't last that long. It does have its moments where the plot seems to get bogged down in the sappy parts of the story, but if you can get through them, you should be okay. Affleck is not right for the part of Murdock, but then again, for the most part, they cast him opposite people who wouldn't out-act him. If there is a person in this movie who was completely wasted, it was Jennifer Garner. She had the ability to out-act and out-badass Affleck any day of the week. It was obvious that they diminished her part so this wouldn't happen. The sad part is, that she came really damn close to doing it anyway. Duncan is way out of his league on this one. He might be right for certain "bad guy" roles, but he wasn't right for this. He was just not believable in his glass office smoking cigars. The only other thing I can say that is disappointing about this movie is that they left it wide open for a sequel which means that it's probably already in production as I write this.

The DVD is a better treatment than the film deserves, really. For starters, it spans two discs and they put a lot of thought into putting it together. Disc One starts out with a commentary track for the film by writer/director Mark Steven Johnson and producer Gary Foster, which is always nice. Unfortunately, the information they present is not that great. Whenever they get to one of the action sequences, they do talk about how they were put together, but everything else is extremely trivial. Ironically enough, there is more and better information in the "On Screen" trivia track of the disc than on the audio commentary track. By turning on this option, you opt to turn on a set of text-on-screen captions that appear every now and then at the bottom of the screen. I love this option and I think this should be one of those mandatory features in addition to a director's commentary.

Disc Two is further divided into two major sections: The Film and The Comic Book. On The Film, the first documentary is titled Beyond Hell's Kitchen and it starts out with a brief look at the developmental problems that this project had in even getting off the ground. But then it takes a very bizarre jump to looking at the design concept for Daredevil's costume. Needless to say, this documentary is all over the place. The information it presents is really cool, but don't look for any type of coherency to it at all. Next up on the disc is a look at Jennifer Garner's screen tests for the role. This is not really all that exciting. It's mostly her reading some pages from the script on a cheap camera. I still think it would be more interesting to see the screen tests of the other people who were up for the role. At least then you'd have something to compare it to.

Moving right along, we are presented with the option of looking at the raw dailies from two major action sequences in the film. Each of these shots has two or three cameras on it and they have it set up so that you can use the angle button on your remote control to switch between these different cameras while the take plays out. These are neat just to see how these scenes went on the day of the shoot. Next up is an interview with Duncan about his character. It's just a shame that some of the stuff that Duncan talks about in his interview doesn't come across in his performance. The next item on the menu is an extended preview that aired on HBO. It's hosted by Garner and provides a little more background about the history of the comic book as well as taking a look at the film itself. It's pretty much exactly like every other preview special that runs on the cable movie networks.

The last of the "major" features on this menu is called Moving Through Space: A Day in the Life of Tom Sullivan. Sullivan was the sight-impaired consultant on the movie. If there is a reason to consider buying this DVD, it's for this featurette. Sullivan has lived an amazing life and he was the perfect consultant for the movie. It's one of the most inspirational documentaries that I have seen. The rest of the features under the "Film" menu are pretty common fare. I guess I should point out that there are three music videos on the disc: Fuel's "Won't Back Down", The Calling's "For You", and Evanesence's "Bring Me to Life". Whoopee.

So, now onto the Comic Book section. The first featurette is a look at the men who created the character. It's a great documentary and really allows each individual creator the chance to tell his perspective of the creation story as well his own level of input. There is also an interview with Kevin Smith. This is a long documentary, so they have broken it up into chapters for you so that you can skip directly to the comic artist that you want to watch. Next up is a feature called the "Shadow World Tour". This is a side by side comparison of the panels from the comic and how they were translated to the screen. Finally, there are the "Modeling Sheets". These are text-on-screen dossiers of each of the major characters that include information like their "real" names, which comic book they first appeared in and what year, personal specs, and special powers and/or weapons.

The DVD-ROM features reside on the first disc and they are either really cool, or just plain boring. There is another history of the comic book to be found here. It's nothing special; just a text-based version of the stuff that you watched on the other documentaries on the DVD. There are character profiles which, again, are text-based versions of what you've already watched. The "multimedia" section has some desktop backgrounds and a link to the Marvel website (which was nothing to write home about). There are three weblinks to choose from: the official Daredevil website, the X-Men 2 site, and the Marvel site.

So, like I said, this is probably a better presentation than this movie really deserved, but at least there is some stuff worth watching on the DVD for the fan of the film. Still, the movie itself makes this not good enough to warrant a purchase. Rent it for the features and take it back when you are done.

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