Movie Review – "Daredevil"

Minor spoilers follow. Sorry ’bout that. They’re spoiler-protected and
everything, unless you use Lynx or a Braille reader.

Premise


Matt Murdock, blinded in his youth, finds his other senses supremely
heightened, such that his hearing acts as a sort of radar, and his
hyper-sensitive sense of touch gives him superlative balance. By day, he’s
a lawyer, doing lots of pro-bono work in the rough Hell’s Kitchen
neighborhood; by night, he metes out justice when the legal system fails,
as masked vigilante Daredevil.

Cast and Crew




Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock/Daredevil

Jennifer Garner as Elektra Natchios

Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk

Colin Farrell as Bullseye

Joe Pantoliano as Ben Urich




Written by Bill Everett (characters), Brian Helgeland (screenplay)


Directed by Mark Steven Johnson



Full cast and crew info available from this IMDB page.


High Point


Radar-vision. Yes, somehow, they managed to make Jennifer Garner even
prettier through the use of abstract art.


No, really.

Low Point


Beware: this is the spoiler mentioned above. (Swipe if you really want to
see it.)


The untimely death of Elektra. Granted, I’m a serious
mark for Jennifer Garner, but this goes beyond that. They could have just
really injured her or something and gotten the same effect, without
driving a sai through their sequel possibilities.

The Scores

It’s hard to decide whether a movie based on a comic book that’s older
than I am counts as original. At the time, though, the concept
was quite novel, and I’m feeling a bit generous. I’ll give this one 4 out
of 6.

The special effects were, sadly, lackluster. The “Daredevil’s
radar-vision” shots were nifty-looking, but not all that complex. The
“sweeping panoramic views of the city” shots were obviously
computer-generated. While there were a few interesting uses of existing
techniques (the “Bullsye’s Hands” shot – you’ll know it when you see it –
was nifty), "Daredevil" doesn’t break any new ground. 3 out of
6.

The story of "Daredevil" is your basic “radiation
accident” superhero origin, an old-school love story, and a villain who
obviously never read the Evil Overlord
list
. Nothing shocking or even terribly innovative here. 3 out of 6,
the number of mediocrity.

Acting? From Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner? They’re both
attractive to members of the appropriate genders, and (with the help of
lots of stunt players) both can put on a reasonable simulation of a fight,
but nobody’s likely to win any Oscars here. Only Joe Pantoliano’s deadpan
newspaper reporter saves this score from the gutter. 3 out of 6.

Surprisingly, the emotional response score is slightly above
average – mostly because of the spoiler scene above. I’m not sure whether
it was genuine shock, or just me being cranky at the writers for doing
something so silly, but it earned them 4 out of 6.

Production values were pretty much what you’d expect from a
modern Hollywood action flick. Again, nothing really spectacular or
innovative. Just standard stuff, so a standard score. The fight scene in
the church (and they telegraph this from literally the first scene, so no
spoiler here) is somewhat original, but that’s about it. 4 out of 6.

Overall, I wanted to like "Daredevil." I really did.
But watching a movie is like a relationship – it won’t work unless both
parties involved make an effort. Average effort, average score. (Gosh, I’m
running out of good synonyms for that.) 3 out of 6.


That gives "Daredevil" a total of 24 out of 42. Catch a matinee,
or you could probably afford to wait for the DVD.

13 replies on “Movie Review – "Daredevil"”

  1. quantaman says:

    SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    OUCH!! That was a hard review.

    Granted I’ve never read much in the way of Daredevil but I personally loved it the movie. I really liked the characters, they were a lot more consistent than you often expect from a comic book movie and I really sympathized with them. I found Matt Murdocks character especially to be very sympathetic and understandable. Also (SUPER SPOILER) I VERY much disagree with your low point I would in fact call it the high point! The fact is they very much suggested that she isn’t dead, did you miss the brail good luck charm? Unless she snuck there inbetween their date and the party she must of put it there after the fight. Also the entire ending was written for a sequal (Bullseye’s recovery). In fact they managed to bring her back while still generating the huge emotional response from her apparent death.

    • dcheesi says:

      Re: SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      [SPOILER-IFIC!]

      I was bit confused about that. Sure, she’s got enough money to pay off the cops/hospital to say she’s dead, but why would she bother? And why not tell Murdock, instead of leaving cheesy little hints?

      [SPOILAGE COMPLETE]

  2. pythor says:

    Not that bad…
    I’ve gotta agree with Quantaman. It was a pretty good adaptation of the comic. The low point you describe is not at all how I saw it. See Quantaman’s spoiler’s for why. My personal low, and it wasn’t very low, but jarring to me, was the fact that the rain radar lets you see pupils…pupils?!

    And, if you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you sit through at least the first half of the credits. ;)

  3. Insomniac says:

    Electra spoiler

    I must admit to being shocked when electra was killed, I definately didn’t see that coming. Although I did take the bit at the end as a sign of her being alive.

    Bullseye’s death was another one that shocked me (did the last little grunt he made mean he was still alive?), after that I was expecting the kingpin to be next…

    PS, I’m not too clued up on the daredevil comics, but is the death of electra’s father her reason for becoming a super-hero type?

    • fiziko says:

      Re: Electra spoiler

      MAJOR SPOILERS TO FOLLOW, FOR THIS AND POTENTIAL SEQUELS

      PS, I’m not too clued up on the daredevil comics, but is the death of electra’s father her reason for becoming a super-hero type?

      Yes, that is her origin, although it originally wasn’t the Kingpin or his cronies that offed him. In the comics, the guy was an ambassador from Greece. See Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Vol. 2 for details.

      As for the low point, I like the fact that they had the guts to accurately adapt that little piece of comic book history.

      I also loved the in-references. It has cameos by former Daredevil comic writers Stan Lee (as the old guy crossing the street), Kevin Smith (as coroner’s assistant Jack Kirby, named after the guy who created Daredevil’s original comic book costume, which looked like it was designed by a blind guy), and Frank Miller (billed as “man with pen in head.”) The names of the fighters (Colan, Romita, Bendis, Miller, Mack) were all taken from writers or artists on the comic title. The character named Mr. Quesada was named after Marvel’s current Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada, who served as artist while Kevin Smith was writer. This was very obviously written by a man who loves the comic.

      Finally, this is the part that spoils potential sequels. When they signed Jennifer Garner, they signed her with an option to bring her back in a Daredevil sequel and/or in a movie focussed entirely on Elektra.

    • pythor says:

      Re: Electra spoiler

      Bullseye’s death was another one that shocked me (did the last little grunt he made mean he was still alive?)

      You didn’t stay to watch the credits, did you? Can’t blame you, it was only the tedious process of getting 3 under 10 kids ready to leave that got me to see it.


      SPOILERS


      Halfway through the credits, they show a scene in a hospital. Bullseye is definitely alive, though not in working order at the moment. (full body cast…though he does manage to throw a syringe and pin a fly to the wall)

  4. Watersprite says:

    I thought it was great
    I went and saw DareDevil this past weekend and I thought it
    was really done well! Me not being a huge DD fan I know of
    my ignorance pertaining to the role of Elecktra and
    all….and how some say that she wasn’t portrailed right.
    Maybe so…but I also think that the storyline established
    her strengths whenever she defeated DD in the school
    playground. Also some fans have told me that she was not a
    daddy’s girl. Well…a movie director can’t exactly go word
    for word with the story…unless that individual chooses to
    be in a courtroom for plagurism (that’s probably not spelled
    right)…but i thought the movie was very well done and
    deserves EVERYONES attention!!! So go se

  5. antihero says:

    Okay, major SPOILERS
    Ya know, I’m with you on the Low Point, whether or not (as some people have said) it wasn’t as it seems in the end. My wife (not a huge fan of comics) pointed out something very very astute, I thought-
    More, Spoiler-protected:
    after the Low Point, which happened because DD was just beaten down too much to do anything, he gets up, and really does seem to have a lot of energy left. I know, the idea of drawing from an untapped well of resources at the last minute, overcoming adversity, is a popular notion, and it’s not much of an ending if he doesn’t get up and go kick some butt, but really. Too weak to save his love, but perfectly okay to go tap dancing after the Kingpin?

    “What the hell? Where was that when Elektra was dying?”- My wife, during the sprinkler scene at the end

    At least, I thought that was a weird plot choice.

    • antihero says:

      Re: Okay, major SPOILERS
      Something else I wanted to say: (Highlight to read)
      Although I disagree with the particular way they did it, I do appreciate that a major motion picture based on a comic book got made where one of the good guys dies, seemingly for real. I do hope they didn’t do it for shock value, but I’m tired (especially in the comics) of all this wishy-washy “X-Men Syndrome” type stuff… people constantly dying and then miraculously coming back. Life contains things that can’t be changed, and death is fairly final. So, good job there, just don’t pick such a stupid way of doing it.
      /end rant

  6. CaptainAverage says:

    Let’s Level With Daredevil
    Forgive the reference to the letters page from the various incarnations of the ‘Daredevil’ comic, but I’m feeling a bit nostalgic this morning [written on Feb, 15th].

    I had the great good fortune to attend the first *official* screening of ‘Daredevil’ at the Paramount Cinemas, Friday at 12:50 p.m.

    I was, to say the least, extremely pleased by the film.

    Despite a change in the origin [with which I did not agree], the film was as perfect a balance between source material and cinematic adjustments as I have seen in a superhero movie.

    I expected no less – the director, Mark Steven Johnson, is a long-time ‘Daredevil’ fan; the star, Ben Affleck, is a long-time ‘Daredevil’ fan, and the female lead, Jennifer Garner *became* a fan during her research of the part [reading as many of the comics as she could get…].

    First the bad news: Matt Murdock loses his sight when he sees his father beating up a guy who owes a minor crime boss money and runs away – directly into the path of a forklift that is transporting radioactive materials. A drum of the waste is punctured and splashes across young Murdock’s eyes.

    After I saw the movie, I came upon a review that pointed ot that this made Murdock/Daredevil a victim, whereas the comics origin [which has young Matt lose his sight when he pushes a blind man out of the path of a truck transporting radioactive materials] shows that even as a kid, Murdock wasn’t a passive bystander-type.

    From there on, however, the film gets back on track – even adding an arc that the comic lacked.

    A nice touch is that there are scars, similar to acid burns, around Murdock’s eyes for the rest of the film.

    Following the murder of his father, Jack ‘The Devil’ Murdock, after refusing to throw a boxing match, Matt grows up to become a vengeful vigilante who is not above letting his targets die.

    This Daredevil doesn’t lift a finger to prevent the grisly death of a rapist who walked out of court acquitted.

    It’s only when he falls in love with Elektra Natchios, that he begins to realise that there are other things in life that are more important, and rewarding, than vengeance.

    Now, there are a lot of bad reviews for ‘Daredvil – the Rotten Tomatoes site lists the film as ‘Rotten’ with an overall score of something like 57-43 to the positive side [60%, or better is required for the *Fresh* rating].

    Most of the negative reviews I read seem to think that the film’s dialogue needs work; the fight scenes are poorly edited; the gritty, real-life New York feel is out of place in a *superhero* movie and so forth.

    I, on the other hand, found the dialogue to be a nice blend of the not-quite-hyperbolic Miller comics and the darkly whimsical hard-boiled.

    I also really enjoyed the fight sequences – they looked like they had been edited to move just a fraction more quickly than is comfortable for the eye to follow [except when slowed down to show the way Daredevil reacts to various types of aggression]. If you’ve ever seen people fighting for real, and not putting on a show in the ring, the pace can be staggeringly fast, or equally deliberate [usually *both* in the same scrap].

    The fight sequences in ‘Daredevil’ have that same kind of feeling.

    As for the gritty New York being out of place in a *superhero* movie, those critics are obviously not aware of the way ‘Daredevil’ has always been about New York, and not some imaginary clone, like Gotham City.

    Daredevil has always functioned best in the more realistic setting. Unlike ‘Spider-Man’, with whom he has been unfairly compared, cinematically, Daredevil functions best when facing foes who might, conceivably exist – and even then, he takes more than the occasional pounding [as attested to by the wealth of scars all over his body].

    A better comparison might be that ‘Spider-Man’, the movie, was more ‘Superman: The Motion Picture’, while ‘Daredevil’ is more ‘Batman’ [the Burton version, natch].

    Another problem that some critics had, was the chemistry between Affleck and Garner. I’m not sure they were watching the same movie that I saw. Murdock and Elektra meet *superhero cute* [the first rule of romance movies: the boy and girl must *meet cute*] -he insists on finding out her name and they have a spirited sparring session in a park [balancing on see-saws for part of the tussle].

    From there, things proceed to their inevitible conclusion [inevitible in a romance, as well as a superhero movie].

    Along the way, we learn that her billionaire father worked with a Wilson Fisk, and wanted to sever all ties with him. Enter Bullseye, who kills the elder Natchios and sets up Daredevil, simultaneously.

    From there we get an unusal dynamic for *any* kind of movie: Elektra loves Matt, but wants to kill Daredevil. Oddly enough, Affleck and Garner make it work.

    There are other nifty things about ‘Daredevil’, too: Ben Urich, the reporter who discovers DD’s secret in the comics, has a lot
    of good stuff to do in the movie; the Stan Lee, Frank Miler and Kevin Smith bits work really well; the way DD keeps his secret safe at the end of the movie, is too perfect for words.

    Ben Affleck may not be the greatest actor in the world, but he *nails* Matt Murdock’s personality – Murdoch is a Hell’s Kitchen survivor. Even with the law degree and a busy [if mostly pro bono practice], he has that Hell’s-Kitchen-survivor chip on his shoulder [though, thanks to Elektra, it has eroded quite a bit by the end of the movie]. He also has Murdock’s perverse sense of humour down cold.

    In lesser hands, Murdock’s partner, Franklin ‘Foggy’ Nelson could have been strictly comic relief. Jon Favreau gives him a genuine warmth and an inquiring mind [even if he’s mostly inquiring about urban legends…].

    Jennifer Garner really lights up the screen as Elektra. Thanks to her work on ‘Alias’, she’s able to do all her own stuntwork, and she handles the other demands of the script with aplomb.

    I can hardly wait to see if the ‘Elektra’ movie gets made – it should make her a star [if this hasn’t].

    Colin Farrell gets to chew scenery as Bullseye, but even he shows remarkable restraint – he’s silky smooth most of the way, building to full-blown mania over the course of the film. It plays far more believably than if he were to rant and foam at the mouth the whole time.

    Some critics say his scene with the old woman on the airplane was a mistake – that it shouldn’t have been played for laughs. The uncomfortable truth is that most people, in that same situation, would wish they could do what Bullseye does.

    Even so, the scene is remarkably quiet – in every sense of the word – though thoroughly wicked.

    Michael Clarke Duncan is simply outstanding as Wilson ‘Kingpin’ Fisk. Instead of being another in a long line of scenery chewers, Duncan plays Fisk as all business. He’s the guy who runs the show from behind the curtain – though if circumstances demand, he’s more than capable of dishing out the Big Pain up close and personal. To quote Roger Evert’s review: ‘Duncan in particular has a presence that makes the camera want to take a step back and protect its groin.’

    If there’s a real flaw to the film, it’s that the switch from real people to CGI isn’t as smooth as in ‘Spider-Man’. Which is to be expected – ‘Daredevil’ was shot on a much smaller budget, and with stricter time constraints.

    In every other respect, the effects [regular *and* CGI] are quite excellent.

    I especially like the sequence where Murdock uses a combination of his radar sense and rain to ‘see’ what Elektra looks like. It is one of those rare, perfect cinematic moments, and works in the context of both the superhero and romance genres.

    There also seem to be a couple of missing scenes, but they cover things that any intelligent viewer will be able to figure out for himself [and will likely turn up on the DVD, anyway] – especially if they’re paying attention to the *braille* that Matt finds in a *special* place…

    Overall, of all the superhero movies I’ve ever seen, ‘Daredevil’ is one of the three best [I’ll let you wonder about the other two].

    Grade: A-

    • fiziko says:

      Re: Let’s Level With Daredevil

      There also seem to be a couple of missing scenes, but they cover things that any intelligent viewer will be able to figure out for himself [and will likely turn up on the DVD, anyway] – especially if they’re paying attention to the *braille* that Matt finds in a *special* place…

      Mark Steven Johnson said earlier this week that over 25 minutes worth of footage, including an entire subplot about Matt’s work as a lawyer, was cut for length and a PG rating. It will all be restored on a future DVD release. (He said on “the DVD,” but I don’t trust Fox to limit themselves to a single release after the success of the Lord of the Rings DVDs.)

  7. Midz says:

    Electra is NOT dead
    Jennifer Garner and Ben had a lot going for them in the movie. AlthoughI am no comic buff, I just assume that in the comics she lives and is not knocked off by some drunk with a bulls eye scar on his head. Plus the necklace is the sign of new lifeand while Ben fights ing Pin he fashes back to her saying I will FIND YOU. Plus id be really mad if shes dead so thats that!

    • fiziko says:

      Re: Electra is NOT dead

      Jennifer Garner and Ben had a lot going for them in the movie.
      AlthoughI am no comic buff, I just assume that in the comics she lives
      and is not knocked off by some drunk with a bulls eye scar on his head.
      Plus the necklace is the sign of new lifeand while Ben fights ing Pin he
      fashes back to her saying I will FIND YOU. Plus id be really mad if shes
      dead so thats that!

      Bullseye did kill her in the comic, but she got better.

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