Be warned: This review spoils the theatrical cut,
assuming you’ve already seen it. There are minor
spoilers for the Director’s Cut, too, but most are of
the “this bit is missing and/or different” variety.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock / Daredevil

Jennifer Garner as Elektra

Colin Farrell as Bullseye

Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk / Kingpin

Jon Favreau as Foggy Nelson

Joe Pantoliano as Ben Urich

Coolio as Daunte Jackson

Written by and directed by Mark Steven Johnson

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A blind lawyer in Hell’s Kitchen faces up against
inner and outer

High Point

Parallel parking, a scene not even included in the
theatrical cut.

Low Point

The inclusion of the nun is a little reward for comic
fans that
doesn’t play well for the uninitiated. There’s
obviously something
more to her, but if you haven’t read the comics in
general or Born
in particular,
it’ll just seem like unnecessary film. The names of
the boxers were
significant enough for the fans. The nun should have
been done right
or not at all.

Comparisons to the Theatrical Cut

The Director’s Cut is a significantly better film
than the theatrical
cut. We get a much better picture of how dark Matt’s
entire life has
been, for one thing. The omission of the
confessional scenes is
another touch that drives home his isolationist
tendencies. We get a
slower paced relationship with Elektra, completely
devoid of a love
scene. We get a subplot that shows the Kingpin’s
hold on the city and
Murdock’s drive to protect the underdog. Every fight
sequence is just
a little bit longer. Most of the voice-over during
the flashback to
Matt’s childhood is gone. Ben’s investigation into
Daredevil’s true
identity is more clear, even though the scene in
which he reveals that
he knows Matt’s connection to him is removed. The
DVD case bills this
as having “30 additional minutes” of footage, but
that’s not entirely
accurate. It’s 30 minutes longer, but there is
footage both added and
removed from the film. The clip that used to come
mid-way through the
credits is now integrated into the conclusion
sequence. The
storytelling is significantly better in this version.

The Scores

How do I score the originality on this one?
Do I score it
ignoring the theatrical release, knowing that a
version very similar
to this was being considered, or do I score it in the
way it was
released, as a new version of existing product? I’m
going the second
route, as this edition wasn’t finalized until after
they’d had
feedback from the public, which may have had an
impact. I give it 3
out of 6, as there are siginificant differences from
the theatrical
release, but it’s still an alternative version of an
adaptation from
another medium.

The effects seemed a little bit better this
time. The
“sonar” effects still look great, and the CGI
acrobats (which are the
only effects that really don’t work) just don’t have
the same
proportion of screen time that they did in the
theatrical edition.
The fight sequences include more of the wirefighting,
so the bad
effects simply appear in lower proportions. The
complete package
seems better. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is far more coherent. We actually
get a clear view
of the growth Daredevil goes through, from the man
who let Quesada
die, to the man who spares the Kingpin. Several
little moments
included here show how he chooses to become more
involved in the world
around him. I give it 5 out of 6, significantly
better than the
theatrical cut.

The acting is about the same as the
theatrical version. Ben
Affleck never seems comfortable in the role of
Daredevil, acting far
more joyful than the character has been since Stan
Lee put down the
pen. This is not the Miller Daredevil, even though
it’s mainly a
Miller story. Farrell, Favreau, and Duncan are still
the ones holding
things together, and they aren’t perfect. (The
Kingpin’s introductory
scene here seems out of line with the comic
character, too, which
doesn’t help.) I give it 3 out of 6, as the two
leads just don’t pull
it off.

The emotional response may be artificially
inflated for me
here. Most of my reactions were of the “this is much
better” variety,
and wouldn’t play out as strongly if this was the
first version I’d
seen. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production was better in many respects,
but not all of
them. We got a more deliberate pace, better
consistency within scenes
as we didn’t have reshoots from after the fact, and
better symbolistic
parallels between the characters. We also had the
cool looking shots
panning across sets that a director may fall in love
with but which
don’t always help the story. Some of the incidental
footage (like
Wesley’s introductory walk) didn’t need to be here,
but it’s still a
better package. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s better than the original
version. If you hated
the original, it may not be better enough to change
your mind, but if
you found it merely distasteful, you’ll probably feel
this was an
improvement. If you’ve been holding out on watching
or owning the
original, choose this version instead. I give it 4
out of 6.

In total, Daredevil: The Director’s Cut
receives 28 out of 42.