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Daredevil (2003)

25 February 2003 by Bobby No Comment

DAREDEVIL


2003, dir. Mark Steven Johnson

103 min. Rated PG-13.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan.

Review by Bobby

I’m really kind of upset about this movie. Being a lifelong Daredevil fan, I really hoped that they wouldn’t screw this one up. I’ll say this first: even if you have never read a Daredevil in your life, this still isn’t a very good movie. The acting is minimal and not very good when it is there, the action scenes are spastic and too fast to be able to tell what’s happening, the main story and themes are dull because they are shown but never elaborated on and the music…my god…the music in this film made me want to shove daggers into my ears. But what’s worse is…if you are a fan of the comic the movie is not just very good, but rather insulting. A review of this movie without comparing it to the comic would end here but Daredevil is bad movie in the shadow of a great comic book and that’s what this review is about. The best way to break this down is in terms of pros and cons so here goes.

    

pros

1. It’s very obvious that the director is a fan of the comic because did many things that were extremely faithful to the book. Actual panels from various Daredevil comics are used. The scene is which Elektra is killed is an almost exact representation of the same events in Daredevil #181. The lines are even the same. Daredevil’s origin is very close with only small details changed (his dad was actually called “Battlin” Jack Murdock when he was in the ring, the guy who sets up his final fight is called “The Fixer”, and Matt was actually only pushing a blind mind out of the way of a truck when he lost his sight). Like I said, these are small details and it is understandable when things like this are change in movie adaptations. The important thing is that the basic ideas, themes, and overall feel of the book were at least somewhat there.

2. There are plenty of little comic book references for fans. Characters are named after the writers and artists of Daredevil past and present, Kevin Smith shows up (he has actually written Daredevil) and there is of course the obligiatory Stan Lee cameo.

Unfortunately, this is where the pros end.

    

cons

1. Casting and characterization. This is the number problem with this movie. There are things wrong with almost every actor and how they play each role…and they are major things that are important to the plot and affect what Daredevil is.
Ben Affleck – Ben Affleck’s little coy smirks and attitude do not really portray Matt Murdock at all. Ben tries to show the depth but end up overacting. And Ben provides probably the best portrayal of all the main characters. The Daredevil costume doesn’t look as horrible as some say but it doesn’t look very good either.
Elektra – Elektra is not really developed and does not portray the coldness and craziness that is the basis of her character.
Bullseye – A lot of people have said that Colin Farrell is awesome as Bullseye but anyone who has ever read a comic with Bullseye in it knows that he isn’t Irish, doesn’t have a target on his forehead, and doesn’t act as goofy and cRaZy as Farrell does. His outfit is also SUPER bad. What is the point of Bullseye asking The Kingpin for a costume when he doesn’t get one?
The Kingpin – I have no problem with The Kingpin being black but he really didn’t seem very threatening to me. The Kingpin is sinister, cold and calculating. His very presence should strike fear into anyone in the room. Duncan didn’t really provide this. He was also underdeveloped and should have been worked into the plot more.
Joe Pantoliano – Joe Pantoliano is a great actor but casting him as Ben Urich is just as bad as casting Billy Dee as Harvey Dent (something that I’d forgotten about until Noel reminded me).
Jon “Foggy” Favreau – Ok…Favreau wasn’t too bad but…he wasn’t a very good Foggy Nelson either. Foggy should be a little clumsier and not so sure of himself.

    

2. One of the he main problems with Daredevil is how he performs his graceful jumps and cool aerial maneuvers. Daredevil isn’t Spider-Man but he sure does look like him when jumps twenty feet in the air or lands from two story jumps without being harmed. Daredevil, like Batman, has no physical superpowers. He is limited to what a man can do. He does things in this movie that are absolutely not possible.

3. Daredevil also doesn’t kill people. This is made very clear in the comic. He doesn’t actually, physically kill anyone, but he lets someone die right in front of him which is just as bad.

4. The part of Daredevil’s origin concerning his training is really off. It is absurd to think that Matt trained himself to do all of the things he can do. He was actually trained by a man named Stick. Still, it is understandable that Stick be excluded from the movie due to time constraints but a better explanation of how Matt was trained should have been provided.

5. The action scenes in the movie are horrible. Too fast, badly edited, and a blur of motion that is usually just a big mess.

6. The music in this film is some of the worst crap ever. Nickelback, Saliva, Hoobastank…good God someone please kill me.

7. And finally…the plot didn’t work as well as it should have. There are too many characters introduced in too short of a time. Because of this, the whole film seems rushed. After the origin, we are moved from one fight scene to another with very little story in between. The characters motivations are only made apparent on a very superficial level and before you know it, it’s over without any real explanations of why all of the separate events took place. Themes of redemption, vengeance, justice…are all there but so transparent that they are barely noticed.

    

As you can see the cons greatly outweigh the pros. Not only does this make for a bad adaptation but with cinema being a million times more popular to the average public than comic books, this movie will mold how the average viewer sees Daredevil and his story. Maybe this isn’t important to most but to a comic fan it is. I mean, from now on, anyone who has never read a Spider-Man comic believes that his webbing is organic and comes out of his arms. Anyone who has never read Batman thinks that Harvey Dent is a smooth talking, Colt 45 drinking Lando Calrissian. Daredevil the comic book is richer and deeper then any movie adaptation could be. The average moviegoer will miss this and this kind of thing influences the way that comic books are perceived by the average public. Instead of pushing forth the idea that comic books are a valid form of art and literature, movies like this only make people think that comic books consist only of guys in costumes beating up other guys in costumes and are a low-brow form of entertainment for kids and teenagers. Spider-Man took a step forward in the right direction, but Daredevil (like the Batman movies) takes two steps back. If you really want to know what Daredevil is like go out and buy The Man Without Fear by Frank Miller/John Romita Jr., Born Again by Frank Miller/David Mazzuchelli or Daredevil:Yellow by Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale.

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