With the phenomenal success of last year’s “Spider-Man,” it was logical to assume that more comic book based movies would be appearing on the big screen faster than you can say “up, up and away.”
Never one to miss out on a potentially untapped gold mine, Hollywood studios are releasing four comic book movies this year. [2012 FF: Good thing Hollywood got off the sinking ship that was investing big into comic book movies...] The first one to get a crack at duplicating “Spider-Man’s” success is Marvel Comics’ Daredevil, a pretty popular character in comic book circles, but can his popularity translate into a good movie?
If initial impressions are anything, “Daredevil” is a decent action film that should lend itself well to a sequel.
Ben Affleck stars as Matt Murdock, a blind attorney by day, who also doubles as a red leather clad vigilante known as Daredevil at night. Affleck may not sound like the most logical choice for a superhero, but he is convincing enough that it’s not “Ben Affleck trying to be a superhero,” just Matt Murdock you’re paying attention to on the screen. [2012 FF: Now I'm wondering how a post-"The Town" Affleck would handle this... He probably wouldn't have nearly as much backlash for taking the role...]
A brief, but uninteresting origin shows how young Matt gets into an accident that gives him a sort of radar sense. Fortunately, the film picks up momentum with the introductions of Matt’s law partner, Foggy (Jon Favreau) and Matt’s love interest, Elektra (Jennifer Garner). [2012 FF: I LOVE Jennifer Garner. I own "Valentine's Day," but she is woefully miscast in this role. But it ended up working out for Affleck and her in the end, right?]
It isn’t until Matt interacts with these characters that we see another side of him beyond the brooding, Batman wannabe and it’s a side the filmmakers would have been wise to play up on more.
Any good hero has an equally evil rival and in Daredevil’s case, that’s the mysterious crime overlord Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan) and Bullseye (Colin Farrell) — Kingpin’s main assassin who turn any object into a dangerous weapon be it a paperclip, playing card or peanut. Farrell is a blast and he’s the one character that’s a lot of fun whenever he’s on screen, so predictably, he’s the one with the least amount of screen time.
This leads to a 30-minute finale with all-out brawls between Daredevil, Bullseye and Elektra, which are actually some pretty well executed fighting scenes. The final battle scene with Daredevil and Kingpin feels tacked on and isn’t nearly as satisfying.
“Daredevil” will make for a good reference for other comic book films in terms of not trying to cram 50-years plus of material into an hour and a half movie. Daredevil trying to end Kingpin’s reign in Hell’s Kitchen would have made for a movie all by itself but tossing in Bullseye and Elektra shortchanged all the characters.
It won’t do “Spider-Man” numbers, but “Daredevil” is a solid enough action film and worth a look. And it’ll tide over the comic book fan in your life until “X2” and “The Hulk” are released later this year. [2012 FF: Or until 2008 when Marvel Studios starts to take an active role in how their movies are handled with "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk"...]
2012 Film Flashback: This is the one really competent comic-book movie that has a very undeserved bad reputation, which I think is just due to Affleck/J-Lo/”Gigli” backlash. The special edition with additional footage is the one worth watching as it includes more Matt/Foggy interaction and a Coolio (!) cameo. While the lack of a costume for Bullseye and the ill-fitting casting of Garner brings it down a few notches for me from the height of comic book movie greatness, there’s a lot to like here and a comic film more people should give another chance.
Original 2003 Rating: 7 out of 10 2012 Rating: 6.5 out of 10