Tuesday, February 18, 2003

The great big Daredevil Post

Why would I give a whole post to this movie? Because I can, folks. Just because I can.


So, to begin. Basic plot summary: Matt Murdock is a lawyer, who was blinded in childhood by a freak accident involving a forklift, conveniently placed barrels of highly toxic liquid, and lots of screaming. But there was an upside: this injury magically gave him a bat-like kind of vision using sound waves (did he say bat-like?). So he really can see, just not with his eyes. In fact, his vision looks an awful lot like the scene from X-men where Professor X searches for Rogue using the big round room. But we're not supposed to remember that. So yes, he can "see", he can hear, he can smell, all with super-sensitive abilities. Oh yeah, and he can sort of fly. Why? Who cares! Pass the popcorn.
So Murdock's a lawyer, assisted by Jon Favreau, who is not a moron, he just plays one in this movie. When a bad guy gets acquitted thanks to the influence of the MAIN BAD GUY Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan, why? Why?!?), then Murdock gets mean and angry and kills the guy in a bar. Along with everyone else in the bar. Single-handedly. (See: "Desperado") So Kingpin decides the only way to kill this vigilante Daredevil is to hire an equally over-the-top SECONDARY BAD GUY, a hit man called Bullseye, who has upon his forehead (gasp) a bullseye. This fella (Colin Farrell, why? WHY?!?) is a breath of hammy air in an already over-wrought picture, but we don't question that, because also introduced to the movie is the FEMALE LEAD. Fanboys worldwide, put your hands together for Jennifer Garner. Yowsa. Okay, so she's hot and athletic and everything. But after the blossoming romance, and obligatory love scene, her father is killed by (gasp) Bullseye, who uses (double gasp) Daredevil's weapon, thus framing him and making Elecktra (students of Freud, pay attention) vow to avenge her father's death by becoming Evil Elecktra. Or at least, Vicious, Hell-bent-on-revenge-but-still-super-hot Elecktra. Oh, and apparently, she can fly too.
So Elecktra fights Daredevil, stabs him in the upper chest, but he shakes it off because he's the HERO. Then Bullseye kills her, which makes Big Ben very VERY upset, so he kills Bullseye by throwing him through a stained-glass church bell tower window, onto an approaching vehicle (driven by Cipher of "Matrix" fame, who plays a newshound as paper thin as the rest of the characters). Then our hero says through gritted teeth, "Bullseye." I swear I'm not making this up.
Finally, we get to the last act of the movie, in which Daredevil charges up to the penthouse office of Kingpin and fights him. But of course, not until the dapperly dressed Duncan takes off his shirt and tie, and fights him in his Sonny Corleone wife-beater-and-suspenders ensemble, which is supposed to be cooler cuz it shows off his muscles. Then Daredevil breaks the mobster's knees (which is actually both cheesy and kinda cool at the same time), but doesn't kill him cuz "he's not the bad guy." After that, he makes his face look as hard-core as the music swells, before finally saying the ridiculous "Justice is served."
I don't know what happened after that, because at that point, I walked out of the theatre, thoroughly disgusted.

Well, that being done, here's what I actually liked about the movie:


Just kidding. Here we go:
--There was a lot of time spent on backstory, which is a staple in most comic based movies, but it's still sorta interesting. Of course the fact that Bullseye killed Daredevil's father was a little too Batman for me.
--The tone of the movie was a lot darker. A lot darker. The problem became that the movie tried to be so heavy and filled with pathos and darkness that it cracked under the weight and became foolish. But the first half of the movie really delivered the "tortured hero" bit pretty well.
--People died in this one. I know, I sound like a boy. But still. It moves the movie away from cartoon into more serious territory.
--Jennifer Garner. No, not for the obvious reason. But because she's a very strong female character who proves herself equal (if not superior) to the hero in abilities and devotion of purpose. This is no Lois Lane or Vicki Vale. She's more like Catwoman, but I think stronger and more impressive.
--The story structure was slightly better than average. Slightly. Okay, I take it back.

Here's the problems with the movie. In no particular order.

--Character development was poor. They set up Murdock okay, they did a decent job for Elecktra, but we get nothing on Kingpin, Bullseye, or any other supporting character. And those two especially are great actors given paper thin roles. We're just supposed to accept that they're both bad and not care why. The movie sets itself up as a psychological drama when it comes to the heroes, but ends up being a soap opera when it comes to the villains. And villains are SO much more interesting.
--The flying. Come on, kids. No one in this movie is supposed to fly. Okay, I know, it's not actually flying. But every fight scene is equipped with a Peter Pan-style gliding jump by one or all of its participants. There were too many wire-stunts in this movie, so many that it looked like the director just wanted to play with the equipment as much as possible.
--The pacing. To be consistent, the movie should have been two to two and a quarter hours long. But because it's a popcorn movie, it's totally jerky, taking perhaps too long with the relationship of the two leads, and not long enough with, um, the end. Screen-time of good Elecktra: thirty minutes or so; screen-time of Bad Elecktra: not even ten. As soon as she starts fighting, she gets herself killed. That was kinda anticlimactic. And there was no more buildup to the last battle than an 8-bit NES video game. Killed Bullseye? Then proceed to next boss.
--The dialogue. The first half of the movie was interesting without been too cheesy. But the second half of the film is just a cheesefest. With lines like "Bullseye" and "Justice is served", how can it not be? Really, it was the dialogue that finally drove me out of the theater shaking my head. I refused to sit and be patronized by an action movie. That's why I hated the last James Bond movie I saw. I felt talked down to the entire time. I'll put up with a lot, but I won't put up with that.

Overall, the last half of the movie sucked. To help you see this with me, the first half was "Batman", the second half was "Batman and Robin". Does that sum it up enough for ya?

So don't see it kids. If you must, make sure someone else is paying. And not someone you like.

Guess that's it. My big movie rant.


Screw the french.

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