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Daredevil (2003)

PG-13 105 minutes

Directed by Mark Steven Johnson
Written by Mark Steven Johnson

Starring
 · Ben Affleck
 · Jennifer Garner
 · Michael Clarke Duncan
 · Colin Farrell


Review by The Gnome (Billy Dal Porto)

Daredevil is the story of Matt Murdock, a man blinded as a boy, both physically and emotionally. Most people understand the physical part pretty well, but I'm fairly certain a few eyebrows were raised when I said "emotional". I'll get to that a little later, because there are many other features of this movie that need to be talked about first. Daredevil is also a love story, which is why is was released on February 14th, Valentines Day. Daredevil is a comic book, the first of three to be delivered to us this year. If Daredevil is any indication what's in store for us from Marvel, ladies and gentlemen, this is just the beginning of a great ride.

 

Popcorn

 
 93%

The acting was the one thing I worried about most. We had one star known for over doing: Ben Affleck; one rising star who had never played a villain: Colin Farrell; a young TV femme fatale: Jennifer Garner; and a big man with only one action movie under his belt: Michael Clarke Duncan. Not to mention, the film was helmed by a director that had never done a movie quite like this. So was my fear well founded? Yes... a million times, YES! This movie could have been the ultimate bomb that stopped the Marvel train from rolling. But it wasn't. After seeing Daredevil, my eyes have shifted to the Hulk as the movie that could drop the ball. (Hey, I figure if I go into every one of these movies as a skeptic, I can never be let down.)

But back to the acting. Was it awful? No. Was it amazing? No. It was just right. On cue. Ben Affleck was able to deliver a perfectly fine performance with a gritty character like Daredevil. Jennifer Garner was great as Elektra. Colin Farrell had his moments with Bullseye that REALLY stand out. He wasn't great all the time, but when he was, he REALLY was. And Michael Clarke Duncan. The man was Kingpin. Not as ruthless as I'd like, but he's still got a sequel (I hope) to show me that. How could I forget Jon Favreau? Foggy Nelson provides some of the best comic relief I've been missing in film for a long time. He lightens the mood in an otherwise dark film, and that's exactly what he should be doing. Despite his limited screen time, he gets close to beating out Ben Affleck for the best performance in this film. Not quite, though.

I would like to take a moment though to really commend Jennifer Garner and Colin Farrell for a portrayal of one of the saddest comic book scenes ever. Elektra's death is the absolute saddest point in the film, and the actors are the ones responsible for that. The sickness in Farrells eyes matches perfectly with the fear in Garners. I was so moved that I did almost cry. It's really something only a comic fan could understand, but it was simply perfect.

The action was phenomenal. Very well done and tasteful at that. It was one of those few points that didn't limit itself to reality, which the action shouldn't. The story should be grounded and real. The action should be fantastical. It should, well, "marvel" us. And just like Spider-Man, it does. Frame by frame comic book action, and it's truly something to watch in awe.

Now the story. It flowed well, it told us about the characters well, and it forced me to feel. But even the best films have their faults, and this one is no different. Every scene was great, EXCEPT for the park scene. A blind man and a beautiful woman have a mock fight in a park so that they could get each others' numbers and fall in love. I have to admit, that was one of the corniest and campiest things I have ever scene. If I had my way, I would have redone the scene VERY differently. Other than that, wonderful story. Even the love story itself is great. It's not too mushy, and it doesn't drag the movie down. In fact, the worst part of the love story comes from the audience's immaturity. As long as it's a mature crowd, you've got nothing to worry about.

Speaking of mature crowds, I believe this movie is better suited just for that. I actually had a few children sitting near me, and call me old fashioned, call me a prude, but I wouldn't want my 8 year old seeing this(no, I don't have children, it's hypothetical).

The movie is a popcorn flick, meant for the theaters. It faulters at times, but it shouldn't suffer from those few markdowns.

 

Smarts

 
 78%

The directing and the writing are both inspired, and for good reason. The comic is GREAT inspiration. It's got everything that a movie needs right there in it's pages; all it needs is for someone to look close enough. Someone did. The writer of this film made a great effort in making the audience feel something, and they succeeded with me.

The story of Daredevil as a child got to me, and it really explains in full detail why Daredevil is the way he is. Why he sees the world as a dark place, and why he believes himself to be the only one to bring justice to a time worn city. It's fitting that he chooses to be a lawyer, because while his goal is well intentioned, his mistake is the way he goes about reaching that goal. He protects the innocent, and punishes the wicked. The punishment is what makes him an anti-hero. The way he protects the innocent is what makes you uneasy about having someone like that watching over you. Spider-Man may be the guardian angel of New York, but Daredevil truly is its guardian devil, because while Spider-Man may protect even the wicked, Daredevil sinks to their level. That's what this movie was trying to portray. Were they right? I couldn't tell you. That's for you to decide. Fan of the comic or not, it's a serious question posed by the movie that begs to be answered.

As a writer, Johnson, I admire you. As a director, you're not far off from being amazing. I can see what you were trying to say with the script. But that message can almost get lost in this film with some of the campiness. As a director, you're on the right path, you're just not there yet.

Except with intimacy.

I cannot even begin to tell you the butterflies in my stomach when Daredevil gets to "see" Elektra's face in the rain. It was such a beautiful moment in film. A blind man seeing the woman he loves for the first time. Or when young Matt Murdock begins to realize his new senses waking up after the accident. The fear of realizing you're blind. The fear of gaining new senses. The fear of starting over. Mark Johnson is talented when it comes to intimacy. He can make you feel, which is a rarity in action films.

I just can't stand that park scene. God, what were you thinking, Mark? And I think a lot of stuff was left out that REALLY should have been in the film. It was only an hour and 45 minutes, man. You had PLENTY of room for more goods. That's the only reason it got marked down here. The campiness of certain scenes overwhelmed the seriousness of a previous scene. And so much got left untold. What could have been, though.

 

Final

Ah, yes. The "emotional" blindness. You see, as Matt Murdock grows up, he's blocked off his sense of guilt. He ignores that voice that tells him what's right and wrong when dealing with the wicked. What he doesn't realize and eventually learns is that we are all innocent in some ways, and we all deserve a chance. There are better ways of dealing with justice. I just hope in the sequel, they prove to me he learned his lesson.

Go see it. Don't argue with me. It's a must for theater viewing, and you're going to kick yourself later for not taking the chance. You'll laugh at the comedy, you'll get teary at the sadness, and you'll applaud a great movie.


1377 Words Published: 15 February 2003

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