Movie Reviews: Daredevil




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     20th Century Fox (1hr. 54 min.)
     Based on the Marvel Comics character, blind lawyer Matt Murdock becomes the vigilante/superhero Daredevil.
     Ben Affleck, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell
Bottom Line:


If you’re a comic book geek, then you’re probably familiar with the tagline: "Here Comes Daredevil…The Man Without Fear."

(By the by, there’s nothing wrong with being a geek. Those little tabloids with the great colorful illustrations are legitimate books — graphic novels in fact. But that’s another column.)

Enter the movie "Daredevil," based on the 1964 Marvel comic book. The movie’s tagline should have read: "Here Comes Daredevil…The Man whose film is not as entertaining as last year’s "Spider-Man," as dark as 1989’s "Batman," or romantic as 1978’s "Superman." But that’s OK because "The Hulk" in coming out this summer."

"Daredevil" is a poor man’s "Spider-Man" in terms of special-effects — and there lies the problem. And even though he can defy gravity and bounce from rooftop to rooftop, DD just doesn’t live up to his Marvel frat brother. Let’s face it, the CGI wizards at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) have spoiled us geeks rotten.

Admittedly, a film about a blind vigilante is intriguing. However, most of the fight scenes (accompanied by blaring heavy-metal and rapid-fire MTV images) in "Daredevil" take place in dark alleys, hallways and atop seedy laundry-strewn Manhattan rooftops — making it nearly impossible for the audience to keep track of the action. Maybe they didn’t have "Spider-Man’s" budget, so they resorted to annoying gimmicks. Who can say?

But to give the "Devil" his due, "Daredevil" seems to work in spite of its shortcomings.

Heart-throb Ben Affleck, (Mr. J. Lo to you.) stars as the sightless vigilante whose enhanced sense of hearing, smell and touch allows him to see bad guys, buildings and moving objects as radar type outlines. The audience gets only of few glimpses of DD’s world that only serves to whet our appetites and leaves us hungry for more. DD would have been a more enjoyable movie had the filmmakers shown more through DD’s eyes.

In the comic book Murdock is blinded as a child while trying to save a blind man from crossing in front of a speeding truck carrying radioactive isotopes. He’s struck on the head by a fallen isotope and Daredevil is born. In the movie, the scriptwriters opted for a good dose of toxic waste to give DD his super sensing powers.

Like Batman, Daredevil is a dark, brooding, mentally disturbed character, who also saw his father murdered in the street by hoodlums. And like Batman, Daredevil’s driving force is revenge against the man who killed his father. Which is a good thing because without that motivation, he’d just be another superhero standing around in tightly fitted spandex with nothing to do.

Michael Clarke Duncan beautifully fills the villain’s role as the beefy King Pin who is actually a Spider-Man nemesis. Go figure. Maybe Daredevil’s usual gang of suspects: the Owl, Stilt-Man and Man-Bull were too busy.

However, DD regulars Bullseye (Colin Farrell) and Elektra (Jennifer Garner), who is also seeking revenge around off the brilliant cast of baddies. The massive Duncan absorbs the camera and the screen with his presence so much so, that you can’t take your eyes off him, as he puffs on an illegal Cuban stogie. Elektra, whose costume stops an inch short of soft-porn, is easy on the eyes and adds a sense of drama to the film as Murdock’s lover by day and Daredevil’s enemy by night.

In the final analysis, "Daredevil" is your average superhero fare with exotic villains who spend way too much money on their wardrobe and gadgets. And then there’s those scantly dressed femme fatals who keep trying to kill our disturbed superheroes clad in molded body suits.

Should we say enough already?

With "X-Men 2" and "The Hulk" waiting in the wings, and the second "Spider-Man" movie currently in production, maybe this current trend of superhero flicks is an acknowledgement that after 911, maybe we’re allowed to indulge in our childhood fantasies of larger than life comic book heroes saving the day.



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