Rated: PG-13 :: Released: 14 February 2003
Director: Mark Steven Johnson :: Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell and Michael Clarke Duncan
By Doran Murphy
01 February 2005 — With the two major players (Spider-Man and X-Men) out of the way, Marvel decided to experiment a bit. The next film they went about creating was Daredevil. The thing about Daredevil as a character, however, is he's not really well-known. Marvel has a few characters that are more famous than Daredevil and would have made for a better choice to follow Spider-Man. Because of this lack of mainstream exposure, to make the movie truly a success, Marvel would have had to make a movie that stays faithful to the comics. The comic book fans would have been Daredevil's bread and butter. However, Hollywood strayed from the source material.
It's really difficult to start with what was changed in this movie. Not only do parts of the story go against Marvel canon, the characters are quite screwed up, too. Why change Daredevil's noble origins into an accident? What happened to Stick, the martial arts master who taught Daredevil how to fight? What happened to Matt Murdock's infuriation at the American justice system that spurns him to use his powers as a vigilante? What happened to Daredevil's yellow costume that looks cooler than the all-red one? (That's a minor complaint, though). And to cap it all off, how does a poor lawyer afford all of the wacky gizmos and luxurious life Matt Murdock leads?
Rain is used to an almost comic extent in Daredevil. You see, Daredevil has an echolocation like sense — similar to a bat — that allows him to make mental pictures of things according to the echoing of sound waves. This is what allows Daredevil to "see" and helps him a whole lot when he's out fighting crime. When it rains, Daredevil/Matt Murdock is able to "see" a person, because when the droplets make contact with the skin, it makes a slight sound. However, the first time it is used in the film, it is cheesy at best. The second, it depicts Elektra's illogical and misdirected anger (fucking writers) in the lamest way possible. The final time, it is used to "save the day". I just hated the effect. Daredevil can hear heartbeats, why should he need rain to see someone?
"It's cheesy, but that's okay. It's a superhero movie," right? Wrong. Daredevil is gritty. He's not a Spider-Man or Superman where he's a Boy Scout — Daredevil does bad things sometimes. Daredevil and the Punisher are two of the most realistic superheroes Marvel has. Daredevil occasionally gets the high holy fuck whipped out of him. He gets angry. He hits on girls — he's human. I know that's odd to say about a man who can leap off buildings and not end up as a pancake, but in an emotional sense, he does what a normal person would do if he had superpowers. Daredevil, as a film, fails greatest here.
The CG was done fairly well. It was very entertaining from a fight scene perspective, with Daredevil zipping all over the place. The fight scenes with Daredevil and Elektra are fun, as is the final battle with Kingpin. The film transpires as Daredevil's life is flashing before his eyes, giving us a peek into his recent past as well as his origin. And the whole time you know something very bad is going to happen to lead up to this moment where his life is flashing right before his blind eyes.
Acting-wise, Ben Affleck tried. He really did. I don't think he was mailing it in, or that he wasn't trying hard enough; I just don't think he had Daredevil in him. He's too much of a "fun guy" to pull it off. It's a shame, because I've read he's such a huge fan of the comics, too. (He actually tried out for Bullseye; he just wanted to be in this movie so much.) Jennifer Garner helps meet the leather pants quota and doesn't do too much else, and Colin Farrell does a semi decent job. The actor I was most impressed with was Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin.
The DVD comes with all the usual Marvel goodies. Interviews with the creators, as well as hero worship of the original Daredevil writers and artists. I feel like such a shit, because I can't remember their names. Avi Arad lies through his teeth as he talks about how this is a faithful translation of the Daredevil comics, and I die just a little inside because you know they paid him a boatload of money for his endorsement and he just signed off on it. Anyway, the bonus features really aren't anything special.
— They took some rather gross liberties with the characters.
— They left several plot holes in the film.
— They abused the rain effect.
— They did fairly well technically (CG and fight scenes).
— The acting was meh.
Overall, it's not looking too good for Daredevil. I enjoy my share of cheesy movies, and when I saw this in the theatres with my friends, we had a grand old time mocking the film. However, that's really something you shouldn't be able to do with a tough character like Daredevil. He's not a funny guy, really. I'm really sad to say this, (because the Daredevil character is awesome) but if you haven't seen the movie, don't bother. Go buy the Ultimate Daredevil collection or something.
Comic Geek Score: 2
Movie Fan Score: 5
Averaged Score: 3.5