Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Colin Farrell,
Joe Pantoliano, Jon Favreau, David Keith
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 103 Minutes
Release Date: July 29, 2003
hope justice is found here today…before justice finds you.”
There have been
some decent film adaptations of various comic book creations, such as Spider-Man
and X-Men, but for my money, Daredevil is the absolute best
comic book movie to come around in ages, alongside the Blade movies, as
well as the current and much underrated LXG.
This live action recreation of the man without fear has everything that a comic
book movie should, as well as some extra ingredients you might not always
expect, including that of character development. To be totally honest, the
character of Daredevil himself has always stood out, for me at least, as one of
the far more appealing comic book characters mostly because of the traits he
carries with him and the moody backdrop of the story. Writer/director Mark
Steven Johnson has thoughtfully kept both of these notions in tact with his
interpretation of the vigilante avenger of the night.
The cursed spirit
at hand is that of Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck), who was blinded at the age of 12
by an accidental encounter with toxic chemicals. He lost his sight, but received
a supercharged enhancement in his remaining five senses. He is given a sharp
radar sense that can guide his lost sight. Haunted by this, in addition to the
loss of his father (David Keith), who was murdered in front of his eyes, Matt
vows from that point on to serve justice one way…or another. He grows up to
become a lawyer in his hometown of Hell’s Kitchen, prosecuting scum by day and
avenging justice at night as Daredevil, the man without fear.
soon takes a turn for the complicated when one day, he crosses paths with a
beauty named Elektra (Jennifer Garner). The two spark a connection, then start a
romance, which is immediately threatened by the criminal acts of local crime
boss Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan), and his live wire assassin henchman
Bullseye (Colin Farrell). Elektra’s father, a former associate of Kingpin’s,
is taken down by Bullseye, though the evidence points toward Daredevil, it
sparks an intense battle between her and Murdock’s secret identity.
What I appreciate
mostly about Daredevil is that it manages to really stay true to the dark
origin of the comic book. This is perhaps the first movie of its kind since Tim
Burton’s Batman to stray far away from the family friendly aspects of
your average comic book movie. A good example is an early sequence, where
Daredevil lays justice on an accused rapist who Matt was unable to convict in
court. I didn’t expect a moment of such dark nature to be included in a movie
like this, but I’m glad it was. Another plus is the intimacy between Murdock
and Elektra, which was more than I expected, as well.
The movie simply
has everything going for it, in everything from its production design to the
performances. The cast, in particular, is nothing short of fantastic. Ben
Affleck, who I always thought would make an appropriate substitution for Batman
because of his jaw structure, gives a unique and restrained performance as the
title character. Not since Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman has an actor
conveyed the condition of being blind to a full extent. Affleck is remarkable in
every way, shape and form, right down to the simple facial gestures in making
his performance believable. The one who manages to just about steal the show is
Colin Farrell whose over-the-top performance as Bullseye is a pure knockout.
Farrell, who’s made a career of playing protagonist, seems to be having a huge
blast chewing the scenery. Michael Clarke Duncan is perfectly cast as the
monstrous Kingpin, putting his physical presence to tremendous use, and Jennifer
Garner, apart from giving a dynamite breakthrough performance, is purely a sight
for the eyes as Elektra. The movie also gets good supporting work from Jon
Favreau as Murdock’s law firm partner and Joe Pantoliano as the journalist
covering Daredevil’s trail.
With the comic book
movie-making machine at full speed, Daredevil is easily my choice for the
top pick of the crop. It’s a hugely entertaining piece that stays fully true
to its original origins, and presents a hero that is something of an original.
Not only one of the best comic book movies to date, but also one of the best
films of this year so far.
TRIVIA: You can catch Ben Affleck’s pal Kevin Smith in a small scene as
a lab technician.
To start things
off, this will ultimately go down as one of the top DVD releases of the year if
not the decade, because it excels in every field in a big way, starting off with
an amazing anamorphic transfer. For a movie that has more dark sequences than it
does light, Fox does this presentation absolute justice. The picture quality is
simply amazing, capturing every inch of detail in every possible shot, including
the frequent shots of Daredevil’s radar sight, which appear in stunning
quality. This four-star presentation is hands down the best one I’ve seen all
No surprises here.
I knew after seeing the movie in the theaters, it would soar on DVD, most of all
in that audio department. The 5.1 mix manages to be something of an assault on
the senses, putting the viewer not too far from the shoes of Matt Murdock
himself. Daredevil’s radar senses alone payoff extravagantly well, creating a
remarkable presence of dynamic range, as sounds seem to come from every angle
possible. Action sequences, music playback, and dialogue delivery all get high
marks as well. A monumental piece of audio.
package. It’s so packed with extras, you wonder why it wasn’t given the Five
Star Collection label. Disc one includes a commentary track with writer/director
Mark Steven Johnson and producer Gary Foster, as well as a trivia track and an
enhanced viewing mode that includes numerous onscreen offshoots that reveal
insight into the production.
Disc two includes
even more, which is divided into two separate areas, The Film and The Comic
Book. Featured are two lengthy made documentaries on both the creation of the
film and the comic book, as well as an HBO First Look special, Jennifer
Garner’s screen test, a Kingpin featurette, a multi angle screen study, three
music videos, six additional featurettes, and trailers, as well as trailers for 28
Days Later and The League of