Archive for April, 2015

Daredevil.

This one was tough. I really wanted to like it, but you can’t always get what you want. Still, with the Daredevil Netflix series now streaming on Netflix, I think it’s time for a look back at the first time Marvel tried to launch a live-action Man Without Fear tale.

At the risk of sounding like a grandpa, I think it will be hard for future generations to fathom that we lived in a world without really good comic book movies for a long time. Ok, so there were the Batman movies, which started out promising with Tim Burton at the helm, and really went downhill in under Joel Schumacher’s direction (like, really downhill.) Christopher Reeves as Superman also had about two watchable movies in him before the third and fourth installments fizzled pretty badly. Plus, that series ended, mercifully, by the late 80’s. It wasn’t until Marvel started making a real effort with the X-Men and Spider-Man franchises that fans could get their hopes up.

And then, Daredevil came out in 2003. #Hopes dashed.

It was a sad case, really. When I first started reading comics, Daredevil was sort of Spider-Man’s bastard cousin. You know, a guy in red who swings around the city fighting bad guys. Plus, his nemesis was the Kingpin, whom I had first seen in Spider-Man comics and who I assumed was actually Spidey’s main baddie. I guess I thought nemeses were like spouses; you should really only have one, even if you mess around a little. As I grew older and read more Daredevil books, I realized he was his own man, and he had a rich history, despite not being what you might call an “A-lister.” Still, seeing DD on the big screen would legitimize the character and put him in that top tier. Still below Spidey perhaps, but definitely above Moon Knight.

Instead, this film may have set the character back a decade (since it took twelve years to get this series, and without Netflix, well… who knows?). It’s hard to even pinpoint the exact point where the movie went bad, because when I think back, it was pretty much all bad. Ben Affleck was in full-on super-hero mode, all brooding and intense, while Colin Farrell was in full-on super-villain mode, meaning he spoke in a raspy voice and generally acted all crazy (I literally thought he was going to twist his moustache at one point.) It was kind of weird when Jennifer Garner, as DD’s love interest, Elektra, became the highlight of the movie. Except for that classic see-saw scene. That was the real highlight. Pure, unintentional, comedic gold!

daredevil-seesaw-2003

“I’ll impress her with my Blind-See-Saw-dance. The chicks really dig it.”

Strangely enough, Garner apparently impressed the studio execs so much, and they must have thought that there was money to be made, that they gave her a spin-off, despite the fact that she died in Daredevil. This being comics, nobody really cared about that bit, but I have heard that Elektra was actually worse than Daredevil, so that one must be pretty bad. I never bothered to watch it. Time being precious and all.

If that introduction didn’t get you fired up to watch this movie, here’s the skinny on Daredevil: Matt Murdock is a blind, grumpy attorney by day, but by night he puts on a costume and plays hero on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, ostensibly to avenge the death of his father, boxer Jack Murdock, who I guess was screwed over by somebody at some point. How does a blind person fight crime, you ask? Well, the same toxic chemical accident that robbed him of his sight also heightened his other senses, so Matt can hear and smell things that no normal person can. He also has a heightened radar sense (related, apparently, to his super-hearing) that allows him to sort of “map out” structures and people and basically sense where everything is, so he gets around pretty good, all things considered. The downside is that he has to sleep in an isolation tank or else the city noise would keep him up all night. That’s probably why he’s so grumpy.

Through his exploits, Matt meets Elektra Natchios, a ninja assassin who is also trying to avenge the death of her father. The crime lord that they are both after, Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. “The Kingpin,” played with generous moxie by the late Michael Clarke Duncan, hires Bulls-eye (Farrell) to take the good guys out. Farrell’s power is, shockingly, really good aim, so he throws things at his foes. Should he have just been a major league pitcher? He could have made millions and not gone to jail. Anyway, he succeeds in taking out Elektra, but Daredevil defeats him, and then goes on to defeat Fisk, as well, and justice is served. Yay! Good guys win!

I realize that no one goes to see Daredevil expecting Shakespeare, but that’s a pretty meager plot. I summed it up in just a couple sentences, and that was with that bad joke about Bulls-eye thrown in. This leads one to believe that the writing is bad, and it is. Even a glance at the quotes on IMDB reveals some horrid writing:

Daredevil: You killed the only two people I ever loved. Why?

Kingpin: Business. That’s all it ever is, is business. I was working for Fallon at the time, your father was supposed to throw a fight. And your girl was in the wrong family at the wrong time. It’s all business… and you’ve been in my business for too long!

As riveting as all that sounds on paper, I am sure that Affleck played it with his usual aplomb, the kind of line-reading that is usually reserved for Simpsons’-style movie parodies (“You killed… the only two people… I ever loved… Now, get… Mendoza.”). And Colin Farrell, as mentioned above, must have been taking cues directly from Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s “How to Play a Super-Villain.” Or maybe just playing himself. Hard to tell.

"Mendooozzzzaaaaaa!"

“Mendooozzzzaaaaaa!”

Simply put, the script was bad. The story was flimsy. The acting was over-the-top. There were no eye-popping special effects. There wasn’t even any nudity. I can’t think of any reason to actually watch this movie. Other than the fact that it was called “Daredevil” and I’m a comic book geek, I don’t even know why I saw it. Even a grumpy, blind lawyer could see that this isn’t worth your time. Thankfully, Disney has resurrected the character with the Netflix series, because nobody dies in comics. Although after this movie, I almost wished I was.