a critiQal film review DareDevil (2003)

Plot: Matt Murdock (Affleck) is a blind lawyer working in Hell’s Kitchen during the day...but at night he becomes the masked vigilante DareDevil, "the man without fear". Matt is just getting to know the daughter of a wealthy businessman, Electra (Garner), when her father is killed by hit man Bullseye (Farrell) - and DareDevil is blamed. Now, DareDevil has to find who hired Bullseye - before Electra extracts her revenge on him.

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  • ...the tongue-in-cheek humor and comic-geek feel help this one - not to mention a wild and wacky performance from Colin Farrell.

With the abysmal flick Spider-Man (2002) and the action-packed X-Men (2000) under their belts (and Hulk (2003) and X-Men 2 (2003) right around the corner), Marvel has ventured on to the big screen again with DareDevil.

With the obvious comparisons to Spider-Man (2002) popping up left and right, from the soundtrack (“Hero” was a big hit, can “Bring Me To Life” meet that success?) to the obvious comparison between the superheros, DareDevil has a lot to live up to (for most people). Can Ben Affleck outperform Tobey Maguire and live up to the hype, or will he falter just as badly?

The actors all did an okay job, with no big standouts among them. Ben Affleck portrayed a blind man pretty convincingly, and looked like he could kick some butt in the DareDevil get-up. Jennifer Garner, looking rather nice (to say the least!), also performed well as the wealthy daughter turned fighter. Collin Farrell let himself go for the role of BullsEye, and really seemed to relish playing a villain.

Michael Clarke Duncan, who seemed to also enjoy playing a villain (the Kingpin of Crime) didn’t get much screen time, so really didn’t have a chance to play his role to the hilt as much as he surely would have liked to. With an inevitable sequel around the corner. I’m sure, he should get a chance to show more of what he’s got then.

The plot was decent, introducing the superhero and giving him a love interest, then pitting him against a few colorful villains. Having the love interest blame him for the loss of her father was a nice twist, and definitely added some flavor to the film. The dialogue, on the other hand, was atrocious.

Kevin Smith, who played a brief part in the film, should have tried to force his way into the script, and done a bit of re-working. It could have used some help. The whole film had a nice comic book feel to it (except the dialogue), and tried to have a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor about itself as well. At least, that’s the way it came off.

The whole fight scene (for fun), between Electra and Matt was so over-the-top as to be comical, and the cheering kids in the background seemed to hint that the director was laughing along with the audience at the absurdness of the scene. Having the ability to laugh at itself at it’s height of absurdity is a good quality for any film to have, and made the film much more enjoyable.

Spider-Man (2002), which seemed to take itself too seriously, would have been greatly improved if it had given the audience a bit of the same.

The special effects had the same faults Spider-Man (2002) showcased. The weightlessness of the characters while they are leaping around, a large detraction from that film, seemed even more noticeable here. Maybe because Spider-Man (2002) relies more on his webs, while DareDevil mostly jumps from one ledge to another.

Before Spider-Man 2 (2004) or DareDevil 2 comes out, I hope the special effects team can work this out.

The other effects were all well done, especially BullsEye’s little darts. There was a memorable The Matrix (1999) scene rip-off, but it was played with just the bit of difference that makes it interesting. Plus, what action movie lately hasn’t tried to throw in a little bit of The Matrix (1999)-inspired fighting sequences?

All in all, a decent effort that Marvel should be happy with. While it isn’t up to the high standards set by X-Men (2000) (and it looks like X-Men 2 (2003) should be more of the same, judging by the previews), it definitely outclassed the abysmal Spider-Man (2002).

If DareDevil 2 is in the works, and they work on the weight issue in the special effects department, it should be something worth seeing.

For now, grab some popcorn and go and see DareDevil…have no fear, it’s pretty fun.

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