A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 425 – Daredevil

Daredevil – April 29th, 2011

Andy introduced me to Daredevil as a comic book hero when I was in college. I read two books, Born Again and The Man Without Fear and felt like they gave me a pretty good feel for the character. I didn’t immediately feel the need to go hunt down everything else about the character, but I liked him and I liked the world he was set in. So when this movie came out and started to get not-so-great reviews I was disappointed. Not crushed like I would have been if, say, Batman Begins had stunk up the theaters, but it was sad to know that apparently a hero I quite liked hadn’t been done as well as he deserved.

So the thing is, I never bothered to watch it. Andy told me it was bad and I’m not overly fond of Ben Affleck as an actor (I’ll get into why in a moment) and I just never felt the need. Watching it tonight I decided it isn’t so much that it’s a bad movie. I think I know from bad movies, so I can say this with some authority. We have bad movies in our collection and this doesn’t even approach most of them. What it is, is something worse than bad. It’s mediocre. It is middling at best and that’s a real shame because it’s clearly had a lot of care put into homage to the comics, which says to me that the people making it actually give a damn. So how did it turn out so blah?

I found it rather hard to care about pretty much everything in this movie. Having read enough of Daredevil’s origin story to know where he comes from, I was hoping that some of that would be captured in the movie. Instead it’s whipped through in a flashback. Lots of things happen in this movie, like the people making it wanted to make sure they covered as many bases as possible. Which is likely part of the problem. Got to include the origin and the law office and Elektra and Kingpin and Bullseye and the journalist and the cops and vengeance and redemption and come in under two hours. I honestly think this might be a case of too many fans involved in the making of the movie, wanting to include too much love for the source. Looking at the trivia there’s character names based on all the various creators of the character. There’s homage to issue covers and old themes and so on. Kevin Smith, a notorious comic book fanboy, has a small role as a character named Jack Kirby. This is not a movie made by people who didn’t care, like I suspect X3 was (still bitter about Callisto) and I think it was overkill. There’s a point where when you make a movie with an iconic character who’s been around for decades and had several major storylines, you have to step back and pick and choose what to include because you can’t use 40 years of comic books as your movie storyboards. And I think that’s just what they tried to do here.

It gets messy. We start out with Daredevil, whose secret identity is Matt Murdock, a young and idealistic lawyer who was blinded as a child due to a freak accident. Said accident took away his sight but enhanced his other senses to the point where his hearing serves as a form of sonar (I know the movie and comics call it radar, but if it’s supposed to be echolocation it’s sonar and yes I will remain pedantic about that) so by using the sounds around him he’s able to “see” his surroundings. He trains hard, somehow learning martial arts in secret. The comics explain his training and I found it odd that a movie so full of homage didn’t find a way to mention his mentor, Stick. Anyhow, mild mannered lawyer by day, crime fighter by night, Daredevil exacts justice that Matt Murdock often can’t get legally due to crooked lawyers and a flawed legal system. Oh, and he’s also out for vengeance for his father, a boxer who was killed by crime boss Kingpin for not throwing a fight. Toss in a beautiful woman named Elektra, who’s thoroughly trained in martial arts herself and also the daughter of one of Kingpin’s associates, kill off her father and set her on a mission for revenge and also have a reporter trying to find out who Daredevil is and what he’s out to do and you’ve got this movie. Starts okay, then falls apart. And I totally forgot to even mention Kingpin’s hired hitman, Bullseye, in there. Cause yeah, our villain hires another villain to do his dirty work.

The result of all of this is that we get almost no time to spend on any one of these characters or plots. Murdock himself gets the origin flashback, and I admit I liked the kid they had playing him and I liked his relationship with his father and how it all played out. I liked the reveal of his sonar and the visual effect for it. But once that’s over it’s all fleeting introductions and very little in the way of character development. Elektra gets some background where we find out her mother died in front of her and her father’s had her train in self-defense since she was five. But that’s about it. We meet Murdock’s law partner, Foggy (played by Jon Favreau, who seems to do a nice job in these sidekick roles) but get no background on him whatsoever. Hell, we don’t even get to know the backgrounds for our villains. Kingpin grew up in the Bronx and Bullseye is Irish. That’s it. That’s all we get.

Aside from that it’s all fight scenes and kissing. Because there’s this dramatic romantic plot for Murdock and Elektra where he can’t tell her who he is (classic superhero trope), but then they also square off and spar in the middle of a playground full of kids. Cause yeah, Matt, that’s totally subtle and not giving anything away at all. And then there’s more action and more action and then Matt goes to confession and then there’s more action and then some poignant scenes for him and Elektra and more action. It’s uneven and undecided and frustrating.

Honestly, going into this I expected the weak point of the movie for me to be Ben Affleck. He seems like a decent guy and all and he’s been making a name for himself as a director, but most everything I’ve seen him in has him playing a version of himself and I wasn’t sure he could pull this off. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he wasn’t terrible. He didn’t nail the role but he didn’t ruin it. The only thing I disliked was his constant half-smirk, but I think that’s just how Affleck’s face is built. But really, I didn’t hate him here. I liked Jon Favreau and I liked Michael Clark Duncan as Kingpin and I even kind of liked Colin Farrell’s twitchy Bullseye. Jennifer Garner as Elektra was easily my favorite role of the movie though, and given how mediocre this movie ended up being I can see why the second one wasn’t a second Daredevil movie but an Elektra movie instead.

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April 29, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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