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Laramie Movie Scope: Daredevil

Another Marvel hero takes to the big screen

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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February 14, 2003 -- You knew it had to happen. After the incredible success of "Spider-Man" (over $1 billion in combined box office and video sales), you just knew there would be more Marvel Comics action heroes coming to the big screen. Now there is "Daredevil" and soon, "The Hulk" will follow. "Daredevil" is not as good as "Spider-Man," but it is a solid entry in the super hero sweepstakes with a good story, decent action and charismatic actors in the leading roles. The ending is incongruous, but that is mainly to set up the sequel which will probably be in the works soon.

Ben Affleck ("The Sum of All Fears") stars as the super hero, Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer by day, an avenging Daredevil by night, leveling the scales of justice in his own way. Although he is blind, he can navigate the night using his sonar-like hearing and his other keen senses. Murdock learns of a plot to kill his girl friend, Elektra Natchios (played by Jennifer Garner of "Catch Me if You Can"), the daughter of a successful Greek businessman. Elektra has been targeted for assassination by Wilson Fisk (Michael Clarke Duncan of "The Scorpion King"), also known as the Kingpin, a powerful businessman who secretly runs a criminal empire. Kingpin has hired a deadly assassin named Bullseye (Colin Farrell of "The Recruit") to kill Elektra and her father. When Daredevil interferes with Bullseye's assassination of Natchios, Bullseye swears to kill Daredevil as well as Elektra.

Since Elektra is also accomplished in the martial arts, and Kingpin is a very tough guy as well, this film gives you two super heroes and two super villains for the price of one. The fight scenes are competently staged by the Hong Kong action film duo of Cheung-Yan Yuen (action director) and Daxing Zhang (fight coordinator) who last teamed up to do the well-staged fight scenes in "Charlie's Angels." Garner does have some kick-boxer training, but none of the stars is an expert in the martial arts, so you don't really get to see the fight scenes from a normal perspective. You see the fights in long shots, at funny angles an in close-ups that are so tight you only see one combatant. A lot of camera tricks, fast editing cuts, and digital effects are used to enhance the fight scenes. These scenes are often poorly lit, perhaps intentionally so, to better hide some of the tricks used to ramp up the action.

The story is pretty solid, except for the ending, where the hero acts out of character. His only reason for behaving as he does is to set up a sequel. Spider-Man also had an ending which set up the sequel, but it was much more cleverly done. The story is significantly darker than "Spider-Man." It is more like the original "Batman" with its tortured hero and high death toll. The acting is solid overall, especially Collin Farrell, who makes an excellent, mercurial villain. His scene on an airliner confronting a talkative passenger is a classic. Michael Clarke Duncan makes his massive physical presence felt as a very business-like, cool-tempered villain. A nice supporting performance is turned in by Joe Pantoliano of "The Sopranos" TV show. Pantoliano plays wise guy reporter Ben Urich, who is better at solving crimes than the police. He also has a nice streak of decency. Jon Favreau also turns in a good comic performance as Franklin "Foggy" Nelson, Murdock’s best friend and law partner. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2003 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)