A crushing disappointment
after the blistering successes of X-Men and Spider-Man
its frustrating, poorly shot, occasionally nonsensical
and frequently stupid. And, oh yes, its got Ben Affleck
As you may well have noticed, superhero movies are currently
All The Rage, thanks to the phenomenal successes of both X-Men
(to which a sequel is due later this year) and Spider-Man.
And its not over yet, with Ang Lees take on The
Hulk due fairly soon (the trailer is fabulous) and projected
new Batman and Superman films also in the works.
In terms of release dates, then, this is the perfect time
to release Daredevil, with the studios hoping to catch some
of that superhero-hungry cash, before the big guns come out
for the summer the publicity campaign has been pretty
intensive up to now and shows no signs of abating. Unfortunately,
however, the film doesnt live up to the hype
its messy, badly shot and frequently stupid. And having
Ben Affleck in the lead doesnt help either.
Boxer Father + Radiation + Accident = Superhero
As with Spider-Man, the film follows the pattern of giving
you the Origin Story (these stories have almost
mythic status within Marvel and film-makers mess them up at
their peril) first and then moving swiftly into a plot, of
sorts. Having said that, it does start off with a battered
and bloody Ben Affleck at deaths door so his origin
story becomes part of a cheesy They say when you die
your whole life flashes before your eyes
Scott Terra (the kid from Eight Legged Freaks) plays Matt
Murdock as a young kid (and, frankly, acts everyone else off
the screen), who witnesses his idolised boxer father doing
some loan shark work and then has A Nasty Accident with some
radioactive waste (as you do) which leaves him blind, but
with all his other senses intensely heightened as a result.
Hes also able to see thanks to a kind of
radar sense that the film does a good job of representing
So, after his father is murdered for refusing to throw a
fight, Matt grows up into Ben Affleck, blind lawyer by day
(justice is blind, see?), red-leather gimp-suit wearing superhero
by night, who metes out justice by beating to a pulp all those
criminals he fails to put away as a lawyer. (Which sort of
begs the question why couldnt he just become
a better lawyer?)
Shapely Lass, Assassination, Weaponry
The rest of the plot involves Elektra (Jennifer Garner, from
TVs Alias), who falls in love with Matt and also becomes
a skilled assassin to avenge her father; The Kingpin of Crime
(a brilliantly cast Michael Clarke Duncan) and Bullseye (a
hugely over-acting Colin Farrell), another deadly assassin
able to turn any object into a lethal weapon.
Theres so much thats wrong with Daredevil that
its difficult to know where to start. For one thing,
Ben Affleck is something of a charisma vacuum its
very hard to warm to his character. As a result, hes
acted off the screen by everyone around him, from Jon Favreau
(as friend and partner Foggy Nelson, who isnt in it
nearly enough) to Jennifer Garner (who is, along with Terra,
the best thing in the film).
As for Farrell, he appears to have decided to go as over
the top as possible and the result is by turns amusing and
embarrassing. (Purists will probably be upset too, as Farrell
has transformed the character into a twitching psychopath).
Bad Fights, Bad Effects and Crap Tunes
The fight scenes are extremely disappointing. Theyre
poorly shot and badly edited so that you can never really
tell whats going on. This means that after a while you
just switch off and wait to see whos standing at the
end. Also, its entirely possible that some of the film
has been cut either that, or Daredevil manages to defeat
one major character just by giving him a nasty kick in the
The special effects are equally bad and come off as a poor
cousin to the similar effects in Spider-Man. Ironically, what
the film lacks is more of Daredevil swinging around the city,
Spider-Man-style (he carries an all-purpose billy club,
which is, oddly, never named in the film).
It gets worse. The soundtrack is incredibly intrusive, full
of atrocious rock crap interspersed with sappy love ballads.
To make matters worse, the songs often serve to introduce
the characters, so the first time we see The Kingpin, the
song is Im a dirty dawg.
The frustrating thing is that they almost got it right. The
ingredients are all in place and the film is extremely dark
much darker than expected so they obviously
made the film they wanted to make. There are a lot of nice
touches for Comic Geeks too (characters named after famous
comic artists etc).
Also, every so often, theres a really great scene (Matt
waking up in hospital; Foggy and Matt meeting Elektra), although
its usually followed by five or six terrible ones (Matt
and Elektras playful fight, in which no-one
remarks at The Amazing Blind Man jumping all over the place
etc). Theres also an unforgivable error towards the
end of the film, where we are supposed to believe Daredevil
is seriously injured and yet, moments later, hes leaping
around like nobodys business again.
Its a shame, because, potentially, Daredevil is one
of Marvels most interesting and complex superheroes.
Similarly, the film wastes good character actors such as Joe
Pantoliano (as reporter Ben Urich, who figures out Daredevils
secret identity by noticing that his billy club has the same
handle as Murdocks cane. Well, duh
In short, the film disappoints on almost every level, though
if you lower your expectations you might get a few laughs
out of how bad it is. It does have its moments, but unfortunately
theyre few and far between. Hold out for The Hulk instead.
Reviewed by - Matthew Turner