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Attorney Matt Murdock is blind, but his other four senses function with superhuman sharpness. By day, Murdock represents the downtrodden. At night, he is Daredevil, a masked vigilante stalking the dark streets of the city, a relentless avenger of justice.
For more about Daredevil and the Daredevil Blu-ray release, see Daredevil Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 24, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau, Joe Pantoliano
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
» See full cast & crew
Daredevil Blu-ray Review
Dare you dance with this devil in the pale moonlight?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 24, 2008
I think we can safely say that the superhero film has solidified itself as Hollywood's go-to genre of the decade. Sure, the segment has been widely tapped before, from the most famous (Batman) to the more obscure (The Shadow, Darkman) of superheroes. In this decade alone, however (and with a couple more summers to go), audiences have flocked like never before to theaters to see their favorite hero come alive. With 3 Spider-Man films, a Batman franchise reboot, 3 X-Men films, a Superman, two different adaptations of Hulk, a pair of Fantastic Four films, Iron Man, and plenty more, there has been no shortage of choices for filmgoers, and definitely no empty coffers behind the closed doors of studio bank vaults. Tossed in there somewhere amongst the deluge is Daredevil, a Ben Affleck vehicle that never really made a name for itself. Maligned upon its initial release, many fans shunned the film, but some would later embrace a longer director's cut of the film, which is what 20th Century Fox presents on this Blu-ray. At the end of the day, though, this take on Daredevil, be it this cut or the shorter theatrical cut, makes for a particularly bad example of the superhero genre.
Daredevil features another hero without super strength, just the ability to use what he has to maximum potential, making him a more accessible hero to the masses. Even Batman, who plays by similar rules, comes from limitless wealth to help him in his various endeavors. Ben Affleck (Pearl Harbor) portrays Matt Murdock, a man blinded since childhood after accidental exposure to hazardous materials. By day, Murdock is an honest attorney from Hell's Kitchen, New York. By night, he is Daredevil, a superhero relying on an incredibly attuned sense of hearing (a "radar sense," as he calls it) to fight criminals. Following the death of his father, Matt vows revenge on The Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan, The Scorpion King), who teams with the villainous Bullseye (Collin Farrell, Phone Booth) in a move against Daredevil, Matt must not only fight two super-criminals, but deal with a burgeoning relationship with the mysterious -- and deadly -- Elektra (Jennifer Garner, Juno).
Daredevil is nothing more than formula fleshed out on-screen with some glitzy visuals and a bombastic soundtrack to try and mask the film's many shortcomings. Unfortunately, the film is so poor that nothing can keep us from noticing. Daredevil's every scene does nothing but further entrench the film as wholly unoriginal. It simply throws different actors and characters into the same old plot line while relying on tired plot devices rather than creative writing to take us through the story. In its defense, and in spite of all the problems, Daredevil is a technically well-crafted film. Director Mark Steven Johnson knows what he is doing behind the camera, but the unoriginal plot and terrible acting lower the film's quality significantly. One scene does shine through, one featuring Matt and Elektra at a funeral. Set to melancholy music, she denies Matt's ability to "see" her amidst the rain, and the scene plays out with grace and emotion. Still, the movie follows formula, leaving audiences disinterested and bored. In Daredevil, audiences are treated to the main character's backstory, which is all well and good, and is the best segment of the movie. Then, we witness Matt's evolution to superhero status, followed by his first major confrontation with a throwaway bad guy. The film predictably shows us the aftermath of that scene, one where we see Daredevil return home and tend to his wounds. Only now does the story introduce to us the remainder of the primary cast, those who will ally themselves with Daredevil, and those who will oppose him. We inevitably see montages where the bad guys strut their stuff, an initial confrontation between hero and villain, setting up the inevitable final showdown.
Although the film suffers from unoriginality, the true weakness in the film is in its characters, and in the manner they are portrayed by their respective actors. Only Joe Pantoliano, David Keith, and Kevin Smith, all in minor roles of varying degrees, lend any credence to the film in front of the camera. Jennifer Garner and Michael Clarke Duncan offer the least offensive performances of the film's primary characters. I like Michael Clark Duncan quite a bit, but his character here is northing more than a larger-than-life cartoon. He plays the role to that effect, and his performance is fine, but he cannot save the character that feels completely out of place in the film. A villain with some humor can definitely work (for my money, Gene Hackman's portrayal of Lex Luthor in Superman is the epitome of superhero movie villainy, playing the role with the perfect blend of ruthlessness and humor), but Duncan's character is so poorly scripted and integrated into the film that the character flops. Garner's performance is uninspired at best, appearing lackadaisical and bored in most of her scenes. Ben Affleck isn't all that good, either. He plays a blind person rather unconvincingly, and definitely not as good as Rutger Hauer in a little-known film called Blind Furry, and a far cry from Al Pacino's Oscar-winning performance in Scent of a Woman.
That leads us to Colin Farrell, who not only turns in a terrible performance in this film, but he also portrays one of the worst villains in any major superhero film. His character, Bullseye, comes off as a cruel joke and a disgrace to cinematic villains everywhere. It's hard not to laugh when he is on-screen, and for as generic as the film is, and as mediocre as the performances from the other primaries are, he makes Duncan, Affleck, and Garner look like Oscar contenders in comparison. Take, for example, a scene where he kills an old blabbermouth lady sitting next to him on a plane. The scene is meant to show just how vile a man he is, but it's hard not to laugh uncontrollably at how ridiculous the scene comes off. With terribly delivered lines like, "I missed. I never miss!," and later pointing to the bullseye marking on his forehead as he says, "bullseye!" after impaling a character, as if we needed it spelled out to us, and several other awful one-liners and moments, Colin Farrell solidifies Bullseye as the cinematic equivalent of a hand grenade exploding in your face. The character is clearly meant to be an over-the-top, psychotic lunatic, but there is a fine line between "crazy" and "laughably ridiculous," and Farrell falls deeply onto the wrong side.
Daredevil Blu-ray, Video Quality
Daredevil offers viewers an excellent 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. The film features an abundance of grain in many scenes. Colors are somewhat dull, as is to be expected in movies that are filmed generally dark. The film features a myriad of different looks, including fairly colorful exteriors (though still somewhat reserved), many dark sequences, and some shots that appear almost black and white, specifically those taking place in Daredevil's lair, where nothing but cold gray and blue steel are present, the only color seemingly emanating from the dark red uniform he wears. The image features great depth and background images remain sharp and detailed. The leather Daredevil costume looks fantastic, as close-up shots reveal it in all its fine detail. It's a rather cheap looking costume overall, but that doesn't mean it doesn't look very realistic. Black levels are inky and deep, showing not even a glimpse of imperfection. Flesh tones, likewise, appear accurate. Daredevil is another in a string of excellent transfers from Fox.
Daredevil Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Daredevil's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is a mesmerizing experience. It had to be, seeing as Daredevil's sense of hearing is precisely attuned in the film. The soundtrack wows listeners from beginning to end. From the subtle to the, well, not so subtle, the track never lacks in any area, excelling in fact, in every category. Music is immersive and full, pitch-perfect, and lacking nothing in the way of clarity or power. Dialogue, too, is precise and clear. Surrounds are used to magnificent effect, obvious from the opening when we hear a rat, of all things, scurrying from the rear soundstage to the front. There are also plenty of powerful, hard-hitting effects to be heard throughout the film. If you ask for a suggestion as to which disc best demonstrates the pinnacle of surround activity, this is currently my pick. None of the distinct surround effects come off as gimmicky or placed in the mix simply for the sake of being there. They fit in perfectly with the mood and atmosphere of the film. In an early scene where a young Matt first discovers his heightened sense of hearing, sounds explode form every channel and flood the soundstage with a barrage of effects, perfectly accompanying the on-screen action. The various fight scenes feature a parade of impressive sounds, including some of the most incredible bass you're likely to hear. It's one of the most hard-hitting tracks to be sure, one that literally shakes you to your core. Daredevil, sonically, is as reference as they come, a crowning jewel of Blu-ray lossless audio.
Daredevil Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
20th Century Fox's release of Daredevil on Blu-ray provides fans with a wealth of supplemental materials, headlined by a commentary track featuring writer/director Mark Steven Johnson and producer Avi Arad. These participants enjoy providing their insights, and are thrilled to have their original idea for the film available through this director's cut. They spend quite a bit of time discussing the process of cutting and adding to the film, what worked and what did not, what is here and what is gone, and they delve a bit into the politics of the situation. They also discuss more of the mundane, things like the themes of the film, character development, and more. The track is always active and informative, and fans will enjoy it a great deal. Enhanced Viewing Mode is next. Narrated by visual effects supervisor John Kilkenny, this feature allows viewers to click on an icon and view select shots in various stages of development. Fact and Fiction Feature is a pop-up trivia track, coming up as plain white text, almost like subtitles, and without the usual fancy box that accompanies such tracks.
Beyond Hell's Kitchen: Making 'Daredevil' (480p, 58:51) is a comprehensive documentary that delves into a wide array of aspects that went into the making of the film. Beginning with the history of the project as it shuffled from studio to studio, the feature moves on to the making of Daredevil's costume, a look at the numerous takes required to get a scene just right, the film's fight choreography, the actor's use of weapons in the film, a look at some of the most difficult and dangerous stunts and shots in the film, and more. Jennifer Garner Screen Tests (480p, 2:31) is just as advertised -- a series of rehearsals featuring the famed actress. Featured Villain: Kingpin (480p, 2:21) is a brief feature showcasing actor Michael Clarke Duncan discussing his character. 'Daredevil: HBO First Look Special (480p, 24:50), hosted by Jennifer Garner, is a bit more superficial than the previous, lengthy making-of feature. Garner begins by offering a brief background on the world of Daredevil, and the feature morphs into a series of sound bites as the cast, crew, and Stan Winston provide insight into the film and the world of Daredevil. Moving Through Space: A Day With Tom Sullivan (480p, 8:28) is a nice feature showcasing the life of this man who served as the "sight impaired consultant" to Daredevil. Giving the Devil His Due (480p, 15:26) is a solid feature examining the world of film editing and proved to be the best feature of the bunch. Multi-Angle Dailes are next. This feature allows viewers to see varying takes on the same sequence as they are filmed with no music, sound effects, or editing.
Three music videos -- Won't Back Down by Fuel (480p, 3:28), For You by The Calling (480p, 3:42), Bring Me to Life by Evanescense (480p, 4:15) -- and a Music Promotion Short (480p, 0:33) are included. Men Without Fear (480p, 59:15) features a plethora of famed comic icons discussing the Daredevil comics, including Stan Lee, John Romita, Gene Colan, Frank Miller, John Romita, Jr., Joe Quesada, David Mack, Brian Michael Bendis, and Kevin Smith. Shadow World Tour (480p, 6:17) is a an examination of Daredevil's abilities, comparing and contrasting the comic with the film. Modeling Sheets is a series of stills featuring character profiles. Next are a series of still galleries that focus on storyboards, costumes, set design, production stills, and props. Concluding the special features is the film's teaser trailer (480p, 0:47) and two theatrical trailers (480p, 1:44 and 2:25).
Daredevil Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Daredevil is a not-so-good movie plagued by a stereotypical superhero plot line and some mediocre to bad acting in the portrayal of a parade of misplaced and uninteresting characters. Colin Farrell, and his character Bullseye, singlehandedly knocks the film down several notches, from tolerable to nearly laughable. Make no mistake, there is a decent movie and better characters here, somewhere, waiting to be unleashed, but this 2003 adaptation of the film fails to do so. 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray release of Daredevil is far more impressive than the film itself. Featuring a strong video presentation, an amazing lossless soundtrack, and a jam-packed supplemental section, the disc is a bona-fide winner. Fans of the film should have no reservations about adding Daredevil to their Blu-ray collections, and those looking for sonic reference material will want to pick it up, as well.
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Daredevil Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Daredevil Coming to Blu-ray - August 7, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Ben Affleck comic book film 'Daredevil: Director's Cut' to Blu-ray on September 30th. The director's cut adds an additional 30 minutes of footage to the film. Video will be presented in 1080p AVC accompanied ...
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