Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review #39: Movie Review #4: The Movie Without Fear... Or Y'Know...Any Sense

Writer: Mark Steven Johnson
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Released: 2003

I finally got around to watching Daredevil last night, and let me tell you, it was a piece of crap. I was going to stick with my usual routine for movie reviews and wait a few more posts, but I decided to do this one while the vitriol is still fresh in my veins. Lord knows I've wanted to unleash my rage about the steaming pile that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine for awhile. This will have to sate me for now.

I only own one issue of Daredevil, and I don't even know where it is right now. So, needless to say, I am somewhat unqualified to judge how loyal this movie is to the comics. Instead, I will tell you why it was a failure as a film in general. 

pictured: not what I'm talking about

Anyway, quick plot summary: kid [Ben Affleck] gets blinded by chemicals but his other senses become superhuman. His dad is killed by a crime boss. He grows up and decides to fight crime as Daredevil the man without fear! He meets ninja lady Elektra [Jennifer Garner] and falls in love. He fights bad guy Bullseye [Colin Ferril], whose shtick is his impeccable aim, and the Kingpin [Michael Clark Duncan] himself, his father's murderer.

So, we open with Daredevil collapsing onto the floor of a Catholic church in the middle of the night, having been wounded by an opponent. He is found by the priest [priests just hang out at the church all night, right?] [they can't molest boys at home! Too risky!] who removes his mask to discover that –gasp!– it's Matthew Murdock, a member of his congregation!

In his inner monologue, Matt describes his “life flashing before his eyes” as he lies dying. So that flashback is basically most of the film, until we reach Matt's fight with Elektra and Bullseye and are now back in the present. However, during the flashback, we are shown the priest advising Matt to give up his vigilantism. Now, maybe Mr. Priest had previous knowledge of Daredevil's secret identity, but THIS IS NEVER ESTABLISHED. A good film is not built upon the assumptions of the viewer.

Anyway, onward. Daredevil's whole shtick is that he is blind, but his other senses are heightened to superhuman ability, more than making up for his loss of sight. The only drawback is, his heightened sensitivity leads to him being vulnerable to things like really loud noise. The writer of this film has decided to only portray that drawback selectively, as one scene will have Daredevil acting completely normal as guns go off all around him and another will have him writhing in agony when someone strikes an organ's pipe near him. A good film is not built upon inconsistencies.

Also, Daredevil/Matt Murdock seems to have zero interest in maintaining his secret identity. Often in the movie, he will openly display his superhuman abilities for little-to-no reason. Now, this doesn't automatically give away his identity per se, but if you saw a BLIND MAN doing KUNG FU with some HOT GIRL in a playground, would you not be blown away? Wouldn't people start asking questions? Wouldn’t he eventually end up on Oprah [remember, this is 2003] or some shit? “Up next on Oprah: the amazing blind man who can jump on Oprah's couch!” This is why Clark Kent didn't go around crushing coal into diamonds all the goddam time. A good film uses common sense.

I see this shit, like, all the time in my 'hood

Michael Clark Duncan had great potential as Wilson Fisk AKA the Kingpin. His massive, imposing presence as well as his charm could have made him perfect, but the menace of this villain is undermined at every turn by the terrible script. A good film draws the best out of its cast.

The writing is bad. Just... bad. Here is a sample of the scintillating dialogue from the film:

Kingpin: How do you kill a man without fear?
Bullseye: By puttin' the fear [dramatic pause] in him!

Seriously, writer Mark Steven Johnson, you fucking suck. A good film has realistic dialogue.

I also had some major problems with the soundtrack. They seem really focused on featuring songs that would be “hip” with “the kids”. For instance, Kingpin's musical introduction is... Lapdance by N.E.R.D? What the what? The Kingpin isn't some kind of “gangsta”, he is more akin to a mafia boss. The man has class. A hip-hop song about strippers and politicians seems largely inappropriate. Give the man some goddam Vivaldi or something. The film doesn't seem to have it's audio/video priorities straight. A song comes on and whatever is happening on screen seems to be taken over by the music. The scene where Elektra is introduced becomes a shampoo commercial thanks to Moby or whatever happy electronica is in the background. Her father's funeral and the scene where she trains for revenge become overwrought music videos, thanks to the versatile talents of where-are-they-now Evanescence. A good film has a soundtrack that complements the film, not one that detracts from it.

not a dirty dawg

Finally, the scene that broke the camel's back and had me laughing/screaming: Journalist Ben Urich, a secondary character, manages to figure out Matt is Daredevil [I WONDER HOW] and writes an article revealing that fact. Upon completing said article on his personal computer, he stops and reconsiders what he is doing. Deciding not to expose Matt, he reaches over with one finger and presses “delete” once. The result of this one, split-second click is that we see his story being slowly erased, one letter at a time, as if he were holding down the backspace key. This leads me to believe that Ben Urich doesn't know how computers work and neither does the screenwriter. One quick push of the delete button does not cause that kind of action. Also, who the hell deletes a document that way? Why not do what normal people do and just delete the document as a whole? A good film knows how computer work.


I am choosing to ignore a lot of other things that didn't make any sense, in the interest of being brief and not terribly nitpicky. Maddox had a rant about this film but even he just skims the surface.

The goods: I liked Daredevil's costume. It's cool when his “echolocation vision” is shown. Um, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are attractive people. It was only an hour and a half and doesn't drag, so it was over quickly! Huzzah!

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