In April, Neflix is going to release an action series based on the comic book hero Daredevil. With superheros being big business nowadays, this seems like a sure thing. And with Netflix producing the series, people are hoping this version of Daredevil with wash away all the awful memories of the 2003 film starring Ben Affleck as The Man Without Fear himself and his future wife, Jennifer Garner as Electra.
I’m one of those that maligned the film when it was released. You have to remember that this came out a year after the first Spider-Man film came out. Daredevil just didn’t meet the lofty expectations we had after Sam Raimi’s film about a boy who got bit by a radioactive spider and figured out “with great power comes great responsibility.” More than 10 years later, I’ve forgotten pretty much everything about the film except for a few bits and pieces.
It turns out the theatrical version of Daredevil wasn’t the original vision of director and writer Mark Steven Johnson. It was edited and changed to be more action packed by the studio’s “advice.” So, I decided to give Daredevil another chance with the Director’s Cut.
As I mentioned, I’ve forgotten pretty much everything about the original version of the movie so I watched the Director’s Cut with fresh eyes, so to speak. I still have that cloud of “that was a bad movie” wafting in my brain throughout my entire viewing of the film. But, otherwise, I actually have to say it was a decent film.
The characters seem much more interesting this time around. While Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Electra feel as bland as the original versions (more on that later), it seems like this movie expanded the roles of a lot of the supporting cast. In the original version, I remember feeling you could’ve cut out “Foggy” Nelson out the film completely and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Here, Matt Murdock’s sidekick actually has a sub-plot where he defends a gangbanger for a murder he didn’t commit that actually ties the entire story together nicely! I loved that!
Actually, the supporting cast is one of the highlights of the film. Jon Favreau’s portrayal of “Foggy” Nelson was fun to watch. Joe Pantoliano plays Ben Ulrich and he manages to pull off the perfect mix of sleazebag and incredibly smart investigative reporter really well. While most people didn’t care for Michael Clarke Duncan’s cheesy performance of The Kingpin, I was totally onboard with it; it looked like the actor was having fun hamming it up and I couldn’t really get angry at a man enjoying his job.
Another point of contention is the look of Bullseye in the film. Instead of giving him the traditional costume for the film, the producers decided he should dress up in a trenchcoat, have a beard and have this weird target printed right in the middle of his forehead! Well, I didn’t care if he looked silly (which is strange especially considering Bullseye’s original costume is silly) because Colin Farrell’s version of the psychotic killer is brilliant and definitely one of the best things of the film!
Unfortunately, I don’t have that many good things to say about the two main leads. I’m fine with Ben Affleck’s Matt Murdock portrayal but I do have a slight problem with his version of Daredevil. Maybe it’s the way he runs (it doesn’t look quick and graceful, which Daredevil is supposed to be). Or maybe because his portrayal of The Man Without Fear just feels soulless to me. Either way, I just didn’t like it that much.
And Jennifer Garner as Electra… wow. Watching her in this film is rough. Nothing came out right! In the film, she’s supposed to be this stunningly beautiful girl who’s highly skilled in various martial arts. For me, Electra came off more like an above average looking woman with above average fighting skills. Yes, I still found her attractive and she can still kick my ass in a fight but, in a world that has a blind guy with superhearing and agility, a huge man who can strangle a guy with one hand and a crazy man who can throw things with deadly accuracy, Electra doesn’t seem that scary.
Then again, Elektra’s lame fighting ability is probably result of the only average fight sequences and boring action scenes. The fighting just isn’t that exciting, which is a shame as, in the comics, all four superheroes are leathal opponents. But in Daredevil, it looks like they’re just play acting the fights. And the scenes where they try to showcase Daredevil’s agility is laughable. He doesn’t look light on his feet in any way. I wasn’t expecting to see him bouncing around from rooftop to rooftop with the grace of Spider-Man but Daredevil moves around like a sack of potatoes that somehow learned how to jump. Not what I expected at all.
Even though the action is uneventful, I did love the film’s attention to detail. There’s one scene wherein Daredevil, before going to sleep in his coffin filled with water (there were no noise cancelling earphones at the time?), hears a crime being committed. He hesitates for a moment and it looks like he’s just about to get up. In the end, he realizes that he’ll be too late and goes to sleep. The film’s director and writer, Mark Steven Johnson, managed to capture the pain of being able to listen to the world’s problems and being powerless to stop every one of them in that one scene! There are also a lot of neat little touches like Matt Murdock folding money in different ways depending on the denomination. What a great way to remind the audience that Matt Murdock, despite having and incredible sense of hearing, is still blind.
Overall, I do think if the Director’s Cut of Daredevil was shown way back in 2003, I think the reviews would’ve been better. It was a decent film for its time that, unfortunately, it really showing its age when I saw it. If you’re going to watch a Daredevil movie, definitely check out the Director’s Cut and forget the original theatrical version ever existed.
Then again, maybe you’re better off just waiting for the Nexflick’s series in April. It does look really good…
Have you seen the Director’s Cut of Daredevil? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!