Daredevil Review

by Michael J. Gold (mjgold01 AT yahoo DOT com)
March 12th, 2003

Daredevil **1/2

Directed By: Mark Steven Johnson
Written By: Mark Steven Johnson
Music By: Graeme Revell

Matthew 'Matt' Murdock / Daredevil: Ben Affleck
Elektra: Jennifer Garner
Bullseye: Colin Farrell
Wilson Fisk/Kingpin: Michael Clarke Duncan
Franklin Nelson: Jon Favreau
Ben Urich: Joe Pantoliano
Jack 'The Devil' Murdock: David Keith

Running Time: 1:43
Rated PG-13 (for action/violence and some sensuality.)

Reviewed by: Michael J. Gold

After the success of Superman, Batman, X-Men and Spider-man it was only logical to expect that the studios would start to take a look at producing any comic book superhero that they thought might make money. This makes for a windfall for D.C. and Marvel Comics who together have created virtually all of the best-known superheroes.

Daredevil, like Spider-man, was created by Stan Lee for Marvel Comics. Lee, who has a cameo in each of the films, set both stories in New York and indeed both characters even interact in the comics. Don't get your hopes up for a Spider-man vs. Daredevil film, however, since Marvel sold the rights for Spider-man to Columbia Pictures and Daredevil to Twentieth Century Fox.

While the film shows us the unimportant origin of Daredevil, which is similar to the origins of other comic heroes, I can't help but wonder how much more fun the film could have been had it played with us first. Of the recent comic book heroes brought to life only Tim Burton's Batman had the courage to ignore the question of how Batman came to be. Is it important for us to know that as a child Matt Murdock was blinded in an accident with radioactive waste? What if we hadn't found that out until halfway through the film? Indeed, what if we didn't even know he was blind until well after his first action sequence? Still, one should review the film that has been made as opposed to the one that we might have liked to have been made.
While Daredevil can no longer see, his other senses have become dramatically enhanced; enhanced to the point that he can use sound waves as a kind of radar to see. His hearing is now so acute that he can hear conversations blocks away, not an enviable trait when living in a big city like New York. In addition, this hypersensitive hearing can also cause him great pain should a loud noise been near him.
The plot, in addition to showing us the origin of Daredevil, involves a minor love story between Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) and Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner) and their quest for vengeance against the Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan). There is also the standard subplot of the reporter (Joe Pantoliano) searching for the truth among the rumors of a vigilante who prowls the city at night.

There are a lot of problems with this film, some of which have to do with consistency. Daredevil's hearing is so sensitive that when he chases a villain into the subway, a train arriving is loud enough to incapacitate him. However, he has no trouble at all with gunfire in a bar. Having both been in New York's subway system and fired guns without the aid of hearing protection, I can say for certain that several guns fired in the confined space of a bar would be much louder than any subway train.

Special effects are typically judged based upon whether or not the audience notices that what they are seeing is really visual trickery. Good effects go unnoticed while bad ones are spotted a mile away. The computer generated images in this film are at times laughably obvious especially when we see Daredevil leaping from building to building and twisting is such unnatural fashion that we can not possibly believe that what we are seeing is human.

Even with these and many other problems there is still a lot to admire. Daredevil is billed as the man without fear and certainly Ben Affleck fits that bill in his willingness to appear with his hair consistently mussed up. Colin Ferrell has a lot of fun with the character of Bullseye, a villain who never misses what he aims at. Ferrell pushes Bullseye well over the top and manages to takes us along with him for the ride. Be warned that sitting through the credits will payoff as you get an additional scene with Bullseye in a hospital bed.


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