Guilty Pleasures – Daredevil

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Not every comic book movie released is an instant treasure. When life gives you Iron Man in one hand, you’ll often find Superman IV in the opposite appendage. But sometimes, you get a movie which just doesn’t gel properly with audiences, thanks to some last minute tinkering from studio execs in order to maximize profits.

You see, most times, directors have to give up certain ideas in order to secure funding for their dream project, and that was the case with Mark Steven Johnson and Daredevil in 2003. But it also resulted in a movie that is more than worth a second viewing. Especially when that viewing is for the directors cut of the film.

By day, blind attorney Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) toils for justice in Hell’s Kitchen. By night, he’s Daredevil, The Man Without Fear – a powerful, masked vigilante stalking the dark streets with an uncanny radar sense that allows him to “see” with superhuman capabilities. But when the love of his life, fiery Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner), is targeted by New York City’s ruthless kingpin of crime (Michael Clarke Duncan) and his deadly assassin Bullseye (Colin Farrell), Daredevil may be about to meet his match.

Right from the get-go, this is a movie for the comic book fans. Now, I know that a lot of films in this genre make that claim, but really, Daredevil tops them all. You’ve got names being dropped left and right that tie into the people who actually worked on the original comics, scenes pulled straight from the panels and an overall look that is really faithful to the source material.

And  just look at the film. Look how the colours actually pop. It’s utterly beautiful the way it’s set up, especially the manner in that the colour red is so dominant overall. It’s the little touches that matter, and Daredevil had plenty of them hidden about.

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And for a movie that is now ten years old, it’s actually held up pretty damn well in the looks department. Sure, some of the CGI looked obvious even back then, but you’ve got the echo-location of Daredevil, beautifully realised here in absolutely stunning detail when Ben Affleck’s Matt Murdock escorts Jennifer Garner’s Elektra up to a rainy rooftop. That is still a fantastic scene, in my opinion.

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And sure, it had some groan-inducing scenes as well. Such as Murdock battling Elektra on a playground. Yeah, no film will ever live that down. But it had a lot of great scenes as well. Such as Colin Farrell’s Bullseye, an assassin that can win a bar bet with a paper clip, who steals any scene he happens to be in by not even talking.

Or the late Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin of crime, Wilson Fisk. For anyone who complained abiut Duncan being the wrong skin colour for this particular role: You’re a complete idiot. And I mean that. Duncan brought more than just physicality to his role. He brought an understated danger and charm as well, and he strutted into the film with a  confidence that just couldn’t be matched. And I loved the film because of that.

Now, the Daredevil film on its own, the cut that we got to see is actually a pretty damn good film still. But it’s the directors cut that really needs to be seen. the added subplot, subtle tweaking to the film and generally more mature themes make it a fantastic flick overall, and it’s a pity that we never got to see the original version first, otherwise I think we might have had a much better reception to the unorthodox character.

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But even with the regular edition, there’s still a lot to love here. The comic book references, Matt trying to justify his existence as a crimefighter that happens to traumatise little children and Elektra seeking vengeance on the wrong man. Hell, I still love that final fight scene between Murdock and Fisk, which has some of the best set design that I’ve ever seen in a movie. And Murdock ending that battle on his own terms, just made me fall in love with this film.

Daredevil may not carry the pedigree of one of the later “Phase” films from the Marvel library, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more dedicated comic book movie, that pulled out all the stops. Hunt down the director’s cut, or give the original release another go. But this is one movie that went into box office battle without any fear whatsoever.

 

Last Updated: May 8, 2013

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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