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Daredevil
DVD disk
Oct 8, 2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Daredevil order
Director:
Mark Steven Johnson

Actors:
Ben Affleck
Jennifer Garner
Colin Farrell

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
This adaptation of Marvel's Daredevil pits Ben Affleck as The Man Without Fear against legendary racketeer The Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan) and his hired hand, the psychopathic, devil-may-care Bullseye (Farrell) who attempt to rid themselves of Elektra Natchios (Garner), a mysterious Greek beauty with a secret all her own.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Once in a while you get a film that strikes a chord within you and you can’t really explain why you like it so much. The reverse is also true and in DAREDEVIL’s case, pinpointing what’s missing is rather difficult. Having said that, one of its nicer surprises was Ben Affleck's performance as The Man With No Fear. For once, he actually managed not to appear as stiff and wooden as he usually does; probably because he played a character that didn’t have to fake having charm and personality, two things Big Ben has sorely missed in the past. Daredevil, as he appeared in this film, was dark, mysterious, brooding and definitely not in a good mood which is just the way fans like him. On the flip side, Daredevil’s alter ego Matt Murdock was... well... really similar to Ben Affleck in ever single other movie he’s ever made: stuck-up, phony, righteous and uptight with the only difference being that he’s blind. Jennifer Garner was also a nice surprise despite her character being stripped of her more exciting comic book background and turned into a sort of daddy’s girl rather than the only character in the Marvel Universe that even the Punisher isn’t crazy enough to want a piece of. It’s a credit to Garner that she’s now getting her own spin-off sequel based on this role.

Those two weren’t alone though and as the saying goes, “a film is only as good as its bad guy” and as bad guys go, no one’s as good (meaning bad) as Marvel’s Kingpin of Crime. Or at least, no one should be. While many were upset that a black actor would play the traditionally white character, a bigger hurdle for Duncan was to overcome his teddy bear image and he nearly jumped over it, but unfortunately got tangled up in a couple of scenes. He also raised a couple of questions: what’s that thing with the flowers and since when is it so easy to kick the Kingpin’s ass? Fortunately for him, his hired gun Bullseye (Farrell) gave out plenty of psycho vibes combined with a heaping spoonful of badass and just the right touch of nut job. Another one who definitely stands up and gets counted despite limited screen time is the always-effective David Keith as Matt Murdock’s unfortunate dad.

Another thing DAREDEVIL did quite well was to successfully blend its visual effects into the story and not the other way around. There are several pretty cool shots of Daredevil’s “vision” as well as some neat takes of him jumping around high rooftops. A nice rumble between him and Bullseye in a gothic church is also a blast, just as the other fights involving all the other characters. Overall, it was a fun movie to watch, definitely not a waste of time, but not an entirely memorable experience either.
THE EXTRAS
Holy Green Stockings Batman! This DVD is packed with a plentiful bounty of extra material that would make you drool all over yourself if Jennifer Garner hadn't used up all of your drool already! With both quantity and quality, this certainly puts the "special" in "special edition". Below is an extensive list of all the bonus stuff you can enjoy on this DVD. Make sure you have a few hours put aside!

DISC #1:

Enhanced viewing mode: This feature allows viewers to watch the movie while branching out into separate little vignettes at specific points in the film. The vignettes are accompanied with a commentary by visual effects director John Kilkenny as well as visuals of the scene's makeup. The visual effects as well as all the CGI effects were actually one of the bright spots in DAREDEVIL, making this even the more so worthwhile to watch. A choice is always provided (through the mighty "angle" button) of which stage or step of production can be watched. The few downsides is that while interesting, the vignettes are few and far between and the feature had a tendency to "turn off" on its own.

Full length audio commentary with director/screenwriter Mark Steven Johnson and producer Gary Foster: This is one of those rare commentaries which can actually get engrossing at times. Both men do a fantastic job of dishing out lots of information in a constant yet paced manner. Going over the production, the script, the actors and whatever else usually gets talked about during these things, they mute down the movie and get into it. One sign of a good commentary is whether or not you can tell if the speakers are interested themselves in what they're talking about. These two are obviously quite proud of this film and that bleeds through the entire track. They're not afraid of mentioning some of the parts that gave them some trouble either. Definitely worth a listen.

On-screen trivia track: A pretty average track of pop-up type information scrolling down at the bottom of the screen. On the upside, you can listen to it concurrently with the audio commentary.

Audio description track for the visually impaired: You'll have to pardon my ignorance here because I'm not sure if this is a regular feature that people with a visual handicap use to "watch" movies. It consists of a voice-over describing the meaningful actions and sets of the film in order to place the viewer into the setting while they listen to the audio. A pretty neat thing to have on a DVD (especially for this film).

DISC #2:

The Film

"Beyond Hell's Kitchen" The Making of Daredevil (60 mins.): This has got to be one of the most complete documentaries that's been slapped on a DVD in a very long time. Covering in full detail many aspects of DAREDEVIL, including costumes, sets, fight choreography, music and pretty much everything else, it's absolutely packed with information, footage, interviews and anything else you can ask for, all delivered in a candid manner by the filmmakers and actors. The first part of the feature takes you through many of the obstacles this film faced simply in getting it green lit (which makes you wonder how some of the garbage Hollywood produces actually gets through that process) and follows through with all the other elements of making it happen. For all the purists who complain about superhero costumes when adapted for cinema, this is required viewing that walks them through the strenuous decision process that takes place before settling on a final look for their hero. Affleck, Garner, Farrell and Duncan also discuss their characters and what they went through during the gruelingly physical shoot. What's more, you can watch this feature with the enhanced viewing feature on and have it branch out into more detailed explanations of what's being discussed on screen at the time.

Jennifer Garner screen test (3 mins.): This young lady has burst into the entertainment world through her acclaimed performance as agent Sydney Bristow on ALIAS and her role in this film has finally cemented her as a legitimate star on the big screen. This brief glimpse at her screen test consists basically of her reading through some lines while looking adorable.

Multi-angle dailies (15 mins.): Allowing the viewer to get a bit of a peek into the world of filmmaking, these daily recaps can be viewed from several angles and make several takes of the same scene available. Two scenes can be watched in this manner and even though they're both quite brief, it still makes for some mildly interesting entertainment.

"Daredevil: HBO First Look Special" (25 mins.): Hosted by the stunning Garner, this HBO documentary is a fairly standard studio produced promotional segment which praises the film, the filmmakers, the actors and has a few basic details about the story to help gather the uninitiated into the masses that will flock to the movie theaters. Not really my kind of thing, especially after having seen the first documentary on this DVD which is a great piece of work.

"Moving Through Space: A Day With Tom Sullivan" (8 mins): Tom Sullivan is a golfer, a weightlifter, a jogger, a wrestler, a singer, a writer, an actor and much more. He also happens to be blind. During the course of this feature, a camera follows him to give us a glimpse of how he goes about his day. The coolest thing is to see that he actually does rely on senses most of us take totally for granted in order to give himself an edge and to be able to live what's considered a "normal" life. It has nothing to do with the film itself, but everything to do with its central character.

Theatrical Trailers (10 mins.): You'll find two versions of the theatrical trailer here as well as the theatrical teaser, a trailer for 28 DAYS LATER and one for THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN.

Music Videos (15 mins.): Three music videos are featured here: Fuel's "Won't Back Down", The Calling's "For You" and Evanescence's mega-hit "Bring Me to Life". All three are pretty good but "Bring Me to Life" is really particularly catchy. The videos are decent as well.

Still Galleries (stills): Five galleries filled with still shots are available here: Story Boards, Costumes, Set Design, Production Stills and Props.

The Comic

"The Men Without Fear: Creating Daredevil" (60 mins.): For any comic book fan (and for anyone who's ever claimed that "comic books are for kids"), a heaping bowlful of fascinating discussion on the medium can be seen in this great documentary. Luminaries such as Stan Lee, John Romita, Gene Colan, Frank Miller and younger stars of the medium such as Kevin Smith and Brian Michael Bendis, among tons of others discuss Daredevil and his book's origins as well as comic books in general. Very interesting since many consider the superheroes who began to appear during the middle of the last century to be the modern day mythology. It's also a medium that had tremendous influence on every kid's allowance.

Shadow World Tour (6 mins.): Fun stuff always has a place on any DVD and when it comes to comic book superheroes, special powers are what makes the fun happen. This brief feature lets you compare the way Daredevil "sees" things with the help of his enhanced senses in the book and in the movie. Hardcore fans will get a kick out of the nostalgic shots of older issues.

Modeling Sheets (text): The modeling sheets are data sheets for the heroes and villains in the film, but based on their comic book personas rather than the movie's.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
DAREDEVIL's DVD is that rare black pearl that may be worth owning just for the extra material. While the movie is just a tick above average, all the other stuff is miles ahead of any recent DVD. If you enjoyed this in theaters though, then the decision is a no-brainer and the same goes if you're a fan of the comic. If you're just in the mood to check out the flick and you're one of those people who couldn't care less about extra features and documentaries, then a rental to sample the whole thing may be better suited.
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