Many bad cinematic choices ensue.
Where to start? I enjoy Jennifer Garner and she has the physicality for the role, but her Elektra takes all the humanity out of the character—leaving the dark and brooding exterior without any feeling of life inside. Yes, Elektra is mysterious and somber, but pouting and acting hostile the entire time, and then smiling once every 40 minutes won’t help the audience warm up to you. The only other character who gets decent screen time is the young girl, who comes off as an overly whiny and annoying teenager, instead of a badass martial arts protégé. There’s supposed to be some type of mother-daughter relationship between the two, but you just want to see Elektra slap the stupid off the girl’s face. Terrance Stamp, with his regal tone and “Kneel before Zod” attitude is the single redeeming feature as Elektra’s sensei Stick, for all 5 minutes he’s wasted in the movie. There’s also some guy who plays the girls father and tries to sex on Elektra but I barely remember him.
I hate to blame director Rob Bowman for this mess (as I really dug his last movie, REIGN OF FIRE), but since this is his “cut” of the film, I have no choice. You can tell he wants to tell a real story here, trying (too) hard to balance drama, psychology, and action. But there’s just too much going on in ELEKTRA. Here’s a list of major plot points in addition to the “bodyguard” storyline: the mythical legend of the Hand and the Treasure, Elektra’s parents and tragic past, the story of her training with Stick, the maternal bond between her and the new protégé, a numb and forced romance subplot, and five villains. To a degree, I could forgive all of this if the movie WOWed me with sweet comic book action, but sadly there wasn’t a whole lot—mostly just a couple of unexceptional CGI-filled sequences and a pretty cool, albeit short, battle at the end.
Oh, and the bad guy actually says “We meet again!” before the final fight. Yeah, it’s that kind of movie.
Disc 1: Commentary by Director Rob Bowman and Editor Kevin Stitt: The pair covers a lot of material, but it’s not the most interesting commentary. Bowman claims this original cut Garner-ed (hehe, sorry) an R rating, so where’s all the blood and cool stuff that was supposed to be added back in?
This first disc also contains Trailers of the Teaser and Theatrical variety.
Relentless: The Making of Elektra: Production (1:27:14): Wow. This behind-the-scenes piece is about as long as the movie itself, and covers basically every major scene. Very in-depth and highlights how fast production moved (Bowman wasn’t happy with the script and reworked it as they shot, and it shows). Also, Jennifer Garner gets my vote for sweetest girl ever.
(Something I noticed while watching this: One of the bad guy’s powers is that his animal tattoos come alive out of his chest, which is cool; but why wouldn’t you use something more creative than a hawk or a wolf? What about a velociraptor or a blue whale? I’d give ELEKTRA five stars to see a 300,000 pound fish fly out of some dude’s nipples, crushing everything within a square mile. Why aren’t I a big Hollywood writer?)
Relentless: The Making of Elektra: Post-Production (52:57): Another in-depth documentary. This one covers everything from editing and color correcting to visual effects and scoring .Rob Bowman mentions how he wanted to make ELEKTRA a character study and not an action spectacle, and I can respect that (and even see bits and pieces of it in the final film), but ultimately it just doesn’t work.
Showdown at the Well: Multi Angle Dailies: Watch the final fight sequence from every angle simultaneously. Very cool, especially if you want to see how fight choreography is done.
Deleted Scenes: About five minutes worth of cut stuff. Nothing really notable, save for Ben Affleck’s pointless cameo as Matt Murdock (Daredevil, for all you non-comic geeks). Each deleted scene comes with optional commentary from Bowman.
Alternate/Extended Scenes: A few seconds of extra footage here and there; the only really good ones being the alternate beginning and ending, which were both noticeably less sucktastic. Boo for bad editing choices.
Elektra: Incarnations (52:45): Interviews with Elektra creator and comic geek demigod Frank Miller, and other assorted comic writers and artists, that chronicles the history of the character. Well worth a look for the uninitiated.
Elektra in Greek Mythology (15:25): An interview with a scholar of Greek tragedies, who puts the myth of Elektra into perspective for modern day literature and entertainment. Pretty deep and not something I would normally expect on a DVD for a comic book movie. Nice choice.
Rounding out this second disc are various Galleries and Storyboards.
Yes, I wanted to like this movie as much as the next guy. I guess in the end, ELEKTRA isn’t so much bad as it is just incredibly disappointing. Anybody who’s read any of Frank Miller’s work knows that there was so much they could have done with this character. A deadly assassin who exudes sexy and cool—how can you go wrong with that? If you really want the answer to that question, then pick up this DVD because the comprehensive extras might show you exactly how it happened.