Film review by: Witney Seibold

            Comic book fans are becoming more and more powerful. It’s been said that we of the Y generation, having no grand piece of history to latch onto, use cartoons and comic books to unify us. Now we are of filmmaking age, and, thus, we are treating ourselves to a series of loyal adaptations of famous (and not-so-famous) superhero comics, made by fanatic readers with an infinitely stalwart sense of comic book philosophy. The latest in this series is Mark Steven Johnson’s “Daredevil.”
            The rundown: Lawyer Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) was blinded by chemicals as a child. The chemicals in turn enhanced his other senses to the point that he can identify people by scent, balance himself well enough to leap off buildings, “see” people by where they stand in the rain, etc. He thus becomes a superhero. The story is familiar to every comic book fan: Matt falls in love with Elektra (the sinewy Jennifer Garner), but Elektra thinks that his alter-ego killed her father. There’s a crime-boss, The Kingpin (an oddly well-cast Michael Clarke Duncan) behind it all, of course. And there’s a wide-eyed, grunting assassin, Bullseye (a deliciously scenery-chewing Colin Farrell) wreaking havoc.
            The most notable thing about this film is how tonally loyal it is to an average comic book. Consider the scene where the young Matt beats up a series of bullies with his white cane. Or when Daredevil, decked out in red leather, beats up an entire pool-hall of thugs, shouting “Justice!” Daredevil even got his start seeking revenge for his father’s death. It’s ground we’ve covered, but this film celebrates it, rather that trying to make it seem fresh or “reinventing” it, like the recent disappointing “Spider-Man.” It’s a stereotypical melodramatic universe, full of cliché and overacting, but well-handled and fun. Not at all believable, and that’s the way we like it.
            A treat for us supergeeks were nods to the giants behind the art. Comic god Stan Lee and dark artist Frank Miller have cameos. Famous fan Kevin Smith has a cameo as a character named Jack Kirby and there’s a bit part by a character named Quesada. The initiated know the true significance of these names.

Published in: on May 19, 2009 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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