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IN SHORT: A fine adaptation, considering that the original comics would run you $300 or so if you bought the run. Hooray for the big screen! [Rated PG-13 for Action/Violence and Some Sensuality. 90 minutes]
It's policy of this site not to compare to Source Material but this one is a tough nut. We began collecting comics with Daredevil. We still read the monthly thirty years on, though there have been years when we've walked away. The tough part doing this review, given the fact that we are a fanboy, is that we've seen this all before (if you want the history, check StarTalk with Affleck, Garner and Duncan). The big screen adaptation of the Daredevil comic book is about as faithful to its origins as you can get and, for at more than half of its screen time, rehashes material we read in its original form years ago. Luckily, one of our best femme friends sat to our left and, being totally in the dark as to everything about DD, we rely on her reaction. She liked it. We, fanboys forever, can't quibble about any adaptation problems. There's a whopper of a continuity flaw in Mark Steven Johnson's script and a few minor details to quibble with, but little we would have noticed if we hadn't already stored the original comics in their bags and boxes.
When Stan Lee dreamed up the superhero Daredevil back in 1964, there wasn't much of an elaborate secret origin to fall back on. Young Matt Murdock saved an old man from being hit by a truck that carried radioactive material. When it was announced that Stan would play the role of an "old man" fanboys drooled. Fanboys will be disappointed.
The material spilled and blinded young Matt (Scott Terra), but his remaining senses became so enhanced that he developed a sort of "radar sense". Dad Jack "the Devil" Murdock (David Keith), a boxer, pushed his son towards a professional life, all the while fighting in matches that were, unbeknownst to him, rigged. When "the Devil" wouldn't throw a fight, he was murdered. The grown up Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) became a lawyer, with a less exciting partner nicknamed Foggy (Jon Favreau) and gorgeous secretary named Karen Page (Ellen Pompeo) that he, Murdock, secretly pined for. The comic book buying public paid little attention to the book until Frank Miller took over the book and made magic. It is Miller's take that sets up the characters seen in this movie, and both Miller and Lee make cameo appearances. So, for that matter, does writer/director Kevin Smith who has also scripted a story arc for the comic book. Everybody loves this guy!
After recapping the origin, the adult Murdock we meet is a broke defense attorney, with clients who pay with fish and cheese -- which is interesting because the first trial in this flick presents Murdock as a prosecuting attorney who loses out to another lawyer that is defending a rapist. That's sloppy story continuity and exists only to make Murdock lose, so he gets to so don the red leathers that make up Daredevil's costume and beat the crap out of the rapist. Justice served. Then its back to the hard life of being a poor, and on the side of the defense, attorney
Murdock doesn't think twice about using his blindness as a pick up ploy when he smells a fine looking woman walking into the coffee shop where he and Foggy have breakfast. The babe in this story is Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner) who, in the best Marvel manner, immediately gets into a knock down drag out with our hero. That's love, Marvel-style. Elektra's father (Erick Avari) has made his fortune as a front man for Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime (Michael Clarke Duncan) and has decided that he wants out of the business. Fisk isn't about to let any worker bee out, and imports an Irish assassin called Bullseye (Colin Farrell) to take out all bearing the surname Natchios. Murdock doesn't particularly care for anyone who would mess with his lady and thus the sides are drawn.
Except that Elektra has had martial arts training since age five and, for reasons you'll see in the film, believes that Daredevil is the true killer of her beloved dad.
That's a ton of material to toss at first timers but its all balanced out with enough genuinely funny humor and fast paced action to make it worth the sit. Bullseye's ability to make a weapon out of anything at hand yields some great visual moments, both serious and comic. By the time the final, climactic battle hits the screen, the film has become downright silly. It is, truthfully, much too fun that you'll care (hard core fanboys excepted). Buy the really big popcorn.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Daredevil, he would have paid . . .
Joe Pantoliano has a small role as NY Post reporter Ben Urich, said role existing to set up anticipated sequels. Johnson's script also manages to namedrop almost every important writer or artist associated with the comic book, forgetting "only" co-creator Bill Everett. Considering that Johnson got the name of Murdock's ex-girlfriend Heather into his script, to forget Everett??? tsk tsk
3/2/03: We found the answer to our tsk-tsk in the comic book adaptation of the film. The RC priest who takes Murdock's confession is Father Everett. We now put our nit-picking cap back on the shelf.
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