DAREDEVIL (2003) 2 1/2 stars out of 4. Starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau, Scott Terra, Joe Pantoliano, Erick Avari, Derrick O'Connor and David Keith. Music by Graeme Revell. Screenplay by Mark Steven Johnson. Directed by Johnson. Rated PG-13. Running time: Approx. 105 mins.
You can appreciate the work - the stunts and special effects - that went into transforming Daredevil from the comic book to the screen. However, it's not a movie you can embrace.
Daredevil is dark, brutal and bloody. And though the character comes from the Marvel comic stable, the movie's tone and mood is more attuned to Tim Burton's Batman as well as Frank Miller's graphic novel The Dark Knight.
Not surprisingly, Miller also composed a series of Daredevil stories featuring two of this movie's protagonists, Kingpin and Elektra.
Screenwriter-director Mark Steven Johnson (Simon Birch) has created a nightworld dominated by thieves, murderers and rapists in which a lone vigilante fights the good fight.
Daredevil prowls the rooftops and alleyways of New York's Hell's Kitchen, battling to keep it safe for its honest, downtrodden residents.
By day, Daredevil is Matt Murdock, an idealistic lawyer who defends the helpless. By night, Murdock transforms himself into Daredevil to brandish his own style of justice.
Daredevil, known as the man without fear, is not a superhero, even though he acts like one. Blinded as a young boy, his other senses have heightened to such an extent that they compensate for his lack of vision. He utilizes the skills he developed in his singular quest to make a difference.
Daredevil is one of those films in which the obvious questions pop into your head as you are leaving the theater. For example, if he's only a poor lawyer, where did Murdock get the money to acquire all the cool gadgets he has in his apartment? And how can he afford such a place - in New York, no less - on the little he purportedly earns representing the poor and defenseless?
OK, OK, that's just nitpicking. This isn't reality, it's a comic book. Get a life!
All true. Bottom line: Daredevil does entertain. The fight sequences and stunt work are first-rate, the film shows flashes of humor and for the most part - at least according to the fans of the comic at a preview screening - the character remains true to his comic book source.
The movie's main drawback, ironically, is its star Ben Affleck. Physically he seems built for the part, all buff and square-jawed, but Affleck is too bland, too white bread, carries too much of a nice-guy persona to be believable.
Affleck lacks the charisma, the danger and the toughness required to make believers of the audience.
Jennifer Garner, while eye candy in a variety of outfits, also cannot reach the level of magnetism and menace needed for her revenge-minded Elektra to be taken seriously.
Colin Farrell hits the mark as Bullseye, the hired assassin for whom any object can be transformed into a lethal weapon, while Michael Clarke Duncan retains the right amount of menace as the crime lord, Kingpin.
Daredevil is not a family friendly adaptation such as Spider-Man. Its violent quotient is rather intense. This moody excursion is the forerunner for a posse of comic book characters due on the screen this year. Still to come, the X-Men sequel, X-Men 2, and The Incredible Hulk and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Bob Bloom is the film critic at the Journal and Courier in Lafayette, IN. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at www.jconline.com by clicking on movies. Bloom's reviews also appear on the Web at the Rottentomatoes Web site, www.rottentomatoes.com and at the Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/M/reviews_by?Bob+Bloom
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