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|Index||144 reviews in total|
This movie might have joined the ranks of the utterly forgettable Z-movies of the genre had it not been for excellent direction, superb characterization, and outstanding acting on the part of Liam Neeson, who played Peyton Westlake/Darkman, and Larry Drake, who played his enemy, the arch-villain, Durant. The movie presents the destruction of a man by a psychopathic monster for utterly trivial reasons -- and makes it clear that however horrifying the physical damage perpetrated on Peyton Westlake by Durant's minions might be, the effect on his soul and spirit is far worse. At the same time, it showed that in spite of what happened to him, Westlake/Darkman was able to rise above it at least enough to choose the life of a giver of justice rather than one of evil, as the physically unscarred drug-lord Durant & Co., the _real_ monsters in this film, had. This film does _not_ glamorize psychopathic, criminal violence in any way, but rather shows it for what it really is: repellant, ugly, and contemptible, destroying life and everything that supports it without a qualm for no better reason than cheap thrills or a very minor profit. This is _not_ a typical Hollywood film, nor just a cheap garage-flick monster movie special. It shows with graphic realism exactly what is left when conscience, civilization, and the rest of the more delicate mechanisms that constitute our humanity are stripped away: pure beastliness, without glamour and without redemption of any sort. -- And it shows, as well, that even when everything is taken from a man, he can rise above it, choose to remain a man, however damaged, rather than sinking down to the level of the beast.
Sam Raimi's "Darkman" is a highly entertaining and energetic combination of science fiction,action and horror!The performances are good,especially Liam Neeson is really believable as a disfigured doctor Peyton Westlake/Darkman.It's nice to see also an underrated Larry Drake("Dr Giggles")as a main villain.There are some huge gaps in logic,but I don't care.The score by Danny Elfman is fantastic and there are some nice visual effects!So if you have enough time to waste-check it out.7 out of 10.
Of all the super-hero movies around, "Darkman" is my favourite. An
original creation from Raimi, and not based on any comics, "Darkman"
follows the story of Dr. Peyton Westlake, a scientist about to make a
breakthrough in synthetic skin. Peyton's girlfriend, Julie Hastings is
a hot-shot lawyer who gets on the wrong side of Robert G. Durant.
Durant and his henchmen destroy Peyton's lab, and leave him for dead.
Horribly burned and scarred beyond recognition, Peyton uses his
uncompleted and synthetic skin to get revenge on those who wronged him
- he becomes Darkman.
Darkman has no real super-powers - apart from some increased strength and his inability to feel pain - he uses the synthetic skin to assume the alternate identities, and fights his battles that way. Darkman is not a real super-hero. He makes no pledge to rid the world of evil-doers. He is just out for revenge, and every time Darkman acts, Darkman's dark-side claims just a little bit more of Peyton.
Others have mentioned the parallels to 'Robocop'. I'd like to mention the parallels to Sam Raimi's recent efforts with 'Spider-Man' - the two are very similar style-wise, but Peter Parker/Spider-Man is generally pretty happy and cheerful, where as Darkman finds sadistic pleasure in the way he toys with his enemies before finishing them off. 'Spider-Man' is family-friendly, 'Darkman' is not the sort of movie you would want to show to parents or younger-siblings.
'Darkman' is original, and yet another under-rated classic from Sam Raimi. Check it out if you like Sam Raimi, but avoid if you enjoy the family-friendly nature of 'Spider-Man'. Definitely my favourite super-hero movie, and nearly up there with Tim Burton's 'Batman' and 'Batman Returns', the best super-hero movies ever.
The parallels to Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop films, the original at least,
are so prevalent that I like to think that they're deliberate homage.
This would not be at all surprising coming from an equally over-the-top
director like Sam Raimi, a cult God for the Evil Dead movies. Which
leads me to wonder why one reviewer on the IMDb thought it would be
cool to rent Darkman as a good date movie. So's you know, Darkman is
NOT a date movie. Not in ANY WAY. It is, you might say, about as much a
date movie as RoboCop is a date movie.
Before I watched Darkman yesterday, I hadn't seen it since I was about 12 years old, which was about 12 years ago, and the only thing that I remember from it are the bad guy cutting people's fingers off, the other bad guy getting stuck up through the manhole into traffic, and Darkman screaming 'JUUUUULIEEEEE!!!' Oh and I remember that my parents hated hated HATED it. In rewatching the movie, I was expecting to be confronted with an overly violent and gratuitously gory horror/action movie, but was surprised at how well made it really is. Then again, my mom is so scared of sex and violence that the only things she'll watch are Nightmare Before Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street and Finding Nemo.
It is now a little off-putting to see Liam Neeson in such a performance as he delivers in this movie, with so much screaming and moaning and face melting and close-ups of his face while watching a good friend shot in the head. Pretty rough, since he's now so well known as Oskar Schindler and Qui-Gon Jinn, both such serious and impressive characters that they're like philosophers.
So anyway, in Darkman he plays a doctor who is in the final stages of perfecting synthetic skin, which could either revolutionize cosmetic surgery or revolutionize special effects. Either way, it was a hell of a convenient thing to be working on for someone that was about to be dipped in toxic waste and come out of it much worse off than the Joker did, although not quite as bad off as Clarence from RoboCop. The problem is that he can't seem to get the skin to remain stable for more than 99 minutes, which is great for providing a time crisis for whenever he creates enough skin for himself to be able to go out in public.
Thankfully, Raimi does not spend too much time on the time limit of the skin that Peyton (Neeson) is able to create, focusing instead on such thrilling things as having Peyton disguise himself as other people in order to infiltrate the gang that attacked and disfigured him in the first place. It's a great scene when Peyton accepts a briefcase full of money as one of the gang members, while the real one is dead asleep, then the leader, Larry Drake as Durant in another great performance, comes to the room looking for the money. There's a whole series of things like that, one of my favorites being when he impersonates Durant himself. Let's just say that Durant ends up in jail for a crime that he didn't even have the fun of committing.
In a time when comic book movies are released almost constantly (at the time of Darkman's release as well as at the time of this writing), Raimi decides to invent his own character instead. The thing that I think the movie does especially well is that it doesn't all of a sudden turn a regular, albeit brilliant, doctor into a superhero, after all the villains on the street. Even Spiderman, probably the most normal of all superheroes, is turned from a regular guy ultimately into a superhero out to rid the streets of crime. Darkman is trying to regain his own life and get his wife back for the majority of the film. It is not until the closing shot that he gives himself an anonymous superhero name, accepts his fate outside everyday humanity, and the brilliant Bruce Campbell finally shows up.
I also love the way he develops his powers. He was never exposed to radiation or anything like that, he simply uses the material that he created in his lab, the synthetic skin, to enable himself to impersonate other people, and when he was rescued after the attack on his lab, the doctors cut a vital nerve, cutting off his ability to experience pain. Some of the rather convenient side-effects, for the movie at least, are superhuman strength and a tendency toward outbursts of violent rage. Dishonest carnies beware.
I can certainly understand why my parents didn't like the movie, it's not exactly the kind of thing you want your kids watching, but as far as a good action/horror film, it ranks with the best.
For a Class-B type movie and feel to it, it's pretty good....better
than I anticipated. I've seen it twice and enjoyed it more the second
time. I had forgotten how stylish-looking it was and it was fun to see.
What I did remember were a couple of wild scenes, such as "Darkman" (Liam Neeson) being swung around in the sky on the end of a chain from a helicopter, and the big fire scene early on which turns Neeson's character into the masked hero.
The villains in the movie are over-the-top, leading with Larry Drake's character "Durant." There also is some outrageous Rambo action which stretches way past credibility, such as people shooting from five feet away and missing our hero!
Overall, not as good as the critics would have you believe, but still entertaining. At least it has two quality actors in Neeson and Frances McDormand. Drake went on to play the infamous "Dr. Giggles." If you liked this crazy film, you'll love that one.
"Darkman" is one of those action films that succeeds because the characters remain the primary focus throughout. Scientist Liam Neeson has been disfigured in an explosion. However, he returns with the ability to produce 99-minute masks. Now he is going out and eliminating those who almost killed him. Frances McDormand is excellent as Neeson's love-interest and Larry Drake makes a great bad guy. The direction is solid and the screenplay is surprisingly smart. 4 stars out of 5.
I watched Darkman directly after 1999's The Boondock Saints so clearly,
the latter was the better film. However, I had a lot of fun watching
this one. It's a Superhero/Horror hybrid film with a lot going for it
in the way of action and suspense. I don't think that many fans of
either of those genres will be disappointed.
This is in no way Sam Raimi's best and how could it be when the man has directed such great films as The Evil series and Spider-Man. With that out of the way, Darkman has a decent story, great special effects, good acting from Liam Neeson, and some hilariously cheesy lines. Just don't pay too much for it.
At the end of the day, Darkman is in no way a masterpiece or a film that will go down in history but it is a popcorn eating good time. I challenge you to see what you think of this one.
Sam Raimi, at a definite cross-roads in his career, takes on his first
kind of 'major' project (err, bigger than the other films he made in
the 80's) and by evidence here he was up to the challenge. But those
who come from the Evil Dead films expecting a dark side crossed with
some very sick, amazing gags and over-the-top jokes might wonder where
the latter is at. It's a kind of realized vision of what was both
portrayed on radio in the 40's (the Shadow, Darkman, similar as well as
the side villains) as well as graphic novels of the 80's. It's violent,
and in a Hollywood 'action' mode most of the time with big explosions,
a fairly high body count, and suspense as a man seeks revenge when not
completely whole. It also is the kind of pre-film, which may be dumb to
say as 'pre' gets overused, but one can see the relation to comics like
Spawn, V for Vendetta, and of course the future filmmaker of the solid
Spiderman features. At times though he does really walk the line of
doing something different with the revenge tale of having it over-done
not work. He has the style knacked for it, but as a first time going at
it here and there it does get a bit too much.
That being said, those who are coming to this film after having seen most of Raimi's other work get a convincingly B-story to go along with his wild techniques. Liam Neeson stars as a on-the-brink-of-something-big scientist who gets about as horribly close to death as possible after ruthless (rather ruthless in as much comic-book as 80's action-movie) gangsters do "a number" on him and his lab. Assumed dead, he puts his equipment back together, puts on masks of his enemies, and little by little gets back at them while trying to have a connection with his old love (Frances McDormand) connected to all of this as well. With this as the groundwork, and with the two main actors up for the roles- Neeson is very good here in a performance that's got him as tortured leading man ala 30's horror/murder mystery movie- the set pieces allow for Raimi to be creative in his own ways with the camera. I loved one scene where Neeson and McDormand are at the carnival, with the imagery hitting harsh (other freak), and then his frustration over a game. This is a scene emblematic of what Raimi is doing, and does more often than not, with his material.
Darkman is ambitious on that level of the visual, of trying to make a picture that in other hands would be very standard and possibly wretched in dramatic presentation, because it is both original and homage, typical in some ways and notable in others. These two sides may frustrate viewers; I'm inclined almost to say that this is even more 'cult' than Raimi's Evil Dead films. Moments of hilarity do come up sometimes, and it is with some relief when it does come along, though sometimes too the subtle black-comic approach doesn't hit. It's worth a watch though if you're a comic book fan or even just into thrillers that don't kid themselves too much. Up to par with the rest of the director's work? It's close enough, if not really great, but then in its sort of B-movie status, it doesn't need to be as a good time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Liam Neeson stars as Peyton Westlake a brilliant scientist who is
trying to create masks for the horribly disfigured. Westlake comes to
break through in his research when he discovers the masks melt because
of the sun. Westlake's life is ruined when Robert Durant a mafia leader
comes to get a document which connects him to Westlake's girlfriend
Julie's boss. Durant burns down Westlake and his lab but Westlake
manages to survive. He is given a bizarre procedure which takes away
all physical pain but amplifies his emotions. Westlake vows to have
revenge on Durant. He uses his research to destroy Durant's mob and his
boss Louis Stack.
It's sad really that this is the definitive Sam Raimi superhero film. The camera work here is the best of Raimi's career. Liam Neeson starts off his career as a leading man on an extremely high note. The script has moments of weakness but our actors manage to hit all the high notes and achieve greatness. The make-up effects should have taken home the Oscar
Darkman is an innovative, fast-paced, fun super hero type film about a doctor trying to find the key to keeping artificial cells alive only to keep them going only in the dark. This scientist gets embroiled in a corrupt man's efforts to keep his corruption invisible and is left for dead by the henchmen of that corrupt man. While not a super hero in the classical sense, Darkman - the product of this science and burns covering almost every inch of his body - does avenge the wrongs done to him by using his machines, somehow still in perfect working order in his burned-out warehouse, to create any face he wants to wear. This device allows him to appear as other people and in some scenes we have the double appearance and spectators taking double takes with double vision. Sam Raimi shows us why he is so good with a movie like this by making us care about the character, wonderfully played by Liam Neeson, and keeping the pace nice and brisk. Which is good, because if you think too long about what is going on, you will know just how ridiculous the story really is. I cannot believe that all that scientific machinery was still in working order. The science is never fully explained. You are to take it at face value. I did, and the film was entertaining for that reason. Frances McDormand plays Neesom's girlfriend fairly well, and Larry Drake really chews up scenery as the primary henchman that has a penchant for cutting off the fingers of his adversaries. Raimi does substitute action scenes for coherent storytelling, but does so in such a manner as to still be somewhat convincing and as always entertaining.
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