DaredevilDaredevil on Blu-ray

After the success of Blade and X-Men, Marvel Comics signed deals with pretty much every studio to bring pretty much every super hero to theaters. Daredevil isn’t as good as Blade, X-Men, Spider-Man, or The Hulk, but it’s reasonably enjoyable.

As a kid, Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) was sprayed with some kind of radioactive fluid, causing blindness, but giving him a superhuman radar sense. After the death of his father, Matt vowed to become a nighttime avenger, looking after the people who couldn’t look after themselves.

He manages to make his way through law school, becomes a responsible adult, and falls for a beautiful girl, Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner). But his simple life gets more complex when the Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan) hires Bullseye (Colin Farrell) to kill his girlfriend.

The man without fear suddenly has something to fear, and must use every bit of his courage and ability to overcome the super villains.

The movie takes most of its story from the Frank Miller era of the comic book. Daredevil is a hero, but a conflicted one. His story is dark, the character flawed, and the bad guys smarter than usual. The Kingpin is a mean mutha, caring only about the profitability in anything he does. Bullseye is a heartless assassin who can hit anything from any distance with any device. Together, they’re quite the evil duo.

Director Mark Steven Johnson, a longtime Daredevil fan, has crafted a movie that fits well into the current Marvel craze. It’s visually compelling, with believable performances (for the most part) and a story that Daredevil fans will enjoy (and non-fans will tolerate).

Ben Affleck – at first – may not seem like a very good choice to play the man without fear, but he actually does a good job. He’s a hero with special powers, but he’s also very much human. Colin Farrell (who was apparently the original choice to play the hero) brings the only truly memorable performance to the film. Some may object to him not resembling the comic book villain at all, but he’s believable as a psychotic killer. Jennifer Garner is a good enough actress, but it’s hard to picture her as Elektra. And even though the comic Kingpin is an exceptionally large white man, Michael Clarke Duncan is probably the only person in Hollywood that could portray him. He’s big, strong, and thoroughly intimidating.

We’re willing enough to suspend our disbelief when Daredevil leaps off of ten-story buildings and lands on the ground without hurting himself, but the fact that rain falling can help him to see again is a little farfetched. In fact, that’s not the only aspect of the movie that doesn’t quite add up, but hey…it’s a comic book movie.

It’s not the best comic book movie to date, but when you take into account the early nineties version of the Punisher and previous attempts at Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk, it’s still a very pleasant surprise. It has its flaws, but try not to read too much into it and you should enjoy it.

The Blu-ray version is The Director's Cut, but it was so long between when we watched the original that we don't remember what has been changed. We did feel this movie worked a bit better than the other version, though, which is good.

As we can almost always expect, 20th Century Fox has provided a very good Blu-ray. The 1080p widescreen (2.35:1) picture is a dark, but nearly perfect transfer. There are plenty of night scenes, and almost as many shots of Daredevil’s “radar sense,” but the picture is so clean that we can always see exactly what’s going on. There is not a single trace of grain, and individual dark sections are distinguishable from other darks.

In the audio section, we get dts HD 5.1 Master Lossless audio and it's also very good. There is plenty of surround use, with bullets and stuff flying all around, and various other sound effects creating an engulfing effect. Dialogue is restricted to the front, while music and sound effects use all five channels effectively.

Extras an audio commentary with Mark Steven Johnson and producer Avi Arad, and an enhanced viewing mode that takes you behind the scenes as the film unfolds. There's also a "making of" documentary, a "creating Daredevil" doc, and an HBO First Look featurette. You also get to see Jennifer Garner's screen test, a featurette on Kingpin, music videos, and more.

Daredevil, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
103 minutes, 1080p widescreen (2.35:1), dts HD 5.1 Master Lossless audio
Starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan and Colin Farrell
Produced by Arnon Milchan, Gary Foster, Avi Arad
Written for the screen and directed by Mark Steven Johnson

Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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