Alexandra DuPont makes sweet eyes over DAREDEVIL!
Hey folks, Harry here and I get the oh so delicious honor of *sauntering to my keyboard with a come hither look of overheated exasperation* introducing Alexandra (pant pant) DuPont's DAREDEVIL review. Hearing a gal go pitter and patter over a subject so dear... it's enough to make one swoon and dreaming of long discussions about other such topics whilst swaying in a hammock beneath huneysuckle blossoms and sipping the mint flavored tea with Ms. DuPont... sigh... Here she is...
Alexandra DuPont's Daredevil FAQ
You've seen Daredevil?!
Between a dress fitting and registering for assorted tchotchkes at Austin Books , indeed I have.
Lucky bitch! How's that "X-Men 2" trailer they're attaching to the film?
It is marvelous -- and, in keeping with the post-2000 Marvel Studios philosophy, it's largely character-focused. Judging from the fleeting shots in the trailer, there's more and better action, some cross-country travel, enough characters to fill a mutant "Love Boat," and (get ready, Lickerish) a front-and-center role for Hugh Jackman , who looks like he may have many funny/cool moments in the film. Personally, I loved (a) the bit where police tell Logan to "drop the knives," and he rolls his eyes and responds, "I can't," and (b) the trailer-closing moment where Wolverine shoots his claws at a not-at-all-frightened cat. Hated Famke's hair.
Huh. Well, what's the upshot on Daredevil? You know, many of us TalkBackers are primed to hate it.
[Sighs] May I ask why, as if I didn't know already?
It stars Ben Affleck! And it's directed by that Simon Birch guy!
Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I thought Daredevil was actually pretty solid -- and the preview-screening rats around me seemed to agree. Even worse, Affleck gives a nuanced, twitchy, compelling performance that may be his best yet.
The movie's not perfect, mind you -- I'll get into that in a minute -- but I'd argue that if Daredevil had come out before Singer's X-Men and Raimi's Spider-Man, people would be heralding it as the first character-driven Marvel superhero movie of quality. It's surprisingly good.
Oh, give over! You liked Pearl Harbor!
Listen: A movie can be degrees of "good" or degrees of "bad." I know that sounds painfully obvious, but you wouldn't know it to read most chat-room pundits these days. Everything "SUCKS!!!" or "ROCKS!!!" even as old-school critical tools (evaluations of craft, intent, passion, and characterization, or even the simple appreciation of kooky little eccentricities that can make a bad film interesting) are discarded in favor of Eminem-style online fronting -- a fiesta of exclamation points that makes me wonder why a striving artist would even bother trying to please us in the first place.
Take X-Men, for example: As a colleague and I discussed in a recent review of the X-1.5 DVD, the wire-work in that flick is Katherine-Hepburn shaky and the storyline's largely pedestrian, but strong characterizations push the steamboat over the peak. Just so with Daredevil. Despite the fact that the movie gets a lot of things exactly right, I suspect it will polarize the online community -- but, as Moriarty put it, if you can shrug off some of your excess comics baggage, there's a mildly tragic, mildly sexy, mildly nasty little piece of entertainment to be had. And I'm sorry, but Daredevil's action scenes are better than any of the set pieces in the first X-Men.
What?s the story?
Oh, you know: Kid has rough childhood; kid gets blinded by toxic waste; kid's remaining senses are heightened to sonar-like intensity; kid loses father to sadistic mobsters; kid grows up to become pro bono lawyer by day and masked vigilante by night; Kid hunts down local godfather even as he falls into a tragic relationship with doomed, ass-kicking tycoon's daughter. It's all boiled down (maybe too boiled down) from the classic Frank Miller comics, then wrapped around a very cool flashback frame story that takes up literally two-thirds of the movie.
"Too boiled down"? What does that mean?
Well, if Daredevil has one problem, it's that some of it seems abbreviated -- particularly w/r/t the Kingpin, who's barely developed as a nemesis, even though he's nothing short of fascinating in the comics. (Seriously: I'm thinking of one Miller/ Sienkiewicz yarn -- the title escapes me -- where there's this whole irono-tragic subplot where the Kingpin's trying to get medical treatment for his dying wife and there's nothing he can do despite his iron grip on the city and the whole thing plays out like "The Godfather" with Lex Luthor as Vito. Anyway.) I'm all for Michael Clarke Duncan as an actor -- Big Mike! Fook! Imagine the size of his flute! -- but he comes off more as a big, cuddly guy in a nice suit than he does as the Machiavelli of crime.
This tendency to distill -- to hurry the narrative along at the expense of diving deep -- also hurts Affleck's performance a bit. Mind you, I have almost nothing but praise for Mr. Lopez in this film; he gives a sensual, non-verbal performance, and he's particularly good at conveying the physical pain that results from his heightened senses. There's something deeply touching about the moments when his main squeeze Elektra (Jennifer Garner) removes his aviator specs to look at his lazy, fogged-over eyes. Affleck gets taken for granted a hell of a lot, I think, because he's good-looking and radiates an essential frat-boy normalcy that geeks hate -- but I simply can't dismiss J-Bo or his deeply solid work in such films as Dazed and Confused, Changing Lanes, Good Will Hunting or even Chasing Amy, which I sort of despise as cinema but love for that one-minute monologue Ben gives in the car.
But back to the subject at hand: The only really weak link in Affleck's work as Matt Murdock is that we never really feel his great struggle with vengeance; instead, because this movie needs to chug along, we see a single, pull-no-punches scene where he kills a rapist, we see a scene where he feels kind of conflicted about his bloodlust, and we see a scene where he declares himself "one of the good guys" and turns his back on his cold-blooded ways. It's Cliff's Notes Daredevil, I'm afraid -- and one wishes that director Mark Steven Johnson had crawled around in Matt Murdock's head for 10 more minutes (or explored the by-the-numbers Murdock/Elektra romance for 10 fewer minutes).
But you said you LIKED this movie!
Oh, very much. For one thing, it's often funny, and the action scenes, though heavily edited, are beautifully constructed. For another, there are many, many visual nods to the classic Miller comics -- I mean, anyone who can dismiss that spectacular opening image of Daredevil curled around a cross, bleeding his own private stigmata over the stained-glass saints while dressed in a devil costume, is just plain ungrateful.
For another, Jon Favreau is a hoot as "Foggy" Nelson -- it's as if his character from "Swingers" has subsisted on donuts for a year and mortgaged his soul -- and Colin Farrell steals the film as an Irish lunatic who can turn any household item into a weapon. (Dear Lord, the man ricochets a peanut into an old woman's mouth and chokes her to death just to shut her up on an airliner!) Joe Pantoliano coasts through the film on a sled of weary bald cool as reporter Ben Urich, and the obligatory introductory scene between Murdock and Elektra is a funny, ball-busting riff on the whole "meeting cute" trope. (They had to meet cute, folks; at least it's a courtship wrapped in a playground fight scene.)
And then there's the efficient way the movie tells its obligatory "origin story" and the way it conveys Daredevil's sonar vision as a series of sound-strobed negatives -- an effect that seems obvious but was probably devilishly hard to come by. And stand up straight, lads -- Jennifer Garner can wear those leather hip-huggers. (This is a movie that seems destined to drive many people to the gym out of sheer embarrassment.)
Finally, I have to give some extra-special praise to the team that designed the sound mix for this film; they dunk the movie in just the sort of jarring, eerie, overdubbed noise bath one imagines Daredevil's every waking hour would sound like to him -- to the degree that it?s a relief when Murdock retires to his isolation tank for the evening. It's artful and maybe a little unnerving; if you're noise-sensitive, you might want to bring some ear plugs, but audiophiles should love the workout. (That said, the rock songs will date this film badly in a few years. But it could be worse: The score could be by Michael Kamen.)
How's that CGI?
About as good as it was in Spider-Man. Take that for what you will. As impressive as the advances in integrating CG characters into real environments have become -- the light-matching work in this movie looked superb to my uneducated eyes -- the CG Daredevil "stunt double" nevertheless moves in a plasticine manner that makes him terribly easy to spot. (It's kind of like spotting stunt doubles in episodes of "The Fall Guy," only shinier.) But then, this is a movie where people seem bounded by the laws of physics until they suddenly leap 20 feet off a building, soaring like cliff-divers in the Vomit Comet; if you can buy that, you can probably handle a leather-clad man moving like a character from Toy Story in a handful of long shots.
That said, the comparisons to Spider-Man don't end there. Daredevil, for all its strengths, was the first of these new Marvel movies to make me realize that the whole superhero genre is straitjacketed by a dangerously rigid dramatic structure: Tragedy followed by Angst followed by Revenge followed by Acquired Nobility. It strikes me that the sequels are where all these movies will finally be set free to explore some dramatic territory that doesn't involve howling about lost father figures and unrequited love. If Daredevil 2 gets a green light -- and it might -- then we'll be getting in to the whole "Elektra: Assassin" territory and some juicy Kingpin stuff and I'll totally be there with my eight bucks.
Warmest, Alexandra DuPont
P.S. Coming soon, barring disaster: an interview with a much-beloved cartoonist.
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Feb. 13, 2003, 5:14 a.m. CST
Literate and well-written and not fanboy rabid! Nice work DuPont.
Feb. 13, 2003, 5:14 a.m. CST
by The Paladin
Feb. 13, 2003, 5:18 a.m. CST
by The Paladin
Sorry for that misfire. I am not that familiar with the comic, but so far many people seem to like it. Marvel is really experiencing a movie Reniassance. Can't wait for X Men 2 or Hulk. Dammit bring on the summer right now!
Feb. 13, 2003, 5:30 a.m. CST
I consider it a holiday when DuPont finally speaks out. It's all too rare... but truly cause for celebration. One of the best critics writing; why isn't this her full time job?
Feb. 13, 2003, 5:30 a.m. CST
After all this hype this Du Pont better not be ugly. Lol
Feb. 13, 2003, 5:33 a.m. CST
by Lazarus Long
Yeah, I've got to give him props for breaking the stereotype with his Chuckie in Good Will Hunting. And I agree with Miss DuPont about the car scene in Chasing Amy--I don't suspect Affleck will be surpassing that monologue any time soon (who else would give him one?), nor will Kevin Smith. I haven't seen Changing Lanes yet, but perhaps on a slow rental night. Yeah Affleck might be taken for granted, but when you put his choices up next to Matt Damon's, it's pretty sad. Damon could have done a bunch of frat boy roles if he had wanted to, I'm sure. Directors Affleck has worked with: Bay, Frankenheimer, Madden, Newell, P.A. Robinson, Roos, and whoever the fuck did Forces of Nature. Damon: Spielberg, Minghella, Coppola, Liman, Van Sant, Thornton, Soderbergh, Redford, Dahl, Zwick. Looking over Damon's filmography, even though some films didn't turn out as good as hoped (Bagger Vance, Pretty Horses), some were underrated (Rounders, Rainmaker), and NONE were poor choices or missteps.
Feb. 13, 2003, 5:35 a.m. CST
Funny, in a cruel sort of way. Nice review BTW.
Feb. 13, 2003, 5:40 a.m. CST
by Cash Bailey
Feb. 13, 2003, 5:51 a.m. CST
M. DuPont, as usual, you are an elegant and mildly sweet delectation for the surfing reader or two. Terrific review, the only one I've elected to read regarding Daredevil, as I like to form my own opinions. But you...and your opinions...they are always such a moment of, how you say, chivalrement, n'est ce pas? Good work. Post in these here parts more often, oui? Intelligence is not often in evidence. As for you, Lazarus Long: say whuh?
Feb. 13, 2003, 6:03 a.m. CST
Harry, you need to invest more of your time getting reviewers that are privy to the moshun pichur viewin machina like Alexandra, who actually have recognizable voices in print that are enjoyable. You know...the Anti-Plant strain. I now, despite my ugly, unreasonable critic shadow persona, want to go see this movie and be taken in by a Frank Miller mid-wiving of this rebirth of a Marvel Comics Classic hero. You have a lot of readers, stop settling for lame-ass studio plantatums and "novice" news hounds. In the words of the immortal Bill Hicks, "Yeah, we're evolving out East."
Feb. 13, 2003, 6:25 a.m. CST
by Aronld Scazziger
DD can't be good. It just _CAN'T_ be good. Don't ask my why, I just have this strong feeling in my bladder, that DD can't be ANY good. And my bladder is always right.
Feb. 13, 2003, 6:34 a.m. CST
by Silvio Dante
Each of these positive reviews on AICN have mentioned the same flaws: no characterization, superpowers that are a bit too super, dodgy CGI and Nu-metal. They sound major, since it's superhero-flick. But reviewers all praise it! So it must be good. But the trailers were quite shitty...But they all praise it? So it must be good. DD is turning out to be one of those flicks to measure the credibility of AICN, huh? I can't believe it is as good as everyone and their mom is saying. I HOPE it will be, but it just sounds too good to be true...Anyway, give us YOUR review before tomorrow, Harry. Don't wait what the other guys have to say...
Feb. 13, 2003, 8:20 a.m. CST
I thank you for it. It answered many questions without taking too much away. I think you make a great point about the formulaic nature of the "comic hero first installment movie". It is so very true. I hope Joey Pants and Favreau's appearences are long enough. They are great and it would be too bad to see them give 5-minute performances as barely tertiary characters. Sounds like they are pretty integral... at least in Favreau's case. I am very much looking forward to this movie. #### Hmm... I wonder if folks will be upset that Wolverine will stand more toward center stage again in X2. I vote "who cares?" since Jackman and Wolverine are great. #### I am increasingly irritated with potzers seemingly devoted to www.rottentomatoes.com. The site is useful only for broad-sweep comparative purposes. If I really want to see a movie, I'll see the movie. Maybe I'll READ the reviews, as opposed to glancing over a collection of highly edited quotations from the stock supply of reviewers. I still check rottentomatoes; I do believe it serves a purpose. But, if I really want to see a movie, it doesn't matter what that site's composited and averaged figures are. Screw it. So, if you really feel the need to check rottentomatoes concerning an upcoming movie, you probably didn't want to see the movie anyway. Shut up and see something else. --d
Feb. 13, 2003, 8:27 a.m. CST
Feb. 13, 2003, 8:29 a.m. CST
Please tell me you've travelled to Hell's Kitchen and secured an interview with the father of all modern Hornhead mythology, Frank Miller.
Feb. 13, 2003, 10:49 a.m. CST
So, Affleck's worked with some so-called hacks. and Damon's worked with guys like Spielberg (guess you all got over him taking the guns out of E.T.). Wonder how the box-office totals for Affleck's flicks stack up against those for Damon's films. Now, I'm not saying the almighty dollar is a good judge of a film's merit, I think George Lucas's last two films prove that not to be the case, but we all know more box office dollars for these superhero movies means more of 'em get made. Sure Spiderman wasn't perfect, but it was about as true to the comic as you could get and still make a mass-market product. And, yes X-Men suffered by cramming a comic-book soap opera into one movie, leaving little room for the character development played out in a monthly comic, but it's success means now we get more X-movies which will allow for some of that development. We've begged for years for these movies to get made, and now all we can do is bash them more and more as release dates get closer and closer. Geez...I hope for the best with each and every comic film released, and for the most part I'm happy with the results. They're never perfect, but would you rather have that crappy TV Captain America, and save your 8 bucks for "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days"? And what the Hell was wrong with "Chasing Amy" ?
Feb. 13, 2003, 10:53 a.m. CST
Please, dear God, tell me this is a hoax...http://www.fromjustintokelly.com/ Please someone tell me that the movie at the end of the link is NOT real!!!
Feb. 13, 2003, 11:03 a.m. CST
by Booji Boy
"Love and War" by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz. It came out in the '80s and is still an excellent read! Good review, by the way....
Feb. 13, 2003, 11:04 a.m. CST
by Booji Boy
Got your name wrong....sorry.
Feb. 13, 2003, 11:42 a.m. CST
Since Ms. DuPont and I seem to agree more than not, my ticket money will be reflected in Monday's Boxofficemojo.com Daredevil report. I particularly like the last paragraph where she says what I have been thinking for a long time that X-Men 2, Spidey 2 and (hopefully) Daredevil 2 are going to be E ticket rides. The first films in a franchise, especially those of the "comic hero" genre, are always going to be saddled by necessity with giving some origin background to help explain everything that comes after. Give a competent film maker those 30-40 minutes back to expand the plot and flesh out the characters, and *that's* where the fun really begins. It would be great if there was a law that origin comic hero films can be no shorter then 2 1/2 hours long to fix this problem, but I don't see any Congressmen spending a lot of time on this any time soon considering the world situation as it is. I will enter the theater this weekend with (a) no Daredevil fanboy baggage, (b) no hardwired hate for Ben Lopez (his Kevin Smith film commentaries make me want to like him) and (c) the knowledge that the reviewer who's opinion I respect most on AICN has given it a thumbs up. Therefore
Feb. 13, 2003, 12:12 p.m. CST
by Radagast T Brown
If so, congratulations, and thanks for yet another fine review. Here's hoping to see many more, even after what I assume are impending nuptials. The review, however, does not serve to shrink the immense dimensions of Affleck's titano-noggin.
Feb. 13, 2003, 12:43 p.m. CST
by SLEAZY DINOSAUR
I can't wait to see this movie, I was lucky enough to get tickets to a sneak preview tonight. There's only one thing I like better than a superhero movie, and that's a free screening of a superhero movie. I've always liked Ben Affleck, he was fantastic in Chasing Amy, but as good as he was, Jason Lee was better, he should have put on some weight and played Foggy Nelson. And to that contra guy, people are just being a gentleman to the lady reviewer, I guess I'm old school, but I was brought up to act that way around ladies. Of course we're on the net, and for all we know she's really a guy, so maybe you have the right idea.
Feb. 13, 2003, 12:47 p.m. CST
"White chick of the week"??? "White man saves the day.." WTF are you babbling about?? Why the fuck are you bringing race up, you whining little fuck? Go back to your cave and continue to whack off to your gay anime bestiality snuff films, asshat...
Feb. 13, 2003, 1:15 p.m. CST
seem to want to like AND dislike a film. Just tell the main feeling. A lot of things are repeated in this review, and it's unspecific...
Feb. 13, 2003, 1:16 p.m. CST
don't ever say Ben Affleck is 'taken for granted' - what a fucking joke. He CANNOT ACT! Period.
Feb. 13, 2003, 1:59 p.m. CST
I'm just sayin'... sk
Feb. 13, 2003, 2:22 p.m. CST
Am I the one one that found that opening paragraph ridiculously funny?
Feb. 13, 2003, 4:45 p.m. CST
by Doc Cock
A light bulb has come on and I have come to the conclusion that if it doesn't involve CGI or a comic book/graphic novel character/s you dreary lot are not fecking interested, look at all the other topics on this web page, some have only about 10 posts.......but god almighty if it's about which dysfunctional dumb ass leather clad joyboy superhero is the best then your crawling all over each to get your tuppence worth of drivel printed on the screen......at least 90% of the comments I read are absolutley crap.......and I mean laxative level crap..... sorry but that's what I think......rather than "choking your chicken" every night over these comic book characters, get out more, take up a wee hobby, but don't and I mean don't rip your knitting over these films......because like buses another one will be along in a minute.........And I fecking guarantee you when it does it will be just as bad as the last one, and you'll all be sitting at your keyboards typing...."this actor is crap","that costume ain't right", he's a wank director", "its not like the book"...............just get a fecking grip.......arrgh......just get a grip alright! Ta Ta.
Feb. 13, 2003, 5:08 p.m. CST
So articulate,so very much in love with the concept of character and story, so intricate! I've been waiting for a female perspective on this film (damn, on this whole site really) and now i know im not the only fangirl who cares! You go girl!
Feb. 13, 2003, 5:36 p.m. CST
...they love you they really love you!
Feb. 13, 2003, 6:44 p.m. CST
by Shanghai Goon
I could not agree more! DD is interesting me, but still not quite sure...
Feb. 13, 2003, 7:03 p.m. CST
Feb. 13, 2003, 11:41 p.m. CST
by SLEAZY DINOSAUR
I just got back from a Daredevil sneak preview, it was really good. If fans of the original Frank Miller story don't like this, I don't know why. Some parts of it seemed lifted right out of the comic, some of the dialogue was verbatim. I also liked it because Affleck obviously worked out for the movie, they didn't have to put plastic muscles on him like in Batman. Don't get me wrong, I liked Batman, but he couldn't really move around, he just kind of stood there and stuck his fists out as bad guys ran into them, in this, Daredevil was really jumping around fighting. Good movie folks, if you liked the source material, you should like this.
Feb. 14, 2003, 12:44 a.m. CST
by Sid Kibbitz
Although I have never seen you, your pretentious name and reviews have somehow made me believe you
Feb. 14, 2003, 2:59 a.m. CST
I liked it. It was entertaining as hell. Affleck isn't my first choice but at least he has the physicality to play a Superhero unlike michael keaton's batman. It's a good movie. Not great but it held my interest from start to finish. Colin Farrel was great. I thought he was all wrong for it and I repent. JGarner and MCD were excellent-they should have shown us more of them. This film was too short but I didn't feel short changed. Good show! Daredevil 2 has my $9.00...cheers Fanboys
Feb. 14, 2003, 3:01 a.m. CST
Feb. 14, 2003, 3:11 a.m. CST
(With all due respect to the always articulate Ms. DuPont.)
Feb. 14, 2003, 4:57 a.m. CST
by Indiana Clones
Fuck you, bitch! Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Last Action Hero, The Hunt For Red October, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas... Kamen has done solid work, and you haven't done shit.
Feb. 14, 2003, 8:42 a.m. CST
Missing Key elements for greatness. Too much CGI; for $15 mill and barley any CGI, Crouching TIger, et al, made their stars fly around and kick a whole lotta arse. If they were trying to keep it "real" and got the extra $$ to do so, be a little more inventive w/ your Hong Kong boys. Also, MGD as Kingpin was done a disservice. Kingpin was a REGAL asskicker. In the CB, you got the idea that he was conflicted as the Kingpin of crime, and was madly devoted to Vanessa, his wife. MCD could've played that if given the shot. He was cast because he was the best actor for the part, right? I was cool w/ that, however, why then was his race played up from his intro? "Hip hop blaring as the camera crept up the building." Not the most color blind way to get started. Editing was a bit shoddy, and the fight scenes were dark, and sometimes confusing. However, at least watching them, I believed that DD could jump amidst a bunch of punks and use superhuman senses to whup arse. I just wished for a clearer visual representation of same. Which is why it's hard for me to criticize Johnson for the picture, yet hard to support him at the same time. I saw the passion for the story and the characters; unfortunately, I also saw his lack of experience with such a large scale project. Having him work in tandem with a director of talent AND experience (hell, co-direct the thing) may have been a better option. It's like me directing Spider-man: I've loved the character for 30 of my 33 years, but other than shorts in film school, don't give ME $100 mill of your hard earned money, I haven't built the body of work yet to handle that kind of thing. Superman and to some degree Spider-Man worked on a massive scale of success because the filmmakers had reverence for the material, and made it so. The Blade films worked IMHO for the same reasons as well; X-men to a point. I hope DD gets a second round, because Affleck worked for me, Bulleye and Foggy were great fun, and with the right attention paid to character development, Kingpin could REALLY be a force to be reckoned with, and Elektra could've been someone you REALLY cared about. And I think these characters deserve that. They DON'T deserve a "meet cute on the playground fight"..no ONE person watching thought "HOly shite, maybe this could be that guy, get on the phone with Channel 7 news?" There's a BLIND guy flipping around in public trying to kick the crap out of some chick, for the love of Mike. Overall, a good first effort, that needs some serious tweaking for the sequel..which it does deserve.
Feb. 14, 2003, 12:51 p.m. CST
Probably have to be made out of Spidey's web stuff to stand the stress.
Feb. 14, 2003, 7:51 p.m. CST
..saw "Daredevil"(of course) liked it even if it did seem a little choppy, like alot of character stuff got left on the editing room floor. Oh well, the Bullseye/Elektra fight was handled well enough, and the bar brawl was good as well, shades of "The Crow" although nowhere near as stylish and cool.
Feb. 17, 2003, 1:09 a.m. CST
by a goonie
Good job, dear. I enjoyed the movie even more than she, but her criticisms are just. A very nice read.
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