Daredevil appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Occasionally gorgeous, Daredevil didn’t seem absolutely stellar, but it usually worked well.
Sharpness mostly came across nicely. A few wide shots displayed some slight softness, but those examples seemed to be relatively infrequent. The majority of the movie seemed concise and well defined. I saw no signs of jagged edges or edge enhancement, but some mild shimmering popped up at times. Print flaws looked absent, though grain seemed heavier than normal; the last factor didn’t seem unusual for a Super 35 flick, though it caused a few distractions.
Like many visual-heavy modern flicks, Daredevil largely featured a stylized palette that tended toward cool tones. Most of the colors seemed fairly desaturated and chilly, but they looked appropriately distinctive and solid. Brighter hues came across well also. Black levels mostly appeared fine, though I thought they looked slightly inky on occasion. Shadows were precisely delineated and smooth, an important factor in such a dark flick. Overall, I found Daredevil to give us a fine visual presentation.
Even better were the soundtracks of Daredevil. The DVD offered both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes. When I compared them, I thought the pair sounded virtually identical. Any possible differences between the two seemed minor at best.
That was fine with me, since the audio seemed so positive. A very active mix, Daredevil used all five channels to great advantage. From beginning to end, the sound emanated from all locations as the tracks presented excellent atmosphere and action. Not surprisingly, the flick’s action sequences worked the best, as score and lots of effects information popped up all around the listener. Probably the most impressive sequences involved shots from Matt’s point of view. These nicely gave the listener a sense of his world and created a great feeling of submersion in that way. Vivid and neatly integrated, the soundfield of Daredevil seemed really impressive.
Happily, audio quality followed that same trend. Dialogue sounded warm and natural, and I noticed no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music seemed dynamic and rich. The score and various rock songs both were bright and vibrant throughout the film. Effects sounded clean and distinctive, and they featured powerful low-end response when appropriate. For some demo-worthy bass, check out the fight in the church between Daredevil and Bullseye; the banging against the pipe organ presented tight and very deep low-end material that never became loose or problematic. Daredevil featured consistently involving and high quality audio.
One very nice – and very appropriate – touch: visually impaired fans can still enjoy Daredevil. The movie comes with a “Descriptive Video” soundtrack that narrates the film for the visually impaired. I think these tracks are always cool, and more DVDs should include them.
This two-DVD special edition release of Daredevil comes packed to the gills with supplements. On the first disc, we open with an audio commentary from director Mark Steven Johnson and producer Gary Foster. Both men sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. Together they offer a thorough examination of the film. Their discussion runs the gamut; from casting to effects to stunts to story issues and deleted segments, we learn a lot about the making of the movie. The pair go over the topics in a light and engaging way, though those with a sensitivity for profanity need not apply; Johnson tosses out scads of “F-bombs”. Nonetheless, this commentary seems interesting and informative.
Daredevil also features a text commentary. Little bits of trivia pop up throughout the movie to inform us about various topics. It includes subjects such as cameos and references, the history of the comic book characters and scenarios, and some behind the scenes elements related to the movie. The track seems inconsistent, as a fair amount of the movie passes without information. Nonetheless, it provides some decent tidbits, especially if you don’t have much of a background in regard to the comic books.
DVD One also features an enhanced viewing mode. With this activated, an icon pops onscreen eight times during the film. Hit “enter” on those occasions and you’ll get to watch “animatics/visual effects layers”. Seven of these provide multiangle material with commentary from visual effects producer John Kilkenny. Each of the first seven presents these three angles: pre-visualization, visual effects elements, and effects composite. The last one is simply a “grab bag” of effects and pre-vis bits and pieces. While nothing amazing appears here, the information seems interesting, and Kilkenny’s remarks help educate us about the processes used.
Lastly, Disc One includes some DVD-ROM materials. It features downloadable Daredevil wallpaper, a “Dot Comic” book from online, the history of the DD comics, character info for the main participants in the movies, links, and a “Sensory Quiz”. A clever piece, the latter attempts to put you in Daredevil’s shoes. Overall, some decent stuff appears in the DVD-ROM realm.
The supplements on DVD Two split into two domains. “The Film” opens with a documentary called Beyond Hell’s Kitchen: Making Daredevil. This 58-minute and 48-second program essentially eschews the usual movie clips and focuses virtually entirely on behind the scenes snippets and interviews. We get remarks from director Mark Steven Johnson, producer Gary Foster, Marvel Enterprises CCO Avi Arad, costume designer James Acheson, textile artist Matt Reitsma, costume supervisor Lisa Lovaas, art department coordinator Jamie Neese, actors Paul Ben-Victor, Joe Pantoliano, Jennifer Garner, Ben Affleck, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Jon Favreau, stunt coordinator Jeff Imada, action choreographer Master Cheung-Yan Yuen, fight trainer David Lea, director of photography Ericson Core, sight impaired consultant Tom Sullivan, special effects coordinator John McLeod, visual effects supervisor Jeff Thorne, Shadow World effects lead Eric Horton, and composer Graeme Revell.
While not the most coherent documentary I’ve seen, “Kitchen” seems acceptably complete. It gives us a little about the character’s slow path to the big screen and tells us that Chris Columbus originally planned to adapt the story. We then get information about the development of the costume and the mask, issues related to artificial locations, notes about stunts and wire work, fight scene choreography, the actors’ approaches to their characters, effects and much more. At times the tone seems a bit puffy and overly emphasizes praise, but some good facts emerge, and the shots from the set make it all worthwhile. We see many fun instances of the latter, such as when we watch take after take of Affleck suffering on the wires. “Kitchen” lacks the depth and unity to become a great documentary, but it seems generally entertaining nonetheless.
”Kitchen” can be viewed with or without Enhanced Viewing Mode activated. This offers a branching option that gives you additional material. Six segments appear: “Costume Design” (three minutes, 21 seconds), “LA for NY” (2:22), “Combat Choreography” (4:15), “Smoke and Fire” (3:34), “Film Work” (0:59) and “Seeing With Sound” (5:37). The various clips include comments from costume cutter/fitter Joanne Trotta, costume designer James Acheson, visual effects supervisor Rich Thorne, matte painter Dylan Cole, sound designer Steve Boeddecker, special effects coordinator John McLeod, first assistant film editor Matthew Schmidt, and Shadow World effects lead Eric Horton. Nothing here seems crucial, but all of it helps flesh out our understanding of the film’s creation. Probably the most fun segment comes from the fight blocking tapes found in “Combat Choreography”, but everything here appears interesting.
Next we find a two-minute and 50-second Jennifer Garner Screen Test. The excerpt shows the actress as she runs through a couple of short segments and also poses for the camera. Despite its brevity, the snippet seems fun.
Similar thoughts greet the Multi-Angles Dailies. We get clips from two scenes: “Daredevil/Kingpin Fight” and “Elektra/Bullseye Fight”. The former includes two takes with two angles each plus a composite of the two angles. The latter features four takes, all of which present three angles plus a composite, except for the fourth take, which has two angles and a composite. All of the snippets are quite short; I don’t think any clock it past half a minute. Nonetheless, they give us a good look at the basic material shot for the film.
Less interesting, Featured Villain: Kingpin runs 139 seconds. It mixes movie clips with sound bites from actor Michael Clarke Duncan. The short and fluffy chat doesn’t include much real information, and since most of it appears elsewhere, this program becomes superfluous.
After this we get an HBO First Look Special. Hosted by Jennifer Garner, it gives us the standard combination of movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. During the 24-minute and 48-second show, we hear from director Johnson, actors Affleck, Garner, Joe Pantoliano, Duncan, Colin Farrell, and Jon Favreau, Marvel executive Avi Arad, producer Foster, co-creator Stan Lee, sight impaired consultant Tom Sullivan, stunt coordinator Jeff Imada, fitness and training supervisor Dave Lea, textile artist Matt Reitsma, costume supervisor Lisa Lovaas, and specialty costumers Jill Thraves and Deborah Ambrosino. “First Look” covers a mix of the standard topics like the plot, stunts, and visual design. It remains pretty superficial and doesn’t give us much depth, but it offers more details than the average “First Look” special, so it might be worth your time.
For more information from the film’s sight impaired consultant, we go to Moving Through Space: A Day With Tom Sullivan. The eight-minute and 27-second featurette includes comments from Sullivan and personal trainer Steve Maresca. The title seems a little deceptive, since we don’t go through an average day with Sullivan. Instead, we see a few different elements of his life – most of which involve physical activities – while Sullivan discusses his perspective. Essentially a piece meant to convey the positive capabilities of the man, “Space” seems less informative than I’d like.
A few minor bits finish off “The Film”. We get three trailers - one teaser, two theatrical – for Daredevil plus ads for 28 Days Later and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In addition to a “Music Promotion Spot”, three music videos appear: Fuel’s “Won’t Back Down”, the Calling’s “For You” and Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life”. The last one’s the only video that seems even moderately interesting, mostly because it actually attempts a plot, and the singer’s pretty sexy.
Finally, we get a collection of images in the Still Gallery. This divides into five subjects: “Story Boards” (323 screens), “Costumes” (94 frames), “Set Design” (20 drawings), “Production Stills” (13 images), and “Props” (29 shots). (Note that “Production Stills” is mis-named; it actually shows concept art.) All of these seem good, but the storyboards easily stand out from the crowd. Some absolutely stellar work appears there as the section essentially displays a wordless comic book telling of much of the film.
When we go to “The Comic Book”, we get a few additional pieces. The Men Without Fear: Creating Daredevil runs 59 minutes and 10 seconds as it details the roots and development of the comic. We see examples of comic art and hear from those behind the work such as Daredevil co-creator/writer Stan Lee, artists John Romita Sr., Gene Colan, John Romita Jr., and Joe Quesada, writer/artist Frank Miller, writer/painter David Mack, and writers Brian Michael Bendis and Kevin Smith.
”Fear” doesn’t attempt to provide a coherent history of Daredevil. Instead, it offers more of an anecdotal look at the character as discussed by many of those who worked on him. We get plenty of facts related to Daredevil and also learn the insights of the participants. They cover topics like development, personal impact, their own careers, comics in general, and many other issues. Not surprisingly, Smith’s chat is very entertaining, and Miller’s reflections seem quite useful as well; given the Miller may be the most influential comic book writer/artist of the last few decades, it’s fascinating to hear his thoughts. I also liked Colan’s candid remarks about the toll the business took on his personal life. Overall, “Fear” provides a somewhat disjointed but consistently intriguing program.
The Shadow World Tour tries to give us a feeling for Matt Murdock’s perception. It lasts six minutes and 15 seconds as it combines comic book panels and movie clips. While the comic art is moderately interesting, we already understand how Murdock’s deals with his senses from the movie and other material, so the “Tour” seems superfluous.
Lastly, the Modeling Sheets give us some basic information about the movie’s main characters. We get simple factoids for Daredevil, Elektra, Bullseye, Kingpin and Foggy Nelson. This section seems rudimentary but useful for those not well acquainted with the comics.
While I don’t consider Daredevil to qualify as one of the great comic book movies, it seems better than average. It tries a little too hard to be dark and brooding at times, but it remains generally lively and entertaining. The DVD presents solid picture with excellent audio and an extensive and informative batch of supplements. A great DVD for a good movie, Daredevil earns my recommendation.