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Mark Steven Johnson
Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan
Writing Credits:
Mark Steven Johnson

When justice is blind, it knows no fear.

A man blinded by toxic waste which also enhanced his remaining senses fights crime as an acrobatic martial arts superhero.

Box Office:
$75 million.
Opening Weekend
$45.033 million on 3471 screens.
Domestic Gross
$102.543 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 133 min.
Price: $16.99
Release Date: 9/30/2008

• Audio Commentary with Director Mark Steven Johnson and Producer Avi Arad
• Enhanced Viewing Mode
• “Fact and Fiction” Text Commentary
• “Giving the Devil His Due - The Making of the Daredevil Director’s Cut” Featurette
• “Beyond Hell’s Kitchen: Making Daredevil” Documentary
• “The Men Without Fear: Creating Daredevil” Documentary
• 6 Production Featurettes
• Multi-Angle Scene Study
• Jennifer Garner Screen Test
• Kingpin Featurette
• 3 Music Videos
• Trailers


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Daredevil: Director's Cut [Blu-Ray] (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 21, 2015)

Just like the way 1989’s Batman caused a wave of imitators, 2002’s enormo-hit Spider-Man sparked the resurgence of comic book movies as a viable cinematic form. Not long after the web-slinger’s success, we got a medium-profile genre flick with 2003’s Daredevil.

The lead character falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to fame. Certainly better known than Blade or Ghost Rider but much less famous than Spider-Man, Batman or Superman, Daredevil has been around a long time, and the character also enjoyed a brief period of super-popularity in the early Eighties when writer/artist Frank Miller became a star. It didn’t last, and Daredevil now exists as one of those “in-between” superheroes.

Or at least he did until the folks at Fox decided he deserved his own big-screen adaptation. Daredevil opens with its hero (Ben Affleck) apparently on the verge of death. It then launches into a look at the early life of Matt Murdock, a kid who grew up in a hardscrabble neighbor with his father Jack (David Keith), a once-substantial fighter now fallen on hard times. Jack urges young Matt (Scott Terra) to make something of himself with his mind, not his fists.

After Matt sees proof that his dad works as a thug for a local gangster, he flees and accidentally runs into a tub of chemicals. This leaves him without vision but gives him incredibly enhanced hearing and other senses. He trains himself and develops great abilities.

In the meantime, Jack returns to the ring with a renewed sense of purpose. However, his former boss tells him the fights were fixed and instructs him to take a dive in a match. He refuses to do this, so inevitably, the thugs exact their revenge. Now fatherless, Matt decides to seek justice, and the movie advances to his adult life.

When we see the grown-up Matt, we see him work as an attorney along with his partner and friend Franklin “Foggy” Nelson (Jon Favreau). When a rapist escapes justice, Matt enters vigilante mode as crime-fighter Daredevil. This gives us a glimpse of how Daredevil works, and the plot thickens as additional threads emerge. Matt meets a sexy and mysterious babe named Elektra (Jennifer Garner) at a coffee shop; when she plays hard to get, he persists, and the pair tussle as foreplay.

Connected to Elektra, we encounter her dad Nikolas Natchios (Erick Avari), part of a criminal network run by Wilson Fisk (Michael Clarke Duncan), a figure also referred to as “The Kingpin”. However, no one knows the actual identity of the Kingpin, though some leads head toward Fisk’s organization. Natchios wants out of the business due to all the press attention about the Kingpin, so Fisk hires an Irish assassin named Bullseye (Colin Farrell) to off his associate while he also creates a paper trail to make the newspapers think that Natchios is the Kingpin.

Speaking of the press, we also meet reporter Ben Urich (Joe Pantoliano). He follows the trail of Daredevil. The police deny that the crimefighter exists but Urich plugs away as he tries to learn more about the mysterious vigilante.

These storylines dominate the movie, with a particular emphasis on the interactions between Matt/Daredevil and Elektra. I won’t give away the specifics, but that triangle intensifies partway during the film when Elektra develops an intensely negative opinion of the crimefighter. All of this leads inexorably toward conflicts among our main characters.

Unlike Spider-Man, Batman or Superman, I never got into the Daredevil comics enough for me to judge the faithfulness of this movie. Frankly, it’s been so long since I read those books that I remembered very little of the DD universe. That’s probably a good thing, for unlike the others, I found it easier to take Daredevil on its own terms and not compare it to the character’s history.

However, that doesn’t mean I won’t contrast it with other comic book flicks, and Daredevil firmly falls in the Batman camp. (That’s the “gritty Batman” camp, not the ”campy Batman” camp.) During an audio commentary, director Mark Steven Johnson gleefully makes sure we know we’re not in Spider-Man territory here, but that doesn’t make Daredevil an especially original piece of work. Admittedly, this flick is darker than Burton’s two Bat-movies, but it definitely owes a tip of the hat to those films.

This flick’s Matt Murdock also comes across an awful lot like a low-rent Bruce Wayne. He’s a sullen loner with the Gotham playboy’s affinity for the babes and an obsession with vengeance. As depicted by Affleck, he even varies his voice from his natural tones as Murdock to a rough growl as Daredevil, just like Bat-actors often do.

Despite all these similarities and others, Daredevil doesn’t really feel like a rip-off of Batman, and it actually presents a pretty good comic book experience. A lot of that stems from the actors, though unfortunately, Affleck isn’t one of the best elements of the movie. He seems perfectly decent in the role but he never adds any spark or flair to the part.

At least in the Burton Batman flicks one could blame the director, since Burton clearly favored his villains. That doesn’t occur here, for Johnson keeps Daredevil the focus much of the time. Affleck simply lacks the power and magnetism for this kind of role. He never becomes a liability, but he fails to sizzle either.

His fellow actors fare better. Farrell makes more than the most of his supporting turn as Bullseye. He chews the scenery with gusto in a genuinely over-the-top performance. Had we seen more of him, I’m sure the routine would have become tiring ala Alan Rickman’s desperate – and futile – attempt to inject life into Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. However, since Bullseye appears pretty sporadically, Farrell becomes a consistent pleasure to watch as he tears through his scenes.

Garner also brings solid grace and power to her parts of the film. She certainly looks great as Elektra, and she makes her action sequences believable. She also brings a sense of danger to the role that keeps her from becoming just another action chick.

Favreau gets stuck with the traditional comic relief part, but he acquits himself wonderfully. I know his moments are gratuitous attempts to lighten up the film, but damn if they don’t work anyway.

As with Affleck, director Johnson proves neither a boon nor a bane to the film. Clearly he wears his influences on his sleeve, but he makes Daredevil go at a good rate. Granted, the first two acts lack as much good action as I’d like, but things cook nicely toward the end.

Overall, Daredevil comes across as a good but unexceptional superhero flick. Its box office performance seems just about right for it: the movie’s $102 million gross makes it a modest hit but not a smash, and that’s what it deserves. I enjoyed Daredevil and thought it offered more than just a little excitement and fun, but it didn’t enthrall me like the best members of its genre.

Inside joke footnote: alert comic fans will notice scads of references throughout the film. In addition to cameos by Stan Lee, Frank Miller and Kevin Smith – who wrote a recent Daredevil series – we find the names of others listed at times during the flick. This becomes a little cutesy at times, but the film handles the incidents subtly enough that they won’t distract viewers who don’t get them.

Note that this disc features the “R”-rated director’s cut of Daredevil. It runs a whopping 30 minutes longer than the theatrical version. That doesn’t mean it simply add half an hour of footage. That’s usually the case, but it also removes some elements in the theatrical rendition, so we get more than 30 minutes of extra shots.

The main addition comes via a subplot totally excised from the theatrical version. It relates to the slaying of a prostitute and the trial of suspect Daunte Jackson (Coolio). This leads to an investigation and defense mounted by Murdock. It’s interesting and helps flesh out some elements, but I think it slows the pacing and ultimately doesn’t add enough to the movie to justify its inclusion.

Other moments move by more quickly. There’s more of Matt and Foggy in the coffee shop before they meet Elektra; expect some funny moments there and elsewhere via the interaction of the two characters. Additional violence appears in some existing scenes plus new ones like a shot in which the Kingpin kills his bodyguards. More of Bullseye shows up in bits like his troubles getting past airport security.

We get these changes and many more in the director’s cut. Do they improve the movie? In some ways, they help make it a better fleshed out piece of work. We certainly get a richer feel for the characters, and more humor appears. Foggy certainly receives much more screentime, and the Kingpin’s assistant Wesley (Leland Orser) also is allowed more of a role.

Although I enjoyed the director’s cut, I think I ultimately prefer the brisker, more visceral feel of the theatrical version. Actually, maybe a compromise would have worked best - lose the entire Jackson subplot, keep the rest of the changes and that cut may have been the best mix of the bunch. In any case, I’ll stick with the theatrical take, but I’m sure fans will enjoy the chance to see this reworked edition, and many will likely prefer it.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio A/ Bonus A

Daredevil appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Only minor concerns ever arose here.

Sharpness mostly came across nicely. Some wide shots looked a bit soft, but not to a substantial degree, so the majority of the movie was concise and well defined. I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to occur. With a fair amount of grain on display, I didn’t suspect any digital noise reduction, and print flaws remained absent.

Like many visual-heavy modern flicks, Daredevil featured a stylized palette that tended toward cool tones. Most of the colors seemed fairly desaturated and chilly, with an emphasis on greens and blues, but they looked appropriate within those parameters. Brighter hues came across well also, usually via rich reds. Black levels appeared fine, while shadows were precisely delineated and smooth, an important factor in such a dark flick. Only the mild softness knocked down my grade to a “B”, as this was a largely appealing presentation.

A very active DTS-HD MA 5.1 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 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.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Audio showed stronger range and clarity, while visuals offered improved definition and fidelity. This was a good upgrade.

The Blu-ray mixes extras from both theatrical and Director’s Cut DVDs. The first attraction comes from an audio commentary with director Mark Steven Johnson and producer Avi Arad, both of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. If you want production details, go back to the theatrical DVD for its chat with Johnson and producer Gary Foster, as that one included a lot of useful information. Unfortunately, the director’s cut discussion presents very little interesting material.

Oh, sporadic details emerge, like some sequencing choices and Colin Farrell’s quick study as a motorcycle rider. The vast majority of the piece focuses on changes made for the director’s cut, however. They aptly tell us what differences occur and occasionally let us know why the material failed to make the theatrical rendition.

However, during much of the track, they just relate how much they like the added footage and bemoan its loss for the theatrical cut. This gets really old really quickly and ensures that the commentary is consistently dull and tiresome.

Commentary weirdness: despite the theatrical cut’s “PG-13” rating, Johnson let the “f-bombs” fly during that DVD’s track. For the “R”-rated edition, he cleans up his act and utters nary a profane term!

We go back to the theatrical cut DVD for two features that run along with the film. During Fact and Fiction, 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.

The disc 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.

After this comes a documentary called Beyond Hell’s Kitchen: Making Daredevil. This 58-minute and 51-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 31-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.

Less interesting, Featured Villain: Kingpin runs two minutes, 21 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 50-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 28-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.

From the Director’s Cut DVD, we get a featurette called Giving the Devil His Due - The Making of the Daredevil Director’s Cut. It fills 15 minutes and 26 seconds as it examines the longer edition of the movie. We hear from Arad, Foster, Johnson, They tell us a little about the choices made to pare down the film for theatrical release and other changes made for the director’s cut as well as ratings issues.

Much of this becomes redundant if you listened to the commentary. Given how dull that track becomes, however, you might want to watch this featurette and skip the commentary altogether.

From there we 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. Viewed via “Play All”, they occupy a total of three minutes, 18 seconds, and they give us a good look at the basic material shot for the film.

We get three trailers - one teaser, two theatrical – for Daredevil. 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 Galleries. This divides into five subjects: “Storyboards” (323 screens), “Costumes” (94 frames), “Set Design” (20 drawings), “Production Stills” (13 images), and “Props” (29 shots). (Note that “Production Stills” is misnamed; 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 15 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 17 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.

I doubt anyone will consider Daredevil as an all-time great comic book movie. Nonetheless, it succeeds more than it fails, and it presents a fairly exciting take on the genre. The Blu-ray provides generally good picture along with excellent audio and a strong roster of supplements. This becomes a good representation of a generally enjoyable film.

To rate this film visit the prior review of DAREDEVIL

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