Daredevil DVD Review

Cover Art & Menu: 6/10
I can’t knock a cover that displays the hero and his woman since this story is sprung from the loins of the comic book world. If I can’t say anything nice, I’ll just keep my opinion to myself..that’s a first. It’s bit boring and unimaginative. Ok, so I can’t keep it to myself after all.

The menu makers did make an effort and brought a taste, or should I say vision of the movie to the table. The pulsating blue waves of images create the background for this moving menu that seems a bit fuzzy, but remember, we are looking through the “eyes” of a blind man. All of the menus on both DVD’s are well done, easy to navigate and add to the whole experience by not just being flat and uninteresting like a lot of DVD authors seem to be cranking out these days.

Extras & Features: 10/10
Disc 1:

  • Full-Length Director and Producer Commentary – Commentary is really a must have these days on a DVD. Watching the movie listening to the people behind the scenes actually makes the whole thing much more interesting. The writer/director Mark Stephen Johnson says the church sequence is brilliant…eh hem, I disagree. However, I have to give him sooooo much credit for admitting that a lot of the CGI is crap. I applaud that he is willing to fess up to the weakest parts of the film.
  • On-Screen Trivia Track – A cheap looking, but very fun text track that has lots of behind the scenes information that fans of the comic and movie will love to check out.
  • DVD-ROM Content – Comic book Chronology, Web Links & More! I’m a tough chick to impress these days with anything DVD folks can throw at us, and even though I’m not a huge fan of this movie, I do understand it’s more of an experience than just a quick flick. The DVD interactive features are one of those things that took me by surprise. I am usually opposed to things just opening up when I pop in a DVD or CD, but this time around I was pleasantly annoyed, if that’s possible. The DVD instantly goes to the interactive features without requiring that you install anything on your computer. I love that. The DVD features include a bio on each character, a history of the comic book, links to web sites related to Daredevil and an interactive game. We actually played the game, which is also not something I usually partake of, but it was pretty good. It tests your senses, sort of. It’s well presented and ties directly in with the movie, so it’s a good extra.

Disc 2:

  • 2 All-New 60-Minute Documentaries – Wonderful feature length documentaries that cover so much material. I love these kinds of special additions to a DVD. These cover everything from Ben Affleck’s body molding for his costume to how the CGI is done. Mind you, I’m not a fan of the CGI, it’s low quality in my opinion and wouldn’t even work well in a video game, but there ya go. You get to meet everyone from the director to the director of photographer all the way to the composer. It’s crazy, but the more extras I watch the better I like the movie. That doesn’t sound right, but it’s a new phenomenon in the world of being a movie fan I suppose.
  • Multi-Angle Scene Studies – Two fight sequences in multi angles to see how many different cameras are used to get the final perfect edit.
  • Jennifer Garner Screen Test – A brief but interesting thing to toss on the DVD. You get to see Jennifer doing a scene with a “reader” as part of an audition.
  • 3 Music Videos
  • And Much More! – Along with 6 Production Featurettes and a Kingpin Featurette you will find still galleries and concept drawings of Daredevil’s costume are among the “more” extras.

Picture/Sound: 9/10
By all accounts this is a top quality transfer. It’s a dark story in a dreary city with lots of less than bright interiors so the potential for pixels abound. But I didn’t see any, and I was looking. Believe me, I didn’t want to just complain about the movie, I wanted more dirt to drag up on this one, alas, it was not meant to be. This is a good quality DVD in both the picture and sound department. The surround sound was excellent, you can hear every rain drop, grunt, groan and distant footstep.

Movie: 6/10
I’ll start by saying that after I saw the movie I was pretty let down and disappointed, and then I explored the DVD from top to bottom and I do have more appreciation of the story and the whole production….that being said, on with the review.

A movie with an identity crisis, that’s what Daredevil is. With a good story at the heart of it all you would think it might be able to struggle through with a few problems here and there. Unfortunately, those few problems are things like character development, dialogue, editing, directing, special effects, and choice of actors. Is it pure action, or is it a deep dark tale of good vs. evil? I still don’t know the answer.

I know, you’re saying, “Cid, who cares about all that junk, it’s an action/comic book hero story. All we want is fighting and goofy one liners.” Ok, fair enough. So, the fight scenes are weak, the goofy one liners are not even good enough to be goofy, so now where do we go from there?

Let’s start with what I do like, what little there is. I love the story. A man who has devoted his life to protecting his neighborhood and fighting crime as a vigilante is a great place to start building a story. This man, having lost his sight as a boy, has the benefit of his senses of touch, hearing, and smelling being hyper-sensitive due to what appears to be a toxic chemical spill. Remember, this is comic book fodder, so the story might tend to be a bit colorful to say the least. I still love the story. Mathew’s father dies at the hands of a master criminal in town and as he, Mathew, grows up he takes it upon himself to use his new abilities to rid his neighborhood of crime. He has taken on an alter identity, dubbed Dare Devil by the citizens and press, complete with a costume and handy walking stick that’s tricked out with all kinds of gadgets to help in his quest for justice. By day he’s an attorney fighting in the courtroom and at night he picks up where the law lets the innocents of the world down. This all sounds pretty exciting, and it is, in theory. I’m sad to say though, in execution, this film did not give this story the integrity it deserves.

The action is pretty good most of the time, with one big exception, the big battle between Daredevil and Bullseye. I won’t give away to much, but it’s one of those things where you feel this big build up to what you know will be the end of a bad guy, and then all of a sudden it’s all over and the climax does not live up to the anticipation. When I’m watching one of these types of movies, I have certain expectations, not a good thing, but it’s true, and one of those is that the bad guys bite the dust in a very dramatic, painful, over the top manner. Needless to say, I was not fully satisfied.

Most of the time the CGI version of Daredevil was lame, and that’s being kind. I despise (DESPISE is the word I’m using people!) the “rag doll” effect that happens when they try to create a real person with computer software and it’s glaringly obvious. The way he moves, the shape of his body, the poor quality of the over all effect when he is scaling roof tops and often in fight sequences, is just disturbingly distracting. That was not just a let down, it’s a shocker for this big budget affair.

Ben Affleck and Colin Farrell are the two saving graces in this spring/summer time flick, for sure. I enjoy both of them in most any role, so they add a certain level of quality to their characters. Jon Favreau is a bonus as Affleck’s best friend and fellow low budget attorney. With a snappy scene in a cafe we get a clear picture of their friendship and a few of the more palatable lines in the movie.

As for Jennifer Garner, well, she’s good but her character has a lot to be desired. I’m sure that’s why her performance, from the cheeky early fight sequence with Affleck to her battle with the dreaded Bullseye just didn’t do much to make her anything more than a pretty face and bad ass girl fighter. That might be enough for most people, fair enough, but I would like to have seen a lot more of her as a person and less as the sexy smart-ass quasi Kung Fu babe.

I will keep going back to the quality of the real story, a man who is battered and broken because of his mission to fight crime. We see the scars, the damage done from all of his late night battles with thugs, thieves and petty bad guys. His collection of pain killers is impressive, but depressing at the same time. Here’s me being demanding, as always, but I would have liked to have seen his early days of crime fighting before he had his whole persona polished and the costume completed. We don’t get any back story or build up of his life as a “super hero”. We see him as a kid and then skip to him being already jaded, scarred and as a professional man of back alley justice, so to speak. A bit of the awkwardness he must have encountered in early years would have been a great addition to his tale.

The style of the movie is something I do appreciate. The quick edits during certain scenes and the really well done effect of how sounds become images for our blind hero stand out and I give them top credit for the visual feast we are served, in very limited quantities. I was not impressed with the overall edit of the movie. Lots of scenes must have bitten the cutting room’s dusty floor because it seems like the story just takes off when all of a sudden it’s over and you are shaking your head thinking, “ah, this must be one of those false endings.” No such luck. When you feel like the rug just got ripped from under your movie watching eyes you are left sitting there in your little seat waiting for some bigger pay off, but it’s all over and done with. It lacks any fan fare or hoo-haa one would like to see from this kind of good vs. evil story.

Above are a couple of examples of  how our sightless hero can see the world. Sound waves create images in his mind. The rain in the bottom picture creates enough audio vibration off of Jennifer Garner to assure him he’s not falling for any girl below supermodel status, God forbid!

It’s entertaining to a degree, it just has so much more potential that could be tapped into. The sleek style and attempt at amazing special effects falls short too many times and there is not a well written plot to build a movie around nor is there even well written dialogue to rescue it. It’s above average just by the white of Affleck’s teeth. Colin Farrell’s charm and full on performance boost the rating over the halfway mark, but nothing else can send this early summer blockbuster soaring to the top of my list.

Everyone seemed to put their heart and soul into this movie from the fight trainers to the composer of the score and everyone in between, but at the root of it all there are a lot of things that hold it back from being a great experience.

Value: 9/10
Excellent value at just $16.00 online. That’s a bargain for so much cram packed on the DVD.

Over All: 9/10
I have to admit that after watching all the extras, and believe me, that’s a big time investment, I have to conclude that this DVD is a great experience even if the movie falls short in many areas. The final score is a very hard fought 9. How can a barely average movie pull off a 9 rating DVD? It’s a mystery to me too.

If you are a snob, like me, you might scoff at the movie for what it is, flimsy but glossy. However, even we snobs have to give a nod of credit to the DVD authors and to Fox for giving us all something to enjoy. Everyone from fans of the comic, fans of the movie and fans of DVD extras can find something worth a purchase. Yes, I recommend that you buy this one for your collection if for nothing more than all of the background documentaries and great commentary.

Overall Score 9/10