Cover Art and Menus: 9/10
Now this is a really cool cover. Very comic book-esque, with a really dark theme and feel. It goes perfectly with the movie itself, and it is artistic and fun.
Being a Universal release, we get the now well known menu with scenes and the Universal set-up. I waiver back and forth on whether I think this is a good idea or not, but I guess it is a bit utilitarian. We get scenes from the movie along side the menu itself.
- None – The really are not kidding – there are no extras. For a Sam Raimi movie, this is a bit strange, but it waw made a long time ago, so perhaps with the semi budget release, no real effort was made to include new extras. If I remember correctly the HD-DVD release was devoid of any extras also.
The Movie: 6/10
This is a somewhat campy movie, with a dark, violent theme that perhaps kept this from hitting the same group of comic book viewers as some of Sam Raimi’s later work, like Spiderman for instance. Made in 1990, the movie features Liam Neeson as Peyton Westlake, who is a scientist who is working on creating synthetic, living skin tissue. His main issue is that he is only able to keep the tissue. which can be formed into any shape or face, alive for 99 minutes before the tissue breaks down. When he discovers by accident that light is the catalyst of the skin breakdown, he is attacked by a group of thugs who are looking for a document that has been discovered by Westlake’s attorney girlfriend Julie (Francis McDormand).
The document links one of Julie’s clients, who is developing a huge riverfront property, to a notorious gangster Robert Durant (Larry Drake). Julie threatens to turn the document in (even though in real life that might cause an attorney-client privilege to be broken, but I digress), hence the attack on Westlake. The thugs leave Westlake thoroughly deformed, with his hands and face mutilated. Westlake then seeks revenge by using his skin creation to take out the baddies one by one, in 99 minute increments.
Confined to the shadows. Westlake becomes Darkman, who is forced to try to find his way back to Julie, while extracting revenge until he meets up with Julis’s developer client.
Darkman is a funny little movie, that by today’s standards is not nearly as dark as it may have been 20 years ago. The acting is sometimes overdone, in a 1990’s sort of fashion, and mixed with the colors and somewhat (again, by today’s standards) goofy special effects, makes viewing this movie today seem somewhat campy. It is a fun little watch, even if it is a bit of the past.
The use of the synthetic skin and strange, Sam Raimi visuals just seems to date this movie. It really probably was darker when it was made, but the overall feel now borders on being over-the-top. It is not bad, but it is a strange mix of violence with bright colors, goofy special effects, and overacting. Sam Raimi went on to direct big blockbuster movies, and you can see his development in this movie, as it does present some hints of action hero genius, but it is just a fledgling attemp. Darkman is fun to watch if you remember the 1990s and this type of movie, but it is not a great movie by any stretch. It has garnered a bit of a cult following, which is understandable, but it is not something that will blow your mind.
Audio & Video: 6/10
For a 20 year-old movie, I thought the presentation of the video was decent. There were some issues with what I would call clarity, as some of the faces seemed washed out at times, but overall I thought this was a decent 1080p, AVC-encoded 1.85:1 transfer. The colors were a bit bright (almost over-saturated at points) for the movie, but the black levels were decent.
The audio was not what I would call a real Surround Sound workout, and the use of the rear speakers was a bit muted for my taste, but the levels were good, and the soundtrack was well represented. It seemed to be mixed low overall, but it was quite well done.
For the Darkman fan, this Blu-ray is a must have, regardless of the lack of extras. For many, this high definition release is an instant add to a collection, but for most of us, this is simply a rent to walk down memory lane. The movie itself is not bad, but there is nothing here that is going to keep the non-fan coming back. To me this movie just felt dated at this point. It was fun to watch, but not necessarily a must own.
Overall Score 5/10