Superhero Movies on Steroids Series: Movie #43

Daredevil (2003)

Plot: When Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) goes blind in a toxic waste accident as a kid, his other senses are enhanced.  After his father (David Keith) is killed, Murdock uses his senses to become the vigilante ‘Daredevil,’ as he tries to take down a powerful mob boss known as Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan).

Daredevil is frustrating, because a great movie is lurking somewhere in this, but the writing is poor at times, the directing inconsistent, and Ben Affleck’s performance is…not good.  Murdock’s origin story is very powerful and directed on screen in a compelling manner.  When young Murdock (Scott Terra) faces his bullies again as a blind kid, watching him use his stick and dodging the attacks was even cooler than Peter Parker fighting for the first time in Spiderman.  What works well is the Murdock point of view as everything goes blue, and we see him using his senses.  This is really well done in the bar brawl, especially when he’s standing on the ceiling fan and the audience can almost feel the vibration as the music goes quiet.  But there are other scenes where the directing is piss poor.  When we first see Daredevil, we get all these lame close-ups of him jumping and diving off of buildings, bringing a cartoonish vibe that I loathed so much in Spiderman.  There’s also some pretty bad dialogue, and it doesn’t help that Affleck is delivering most of it.  He’s passable as Matt Murdock, but when he’s in costume as Daredevil, it’s a total train wreck.  Another performance that sucks is the villain Bullseye played by Colin Farrell.  This is a cool concept for a villain, and I even love his obsession for wanting to take down Daredevil because he’s the only one who makes him miss his target.  Farrell just sucks the life out of this role.  He has these weird little ticks, and his voice is inconsistent.  There is in fact good acting in the film such as Jennifer Garner, Jon Favreau, and Michael Clarke Duncan, but there’s also a Kevin Smith cameo which is never a good thing.  The music is just awful.  It’s so over the top, especially when Daredevil is in the church.  We get that ‘Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh’ churchey chorus that almost sounds like it should be in a Legend of Zelda game.  And when we don’t have the bad score, we get terrible grunge music or whiney pop punk.  The movie is pretty quick-paced, probably too fast at times, but it’s very entertaining all the way through.  It’s got good characters and a nice dark feel to it, but Affleck and Farrell almost destroy this movie.  If there were better actors in the Daredevil/Bullseye roles, this could have been great.  A real missed opportunity.

Rating: 7 out of 10 (Good)    

Category Rankings (Spoilers Throughout):

Best Performance: Jennifer Garner as Elektra
-Mostly because all her scenes are with Ben Affleck, and she still manages to muster up a good performance.  They really develop the Murdock/Elektra relationship, and Garner is giving it her all, but Affleck is just not cooperating.  This is really apparent on the rooftop scene when the rain starting pouring down.

Worst Performance: Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock/Daredevil
-He shouldn’t be anywhere near a superhero movie unless it’s behind the camera.  Right off the bat, he falls through the roof of the church and makes these cringe worthy grunts.  Immediately I put my head in my hands.  But the moment that really stands out is when some low level criminal asks Daredevil, “What do you want,” and he tries to mumble “Justice” in a tough guy way that is just embarrassing to watch.

Best Line: “It’s a shame you came here wounded…I would have loved to fight you in your prime.” –Kingpin to Daredevil
-I always like lines that define a character in one sentence.  I have to say though; Michael Clarke Duncan’s voice is so deep to the point where it makes me uncomfortable.  How can someone’s voice be that deep!!

Worst Line: “Bullseye!” –Daredevil to Bullseye after throwing him out the church and onto a car.
-I’m not going to dignify this with a response.

Best Fight:
-The fight between Daredevil and Kingpin in his office with the rain coming in looks gorgeous on film.  Also, Kingpin’s laugh when pulling off Daredevil’s mask was pretty funny.

WTF Moment:
-Daredevil not killing Kingpin at the end is so infuriating.  Daredevil has been a killer throughout the whole film, but then at the end he lets the cops take him in because he ‘learns his lesson’ and is now redeemed.  Here’s the problem.  He just killed Bullseye like five minutes ago!  Give me a break!  The reason Daredevil doesn’t kill Kingpin is not because he’s seen the error of his ways, it’s because the producers thought they were going to have a sequel.

Best Scene:
-When young Murdock wakes up in the hospital bed with the patches on his eyes and discovers he’s blind while experiencing his enhanced hearing was pretty intense.

Worst Scene:
-Matt Murdock and Elektra just met at a coffee shop and two minutes later they are having a fight in some alley.  This is so dumb.  And the fight begins like in Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat.  We get a shot of them facing off, ready to attack.  The only thing missing was the word ‘Fight’ in red at the top of the screen.

Funniest Moment:
-When Bullseye is on the plane next to the old lady who’s blabbing away, he flicks a peanut, causing it to ricochet off his chair, and into the lady’s mouth, causing her to choke…now that’s pretty clever.

Bad Ass Moment:
-The fight between Daredevil and Bullseye, or ‘battle of the bad acting,’ takes place towards the end at the church, and it’s pretty cartoonish for the most part.  But Daredevil dodging all the glass Bullseye hurls at him was pretty satisfying.

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4 comments

  1. Katie

    “Daredevil is frustrating, because a great movie is lurking somewhere in this”

    I could not agree more. Daredevil drives me crazy because it is so close to being a good film and then it just keeps missing the target! (No bullseye pun intended)
    There are some wicked Marvel characters here, but it just never quite gets going. It feels constantly under developed, which is why I’m intriuged to see the extended cut which is about half an hour longer and contains a whole other character played by Coolio of all people!

    I don’t hate the film, there are some moments I really love (mostly all the cool “blind-vision” stuff) but you’re right that the writing falls flat a few too many times and just feels clunky in places.

    I will come out in defence of Ben Affleck and Colin Farrell though. Farrell is given some awful material to work with so I’m letting him off because I’ve seen him do better, but I honestly don’t think Affleck was the wrong choice. Comic book geeks the world over recoil in horror when I say that but I think he did OK with it. Give him a better script and I think it works. He’s got that wholesome Clark Kent look that means you don’t spot him as a superhero but he holds his own in the fight scenes too. He’s meant to be one of the more human of the Marvel superheroes and I think Affleck could have carried that given a bit more time to develop and a better script. Don’t forget, Daredevil is freakishly short at only just over an hour and a half. It feels like there’s about 20 mins missing. And apparently there is. The problem is, Daredevil came out right in the midst of Affleck bashing open season when people trashed him no matter what he did, so he didn’t really get a far fight.

    This one is ripe for a reboot with all the Marvel movies coming out, but I kind of wish they’d get the same people to just try again, because they nearly had it!

  2. Pingback: Superhero Movies on Steroids Series: THE FINAL RANKINGS « The Green Light

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