DD gets a DVD Review ALREADY!!!

The reviewers already have up a critique of the just-announced 2-disc Daredevil set coming on July 29. The review is very positive and can be read at the link. It also gives you a chance to learn about all the features included.
Fox Home Entertainment / 2003 / 103 Minutes / Rated PG-13

Street date: July 29, 2003
Reviewed by Peter M. Bracke on April 15, 2003. (Bio / Equipment list)

Daredevil just may be the ultimate comic book movie. Now, before you assault me with a torrent of hate mail ("What about Spider-Man?" "What about Batman?" "What about Superman?"), bear me out. Just like horror movies, or chick flicks, or musicals, there are certain "rules" a comic book movie must abide by in order to earn the label. Daredevil has 'em all nailed down flat. It is tireless in its adherence to the genre, from the kid-gets-superpowers prologue, to the introduction of the hot chick sidekick and the dastardly evildoer, to the moment of redemption before the big climax. Does this pleasurable rigidity make Daredevil a good movie? Not really. But for what it is, in my opinion it is a better example of the genre than even mega-grossing Spider-Man. In light of this flick's good-but-not-great reception at the box office, I'm surprised more comic book fans didn't hold this one more near and dear to their hearts.

Since even casual comic fans already know the Daredevil story, let's skip the plot recap and get right down to the quick pro quid. Every comic book movie has to have the required elements, most of which are, of course, ludicrous. Let's start with the hero, by which every comic book adaptation lives and dies. Here we get Ben Affleck in a crimson leather getup that I'm sure would make him very popular at any L.A. gay bar. Oddly, he shouldn't have any real superpowers despite his "accident." We're supposed to believe he gets blinded by chemical waste as a child (glad it didn't disfigure that smirking Affleck mug a whit), which then heightens his remaining four senses to such an extent that he can suddenly defy the laws of gravity, develop super-muscles and see everything via his radar-vision. More troubling is his penchant for wanton vigilantism, which turns him into a spandex-clad version of Charles Bronsan in Death Wish. Such thorny issues are ones the script laudably explores if never quite fully resolves. But hey, it is just a comic book movie, right?

Next we have the requisite hot chick, "Elektra," here played by the uber-perky Jennifer Garner (what is this girl on, speed?). She looks great, and the film's most pleasurable scenes are when she seems like she's right on the verge of smacking the smarmy Affleck right across the face. Their meet-cute in a cafe has to be a first in cinema history, a scene followed by a bit of S&M foreplay where they kick each other's asses in a playground in front of a bunch of cheering kids. It's never nice to pick on a blind guy, but here it is the closest this movie gets to genuine romance. A negative is how poorly developed her backstory is. Instead, we get slo-mo montages with pop songs on the soundtrack, if only so the screenwriters don't have to write any dialogue for her. Nifty trick!

Now, what about the bad guys? Pure camp, this is the stuff that turns Daredevil into what could be a satire. Current "It" boy Colin Farrell is "Bullseye," a nasty little feller who likes to kill people in inventive ways, such as "darting them to death" with little metal toothpicks. (Farrell is actually great casting, 'cause all he does is hang around the Irish pubs, drink gallons of beer, snarl and throw attitude. What a stretch!) Then we have hulking Oscar nominee Michael Clarke Duncan as "Kingpin," a gigantic media mogul who only seems to be in the movie to fund Bullseye's bad boy shtick. Farrell and Duncan have a bit of fun chewing the scenery, but in the pantheon of comic book villains, they can't really compete with such class acts as Lex Luthor, The Joker or The Green Goblin. Still, not bad.

Given that Daredevil is considered a "second tier" superhero even among many comic connoisseurs, this flick's lasting appeal will likely come down to whether or not it works on the level of pure fun. As much as I wanted to dislike it, I have to admit it is a bit of a kick. The action is typical kinetic MTV fast cuts and whip pans (the early barroom fight was so hyper it almost gave me a seizure), and the incessant neu-metal score predictably bombastic. But what I enjoyed most about Daredevil is its lack of pretense. Unlike the more bloated Spider-Man and its two-hour-plus runtime, this is one comic book fantasy that doesn't take itself too seriously, nor does it try to reinvent the wheel. Against all odds, I actually liked Daredevil. Affleck's silly red tights notwithstanding.

Video: How Does The Disc Look?

Daredevil is often a striking film to look at, if somewhat unusual for a comic book flick. It presents us with a very highly contrasted world, giving it a gritty film noir sheen that is grungier than Spider-Man and even darker than Batman. Presented here in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, it looks quite good if a bit soft. Despite being a two-disc set, there are still an awful lot of extras crammed onto disc one along with the main feature, including an extended branching version. This results in a few noticeable compression artifacts (watch the opening Marvel logo dissolve into distracting polarization) and a slightly less detailed image that a less-packed disc would have avoided. Otherwise, Daredevil is pretty slick.

The print is absolutely pristine, with only a few very highly contrasted shots suffering from heavy grain and noise. Colors are deep and rich, if slightly skewed towards the dark side - reds become crimson, blues turn midnight. (Fleshtones occasionally look artificial, but as indicated on the commentary, the film was intentionally tweaked to bring out the reds, the "color of vengeance.") Black level is rock solid and contrast strong. Detail is generally sharp and revealing of fine textures, if hampered by the processed look of the film. Given that Daredevil is so dark, shadow delineation cannot compete with the other less processed transfers of late, but close-ups and brighter sequences are near-reference quality. There is no apparent edge enhancement, so aside from the slight compression artifacting present, this is a fine-looking presentation.

Audio: How Does The Disc Sound?

I loved this soundtrack! I can now replace The Fast and the Furious as my demo disc of choice when I want to impress people, Daredevil is that good. The sound design here is absolutely stunning, with some of the best uses of surround effects I have ever heard. Both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround options are provided, and aside from a slightly improved bass response and more transparent imaging on the DTS, both are superb.

Dynamic range is reference-quality, with terrific fidelity apparent across the entire
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