Daredevil
***.3 GM
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Colin Farrell, Joe Pantoliano, David Keith

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BIAS ALERT: I am what is known in most circles as a "comic geek," so chances are I'm gonna toss a lot of benefits of a lot of doubts toward this flick, so be sure to have some grains of salt floating around to take this with. That said, I dug this flick, but the uninitiated into nerddom will cry foul that this is Spider-Man crossed with Batman and sprinkled with The Crow. Buuuuuut... that's kinda what Daredevil is (although he came before The Crow character, so nyah).

Affleck is Matt Murdock, a Hell's Kitchen guy what was blinded by radioactive materials as a young lad after he found out his dad was working for local criminals, which inspired the old lug to turn his life around as best he could. Although Matt lost his sight, his other senses were heightened to the point of being able to hear whispers a block away, a highly-developed sense of balance, smellin' cookies from Jersey, what-have-ye, not to mention a weird-ass radar-sonar sort of sense that allows him to see in a completely different way than everyone else.. After his pop caught a slug for not throwin' a fight, Matt dedicated his life to stopping crime. Lawyer by day, vigilante superguy by night, adopting his dad's boxing nickname as his own theme. So Daredevil bangs around New York, putting things right when he can't get 'em done through the proper channels. Oh, and he's Catholic.

So, since billions of people saw Spider-Man, a lot of people are going to notice the similarities between the two. Red-clad rooftop-swinging vigilante superhero zips around New York and fights crime with agility and cool extra-sensory perceptions, not to mention sub-standard CGI. Then, since billions of people saw "Batman," a lot of people are going to notice the similarities between the two. Dark and brooding vigilante superhero uses gadgetry, know-how and street-fighting prowess to strike fear into the hearts of the cowardly and superstitious criminals with the aid of a spooky horned costume. Then, since billions of people saw "The Crow," a lot of people are going to notice the similarities between the two. Dark and brooding superhero avenges the wronged under cover of night, complete with lots of religious imagery, swooping slow-mo action shots and fiery logos as a calling card. So there you go.

However, combining three really cool things rarely results in something uncool, and this film is no exception. Daredevil, really, is much like the other side of the Spider-Man coin, overall - the darker, grittier side (although in ye olden Stan Lee days, I think you'd be hard-pressed to see that - not until Frank Miller, as I am led to believe, did he become so dark), so the similarities are perfectly acceptable - save for that slow-mo shard-dodging shot towards the end. At least Spidey had a bunch of spastic acrobatics going on when Goblin threw all the shruiken at him - this was just a straight-up backflip, and somehow expert-marksman Bullseye can't hit THIS? Bah! Nothing in DD's movements made me believe he had the gumption to make Bullseye miss so much.

I was worried that Affleck would be too Affleck and not enough DD, but he did a pretty decent job in making me forget that he's Affleck. Every time I look at Jennifer Garner, I think of the magical boob-growing necklace she wore at the end of "Dude, Where's My Car?" She was, however, pretty capable as Ms. Kick-A-Lot, Elektra Natchios, although she could have been allowed to kick just a little more ass. Word of an Elektra spin-off movie, however, will probably quell anyone who has an issue with this. Michael Clarke Duncan's Kingpin is perfect, and anyone who pitches a fit because the comic version of the character is a honky needs to have a pitchfork fit squarely into their rectum, because you ain't gonna find anyone better for this role.

The best part of the film, though, surprisingly enough, is Bullseye, as played by the Next Big Thing and Vagabond Roustabout Colin Farrell. A radical redesign from the comic character, this version is an Irish biker that has to exert an incredible amount of effort in restraining his murderous urges just to function in normal society, and when he gets the chance to exert his incredible talents, he relishes the opportunity with abandon. The tone is set perfectly right away by having his first scene take place in pub in Ireland, blaring House of Pain and showing off his mad skillz on the dartboard without even looking. Goddamned perfect, and ya fall in love with the guy toot sweet. His spastic psychoses are entertaining to watch throughout the film.

One thing I object to, though, is the overuse of CGI for sequences that could seemingly have employed a decent stuntman to create a better sense of realism. The technology is NOT that far along, folks (which makes me worried for the Hulk movie), so stop squeezing it in at every opportunity. A lot of cartoony shots toward the end served to take me out of the film somewhat, and I desperately wanted to be INTO it. They made it work for decades before CGI, and they can still do it - just give 'em the chance.

Overall, though, it's a good deal of fun, and it appeals to my nerd sensibilities. Huzzah!

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