(PG-13) 3 stars What parents should know about the film: Don"t take your kids to the theater expecting another Spider-Man. Daredevil is a much darker movie, with numerous violent scenes, onscreen deaths and a close-up of the hero taking prescription painkillers after a fight.
What some Daredevil fans said after the screening: Everyone in the group I spoke with enjoyed the film and felt it was more or less true to the comic book. None of them were jumping with joy, however. While the costumes had changed, there were no complaints. Nothing negative was said about the cast, with Colin Farrell receiving the most praise for his spirited performance as the kinky villain, Bullseye. More than one person said that the film suffered from trying to cover too much and that the closing confrontation was rushed and, in at least one person"s opinion, totally unnecessary. While no one voiced any problems with the technical quality of the special effects, the consensus was that they were overly reminiscent of Spider-Man and that the battle scenes suffered from jump-cut editing. One thing that everyone agreed on: Even by comic book standards, the characters bounced back far too easily from getting thrashed and/or maimed. My thoughts: I read Daredevil comics as a kid, but was never a real fan. The concept of a blind superhero was intriguing, but the character was clearly from the B-list, and my interest faded after a few issues. In 1980, Frank Miller took the reins and turned the book into a hot property, making the tone darker and grittier, and introducing Elektra, a character that became very popular. The film reflects the Miller take on the comic, opening with a seriously injured Daredevil crawling into a church and receiving comfort from Father Everett (Derrick O"Connor), an old friend. The hero mutters that "They say that before you die, your life flashes before your eyes," and the story shoots back to the beginning. We meet young Matt Murdock (Scott Terra), who lives in New York"s Hell"s Kitchen with his adoring father (David Keith), an aging boxer whose in-the-ring handle is "The Devil." A traumatic incident sends the kid running down the street and into an accident, resulting in a radioactive chemical spill that leaves him blind. Luckily (relatively speaking), those same chemicals cause his other senses to become super-enhanced. The big superpower is his "radar sense," allowing him to kinda sorta see things. As if things weren"t bad enough for the boy, his father gets murdered. As an adult, Murdock (Ben Affleck) becomes a lawyer, maintaining a storefront law office with his boyhood pal, Franklin "Foggy" Nelson (Jon Favreau). By night, he patrols his old neighborhood as Daredevil (decked out in red leather), bringing justice to the mean streets and looking for the man who killed his dad. The other key players in the movie are Ben Urich (Joe Pantoliano), a New York Post reporter; Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner), a lovely young woman with her own set of secrets; smirking crime lord Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan); and Bullseye (the aforementioned Farrell), a hitman who really, really likes his job. My reactions to Daredevil are similar to those of the comic book fans. Although sluggish in spots and rushed at the end, the film is entertaining enough. That said, the story is nothing new, especially to anyone who saw the first Tim Burton Batman. Jon Favreau provides much needed humor as Foggy, Duncan is suitably imposing as Kingpin and Colin Farrell makes a terrific Bullseye (wisely, the powers-that-be did not ask the Irish actor to adopt an American accent). As for Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, they are fine, I suppose, though awfully white bread. Bottom line: Reflecting its origins, Daredevil is a perfectly serviceable B-movie, something to tide over genre fans waiting for X-Men 2.