Review for Daredevil -Director`s Cut
Have I got an obsession? Despite being tired of multiplexes full of superhero movies, and longing for the days of the eighties and nineties when original action movies ruled the roost without spawning endless franchises, I’m still buying comic book movies on Blu-ray. Running out of MCU discs to buy, and trying and failing to forget the DCEU, I’ve now resorted to getting those comic book movies made before the studios jumped on the franchise juggernauts; the standalone movies. I guess we’ll know if I have a problem if ever I pen a review for Condorman on this site.
Talking of nostalgia, there was also a brief period when Director’s Cuts were worthy of the appellation. Today, a Director’s Cut means sticking all the deleted scenes back in, to give the audiences ‘more’ regardless of pacing and watchability. But in the early 2000s, back when DVDs were still fresh and new, filmmakers offered Director’s Cuts that actually took bad films, box office flops, and made them good. These were miracle workers who managed to polish the proverbial turd. It all began when someone took the narration out of Blade Runner and made it a classic. Chronicles of Riddick may have stunk up the cinema, but its Director’s Cut made it a decent film. Daredevil was a box office flop extraordinaire. I remember watching it on a TV broadcast and wasn’t able to make it to the end. Thankfully I had already seen the director’s cut on DVD at that point, otherwise I would never have given it a chance. But getting it on Blu-ray in the UK is a pain in the behind, as it’s unclear whether it’s the theatrical version or the director’s cut. In the end, I wound up importing the Italian release. They at least had the common sense of only releasing the decent version on Blu-ray.
Matt Murdock was blinded as a child in a freak accident, which left him with his remaining senses enhanced beyond imagination. It’s to the point that he uses sound as radar to ascertain his surroundings, and he faces the world without fear. He grew up to be a lawyer by day, a champion of lost causes much to the annoyance of his realistic partner, but by night he becomes Daredevil, a vigilante bringing justice to criminals that the legal system cannot touch.
There are more untouchables than ever in the city now, with rumours that the mysterious Kingpin is running crime. He’s too brutal for his lieutenant, the billionaire Nikolas Natchios, but no one quits Kingpin’s organisation. Kingpin hires the assassin Bullseye to deal with him, and Daredevil gets caught right in the middle, as Matt Murdock has fallen for Natchios’ daughter, Elektra.
Daredevil’s Blu-ray is nigh on vintage at this point, this transfer dating from 2009. Still, it’s pretty good, with a clear and sharp 2.40:1 widescreen 1080p transfer, with the choice between DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English, and DTS 5.1 Surround Spanish, Italian, Russian, and DD 5.1 Surround Hungarian, with subtitles in these languages and Arabic, Bulgarian, Icelandic, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Polish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Romanian, Croatian, and Estonian. The image has a slight desaturated look to it, giving the story a moody atmosphere. There is a bit of DNR to de-emphasise the film grain without eliminating it completely, but there are one or two scenes with flat skin tones. But the film looks amazing, the stunt work is very well accomplished, the action looks great, and given that it takes place mostly at night, the kind of digital doubles that were so obvious in the first Spider-man film aren’t as noticeable here. The audio is excellent. It really places you in the middle of the soundstage, giving you Matt Murdock’s perspective.
The Italian release offers one disc in a thin BD-Amaray eco-case with bits cut out of the plastic. The disc boots to an animated Braille themed menu. You’ll find the following extras on the disc, and this dates from when companies were doing the whole interactive thing, so a couple of enhanced viewing modes to annoy during the film are included.
Easter Egg: Gag Reel (6:05)
Enhanced Viewing Mode
Commentary by Mark Steven Johnson and Avi Arad
Fact and Fiction Feature
Beyond Hell’s Kitchen: Making Daredevil (58:50)
Jennifer Garner Screen Tests (2:30)
Featured Villain: Kingpin (2:20)
Daredevil: HBO First Look Special (24:48)
Moving Through Space: A Day With Tom Sullivan (8:28)
Giving the Devil His Due (15:25)
Multiangle Dailies (3:08)
Music Videos x3 plus Promo Spot (11:57)
Stills Galleries x 5
The Comic Book
-Shadow World Tour (6:16)
-Modelling Shots Gallery
Again, given the disc’s release date, it’s no surprise that it collates the previous DVD extras, both theatrical and DC, and presents it all in SD format.
Daredevil the Director’s Cut isn’t the greatest comic book adaptation, but it is a consistently good and watchable film, which certainly cannot be said about the theatrical version. It’s half an hour longer, half an hour of character development, and story which the first version was lacking in, and despite some overly colourful performances in a dour story, it really does hold the attention.
That leads us straight to the weaknesses in the film, which are the villains. Bullseye in particular is a goofy clown; unhinged naturally, but lacking in the menace of a proper psychopath. This wouldn’t normally be an issue, but the film’s big bad, Kingpin lacks the aura to offset that. We only see the thug in Kingpin here. The intelligence and the Machiavellian side of the character are absent. He’s just not a strong enough presence to prove a worthy adversary for the hero, and while the action is good, the climax visually impressive, the film just isn’t emotionally satisfying in the way that it needs to be.
Thankfully the director’s cut offsets that by properly developing the film’s protagonists, Matt and Elektra, despite, or perhaps because it tones down the romance between them, less quick and explicit than a more organic relationship. You also get a picture of Matt at work on his day job, representing clients in court, and investigating crimes. You get a better sense of the bromance between him and his partner Franky, despite Franky wanting to move away from pro bono work and instead make some filthy lucre.
More importantly for the story, there’s a deeper focus on the Daredevil character, the ambiguity of a vigilante ironically working outside the law to uphold that very law. While the Daredevil has no fear, and can jump off skyscrapers with confidence that he’ll figure out how to survive the fall during the fall, he’s uncertain about whether or not he’s doing the right thing, and that questioning doesn’t stop, making Daredevil one of the more interesting in the pantheon of superheroes, even if this film doesn’t quite live up to that complexity.
The Blu-ray may be getting on a bit, but it is still watchable, with solid visuals, and an excellent surround audio track. It’s also packed with extra features. Just remember to get the Director’s Cut. At least from Italy, there’s no chance of making a mistake, as they were civilised enough to avoid releasing the Theatrical Version on Blu-ray altogether.