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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Daredevil (2003)

"They say that right before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. That's true, even for a blind man."
- Daredevil/Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck)

Review By: Kevin Clemons  
Published: May 04, 2003

Stars: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Colin Farrell
Other Stars: Leland Orser, Jon Favreau, Joe Pantoliano, David Keith, Erick Avari, Kevin Smith, Ellen Pompeo
Director: Mark Steven Johnson

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, violence, and some sensuality
Run Time: 01h:43m:12s
Release Date: July 29, 2003
UPC: 024543077886
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A B+A+A+ A

DVD Review

Teetering on the brink of bankruptcy just a few years ago, it certainly seems that Marvel Comics is back with an abundant force. With a stable of instantly recognizable and beloved heroes and villains, it is likely that when the dust settles on 2003, Marvel will have had a hand in the creation of three the of year's the biggest blockbusters: Daredevil, X2, and The Hulk. Owing perhaps more to the success of Spider-Man than anything, it is undeniable that superheros are making a comeback.
Daredevil, a gritty adrenaline rush that ranks as one of the best efforts to have come out of the comic book world in quite some time. A labor of love for Mark Steven Johnson, it is clear that Daredevil holds a deeply personal meaning for all involved, including star Ben Affleck. Affleck, who gushed about the hero in a written introduction for a Daredevil series written by director Kevin Smith, is clearly as much a fan as anyone.

It is likely that without this affection, Daredevil may have been yet another bland or boring comic book extravaganza, but Johnson offers an unflinching look, not only at the superhero side of Daredevil, but at his alter ego, the blind Matt Murdock. Murdock (played as a child by Scott Terra) was blinded when he was 12 years old in an accident at the docks in Hell's Kitchen. When he awakens in the hospital, he is frightened to find that his remaining four senses are amazingly heightened, giving him the ability to hear even a whisper from several blocks away. After Matt sees his father (Keith) murdered after a boxing match, Matt is left with the promise that he will stand for justice and defend the innocent for the rest of his life.

Young Matt grows up to be a lawyer by day and the vigilante Daredevil by night. Patrolling the rooftops of Hell's Kitchen, Daredevil seeks out wrongdoers and is generally unrelenting in his punishment. His activities have made him a pain to the mob boss known simply as The Kingpin (Duncan) and it is not long until an assassin named Bullseye (Farrell) is after Daredevil. At the same time, Matt meets the beautiful Elektra Natchios (Garner), who also has an alter ego, and she too has found herself on the bad side of The Kingpin and Bullseye.

Much of what occurs in Daredevil is the obligatory origin story as is found in many initial installments of movie franchises. Johnson, though, does a very fine job of keeping the introductions to a minimum while letting the action and characters speak for themselves. In his script, Johnson introduces us to Matt as a very human individual who feels pain, rather different from other traditional superheros. The most telling instance occurs early in the film, when Matt is seen popping painkillers—as well as removing a tooth after a particularly brutal fight. This grittiness is also evident in the cinematography and set design. Not since films such as the original Batman or The Crow has a comic book landscape looked this perfect. The rain-drenched rooftops combined with the gothic imagery in the climactic battle between Bullseye and Daredevil add an amazing amount of visual depth to the story.

Just as Spider-Man benefited from the use of contemporary CGI, so does Daredevil. The use of visual effects are striking, specifically in scenes showing Daredevil's heightened sense of sight and sound; however, the scenes that feature him swinging around the city could have certainly looked a bit better.

As the titular icon, Affleck does a fine job in his performance, though at times it feels as if there is something lacking. He exudes a natural charisma as Matt, but his moments as Daredevil can feel a bit forced. Jennifer Garner is very good as Elektra, and she shows why talk of a spin-off with her character was instantaneous. As The Kingpin, Michael Clarke Duncan offers a terrifically imposing presence that is unfortunately given a limited amount of screen time, and Colin Farrell turns in a deliciously over-the-top performance as Bullseye. Wait: "over the top" does not even begin to describe Farrell in Daredevil. Farrell seems to be having a bit too much fun, but it is performances like this that make comic book films work. As he says in a line of dialogue late in the film, he is magic.

In the end, Daredevil is simply a very fine film. It offers humor, action, and even romance, all packed into a very fast hour and a half running length.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in a stunning 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer, it is quite possible that Daredevil looks better in the comforts of my own home than it did in the theater in which I first saw it. Not as bright and colorful film, the DVD handles the numerous dark sequences with ease. Black levels are solid with no grain at all, while the brighter colors, when evident, are terrifically vibrant with no bleeding. Sharpness and detail are each done very nicely giving the transfer a very film like look. This is a flawless transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: A+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: My girlfriend and I recently got a new cat and this release was Wendell's (no laughing please) first introduction to surround sound. Anyone who has a surround system will tell you that animals tend to react to them. Let's just say, in retrospect, the absolutely amazing sound mix for Daredevil may not have been the best way to introduce the cat to our home theater. This is a reference quality soundtrack all the way. Both the Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS mixes create the most realistic soundfield I have ever experienced. When Matt learns of his powers early in the film, it is one of many times that sound comes toward the center of the room from all angles. Numerous other instances occur when Daredevil is on the prowl and the amplified sounds from the street come alive. Dialogue is done very wel,l with nice depth and no dropouts evident, while the .1 LFE track is solid with a tight, consistent amount of bass.

A track for the visually-impaired is offered and is a very nice touch.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring 28 Days Later, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman
1 TV Spots/Teasers
3 Documentaries
4 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by director Mark Steven Johnson and producer Gary Foster,Text commentary featuring a history of the cominc and facts on the making of the film.
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Screen Tests
  2. Multi Angle Dailies
  3. Still Gallery
  4. Enhanced Viewing Mode
Extras Review: Daredevil features two fully-loaded DVDs that offer some truly fascinating extra features, so lets get at it:

Disc One:

A terrific feature-length commentary by director Mark Steven Johnson and producer Gary Foster leads off the first disc's attractions, and it is a very exciting, informative track. The longtime business partners discuss the efforts and hurdles they went through to make the film, as well as choices about casting and what would eventually become the costume for Daredevil. The pair also point out some fun cameos and several special effects shots that they find "cringe-worthy." There is also a text commentary that offers facts and trivia about the comic as well as the film itself; if I have one complaint, it is that much of what is offered here is discussed elsewhere on this two-disc set.

An enhanced viewing mode is offered and features commentary by special effects supervisor John Kilkenney. By clicking on the icon, the viewer is treated to several featurettes focusing on the visual effects used in the film. Nearly anytime a sequence appears that has even the smallest effect, you can find a featurette by choosing the icon.

Disc Two:

This is where the wealth of the extra features is housed, and here it is divided into two sections. The first is The Film, and it features nearly everything you would need to know about the making of Daredevil. The most substantial extra is Beyond Hell's Kitchen: Making Daredevil, an almost hour-long documentary that covers nearly every step in the process of bringing the project to the big screen, with interviews film from the cast and crew. Beginning with the struggle to bring the story from book to film and ending with the scoring and post production, this documentary will likely answer any questions you mat have about the making of this blockbuster.

Next up is the HBO: First Look Special and, like so many other documentaries in this series, this is a largely promotional piece. Featuring the cast and a few members of the crew, it offers nothing in terms of valued information, but it is entertaining nonethe less. Character Profile: The Kingpin is a short, two-minute interview with Michael Clarke Duncan and actor Leland Orser in which the pair discuss the character. Moving Through Space with Tom Sullivan is a featurette with sight-impaired consultant Tom Sullivan, and it details the day to day activities of a blind man. Ifound this educational, and certainly worth a look.

Screen Tests with Jennifer Garner runs a quick three minutes. Multi-Angle Dailies feature two action sequences presented from various angles in production form. I would have enjoyed these more had the quality been a bit better, but you can't have everything. A Still Gallery features 100 photos chronicling the production and promotion of the film.

Music videos are offered for For You by The Calling, Won't Back Down by Fuel, and Bring Me To Life by Evanescence. These videos are presented in nonanamorphic widescreen ad Dolby Surround. The two theatrical trailers and teaser for Daredevil are offered, as well as trailers for 28 Days Later and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. Now on to The Comic portion. The most substantial extra in this section is The Men Without Fear: Creating Daredevil, a 56-minute documentary that takes a look at the superhero in comic book form. Featuring interviews with everyone from Kevin Smith to Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada, Stan lee and so many others, this documentary follows every storyline of the comic with input from the men who helped create it.

Shadow World Tour peeks into the heightened sense that Daredevil has and how their representation differs in look from comic to film. This is a fairly basic look at the visual aspect of Daredevil's world and offers little repeat value. Finally Modeling Sheets features information and sketches for five characters from the comics as well as some information about each character.

Extras Grade: A


Final Comments

I enjoyed Daredevil infinitely more than Spider-Man , in the theater as well as on DVD. The film offers a much darker and intimate look into the world of a superhero and is absolutely stunning in its production design and action sequences. The DVD is fantastic, offering an amazing wealth of extra features as well as what is quite possibly the best Dolby Digital and DTS mixes I have ever heard. In terms of big budget blockbusters DVDs, they do not get much better than Daredevil. Highly recommended.


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