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20th Century Fox presents
Elektra: Don't worry. Death's not that bad.
DVD ReviewWhy must everything be a franchise these days? Eventually, movie studios need to realize the difference between a Lord of the Rings and a Chronicles of Riddick and just leave well enough alone. Sadly, it hasn't happened yet, and millions (well, thousands, anyway) of people will waste 90 minutes of their lives watching Elektra, a spin-off of 2003's Daredevil, a middling comic-book film few liked in the first place (heck, even the director wasn't happy until his preferred cut was out on DVD).
And so, the sequel no one asked for is certainly a movie no one wants to see. The vague semblance of a plot makes no mention of the events in Daredevil, and Jennifer Garner might as well be playing an entirely different character (maybe one of her Alias aliases, since she's already got the teased hair and leather). Elektra, brought back from the dead in a mostly unexplained off-camera sequence by the mystic Stick (Terence Stamp, phoning it in like a Smallville voiceover), is an unfeeling assassin for hire since being kicked out of the Stick Mountain Dojo Fan Club for being angry she got murdered or something. You can tell she's troubled because she randomly has OCD, and can't abide a bowl of fruit unless it has been arranged symmetrically.
Soon enough, though, she reveals her true, whiney insecurities when a new mark, a young girl and her father, dredge up memories of her troubled past (all the best assassins have daddy issues, you know). Garner puts on her Bristow crybaby face when she learns spunky, annoying Abby (Kristen Prout) is the target of a group of Asian Businessmen Sitting Around an Evil Table in Evil Business Suits. For short, they call themselves The Hand, which is less on the nose but stupider. The Hand, you see, believes Abby is The Treasure, and that she is the one who can tip the scales in a fight between good and evil that the opening voiceover swears has been waged for centuries.
And so, the movies settles down into a familiar pattern, as Sydney, or Elektra or whoever, unwillingly bonds with the spunky young heroine and falls in love with her father, E.R. hottie Goran Visnjic, and when a script can't justify a romance between two such attractive actors, you know there's trouble. Perhaps it's the fact that most of the movie is spent on elaborate, nonsensical fight sequences rather than on establishing plot and character. Or providing a motive for the action, or explaining what the hell is going on at all times.
The Hand, you see, operates through a network of supervillains with magical powers, There's Tattoo, whose body art animals can leave his skin and attack people, and Typhoid, who is supposedly very deadly (her touch causes plants to wither), except Elektra seems to live through a session of girl-on-girl make-out action just fine (how progressive! A female action hero! Let's make her kiss other women in a non-exploitative fashion!). Or the main villain, who might as well not even have a name, because all he does is spout dialogue from 80 other movies of similar quality (most annoyingly, several variations of "clever girl" after Elektra escapes from one of his traps). He even says, "We meet again!" in menacing fashion.
The fight sequences could be neat, I suppose, but they've been over-edited and backed with annoying cock rock and after awhile my eyes just started to glaze over. It seems like Fox ordered a spin-off and nobody really knew what kind of movie to make, so they cobbled together a bunch of plot elements from genre movies and added Americanized versions of the gorgeous fight sequences in films like Hero and House of Flying Daggers. And by "Americanized" I mean, of course, dumbed-down. Elektra's battle with the chief villain, for example, features a lot of white sheets floating around (because all that fabric was cool in Hero), but the sequence has none of that movie's rhythm or energy, so it just looks like some computer-generated effects got in the way of the camera.
I like Garner, and she commits to the role, Bristow strut and all, but really, if she wants a career beyond kicking butt as a spy or assassin, she really needs to start making movies that aren't mostly about how much of her skin-tight outfit she isn't wearing.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C-
Image Transfer Review: Per usual for new releases from Fox, the image quality is very good. A strong presentation of the digitally manipulated color palette is enhanced by deep blacks and excellent detail.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: Elektra is presented in either 5.1 or DTS mixes. Both sound very similar, but I chose the latter for purposes of this review. The mix offers strong presentation of the action sequences, with good separation across the front soundstage and frequent surround use. Not a reference mix, but well-suited to the rather noisy film.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Mr. And Mrs. Smith, Fantastic Four, Family Guy, American Dad
3 Deleted Scenes
Packaging: Keep Case
Layers Switch: 00h:36m:18s
Extras Review: Extras are pretty light, which isn't surprising considering the film played in theaters less than three months ago. First, there is a standard promotional making-of, which explains the plot and characters in just under 13 minutes. Then there's the collection of four brief clips housed under the heading Inside the Editing Room in which director Rob Bowman talks us through a scene. These were posted on the internet to promote the film, and are utterly useless once you've seen it, except they do show inconsequentially altered takes.
Three deleted scenes run less than five minutes, and the only one worth seeing is a dream sequence cameo from Daredevil Ben Affleck, looking rather puffy in the facial region.
Jennifer Garner's Comic-con Presentation is a very short clip promoting the movie that, I guess, was shown at Comic-con, but the on-set interview was also sent to my TiVo, so I don't think it's quite as special as the back of the DVD box wants me to think.
In terms of promotion, there are two trailers that make the movie look pretty good (but still weren't enough to get me into the theater), and ads for the upcoming Fantastic Four, and Mr. And Mrs. Smith, and, why not, the new season of Family Guy and its carbon copy American Dad, and I hope you Seth McFarlane fans are happy because that's the show replacing Arrested Development.
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsThe creative team behind Elektra obviously wanted to put an American spin on the visual splendor of Asian hits like Hero. They obviously think you're too stupid for those movies, so instead they made everything louder and dumber. Are you going to let them insult you like that? Watch something else.
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