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As a fan of superhero movies DAREDEVIL ($20) is a film I always meant to get around to seeing, but it never seemed to be in the cards until a copy of the new Directorís Cut showed up on my doorstep. Personally, I found the Directorís Cut of DAREDEVIL to be a thoroughly entertaining movie, although I donít know how it compares to the theatrical version. And while the Directorís Cut of DAREDEVIL is certainly a fine example of the new breed of superhero based action movies, this film falls slightly below what was achieved with the cinematic adaptations of its Marvel comics brethren, namely the Spider-Man and X-Men. Based upon the comic book character know as the man without fear, DAREDEVIL tells the story of Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck), who was blinded in an toxic waste accident as a youth, that left him with certain physical compensations that allow him to grow up into a superhero called Daredevil.

Working as a lawyer during the day, Matt Murdockís unique sense of perception allows him distinguish the guilty from the innocent, especially in regards to those that slip through the cracks of the legal system. As they say, justice is blind, and that is exactly what Daredevil brings to the nighttime streets of hellís kitchen- a dark vigilante righting the wrongs that Lawyer Matt Murdock is unable to achieve in the light of day. While the movieís plot seems a bit thin and only serves to place The Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk (Michael Clarke Duncan), on the Daredevilís radar (or should I say sonar), the Directorís Cut of DAREDEVIL seems like a rather well drawn character driven affair. Additionally, the plot sets up a romantic liaison between Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios who is perfectly portrayed by the stunning Jennifer Garner, for whose presence alone, DAREDEVIL absolutely worth the price of admission. Another of the filmís highlights comes in the form of Colin Farrell- who plays Bullseye, the psychotic assassin on The Kingpinís payroll. The cast of DAREDEVIL also features Jon Favreau, Joe Pantoliano, Erick Avari, Scott Terra, Ellen Pompeo, Leland Orser, Lennie Loftin, Derrick O'Connor and David Keith.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made the Directorís Cut of DAREDEVIL available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a truly great looking transfer of a very dark movie. Much of the film takes place at night; in the darker recesses of the city, and the transfer does a great job of bringing visual detail to the screen. The image appears quite sharp and there is good definition throughout, except for the occasional odd shot that can seem a bit softer. Colors are generally good, with daylight scenes having the best saturation, while darker scenes are more subdued. Flesh tones are always appealing and there are no signs of chroma noise or smearing to mar the color reproduction. Blacks are right on the money and the whites appear accurate and crisp. Contrast is generally smooth and shadow detail is very, very good. The film elements used for the transfer appear virtually pristine and there is very little by way of film grain, with even the darkest sequences appearing quite smooth. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.

For this release, the Directorís Cut of DAREDEVIL comes with 5.1 channel soundtracks in both the Dolby Digital and DTS varieties. Not surprisingly, this being a newer action movie, the sound mixes are generally excellent. Aggressive use is made of the entire sound field, with plenty of life springing forth from all the outlying channels. The forward and rear soundstages have a very cohesive quality, with sound effects effortlessly panning in all directions. Fidelity is excellent for both the musical content and convincing quality to the sound effects. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the filmís dialogue is always completely understandable. The bass channel is deep authoritative and potent, without ever sounding artificially pumped up. As for the differences between Dolby Digital and DTS, the latter does provide stronger bass, plus more sonic warmth and clarity, but believe me, the standard bearer is no slouch in reproducing the excellent sonics of this sound mix. A French Dolby Surround soundtracks is also provided, in addition to English and Spanish subtitles.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extras. Starting things off is a running audio commentary track featuring director Mark Steven Johnson and producer Ari Arad, who discuss the differences between the Directorís Cut and the theatrical version of DAREDEVIL. Giving The Devil His Due is a fifteen-minute program that looks even further at the differences between the "R" rated Directorís Cut produced for release on DVD and the theatrical version of DAREDEVIL. Theatrical trailers for I, ROBOT and ALIEN VS PREDATOR close out the supplements.

In its Directorís Cut form, DAREDEVIL is a thoroughly entertaining movie. As for the DVD, it looks and sounds terrific, so if you are a superhero movie fan you really canít go wrong by picking up a copy of the Directorís Cut.



Daredevil (Director's Cut) (2003)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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