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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Daredevil - Director's Cut

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#1 of 94 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted November 23 2004 - 08:20 AM

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Director’s Cut

Studio: 20th Century Fox
Film Year: 2003

U.S. Rating: R
Canadian Rating: 14A

Film Length: 133 minutes
Genre: Action-Thriller

Aspect Ratio:[*] 2.35:1
Colour/B&W: Colour

Audio:[*] English DTS 5.1 Surround[*] English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround[*] French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned: Yes
SLP: US $19.98

Release Date: November 30, 2004.

Film Rating: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

Starring: Ben Affleck (Matt Murdock/Daredevil), Jennifer Garner (Electra Natchios), Colin Farrell (Bullseye), Michael Clarke Duncan (The Kingpin/Wilson Frisk), Jon Favreau (Franklin “Foggy” Nelson), Joe Pantoliano (Ben Urich)

Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson
Written by: Mark Steven Johnson

A Daring New Vision

After mediocre reviews during the box-office release, most viewers of the Daredevil movie walked away with a feeling of disappointment. The main criticism? Lots of action but lack of story. And for director Mark Steven Johnson, there was a dual sense of obligation; one was to make a successful movie with high returns for the studio, the second was to make a very good film that he would be satisfied with. The result: two different cuts of the film – one each to satisfy both interests. Finally, both are available on DVD for moviegoers to choose.

Daredevil is a film based on the Marvel Comic book hero. Matt Murdoch is a lawyer by day and superhero by night. Blinded as a child by a freak chemical accident, he acquires superhuman senses of sounds, tastes and textures that all other humans cannot perceive. His vision lies in darkness, but he can see shapes in his mind when sounds reflect off their boundaries. While he learns to master these new skills after the accident, Matt is faced with the tragic murder of his father.

From then on, Matt swears to avenge his father’s death. As he ages, Matt as Daredevil dons the red suit and eye mask and uses his radar senses finding wrongdoing in the streets at night. He avenges justice by giving the guilty hell to pay. But during the day, Matt sticks up for the little guy who is innocent. He owns a storefront law office with this best friend Franklin Nelson. Together they are lawyers protecting those who are wrongfully charged with a crime. Each day and night Matt balances the lawyer by day and superhero by night. It’s a dual personality that never lets him live a normal life. While much of his personal and daily life was hinted in the theatrical cut, it is elaborated more in the director’s cut and it’s this balance that makes the director’s cut far more appealing.

Daredevil was released back in July 2003 as a two disc DVD set. It featured the theatrical version of the film with a handful of extras on disc two. After filming took place, the producers pressured the theatrical release of the film as a 100-minute action flick based on the comic-book superhero. It was to be fast-paced and revenge orientated, but little in the way of character development.

The first cut of Daredevil began resemblimg the director’s cut seen here. According to Johnson, it was supposed to be the movie released in the theatre. After some meddling with the plots and many scene trims to meet the demands of a faster paced film, the theatrical cut ended up being a less darker in tone and more of an action-revenge movie. The director’s cut in comparison – adding an additional 30 minutes of footage – is more downbeat, darker, and of course far better.

Scenes added to this movie are anything from scene extensions that are merely a few seconds longer to several minutes in length. Some are slower moments giving the character depth and likeness, and above all - empathy. The subplot of the murdered prostitute and the protection of his client Dante Jackson (played by rapper Coolio) has been reinstated. There are more maddening scenes with Bullseye, some very funny ones with Foggy Nelson, and the threat of the Kingpin is far more apparent with a longer and more brutal climax. The director’s cut has received a Restricted rating over the theatrical PG-13, but there isn’t much more violence that’s been added to the film. The featurette on the disc goes over the additions quite well and will explain it a little further. Johnson has also elected to eliminate several scenes that were in the theatrical cut. The ‘confessional’ scenes and the ‘lovemaking’ scenes were shot after the first cut of the film and didn’t fit with the original vision. This time around they’ve been pulled and replaced by alternate scenes which I prefer in comparison.

Is Daredevil Director’s Cut (or Daredevil 1.5) a better movie? Hell yes! If you didn’t like the movie the first time around I really suggest giving this version a try. Sometimes extended cuts don’t always add much to the movie, but in this case it really does.

VIDEO QUALITY Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

I absolutely love the video quality for this film both in terms of transfer and artistic style. The fast moving visuals that are common to many action flicks will not disappoint during your experience watching Daredevil. I encourage you to view this movie in a dimly lit environment because of the many action sequences take place in dark rooms and at night outdoors. In these scenes, shadow detail is excellent ensuring that you do not miss a move by the action hero. Since contrast is lower in these scenes, be sure to not have ambient light directed to your screen.

Flashback scenes to when Matt Murdoch was a young boy have a different appearance; bright whites are clipped and colours take on a sepia tint to give the film age. Colours throughout the rest of the film are neutral in saturation. In daylight scenes there aren’t many problems with the video other than some intrusive edge enhancement/ghosting that is apparent right from the opening credits. This gives the image a slightly edgier look than I’d wish for, and it doesn’t give the impression of more resolution. Those watching this film on smaller screens may not notice this effect, but those watching on larger screens may recognize it without looking for it. The effect is small and nowhere near as apparent as in eg. Kill Bill; a DVD plagued with edge enhancement destroying real resolution. Thankfully compression artefacts are at a minimum on this dual-layered disc. For the most part – we have a winner!

AUDIO QUALITY Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

This is fantastic DVD to utilize your surround sound system! This title is an all-out assault on all channels in your system. The sound activity in all channels is almost constant throughout. Given the nature of the Daredevil character’s enhanced hearing abilities, the sound design team did an excellent job in bringing Daredevil’s higher state of audible senses to the audience. Sounds whip around the viewer in full range with deep, directional and pounding bass in all main channels. A perfect chapter stop for this experience would be during chapter 8. Channel to channel panning is smooth and not ping-pong-like and it completely involved me with the on-screen action. My Mirage BPS-400 dual 12” bipolar subwoofer for my LFE went deep in frequency and at loud volumes moving a lot of air in my home theatre. It made my room sound like it was ‘breathing’ deep bass during scenes that heightened suspense. The music was also clear and effective and was never drowned out by the action. Dialogue can be a little forward at some moments, but for the most part it is spatially integrated with the environment where the dialogue takes place.

The disc comes with three soundtracks, not four as the jacket mistakenly promotes. DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks as well as a French DD2.0 Surround soundtrack are on this disc. Absent is the Spanish DD2.0 surround. Comparing DTS and Dolby Digital gives DTS the gold metal. The DTS soundtrack is the hands-down winner in terms of resolution, spatiality, and openness in the midrange-treble part of the soundtrack. The DTS is clearly more ‘airy’ with this release and I’m happy the differences appear greater. The Dolby Digital soundtrack is also outstanding but lacks the attributes of the DTS soundtrack. It also is about a decibel quieter due to the dialnorm offset.

SPECIAL FEATURES Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

There aren’t a lot of special features on this disc compared to the previous release (having about three hours of special features material). First is an all-new recorded audio commentary featuring producer Avi Arad and director/screenwriter Mark Steven Johnson. The discussion is mainly about the new cut of this film with a few notes on production. Identified are the new scenes cut into the film as well as the few that were cut out, and why the decisions were made to cut in the first place.

To visually add to the commentary discussion, there is a fifteen and a half minute featurette titled Giving the Devil his Due. This featurette shows some scene comparisons of the theatrical cut verses the directors cut with interview commentary by producers Avi Arad and Gary Foster (Foster believing the theatrical cut is the better of the two – I disagree completely – but he has to justify his job, right?), as well as Mark Steven Johnson.

Lastly, two trailers (looking like internet trailers) are included. They are of AVP and I, Robot, both about forty-five seconds each.


Daredevil: Director's Cut is a better movie. In fact, I would argue it is a different movie. What the theatrical release lacked, this DVD Director’s Cut makes up for: there is nothing that beats a good story even if it is an action flick. When a film is written to flesh out characters and then is re-worked to be rushed for an under 100 minute release - sacrifices will be made. The presentation of the disc is top-notch and proves again that a 2-hour + movie can fit with both DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks and both look and sound amazing. Now we can finally see Daredevil as intended, and this my friends is the Daredevil you’ll want to see. Recommended!

Michael Osadciw

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#2 of 94 OFFLINE   Casey Trowbridg

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Posted November 23 2004 - 08:29 AM

Thanks for the review, I'll have to give this one a look.

#3 of 94 OFFLINE   Mike Wadkins

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Posted November 23 2004 - 09:26 AM

is the forth soundtrack not the commentary ?

#4 of 94 OFFLINE   Gary->dee



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Posted November 23 2004 - 10:12 AM

I might give this one a try even though I have the theatrical cut. This review actually makes me want to watch it again too. But I know there's a better movie with Daredevil and I'm curious to finally see the anticipated director's cut.

#5 of 94 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted November 23 2004 - 11:00 AM


The fourth soundtrack is the commentary. The box incorrectly labelled a third language.

I'm also excited to see the spin-off film Elektra that hits theaters January 14, 2005.


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#6 of 94 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted November 23 2004 - 11:37 AM

I didn't realize it'll come out so soon - I thought it'd be a spring release. Doesn't it seem like a bad sign they'll release it mid-January? How many good movies have ever come out mid-January? (This doesn't count flicks that got limited releases the prior December but went wide in January...)
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#7 of 94 OFFLINE   Jim Barg

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Posted November 23 2004 - 01:28 PM

Nice review, Michael. Makes me wish I hadn't put it on my Christmas list - just means I'll have to wait a little longer to get it.
I think it was always earmarked for a January/February opening, similar to Daredevil's February 2003 release date. Truthfully, I'm surprised Fox went ahead at all with a spinoff after Daredevil opened huge and then barely cracked $100 million in the US. One more question: will there be a ticket to Elektra included in the release? (It would make sense, considering Fox's previous DVD tie-ins.)

#8 of 94 OFFLINE   Chris Rein

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Posted November 23 2004 - 05:10 PM

Must. Own. This. Disc. Consider me in the minority when it comes to the theatrical release of Daredevil. I really enjoyed it! I actually liked it better than some of the other comic book movies out there. Anyway, I'm glad to see that justice is served this time around. And I'm glad to see the transfer is as good as the first round. Thanks for the review! I'll be all over it next week.

#9 of 94 OFFLINE   Rob T

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Posted November 23 2004 - 05:34 PM

I got it on pre-order. Posted Image
does it come with a free ticket for Elektra?

#10 of 94 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted November 24 2004 - 01:21 AM

Rob Unfortunately: no free ticket for Elektra. There are no inserts inside of this disc case. Colin: the ads for Elektra are posted on HTF. Click on the link to go to the website to find out more! I'm glad you liked the review. I want to watch the film again! Regards, Mike

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#11 of 94 OFFLINE   Lou Sytsma

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Posted November 24 2004 - 02:39 AM

Do Bullseye and Elektra still roof hop without any explanation? Their other talents in no way support this sudden strength increase.
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#12 of 94 OFFLINE   DustinPizarro


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Posted November 24 2004 - 02:58 AM

Great review Mike!! Although I was completely disappointed with the theatrical version, I will be picking it up and give it another chance. I really do hope that the extra 30 minutes does indeed improve the film. As a former long time reader of Daredevil from the early days of Frank Miller and Ann Nocenti, it always bugged me how much they mishandled the entire theme of the comic book series. Now I understand that no film adaptation of a comic book can be 100% accurate but the essence of these characters should have been left intact. Take "Foggy" Nelson for instance, his portrayal was completely out of character. He did not display any his moral sense of justice and commitment to the law but was depicted as a money chasing lawyer. The Kingpin was never as menacing on film as he was in the series. His presence alone sparked fear among his henchmen let alone his enemies. The only thing that was done right was the relationship between Matt and his father. Keep in mind that the comic series was not intended or considered to be just another "kids" book and I think that is what the writers/producers thought. No wonder it had to be brought down to a PG-13 rating to get more kids to the theater. I don't think you can make a kids movie when it deals with the the darker elements of crime and corruption. I highly anticipate this new and improved version of this film. I'm sure I won't be completely satisfied but Im sure there will be enough of the story to make it worthwhile.

#13 of 94 OFFLINE   Chris Bergmann

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Posted November 24 2004 - 03:22 AM

There was an insert in my copy. It has the 'DD' sign on one side and a chapter listing and a picture of Daredevil on the other side. And you forgot to mention the great slipcase - the 'DD' is embossed and the fire inside it looks a lot better than on the actual DVD cover. One of the best looking slipcases I've ever seen.

#14 of 94 OFFLINE   KevinWEL


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Posted November 24 2004 - 04:16 AM

Thanks for the great review. I really like this film being a Garner fan and had mistakenly picked up the fullscreen version in my haste. I've been looking to sell it ever since the first time the 4:3 "box" appeared on my widescreen set. Fortunately I waited... unfortunately I have to wait til Christmas to see it because my wife made me swear not to buy any new DVDs until then.
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#15 of 94 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted November 24 2004 - 07:07 AM

Lou: I have no explanation (nor does the film) of how Bullseye and Elektra got their superhuman strength to make such big leaps on buildings and pipes. While watching the film, I made a note about that but missed that point while writing the review. Good point though, I'm sure that crosses most of our minds when we see that. Chris: I'm happy to hear there is an insert and a great slipcase! My copy was a special screener edition and was labelled as so (this is the first time I've received something like that from FOX), so the retail version of this disc sounds much better!! Enjoy! Mike

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#16 of 94 OFFLINE   Jonny_L


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Posted November 24 2004 - 08:18 AM

Elektra is the movie I'll be waiting for. Daredevil was ok, but I wasnt impressed enough to warrant another viewing. Besides, seeing Jennifer Garner 50 feet high was really all I watched it for anyways Posted Image
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#17 of 94 OFFLINE   Lou Sytsma

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Posted November 25 2004 - 02:21 AM

OK - thanks Mike - too bad - that is where the movie's self contained logic falls apart for me.
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#18 of 94 OFFLINE   TheLongshot



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Posted November 25 2004 - 02:30 PM

Well, it was kinda blown for me from the beginning when Daredevil basically drops from a tall building and doesn't get hurt by it. While I get the "Man Without Fear" moniker, it doesn't make him superhuman as far as durability goes. Jason

#19 of 94 OFFLINE   Lou Sytsma

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Posted November 26 2004 - 01:50 AM

I hear you Jason, but I was willing to buy that on the basis that DD's heightened sense of balance etc allowed him to do such a feat. A stretch but one I was able to make the leap on. OTOH - the Elektra/Bullseye leaps are beyond my ability to accept without some explanation.
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#20 of 94 OFFLINE   Josh Simpson

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Posted November 26 2004 - 03:25 PM

I watched this director's cut last night. A friend of mine picked it up from a chain who had it out early. This new cut probably won't convert the average viewer, but I thought this cut flowed much better. A love scene was removed, and a subplot was added. Some of the dialogue was changed from the theatrical cut as well. Give this new cut a chance. Good review, btw. Thanks.