D A R E D E V I L
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Film Year: 2003
U.S. Rating: R
Canadian Rating: 14A
Film Length: 133 minutes
Aspect Ratio:[*] 2.35:1
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: /
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 /
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 /
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 /
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.
IN THE END…
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!