3 out of 5 stars
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Daredevil Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
The Marvel Comics stamp is hard to miss, as it features more orphaned (or single-parent) characters driven by a deep desire for vengeance to put their superhuman abilities to use and take the law into their own hands. Matt Murdock (Affleck) was blinded as a young child and developed highly tuned senses that let him "see" better than most people. But when his father (Keith) is killed he becomes a vigilante recluse by night, pro bono lawyer by day. After years alone, he meets his love match in Elektra (Garner), a billionaire's daughter who's more than Matt's equal in street fighting abilities. But she and her father are now targeted by New York's crime Kingpin (Duncan) and his psychotic Irish henchman Bullseye (Farrell).

Despite the standard superhero plotline, the film has a nicely original look and feel to it. Writer-director Johnson (Simon Birch) injects a grainy earthiness to both the cinematography and dialog. The characters are all darkly shaded and quite interesting, much more rounded than most comic-book movies, although we never really identify with anyone. Affleck plays the blind-lawyer scenes very well, bouncing nicely off Garner, Favreau (as his hilarious legal partner) and Pantoliano (as a nosey newspaper hack). As usual, he's a bit overwhelmed by the Daredevil suit, but at least it's not the usual lycra/rubber job (maroon leather anyone?). Farrell, meanwhile, steals the film as the vicious killer who's simultaneously the comic relief--his rabid, murderous nuttiness is both gruesomely over-the-top and hilarious. Technically, the film looks excellent. The effects ingeniously allow us to see what Matt hears; although there are a few computer animated sequences that don't look remotely real, and you have to get yourself into the mood to accept a Crouching Tiger/Matrix bend of gravity-defying action sequences. If Spider-Man was from the sunny and bright Superman school of comic book films, this is much more in the Batman mould--shadowy, tormented, sexy and very violent. It's also surprisingly good.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 7.Feb.03

dir-scr Mark Steven Johnson
with Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau, Joe Pantoliano, Ellen Pompeo, Leland Orser, David Keith, Derrick O'Connor, Erick Avari, Kevin Smith
release UK/US 14.Feb.03
03/US 1h45

Is it raining? Elektra and Matt (Garner and Affleck) enjoy a quiet moment on a New York rooftop...

affleck garner farrell duncan favreau pantoliano
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... "The new Ben Affleck flick, based on a comic book hero. I used to read all of them, but this one seems to have slipped my mind, or my notice. I think it says a lot about the movie that I don't remember much about it. It was an enjoyable movie - not too horrible - and it kept us awake. It was number one at the box office for a week or two, but whether it is because the movie was that good or because Ben is that much in the news is debatable. It was a fun action flick - cool special effects - and it is set up for a sequel." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 18.Mar.03 the man without fear

"As a comic book fan I can honestly say I was worried that this would turn out like Batman & Robin, or worse yet The Shadow. I wasn't dissapointed though. All the actors were perfect for their parts, especially Michael Clarke Duncan, I don't think anybody else could have acted the role of Kingpin that well. The special effects and fight scenes were breathtaking and the plot stuck pretty close to the comics. I defy anyone not to enjoy this film!" --Leanne, England 4.Apr.03

2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall