Thursday, October 30, 2008

Daredevil - The Director's Cut

The second chance for the movie comes with the Director's cut. This DVD adds about 30 minutes to the film. According to Director, Mark Steven Johnson, the additional footage provides a lot of backstory that is meaningful to comic book fans. The changes from the original theatrical release moved the PG-13 rating to an R. Evidently, additional brutality and strong language were to blame. I wonder about the different impact of seeing 'hand-drawn still pictures' of violence compared with a movie version, with (somewhat) ordinary humans, spewing copious amounts of blood, and most disturbing of all, complete with exaggerated sound effects.

The Director's cut of the Daredevil movie fills in a lot of missing comic book essentials--- but still can't reveal all. Events are compressed. According to the editor/producer, the intellectual content is not as important as pace."For example, Elektra seems to be someone Matt meets for the first time at the coffee shop, but in the comic book they first meet in highschool. Even in the Director's Cut it isn't explained why she is such a great fighter, nor why she seems to have a ritualistic dance in preparation for going after Bullseye--the man who killed her father.

The Director's Cut
Because if "Daredevil" seemed serious for a comic book, it is uninterestingly cartoonish for a movie. Its villains, from Michael Clarke Duncan's plus-sized Kingpin through Colin Farrell's over-the-top Bullseye, have a shopworn air about them, and the script's dialogue and situations have generic written all over them. That "Daredevil" should turn out to be neither daring nor devilish is somewhat of a surprise because filmmaker Johnson has been a washed-in-the-blood fan since he was a child. Not the obvious choice because of the nature of his previous work (writing both "Grumpy" and "Grumpier Old Men" and writing and directing the egregiously sentimental "Simon Birch"), he impressed the producers with his knowledge of and zeal for the material. Maybe it's that zeal that turned out to be the problem. Maybe the comic book mythos is so firmly entrenched in Johnson's head that he doesn't see that his screen version is only sporadically involving and not really compelling to those without that previous interest. This is Daredevil's world, after all, where things do not have a habit of working out as planned.

Another point that intrigued me in the movie was the Catholic element. In the Director's cut version, there is a scene with a mystery nun kissing young Matt on the forehead as he recovers in hospital. Is this a Madonna-mother-of-a-saviour moment? The priest who offers Matt/Daredevil an opportunity for confession intrigues me, too. Why doesn't Matt take him up on it? Wouldn't it be a great relief to share this burden of vengeance in the name of justice with at least one other person who would keep his secret? Johnson (the director) explains his original vision of the movie using phrases like "All that tortured Catholic stuff which is so great" and Frank Miller told me you're breaking my heart when you cut out the scenes with the nun" who seems to watch over both the child Matt Murdock at the time of his accident, and grown Matt as he attends church, but refuses confession

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