[box cover]

Daredevil

Daredevil, created by the beloved Marvel Comics godfather Stan Lee back in the early 1960s, is the alter-ego of attorney Matt Murdoch, who, as an adolescent, was blinded in a freak accident incurred at the very instant of his tragic discovery that his ex-prize-fighter-turned-dock-worker father has been working as muscle for a local mobster. Though robbed of his sight, Matt's other senses become preternaturally heightened, most notably his hearing, which crucially compensates for his lost visual faculty with the creation of a shadow world of sound that keeps him attuned to the happenings of the neighborhood he calls home: Hell's Kitchen in New York City. But just as Matt is beginning to adjust to his deficiency and its unexpected side-effects, his father, who rededicated himself to boxing after his son's accident, is murdered for refusing to throw a fight so as not to betray Matt's newfound trust in him. This ignites in Matt an obsessive desire to see justice done, if not in the court of law, then on the streets. If, as Kevin Smith posits, Daredevil is essentially, within the four-color realm of the Marvel Comics Universe, the Grateful Dead to Spider-Man's Beatles and Captain America's Elvis, then writer/director Mark Steven Johnson must be the zonked-out Deadhead who digs the band's groove, but hasn't the requisite vocabulary, nor the musical expertise, to express why they're so exceptional. For this reason, Daredevil (2003) feels like the single most expensive fan film ever made. It's an awed disaster so in love with the source material that it confuses fidelity with inspiration. Sometimes, when it comes to making compelling entertainments, being a fan just isn't good enough. Fox presents Daredevil in a pristine anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with appropriately vivid Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Though the film might be a clunker, Fox has put together an exhaustive two-disc set that covers every aspect of the production in terrific detail. There's an audio commentary with Mark Steven Johnson and producer Gary Foster, an enhanced viewing mode with six featurettes, and a text commentary. Disc Two is stacked with extras, and split into two sections: "The Film" and "The Comic Book." Though the latter is pretty slim on content, it does contain a nifty documentary titled "Men Without Fear: Creating Daredevil" (59 min.), which features individual conversations with the many artists who've been involved in the evolution of the character over the last 40 years. Other features in this section include a "Shadow World Tour," a futile attempt at depicting the film's successful realization of this sensation from the comic book, and a series of modeling sheets. Moving over to "The Film" section, the big fish here is "Beyond Hell's Kitchen: Making Daredevil" (58 min.), an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film that includes six branching segments. Elsewhere in this section, there's Jennifer Garner's screen test, multi-angle dailies that allows the viewer a cursory glimpse at how a scene is constructed, a brief discussion of the Kingpin with Michael Clarke Duncan and, as if the other behind-the-scenes documentary wasn't enough, the "HBO First Look Special." There's also an inspirational featurette titled "Moving Through Space: A Day with Tom Sullivan" that shows how the one of the film's visually impaired advisors manages everyday life, theatrical trailers, three music videos and a still gallery. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.
—Clarence Beaks

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