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REVIEW: ‘Daredevil’ DVD a Marvelous Collection

by  in Movies News, TV News
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“Daredevil” opened the 2003 comic book movie season with a bang. It
spent its first two weeks at #1 spot of the box office charts and eventually
collected $100 million. While the movie had critics divided, comic fans loved
it. Tuesday, “Daredevil” comes home on a two-disc special edition DVD.


THE MOVIE

Comics2Film/CBR News received a review copy of the set last week. While my
aim is to focus this review on the DVD presentation, I will provide a quick
recap review of the movie just to keep things in perspective.

For me “Daredevil” is the least of the recent wave of Marvel movies
that began with “Blade.” In the plus column, the movie sports some
great action sequences, a nice, heartfelt origin story and some fun performances
from Colin Farrell and John Favreau. In the minus column we have the shallow
characters, scattershot plotting, a laundry list of nits to pick, all summing up
to what is possibly the most ineffective big-screen superhero of all time. In
short, “Daredevil” is an enjoyable action movie if you’re willing to
overlook its numerous flaws.

Now, on to the DVD.

DISC 1

The new two-disc set will make a terrific addition to any self-respecting
comic-to-film fan’s collection. The packaging boasts over eight hours of extra
material. I didn’t run a stopwatch, but I’ll take their word for it.

Disc one contains the movie itself along with three special viewing modes:
commentary track, trivia track and “enhanced viewing mode.”

The commentary track by director Mark Steven Johnson and producer Gary Foster
is a good one. The pair gives their insights into various creative decisions,
tell amusing anecdotes, agonize over the parts of the movie they wished they’d
done better and even point out a few gaffes. It’s a fun engaging commentary, if
you’re a commentary junkie, well-worth listening too.

The trivia track features on-screen text (playing in the letterbox area if
you have the widescreen edition) pointing out various bits of interesting
information. It’s a treat for comic fans as the trivia often points out elements
that are directly from the comics, including the issue number that the reference
was pulled from. It’s a fun feature, nicely done.

Your guide to the
“enhanced viewing mode” segments on the “Daredevil” DVD:


0:02:40 1. Opening shot
0:22:09 2. Window Washer
0:22:20 3. Josie’s Bar
0:44:44 4. Daredevil Dive
1:02:08 5. Chicken Fight
1:18:20 6. Elektra’s Death
1:22:13 7. Church Fight
1:27:42 8. Grab Bag

The “enhanced viewing mode,” if you’ve never seen this feature on
other DVDs, gives you access to behind-the-scenes footage while you’re watching
the movie. A small icon appears on the screen during key points in the film. If
you click the action button you’re taken to a short clip that expands on the
making of that particular sequence.

While the clips shown in this feature provide an interesting look at how the
CGI effects for the movie were accomplished, I find the “enhanced viewing
mode” presentation to be an annoyance. You basically have to sit through
the 105-minute movie to access the 10 minutes (or so) of behind-the-scenes
footage. If you’re like me, you’ve already watched the movie twice (once in pure
form, once with commentary) so to have to watch it again gets a little tiresome.
You can do the “enhanced viewing” and commentary at the same time, but
there is no way to layer both those features and the trivia track in one
sitting.

To that end, I very much prefer it when such “enhanced viewing”
segments are available separately, so you can watch them without having to track
through the film again. As a service to you, dear reader, I’ve noted the timings
of the enhanced viewing mode segments, so if you want to speed through the movie
and only watch them you can do so (see sidebar at right).

Disc 1 also contains
DVD-ROM features, which are mostly just leftovers from the movie’s official
website and not terribly interesting.

DISC 2

It’s Disc 2 that has the jackpot of features.

“Beyond Hell’s Kitchen” is a one-hour documentary that delves into
the making of the movie. 

I found this documentary to be very interesting and informative. It goes into
the usual details about special effects, fight training, costume design, set
construction, locations.

Like the feature, this documentary is also presented in “enhanced
viewing mode” giving the viewer even more behind-the-scenes stuff. There’s
some pretty cool stuff to be found in this mode, such as fight choreographer
Master Yuen’s raw blocking footage for the fight scenes (basically, him and his
men acting out the same fights you later see on screen).

To access the gag reel on
Disc 2:
  1. Select “Beyond
    Hell’s Kitchen” from the main menu
  2. Cursor DOWN to highlight the on-screen “Play” button
  3. Cursor LEFT to highlight the hidden crossed sais
  4. Press the action button on your DVD remote

Also, mousing around the menu for this documentary reveals an Easter egged
clip of the gag reel for the film including some lost Favreau gems (see
sidebar) 

After watching the “Beyond Hell’s Kitchen” documentary, you may
also want to check out the raw footage of dailies from the movie. It’s here that
you get to see Jennifer Garner accidentally kick Colin Farrell in the head.

Other
less interesting but worth-watching extras include Jennifer Garner’s screen
test, a profile on The Kingpin, the HBO First Look Special, a profile of blind
consultant Tom Sullivan, trailers, music videos and production design stills.

One happy side effect of all these Marvel movies hitting big is that a
library of interviews recounting the early history of the characters is starting
to emerge. “Daredevil” is the latest DVD to contain interviews with
Marvel creators detailing the high points of the characters. 

“The Men Without Fear: Creating Daredevil” provides one hour of
interviews Daredevil’s creators. Unlike a similar feature on the
“Spider-Man” DVD, the selected subjects of this documentary all have
truly had an impact on Daredevil. No Wizard editors here. No Steve Platt either.

The documentary opens with Frank Miller saying something weighty and portentous
about comics. That’s followed by a clip of Stan Lee saying, “Maybe I ought
to start being intense. I hate Miller being more intense than I am.”

That kind of breezy commentary makes the documentary a fun and informative
look at the history of Daredevil.

Other highlights include Stan revealing why the costume was changed from
Yellow to Red. Frank comments from Gene Colan about art and family. Miller
talking about how he fell in love with the character. John Romita Sr. about
getting bamboozled by Stan into drawing the character. John Romita Jr. about
living up to the family name. Joe Quesada about collaborating with Kevin Smith.
A fascinating look at David Mack’s creative process. Brian Michael Bendis
talking about the Frank Miller influence. Kevin Smith talking about fumbling the
ball on the Bullseye relaunch.

The documentary ends with a card naming and acknowledging some thirty other
creators who have helped shape the character over the years. That kind of
attention to detail, along with the trivia track notes and Mark Steven Johnson’s
frequently expressed affection for “Daredevil” make the DVD a great
homage to the comic book roots of the movie.

COMPLAINTS

There’s so much cool stuff on the “Daredevil” DVD my complaints are
fairly minor. 

Aside from the previously mentioned “enhanced viewing mode” gripe,
I’d also add that I didn’t care for the discs’ menus. They’re rendered in sort
of a poor man’s version of the shadow world seen in the movie. The worst thing
about them though is the long transitions between certain selections. I don’t
want to have to sit through a ten second animation between each menu press.

The other worrisome thing is much-rumored director’s cut. Several scenes had
to be cut from “Daredevil” for various reasons. Some of those can be
glimpsed in the extra features, but for the most part they’re nowhere to be
found on the DVD. This worries me for the simple fact that fans who buy this DVD
set may find themselves coughing up another $25 a year from now when the studio
decides to milk us them a 1.5 edition.

THE BOTTOM LINE

All in all I’d say the DVD is a great collection of extras for any comic book
movie fan. For fans of the “Daredevil” movie it’s definitely a must-have.