REVIEW: 'Daredevil' DVD a Marvelous Collection

Mon, July 28th, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

TV/Film
Rob Worley, Columnist

"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:

0:02:401. Opening shot
0:22:092. Window Washer
0:22:203. Josie's Bar
0:44:444. Daredevil Dive
1:02:085. Chicken Fight
1:18:206. Elektra's Death
1:22:137. Church Fight
1:27:428. 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.

 
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