Daredevil (2003)

I don't plan on re-watching Elektra anytime soon.

I don’t plan on re-watching Elektra anytime soon.

Directed by: Mark Steven Johnson (well, this is his best movie, sad as that may be)

Written by: Johnson wrote the screenplay based on the Marvel Comics character of Daredevil

Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Colin Farrell, Jon Favreau, Joe Pantoliano, David Keith and Leland Orser

What it’s about: a man struck with blindness as a result of a childhood accident finds his other senses are greatly heightened and uses those abilities to fight crime as both a super-hero and a lawyer

What I liked: To be clear, this was the Director’s Cut that I watched.  It’s a bit longer and in some cases it actually makes the film better.  Most of the action scenes are decent, as well as the special effects.  The costuming of the characters was a fairly decent translation from the comic books, as well.  I liked Affleck’s performance, as well as Colin Farrell’s enormously intense scenery chewing as Bullseye.  It’s also a fairly dark comic book movie, and I think it was actually ahead of its time.  If this movie were made today, it would be of a higher quality with more attention paid to the darkness of the character, as modern audiences are more accepting of those themes than they were 10 years ago.

What I disliked: At times it feels like a comic book, and that’s not a great thing when it comes to the execution of the story.  Pointless scenes featuring action hero poses, and lighting choices that make no sense when you take into account the fact that the character is goddamn blind.  Some scenes are positively goofy.  There was also the sense that – much like Batman & Robin – the story was trying to cram in as much Daredevil history as possible which just led to it being somewhat scatterbrained.  If you’re doing a proper Daredevil movie series, you don’t introduce Elektra until at least the second movie.  Also, the music choices for the movie just reeked of attempted cross-marketing, featuring two flash-in-the-pan Evanescence songs.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sort of.  It is a decent enough comic book movie, but unlike the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy, it doesn’t transcend the genre.  All that being said, it is still a guilty pleasure of mine.

Rating: 3 / 5

See?  Goofy.

See? Goofy.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

Who would have ever thought that the director of Predator would be able to pull off a classy remake of a Steve McQueen movie?  Not just a remake, but a remake where things are changed for modern audiences and it makes sense and actually benefits the finished product.  John McTiernan directed this movie based off of the original 1968 McQueen version, and changed the entire execution of the theft sequence to make it more palpable to people in these much more troubled times.  He’s also managed to make an elegant heist movie, a less dirty, Mamet-lite type film with a charismatic and attractive lead actor where throughout the entire movie you don’t really view him as the antagonist at all.  It’s not a monumental achievement or anything, but it’s noteworthy.

Pierce Brosnan stars as the titular character, a wealthy man who – to combat boredom, presumably – decides to start stealing art.  Not just art, but a Monet worth around $100-million.  Doing so attracts the attention of well, obviously the police, but an intelligent and ridiculously attractive insurance investigator, Catherine Banning (Rene Russo).  Banning knows he took the painting, Crown knows she knows, and the rest of the film is a dance, a tango where they give and take from one another in a battle of intellect and heart.

Yeah, I wax a bit romantic on the film making choices that McTiernan makes, but it works so well.  It doesn’t hurt that Brosnan is clearly a handsome man that exudes class, and that audiences would have a hard time ever rooting against the man.  Russo is at her slinky, sexy best in this film, one that gives us a glimpse, well LONG lingering stares more like, of just how attractive she truly is.  It’s a wonderful movie, no one gets hurt, and we all have a good time.

4 / 5

The Wrestler (2008)

Being an almost lifelong professional wrestling fan is tough (there were a couple years in junior and senior high I didn’t watch).  Nowadays, there’s nerd chic, and it’s soooo cool if you’re a sexy girl and wear glasses and play video games.  Nerd doesn’t mean nerd anymore.  However, outside of small windows of extreme popularity (Rock ‘N Wrestling, WWF Attitude) it is still considered somewhat embarrassing to be a wrestling fan.  It doesn’t matter how logically we defend it, we’re looked down upon by people who have no problem watching soap operas, reality TV shows and sparkling vampire movies.

However, ever since this movie was released, there seems to have been a bit of begrudging acceptance of professional wrestling as an art form in the media.  Well, not mass media, but knowledgeable pockets of it.  Even after seeing it a few times, I don’t know if it’s something I’d want to show people as like a love letter about why I still watch wrestling.  For one thing, it’s one of the most depressing movies ever in my estimation.  Sure, there’s celebratory elements to it, and there’s a lot to be said for a character that is willing to sacrifice so much for the thing he does, but it is bleak and sad.  It somewhat confirms what Beyond the Mat showed us way back in 1999: wrestlers lead fucked up lives.

Thankfully, director Darren Aronofsky treats the subject matter with respect, unlike that cinematic implosion Ready to Rumble which is ironic because R2R was created to promote wrestling, not demonize it.  The cinematography is gritty, raw, feels like a documentary at points.  The performances are astounding, and I’d say that the only reason Mickey Rourke did not win the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as Randy “The Ram” Robinson was because the Academy looked down upon him originally stating that he would be wrestling at WrestleMania XXV.  Sean Penn won that year for Milk, which was an alright performance but nowhere near as otherworldly as Rourke’s.

Even as a wrestling fan… actually, I’ll say that especially because I’m a wrestling fan, this is a hard, depressing movie to watch.  I know all to well how close to reality this movie is.

4.5 / 5