As a young boy Matt Murdock (Affleck) was blinded in an accident involving chemical waste, but while he may have lost his sight, his altered chemistry compensated for it by imbuing him super keen hearing and amazing agility. Murdock is an idealistic lawyer by day, but by night he is the Daredevil; judge, jury, and, sometimes, executioner - a crusader who cleans up the messes the legal system leaves in its wake.
Murdock meets (and, ultimately, falls in love with) Elektra (Garner), the daughter of a billionaire who is in league with the evil crimelord, Wilson Fisk, aka; The Kingpin (Duncan). When Elektra's father expresses a desire to leave the crime syndicate, Kingpin arranges his demise with the aid of a psychotic assassin named Bullseye (Farrel), who uses Daredevil's signature cane to do the deed. Elektra, a highly skilled martial artist, seeks vengeance against the Daredevil, while Kingpin and Bullseye have their own plans for both.
I've long felt that Mark Steven Johnson's Daredevil was a victim of a press and public backlash against its then oversaturated star, Ben Affleck, who had not only become something of a Hollywood punchline, but also a tabloid stable (thanks to his romance with Jenifer Lopez). I found the film to be as faithful an adaptation of the Daredevil mythos as Sam Raimi's Spiderman was to it's source. The film mirrored the Frank Miller (aka: the best) years, not only in story, but in mood as well, and this longer, more adult "Director's Cut" of the film is as dark and gritty as the New York in Miller's hard-boiled comics. Subplots originally excised from the theatrical version return, here, while many of the things that marred the original version are removed (including the clumsy, show-stopping love scene between Murdock and Elektra). Personally, I liked the theatrical version's tighter pacing, but I also appreciated the greater sense of depth created with this cut, especially in regards to the relationship between Murdock and Kingpin.
While it's certainly been outdone by the likes of "Iron Man" and the reinvention of Batman, I still think Daredevil is amongst the most enjoyable and authentic super hero flicks I've seen, and this slightly "harder" version reinforces that.
Now; let the hate mail commence!
The Blu-ray video transfer is stunning. Simply stunning. Fox continues to impress with its attention to detail and quality with its catalog titles, and Daredevil – The Director’s Cut is no exception. The clarity and level of detail here is simply astounding, and the film’s somewhat limited color palette is perfectly represented. I’ve always felt Daredevil was a pretty great looking movie, but I wasn’t prepared for just how much of a difference there was between the BD and the DVD. While the film’s many dark scenes buzz with a small amount of grain, I didn’t find it at all distracting, and actually felt it added to the grittiness of these moments. It should be noted that the Director’s Cut was built from the ground up from the original print, so the film has a slightly different color profile than the theatrical release (I found it darker and less “comic bookish”), so if you want to do your own A/B, make sure you have a copy of the DVD of the Director’s Cut to compare the BD with. Overall, the image is crisp, clean, and leaps off of the screen! Excellent stuff.
The film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless audio track is just as exceptional, with absolutely immersive surround sound that envelops the listener in Matt Murdock’s sonically enhanced world. Punchy bass, crystal clear dialogue, and wonderfully articulated sound effects make this one of the best examples of lossless audio I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.
While Daredevil may have its many detractor’s, Fox also knows that it has its share of fans, as well, and loads up this BD release with an arsenal of quality extras. The extras are carryovers from the various DVD releases, and include hours of supplements, including the beefy Beyond Hell's Kitchen: Making 'Daredevil' and Men without Fear featurettes, an enhanced viewing mode, commentary track, music videos, and loads more. While a few superficial extras didn’t make the cut, fans can confidently upgrade to the BD release of Daredevil without fear of losing all of the great goodies from the DVDs.
Daredevil – The Director’s Cut is a more than worthy entry into the super-hero sweepstakes, with a darker, grittier vibe and deeper characterizations than its theatrical counterpart. It’s an unfairly maligned film that deserves a second look, especially considering the quality of the look and sound of this excellent BD release.