Tuesday, March 2, 2010


So, I was watching the 2005 movie Elektra the other night ...

It had been a while since I'd seen it and my memories of the film were vague. Critics and fans were repelled by it, but I don't remember being especially offended.

But I also don't remember liking it much, either.

I came across a super-cheap DVD of the director's cut recently and thought I'd give it another spin. The elements I liked the first time still held up, particularly the photography and overall look of the film.

The film has the ambiance of a '60s European action film and earthy supernatural elements that set the film apart from Marvel's other productions. The decision to move the character to a rural setting for most of the story was also ballsy move.
Though there are a few splashes of red here and there, most of the movie is colored in stark greens and blacks. On screen, Jennifer Garner looks like a living silhouette. Even when standing in broad daylight she looks like nothing less than a shadow.

Elektra looks and feels nothing like any other "superhero" film released ... well, ever.

But the movie's problems undermine all the elements that could have made this film special. Halfway through my most recent viewing I found I'd stopped paying attention. The set pieces became increasingly mundane; most of the villains were just put through the predictable "fight/defeat" rhythm of a video game (a problem shared by the Ghost Rider movie.)

As Elektra dropped a falling tree on one of the bad guys I asked myself "If this wasn't based on characters from Daredevil, would I care?"

The answer was "No." If this didn't have ties to comics I already loved I doubt this movie would ever have registered with me. It might even be one of those cases where the movie's ties to a comic was actually a hindrance, where efforts to remain (even peripherally) faithful to the comic character kept the story from going in more dangerous - and interesting - directions.

Technically, it's not a terrible film. The physical aspects are well crafted but, as a story, Elektra fails. It has a lot going for it, particularly a strong female protagonist with very real, easily relatable problems. It's just a shame they couldn't have found a better story to insert her into.

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