Thursday, April 15, 2010

Retro Movie Review: Darkman

Even though I promised at the start of the semester that I was going to avoid DVD-buying at all costs and focus all of my financial energy into saving for my Canada trip, I've still slipped up here and there when I really wanted to watch something. In the last month or so I've bought (500) Days of Summer (which is one of my all-time top ten), The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Star Trek XI, Once and one or two others all at decent enough prices. I say 'decent enough prices' because I'm trying to justify how little self-control I have when it comes to buying DVDs.

The other day, I bought 'Darkman' having never seen it before, beyond this trailer... well as my good friend Parker praising it for years. It was directed by Sam Raimi (who recently directed the Spider-Man trilogy, which while popular when it was released, is starting to get retroactively mixed reactions from a lot of fans) after he tried and failed to get the rights to make a movie based on either Batman or the Shadow. So, he made his own character.

The basic plot sees handsome, youthful, pre-Schindler Liam Neeson play Generic McScientist whose plot device is 'a synthetic skin' formula he's developed. The skin is designed to replace scarred or destroyed tissue for burn victims, etc. Except (and here's where it gets awesomely corny) it only works for 99 minutes when exposed to light. However in The Dark, it works indefinitely!

Of course, The Bad Guys trash Neeson's lab for some reason and set the place on fire, leaving poor Liam Neeson scarred beyond recognition. He's saved by a bunch of yuppie scientists who perform experiments on him to dull the intense agony he should be under and end up giving him super strength at the cost of his sanity. Out for revenge, he sets up a lab in a stereotypically abandoned warehouse and uses his skin formula to disguise himself as various members of the gang who destroyed his lab.

So what did I think of it?

Honestly, for all of its hype (and it was hyped, a lot) it's a pretty bland film. Its plot is pretty derivative, none of the characters are particularly interesting and Darkman's 'master of disguise' shtick is kind of lame, because it means we never actually get to see 'him'. Just other actors playing him-in-disguise. The love-interest stuff is obviously referencing the Phantom of the Opera and The Beauty and the Beast, but again it just feels like it's all been done before and the actress playing Darkman's girlfriend is neither attractive nor talented.

The movie certainly isn't really bad by any means, but unfortunately it's just not very good, either. It's one of the hundreds of films just like it that fall in the vague, purgatory in the middle. It's not terrible enough to be funny and it's not great enough to be awesome.

Bizarrely enough, this film spawned two direct-to-video sequels sans Neeson. In spite of my disappointment with this first film, I kind of have to see the sequels. Especially the third film in the franchise, which is so terrifically called:


 Here is a movie I have to see...


  1. I TOTALLY didn't praise it for years. I repeatedly said that as a raging fan of Liam Neeson, masked vigilantes and goofy 80s-90s action movies, you had every reason to check it out. My opinion of the film is pretty much the same as yours.

  2. I had remembered you praising it the same way you repeatedly praised Rocketeer and the Phantom throughout the years. I guess my memory failed.

    As a fan of Liam Neeson, it was enjoyable. As a fan of masked vigilantes and goofy 80s/90s action movies it wasn't really.

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