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Daredevil was a mediocre film at best. Does it really deserve a sequel? Nope, and that’s why we get a spin off instead, focusing on the sexier star of Daredevil.... no, not Michael Clarke Duncan - Jennifer Garner.
First things first - Jennifer Garner is hot. She looks good, and I’d bet she smells and possibly even tastes good. Why do I mention this first? Because that’s the first thing Elektra gives the audience - Jennifer Garner looking hot. If there’s a way to exploit her attractiveness, you can bet the movie finds it, from placing her in outfits revealing her cute midriff or back, to putting an extra wiggle in as she swims around. Jennifer looks good in leather as an assassin, and looks good in pajamas, waking in open (but still hot) eyed terror from a dream. Around these 24 frames per second of Garner looking good, a story is formed. Hopefully you’ve been distracted by Jennifer’s body though, since the story isn’t very good.
Elektra attempts to be an origin story, which is kind of silly considering the character was both introduced and killed off in 2003’s Daredevil. Of course, all of the best super-hero movies are origin stories - those are the most interesting, so an origin story is what we get. But in order to do that, we have to bring Elektra back from the dead... and the dead have never looked so good.
After taking breathing back as a hobby, Elektra strikes out on her own as an assassin. By the movie’s start she’s developed quite a reputation, achieving urban legend status among those she’s about to kill. She’s also a haunted figure, remembering her mother’s death (and subsequently her own death) although nowhere among those memories is anything from the movie her tale spun off from. On one of her assignments, Elektra finds herself befriending her neighbors - Mark Miller and his teenage daughter Abby (Goran Visnjic and Kirsten Prout). Abby reminds Elektra a lot of herself at that age, what with having a dead mother and all. Despite it being completely what the audience would predict because Elektra is finally making a connection with someone, the Millers turn out to be the target of Elektra’s mission. Instead of killing them, she saves them and finds herself back where she started... in this movie’s story, not in anything that happened before it.
It turns out Elektra was raised from the dead because she’s a warrior (and apparently they can be brought back from rigor mortis). A warrior trainer by the name of Stick (Terence Stamp) brought Elektra back to help fight in a war between his troops and an evil army of ninjas known as “the Hand” (not to be confused with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s “the foot” no matter how much this movie’s score and editing makes it feel like that one at times). Now the Hand want Abby Miller dead, so Elektra finds herself drawn back into the war she didn’t want to be a part of so she can protect a girl who reminds her of her own miserable existence and of the moment when that existence started. What is it with Marvel Comic movies that feel the need to add a family element to humanize their isolated character? Why can’t a character just be complex and alone? Why does Frank Castle need Bulk and Skull living next door in order to be sympathetic? Why does Elektra now need this family to make us feel for her. We should already feel bad for her - the woman had her mother killed, and died herself, leaving behind the man she loved, who isn’t even mentioned in this film leaving Elektra free to express an abrupt and sudden (albeit painfully predictable) romantic interest in Abby’s dad.
Don’t worry if you can’t follow all of that, because it’s really not that important. It’s just an excuse to allow Jennifer Garner to look hot in tight outfits and pull every action movie cliché these days. Wire work? It’s in there. Matrix style bullet time? Almost ripped off shot for shot. Action sequences shot and chopped with so many different camera angles per second that nobody can tell what’s going on? You betcha. Oh, and sex sells, or did I fail to mention they cut into a scene with Jennifer Garner halfway through putting her shirt on, just so we get a shot of her midriff as she puts it on?
Now I’m a one hundred percent red blooded male, so I’ve got all sorts of appreciation for Garner’s body, but you’ve got to have more than Garner looking good, or a lesbian kiss in order to sell a movie (yes, not even girl-girl kissing saves this film). Like, how about a story that keeps audiences on their toes rather than a step ahead of the movie? Or at least give us more eye candy with decent special effects. I don’t get it - we can make Yoda photorealistic with computer graphics, but Elektra manages to make CGI sheets blowing in the wind look crappy. Even Terence Stamp, who has recently been in Disney’s Haunted Mansion and Ashton Kutcher’s My Boss’s Daughter looks bored in the film, although luckily he can pass it off as “acting blind”.
Believe it or not, but Elektra actually starts off decently. The first twenty minutes or so of the movie (interestingly enough the part where the film focuses more on making the most out of Garner’s assets) start what could have been a solid foundation. But as the film progresses and descends into the world of MTV editing and ripping off tricks from every recent Hollywood success, it steps off the path of being a decent movie and scene by scene gets steadily worse. It’s like watching a massive car pile-up on the freeway. You want to look away, and you know at some point it’s got to stop, but then another car comes crashing in, adding new carnage to the mix.
So Elektra is pretty much a disaster, but then again, what should we really expect from a film that’s a spin-off from the boredom of Daredevil? Unfortunately, accepting that fact and embracing it probably would have helped the movie in some way. Instead it presents a weak story that’s still sadly predictable, and meshed with lame special effects. But hey, at least Jennifer Garner looks good!
Rest assured the same care and dedication to quality went into the DVD release of Elektra that went into the film. That is to say, the disc sucks. Light on any kind of extras (and lacking even the now-standard commentary track) it’s evident not much work was put into this release. If Marvel’s other movies are any indication, there will be a Collector’s Edition or 1.5 version of Elektra announced by the studio here in the next few days. Unfortunately, it’s already public knowledge that there was a Rated-R cut of the film, which really supports the idea that another DVD release is forthcoming.
What is on the disc is poorly assembled, mostly containing promotional material that was released before the film hit theaters. There are several “Inside the Editing Room” featurettes that look like they were probably on the internet, and contain director Rob Bowman introducing a snippet from the movie in each one. Of course, if you’ve got the whole movie to watch you really don’t need these. Also included is Jennifer Garner’s Comic-Con Presentation which was used at Comic-Con to advertise the movie because Jennifer Garner couldn’t make a personal appearance. Jennifer, let me offer a bit of friendly advice - going there before was a bad idea, as you’re an attractive female who doesn’t need to enter a haven of non-showered geeks to pick up a guy. Going there after this movie would be an absolute nightmare, as those non-showered geeks would now want to fondle you and/or kill you for what you’ve done to their beloved Elektra. Actually, my favorite part of the whole DVD is from this Comic-Con footage. Garner states that she doesn’t want to do the character wrong because she’s aware people have grown up reading the Elektra comic-book. Nobody grew up reading Elektra! People grew up reading Spider-Man or Batman or the Fantastic Four. At best Elektra was a title people picked up to help fill the weeks between their favorite title’s coming out. Seriously, there are probably half a dozen people out there who could tell you what the movie messed up in Elektra continuity and that’s it.
The only real making-of documentary is the short “The Making of Elektra” which runs about twelve minutes long. Of that time, the first five minutes is just Garner rehashing the plot of the movie, which means this is basically just a commercial for the DVD you already own. To make matters worse, one of the remaining segments is about the combat in the movie, and how using Garner and the other actors actually performing the fights allowed them to shoot actor’s faces in shots. It’s a shame the cinematography and editing wasn’t good enough to showcase these fights. They sound like they were cool to choreograph, and were made about as camera friendly as possible. Unfortunately MTV style editing keeps any of the fights from really being seen.
There are three deleted scenes, two of which are worthless. The third, the famed “Matt Murdock” scene should have been in the final cut of the movie. Not only does it finally reference that there was a movie before Elektra, but it also gives the audience some clue that the death of Elektra didn’t just kill that relationship off. I’m a bit surprised Affleck agreed to appear, you’d think that movie would have given him nightmares by now, but the man does need a paycheck, and his other movies certainly aren’t faring any better.
That’s it for the Elektra related extras. Fox also tacked on commercials for May 1st’s debut of “American Dad” and the revived “Family Guy” as menu options. It’s pretty bad when you have to pad a menu with cartoons that aren’t even remotely related to the DVD release, but as I said, it’s a mediocre approach to the DVD. Heck, even Fox’s typical “Inside Look” includes months old trailers for Fantastic 4 and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
I can’t imagine there are really people out there who are racing to the store to buy Elektra on DVD. Those who do will be sadly disappointed at the DVDs features, and most likely will be bilked out of more money in the future when Fox releases a different version of the movie, complete with something-or-other that will make people forget what a travesty this film is and buy it. Until then, avoid this disc like the plague, or at the very least just rent it.
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