Monday, January 31, 2005

Title: Elektra
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Kirsten Prout, Will Yun Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Terence Stamp, Natassia Malthe
Director: Rob Bowman

Elektra was a scantily clad assassin who appeared in the Daredevil comics. Over the years she has established a certain popularity, growing from repeat cameos, periodic graphic novels and her own title. Which is the same kind of set up with the film, Elektra being a character who appeared in the Daredevil film, spinning out into her own film - although this was a transition that was no doubt planned from the start. These are no doubt the kind of parallels, which lead to incessant comparisons to last year’s Catwoman film - though the clearest difference is that based on the trailers I didn’t go and see Catwoman, while I did go and see Elektra.

Already Elektra has had something of a negative reception, but it is too easy to dismiss films like this. Within the genre of superhero/action films, especially after frontline examples like Spider Man and X-Men, Elektra is actually a decent outing. Compared to Daredevil which was distinctly under whelming, or the Hulk, which was an over ambitious mess. Big budget, big effects, and well over the top delivery, makes Elektra something of a fun romp. Fitting in well the whole Blade sequence of films - so if you enjoyed those, you will likely enjoy this as well.

There are some references to events in the Daredevil film, explaining something of how Elektra became an expert assassin. Who can penetrate any defences with a supernatural ease. But when she is given the job of killing a teenage girl, she sees too many parallels with her own life, and instead opts to protect the girl. Of course the bad guys still want the girl dead, and it isn’t long before a group of super powered assassins are sent to kill Elektra and the girl.

Plenty of ninja from the Hand, the baddies of the piece. The steady presence of Stick, the blind sensei who taught Elektra. Typhoid Mary as one of the powered team of assassins. All references which link back to the Daredevil and Elektra comics. With this film it is interesting to see how Garner has adapted to the part, having not really fitted the role in the Daredevil movie. The straightening of her hair, and a greater presence of the trademark red clothing both help. She perhaps still isn’t exactly like the comic book image, but then as an image brought to life in live action cinema that would bring a certain absurdity. So in this context, Garner fits the part well. Terrence Stamp appears as Stick, and seems to be close enough to my hazed recollection of the character - though I recall him more from some of the classic Frank Millar Daredevil comics. The appearance of Typhoid Mary is curious, in some ways as depicted in the film the character is totally different from the one in the comics. On that basis I am reminded of Sabretooth in the first X-Men film, which was badly handled. Yet there is something to the character in the film, which, while verging on cliché, has a certain something.

Visually Elektra is interesting. The advances in technology obviously allowing the creators to do so much more with this type of film than they could with the Spider-Man films of the 1980’s or the Batman films of the 1990’s. technology now allows more scope for the demonstration and expression of super powers. Elektra’s powers are limited, through martial arts techniques she can see a little way into the future. But in her case, effects are mainly used to crank up the fight scenes; one fight scene being particularly reminiscent of something like House Of Flying Daggers, as a group of ninja appear from the trees. So it is really the villains that shine in terms of effects. A couple of scenes with Typhoid Mary seeing the director demonstrate a more artistic bent. Taking the time to slow the film down and delve into the moment.

Elektra manages to convert comic book material into a decent action film. Slick, polished and accomplishing something that those that made the likes of Daredevil or Punisher failed to do.
 Posted by Hello

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