Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Sam Raimi's "Darkman" (1990)
Before raking in the cash with the Spider-Man franchise, Sam Raimi directed Darkman, a stepping stone to his current success. While I won't argue whether the Spider-Man films are good or not, I will say I don't really enjoy them that much. In fact, most super hero films, outside of a few of the Batman film, don't leave me wanting more. Darkman, on the other hand, surely does.
Sam Raimi made this original super hero film at the height of his early success. It was after the cult classic schlock films Evil Dead I and II and before the third installment in the series, the more comedic Army of Darkness. Raimi took this notable success and translated to a different genre, and succeeded.
As the title of the film suggests, Darkman is dark. Although this film has it's rather cheesy moments, the story of Darkman and how he came to be is still a rather grim one. Dr. Peyton Westlake's studies of synthetic skin are interrupted when Robert G. Durant and his gang trash his lab and torture him in the search for a paper that contains information that could hurt him and his boss. When Durant finds what he wants, he leaves Westlake for certain death in a fiery explosion. Unfortunately for Durant, Westlake survives and returns to society with a vengeance.
Liam Neeson is just fine as Dr. Peyton Westlake. He has the perfect touch of humor that lends to the cheesy-ness of this film. For example, the carnival scene comes to mind. "Take the fucking elephant!" will never be forgotten by me. I know everyone would have loved Bruce Campbell to play Darkman as he was originally supposed to, but hey, life's not fair. We can't hate on Liam for that, he did a fine job. Larry Drake's portrayal of Durant is so god damn evil. Colin Friels' played the cackling Louis Strack perfectly in my opinion. He had the menacing "I BUILT IT ALL" attitude down pat. These performances really helped the film achieve what it wanted. It makes the revenge theme of the film so much sweeter.
As I mentioned before, this film is a little cheesy. I personally think it could work better 100% serious, but that's okay with me. I'm a fan of serious, non serious, whatever. It's all good to me, I just think that a dark tale like this could be handled much more effectively without all that. Overall, Darkman is a solid film with an original super hero that is well worth watching. Enjoy Sam Raimi and his signature film making outside of the possessed woods and before Spider-Man
4 OUT OF 5 STARS