Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Darkman (1990)

Darkman

Written by Chuck Pfarrer, Sam & Ivan Raimi, Daniel Goldin, & Joshua Goldin
Directed by Sam Raimi

Liam Neeson .... Peyton Westlake/Darkman
Frances McDormand .... Julie Hastings
Colin Friels .... Louis Strack Jr.
Larry Drake .... Robert G. Durant


Peyton Westlake is a scientist in the midst of developing a type of synthetic flesh, which would be ideal for skin grafts and disfigurements. Once formed, the synthetic's cells remain unstable, however, and begin to break down after just 99 minutes. Before the problem can be solved, Peyton's laboratory is destroyed by Robert Durant, a local mobster who believes Peyton has access to some incriminating evidence, and his gang. Caught in the ensuing explosion, Peyton is burned beyond recognition and thought by the world to be dead.

He's found on a riverbank later and taken to the hospital as a John Doe, where an experimental procedure leaves him impervious to pain and prone to fits of rage. Peyton escapes and returns to his lab, where he salvages what little he can.


Lurking in the darkness, Peyton tracks down the members of Durant's gang and infiltrates their forces by using his technology to duplicate their flesh and assume their identities. Meanwhile, he reconstructs his own face as well and tries to put his personal life back in order, but his time-limited handicap and deepening anger may just put a damper on things.


What we have here is probably the first comic book movie that actually both looks and feels like a comic book, although Darkman had never existed in printed form until after the film. To understand how big an accomplishment this was at the time, take a look back at some of the old Spider-Man television movies or the Hollywood versions of Dick Tracy and The Shadow. In my opinion, Darkman even holds up to some of the modern big-budget major studio productions of such titles as X-Men and Iron Man. To fully understand the concept here, imagine one of EC's crime comics taking the Phantom of the Opera and turning him into the Lamont Cranston. It's a can't-miss proposition.

Although this film is obviously laden in fantasy, it works because it establishes it's own quirky interior logic and sticks with it. The stunt work is excellent, the direction great, the musical score perfect, the action sufficiently animated. Since it's so successful at what it is, it's not a movie that can be taken seriously. But it's one hell of a fun ride.



View the trailer below!


1990
Rated R
96 minutes
Color
United States
English

"What is it about the dark? What secret does it hold?"
 --J/Metro

3 comments:

  1. Well said.

    i saw this in the theatre at just the right age and really dug it. it was fun. haven't seen it in awhile but i remember the scene where he loses his shit at the fair and says "take the fucking elephant!" as being a standout.

    Liam also lent an air of quiet seriousness to the flick too. you really felt for the guy even when he wasn't kicking and punching people. that's something some of the more modern takes on comic book characters in film most time lack.

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  2. Always wondered about this one but never watched it, will be sure to pick it up one day, its always at Big Lots for $3

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  3. Buy it Carl!

    Love Darkman and it holds up quite well after all these years. I second your thoughts that this is one of the best comic styled movies even compared to the ones released today. Raimi at his best.

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