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ELEKTRA (PG-13) (2005)

20th Century Fox

Official Site

Director: Rob Bowman

Producers: Avi Arad, Gary Foster, Mark Steven Johnson, Josh McLaglen

Written by: Zak Penn, Raven Metzner, Stu Zicherman; based on the Marvel Comics and character created by Frank Miller

Cast: Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Kirsten Prout, Will Yun Lee, Terence Stamp, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Natassia Malthe, Colin Cunningham, Jason Isaacs

Rating:


“FROM THE FORCES THAT BROUGHT YOU X-MEN”—

—comes a movie that’s nowhere near as good.

In the opinion of your humble movie reviewer, it tends to be bad news when studios or filmmakers can’t let a movie stand on its own when they market it. So they try to connect it to a bigger, more popular movie or franchise. I realize that 20th Century Fox produced both the X-Men movies and Elektra. I know Marvel Studios’ head honcho, Avi Arad, worked on both those films. But other than that… what connection do those films share? The simple answer is none, but Fox wants us to think otherwise. If the film had any connection it would be to the 2003 movie Daredevil, love it or hate it (AN: And boy do I hate it), since that introduced the character of Elektra Natchios (Garner) to the cinema. And even though the thought of “Oh wow! I can’t wait to see an Elektra movie starring Jennifer Garner now!” seemed to be the last thing on moviegoers’ minds when exiting the mediocre theatrical version of Daredevil, Fox and Marvel deemed it necessary to spend a good chunk of money on giving the character her own movie. If they were to make a Daredevil spin-off, the only character in that movie I wanted to see more of by the end was Colin Farrell’s Bullseye. Despite being a bit of a departure from his comic counterpart, he was the most interesting and entertaining character in that entire film.

So Garner’s back after getting royally 0WNED by Bullseye, now wearing red instead of the boring black leather, and killing people for money and taking hits from her ridiculously annoying agent, McCabe (Cunningham), after she was rejected by her mentor, Stick (Stamp), the catalyst of her resurrection. Now why wasn’t Stick in Daredevil? I mean he was the guy who mentored and trained Matt Murdock, taught him how to hone and use his abilities. But oh well, Stick is in Elektra, and he’s actually pretty cool for the most part, even when he’s spouting rather trite dialogue about prophesies, good and evil, whatever bullshit the three screenwriters for this movie strung together.

I think the problem is, Garner was such a dull, rushed, and one-dimensional character in Daredevil, it really serves no one to make this character and actress the focus of her own movie. The Elektra of the comics is one cold, calculating, uptight individual. She’s foreign, exotic, and darkly alluring. Garner just doesn’t bring that to the role. She tries, but in the end it’s really not convincing, especially with her annoyingly pouty lips (Jen babe, collagen is not your friend) and her exaggerated movements, more fit for models on a runway. Character development is attempted in making Elektra obsessive-compulsive, seemingly because the character is so paper-thin they had to give her some sort of quirk.

After receiving her latest assignment, which is actually to kill two people she befriends—Mark Miller (Visnjic) and his bratty, teenaged daughter, Abigail (Prout)—Elektra decides instead to protect them from The Hand, an evil league of ninja assassins searching for “the treasure” (three writers on this movie and they couldn’t come up with a better name than “the treasure”?). Abigail’s presence is definitely a detraction since she’s such an idiot and general “pain in the ass” as Garner clearly states in the film that, deep down… the repressed sadistic side of myself wouldn’t have minded so much if one of those ninjas would just pop up and make a salad out of her. In fact, through the whole thing I was rather hoping it would happen. For whatever reason, there’s the useless romance between Elektra and Miller, but it doesn’t go anywhere.

The villains, oh boy, the villains. They answer to Master Roshi (Tagawa), and are led by his son, Kirigi (Lee), and are probably the most non-formidable force of bad guys in the history of bad comic book movies or maybe just movies, period. All of them are one-dimensional rip-offs of anime archetypes seen in better works such as Ninja Scroll or Vampire Hunter D. At least those were able to deliver on the action along with excessive amounts of juicy violence and gore, something this blood-less family film could’ve used, especially when you think about how most Elektra stories are for mature, older readers.

As hybridmagazine’s resident comics connoisseur (AN: shameless and arrogantly self-proclaimed title), I must disappointingly inform you of the complete misuse of one of the more well-known characters from Daredevil’s rogues’ gallery, Typhoid Mary (Norwegian model, Malthe). In the comics, Mary is a ridiculously twisted schizophrenic with pyrokinetic powers who wants to destroy men, and also Daredevil’s ex-lover. Here she’s just another half-baked, useless-in-a-fight baddie who has the power to kill whatever is around her.

The fights and action sequences in this movie are nothing special, albeit they are horrendously over-stylized as if they were trying to make a Hollywood movie look like Hero or House Of Flying Daggers. My advice to Rob Bowman? Leave it to the pros. And since none of the opponents are really no match for Sydney Bristow v.2.0 or Sydney Bristow-lite, it all makes for a rather boring affair.

Since Elektra is the first of a large round of comic book-based features due out this year, its mediocrity might be somewhat symbolic of what’s coming next month—Warner Brothers’ Constantine, based on DC Vertigo’s “The Hellblazer” and the sequel no one wants to see, Son Of The Mask. Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed is already playing in limited release in the U.S. as of today. April will see the release of Frank Miller’s Sin City; June, the long-anticipated Batman Begins. Marvel gets another chance in July with Fantastic Four. Somewhere along the way, excrement that will be called Man-thing and The Crow: Wicked Prayer will be released direct to video. Almost enough to make you long for the days of Roger Corman’s infamous Fantastic Four movie… just kidding.

—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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