Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Elektra (1.14.05)

Director: Rob Bowman Starring: Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Kristen Prout Co-Starring: Terrance Stamp, Will Yun Lee Watch for: Marvel character roster galore! Editor(s): Kevin Stitt <-- The Version I own. I have a theory about where they got the story for Elektra, though feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, since this is one of the Marvel characters I'm fairly in the dark on. Everyone remembers Daredevil, her fight with Bullseye, and one of his final lines to her: "You're good baby, I'll give you that. But me? I'm magic." Then we get the Daredevil spin-off, which pretty much tears away the semi-plausible world they'd established, and dives leotard first into a world of mysticism, where people we don't even know can walk in slow-motion, and we'll assume they're badasses. Still, the idea of Elektra getting beaten by magic, then devoting her life to understanding makes for a very cool idea. It's just unfortunate that if this is actually what they were going for, they didn't really make a point of telling their audience. They got the first five minutes right. It'd have made a good teaser trailer on it's own, actually. "DeMarco's End", as it's called in the score. Elektra sneaks in, we're learning she's become an assassin, and a good one, with a reputation (and description) that precedes her. The whole bit about "whispers in your ear before she kills you" was just creepy. I loved it, this scene is what I think about when someone mentions this movie, and generally prompts me to defend it. Then a couple minutes later, the bad guys walk in and we realize they have to figure out how to make a whole movie in this style. And yeah, bad guys, not "the bad guy". Not the Kingpin rappin' out, not Norman Osborn having a fatherly chat with his son, or even a tired soul tipping his hat to the enemy (You got that, right? Magneto? Just checkin'), but no. Slow-motion ensemble. You may recognize who they are if you're familiar with Marvel at all (Typhoid Mary was the only one that I really knew about, but I think I'd heard of a couple of the others.), but this sort of entrance pretty much beats you over the head with the idea that 12-year-olds are supposed to think these guys are awesome. This is how we received Bullseye, and even Ghost Rider did the very same thing, actually. I'll get to that later (damn you, MSJ. I'll give you Bullseye's, cuz that made sense. The character is always thinking about how he looks like a badass). Anyway. Ensemble villains, often representing a variation of abilities, usually elemental in nature, well.... suck. These are March issue bottom-of-the-dollar-bin villains, guys. What the hell are they doing in a feature film that's trying desperately to keep a franchise going? Hell, having Elektra attempt revenge on the Kingpin as a subplot would've been more interesting. Anyway. So we get into that. We find out Elektra's actually got an ailment, OCD (which the spell out blatantly later on. PG-13, w/e. I'll give it to 'em). This, of course, happens after the second biggest mistake of the film: Child co-star. It is exceedingly difficult to take anyone's performance seriously when you have level them in a scene with a "trying-to-prove-she's-hip" brat. Take that, and slap the word "prodigy" on it, and you have Prout's character. This may very well have been one of the more engaging storylines in the comics, and while it does hold potential to dig into a theme of how Elektra is really only a beginner herself, I find using the youngster in the way they do, giving her action scenes where she stands up fairly well against people "E" has been having trouble with, makes our main character feel aged, and honestly, slow. And that's not how one should be thinking of one of the world's premiere assassins. The rest of the story is pure haberdash, though it was cool they worked Stick in, despite the fact he was actually Matt Murdock's mentor. However, everyone in the audience did get to feel smart for knowing the twist early on. "The bad guy actually killed her mom. Yeah, I knew that the first time I saw him. Fo' sho'." Thus we have a final conflict with emotion, or something. Like, they totally have this connection now and she just absolutely has to hate him so much for how her life turned out. Wait. I'm channelling the little girl. Hang on a sec. Alright. I can understand putting out a script that's rather unoriginal. Happens all the time. The trick is presenting a used story in a unique way, which this... sort of does. Sometimes. If they hadn't cut the "pre-cognition" bit, or done a little more with it, that could've been pretty interesting. I actually enjoyed the director's cut, during the scene where Elektra defends Abby and her father from the demon-ninjas, and the first thing we see is how the fight could go if she were to do nothing. Granted, I understood it right away (cuz I'd already seen the original, but let's just pretend I would've gotten it anyway), but a more casual film-goer, like let's say my g/f, would watch this and think "WTF? It's been like 20 minutes, and they just killed the main character! I didn't know I was watching freakin' Hitchcock stuff over here!" Well, okay that last bit was me again. Anyway, the villains all have decently cool powers, though I'm not quite sure how they're connected with the green explosion thingies when they die ($10 says that's how they kept their PG-13), but the problem is that they quickly become equivalent with a villain in a Megaman game; you just have to figure out the trick before you move on to the next level. Meh. I don't mind that Jennifer Garner didn't want to wear the leotard. All the superhero outfits need a little updating, and Elektra's honestly would've been a little difficult to pull off. Granted, the corset they gave her looks uncomfortable and often pokes over her stomach rather than fitting to it, but whatever. That's fine. What bothers me is that Jennifer Garner is not Elektra. Jennifer Garner, bless her "Alias-led-me-to-action-movies" heart, has done her best in roles that suit her looks: soccer mom. Well, almost-mom in Juno, but she was great at it. Heartless assassin? Not so much. I think she even stopped being Greek in this one. I at least caught hints of it in DD. The must've hid it wherever they're keeping Storm's accent. So now we have a soccer mom wearing jeans and the leather jacket ripped off of a forever-young former sorority chick, who was too busy watching "Grey's Anatomy" to notice, trying to protect a teenager and his weeping widower of a dad (who I actually liked in ER, btw) from a slew of seen-it-before slow-mo villains, released in the holiday film falloff, which it's source film barely managed in just a couple years earlier. This movie never stood a chance. I seriously bought it for the first five minutes. And it was on sale. Plus, the score is excellent.