Review by Mark Walters

So Marvel is slowly but surely getting every character they own on the big screen.  In some instances, such as X-MEN and SPIDER-MAN, it works very well.  BLADE started out strong, but didn't seem to hold it's quality after two sequels.  DAREDEVIL was a very interesting attempt.  Why?  Some comic fans found it to be a nice interpretation of the classic character.  Others thought it was horrid.  Personally I liked it, even though I didn't initially want to.  I actually found it to be entertaining, and unique considering the films it followed.  One very bold aspect of it was it's inclusion of not one, not two, but three major supporting comic characters.  Kingpin was the villain, and Bullseye was his assassin.  As if that wasn't enough, they also gave us Elektra, in the form of Jennifer Garner.  Now hardcore Daredevil fans know that Elektra was and is a very important character in the Marvel universe, particularly in those books.  In the big screen version of DAREDEVIL, Elektra dies at the hands of Bullseye... or does she?  Uh, apparently not, since now she's returned in her own film, with Garner once again taking on the role.

The movie begins by showing us a montage of illustrations, explaining some mystical history, and loosely giving credence to the storyline we're about to see.  Cut to Elektra out and about, working as an assassin for hire.  She's back from the dead, and more skilled than ever.  But her abilities and activities have made her a cold and lonely woman.  Her agent, McCabe (Colin Cunningham), gives her a new assignment that involves big money, which Elektra reluctantly accepts.  She moves out to a exotic island, and waits for further instructions on her latest job.  While there she meets two people.  The first is Abby (Kirsten Prout), a 13 year old girl who is clearly bored and misguided, not to mention lonely.  The second is Abby's dad Mark Miller (Goran Visnjic), who seems friendly enough, and is fully aware of his daughter's behavioral faults.  Elektra begins to get comfortable with her new friends, even though she can't afford to get close with anyone.  So needless to say it's quite a shock when she finds out her assignment is to take out the Millers.  As in all "assassin with a moral dilemma" movies, Elektra can't bring herself to do the job, and wants out of the situation.  But when others show up looking to pick up where she left off, our lovely heroine just can't seem to turn her back on the unsuspecting targets.  A man named Roshi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) wants the Millers taken out for mysterious reasons.  His son Kirigi (Will Yun Lee) is more than willing to do the job.  They assemble a team of superpowered assassins.  Stone (Bob Sapp) is a huge muscle man, with skin that can't be penetrated.  Tattoo (Chris Ackerman) is... well... a heavily tattooed man, who can bring his skin art to life in the form of various animals.  Meizumi (Hiro Kanagawa) is... a... well he's just a bad-ass.  And last but certainly not least is Typhoid (Natassia Malthe), who turns everything she touches into decaying crud.  Kirigi himself is no slouch, moving faster than the human eye can keep up with.  They're all very deadly, and formidable opponents... but so is Elektra.

I really like Jennifer Garner.  Aside from being nice to look at, she's a fairly good actress.  There's something about her that just works, most of the time.  In DAREDEVIL she had an opportunity to play many different emotions on screen.  There she showed a playful and humorous side, then carried over to a dark and vengeful personality.  It was a nice part, since it allowed her subtle acting variations.  In ELEKTRA, she plays it cold almost the entire time, and I think ultimately it hurts the film.  The script isn't Shakespeare.  In many ways the movie starts out as an assassin with a conscience flick, and digresses into a MORTAL KOMBAT knockoff.  Not to keep bringing up this film's predecessor, but in DAREDEVIL everything was pretty much reality-based.  This film totally drops that notion, bringing in several unbelievable elements that are rather hard to accept.  Then there's the kid.  This Abby character is an odd addition.  She plays a major plot point, and I guess is necessary to the story.  But I just didn't care about her.  I'm assuming she is supposed to be a sort of mirror for Elektra, that shows what is or has been wrong with her life.  There's a lot of back story injected throughout the film through flashbacks, like a subplot involving a young Elektra witnessing her mother get murdered, and a bit of history showing her training with a blind sensei named Stick (Terrence Stamp).  Goran Visnjic, who most know from E.R., looks at first like her might become a legitimate love interest for Elektra, but unfortunately is given very little to do, and is absent for much of the film's second half.

Rob Bowman, who directed several X-FILES episodes as well as the X-FILES movie, is behind the camera on this one.  As an action director, he does a fine job.  But no director, no matter how good they are, can save a bad script.   I found myself most upset with select moments where I felt like they just dropped the ball.  Some of the fight scenes are plain disappointing, especially the final fight, which suffers from a ridiculous amount of unnecessary interfering elements.  That's all I can say without spoiling it.  Some of the characters aren't used enough, like Typhoid.  She's based on the comic character Typhoid Mary.  She's easily the coolest of the bad guys, but her appearances are all too brief, and I was really hoping for a proper fight between her and Elektra at some point.  The Tattoo character is just silly.  He may look cool with the effects, but the concepts are so over the top I couldn't enjoy it.  I really wish they had gone for more of a realistic approach with the story.

The best part of this film is the opening action sequence.  It's here where we see Elektra just being a ruthless assassin, and doing her job well.  It a great scene, and a promising opening.  But the rest of the film just feels disjointed.  The action scenes are well done, and the fighting is nicely choreographed.  I think the unrealistic elements just took me out of the film one too many times.  It's almost as if they felt the need to create these incredible villains because Elektra was so amazingly skilled.  But they come across like familiar evil bosses from a cheesy video game.  I love comics, but I didn't care for this.  DAREDEVIL is by no means a prefect film, but it hits the target much better than ELEKTRA.  If the filmmakers had kept that style and setting for this film, I would've enjoyed it much more.  With a show like ALIAS that consistently gives Garner a chance to do new and interesting things, I'm surprised she would even want to do a film with such a simplistic script.  The poster for this movie uses the tagline "From the forces that brought you X-MEN".  To me that is a stretch for gaining your confidence, which chances are will be let down after seeing the end result.  If you just want to watch Jennifer Garner strut around in skimpy outfits looking hot, you'll get your money's worth.  But if you're hoping for a well done comic book film, trust me, you can do much better.

I almost have to wonder if there was anything missing from this film.  Maybe some important plot elements that were cut for time.  Some of the characters, such as Stick and Roshi, seem a tad underdeveloped.  I wouldn't be surprised if there was more to this story than what ended up on the screen.  In the end I think the biggest problem is this - Elektra as a character just can't carry a film.  Some comic characters are easy to build a story around.  In my mind Elektra has always been more of a supporting character.  We wouldn't want to see a Robin movie without Batman, or a Bucky movie without Captain America.  Certain heroes are complex enough to do focused storylines with.  I'm not sure Elektra falls into that category. score - On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give ELEKTRA a 5.

Visit the 20th Century Fox official ELEKTRA movie website by clicking here.



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All content 2004