J.D. Lafrance
Elektra DVD Review


October 24, 2005

Director: Rob Bowman, ,
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Will Yun Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Terence Stamp, Kirsten Prout, Natassia Malthe, Bob Sapp, Chris Ackerman, Edson T. Ribeiro, Colin Cunningham, ,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

The only thing to survive the debacle known as Daredevil (2003) was the positive reaction, by audiences, to one of the characters in the film, Elektra, played by Jennifer Garner. This may have been more as a result of her fresh-faced, girl-next-door charisma than the character itself. Regardless, the studio executives were impressed enough to spend the money on a spin-off movie for her. Unfortunately, the film did even worse, commercially and critically, than Daredevil.

When she’s not dutifully scrubbing floors (“To get rid of her DNA,” she explains), Elektra is a deadly and ruthlessly efficient assassin resurrected by her mentor and martial arts guru, Stick (Stamp). While staying at an island retreat—her down-time between jobs—she meets her neighbour, Mark (Visnjic) and his daughter, Abby (Prout). The only problem: she’s assigned to kill them. It may have something to do with an evil clan of ninjas known as The Hand.

Through flashbacks we learn that Elektra’s motivation—why she does what she does—comes from a crappy childhood and a strict, pushy father. The screenplay features dialogue exchanges that are flat and uninteresting. They are merely functional and barely take us from one action sequence to the next. It is thinly-sketched and cliché-ridden. The character of Abby is supposed to humanize the distant Elektra but instead she just comes across as annoying. Abby is a plot device as opposed to a fully-realized character. Of course, those looking for any kind of depth are watching the wrong movie.

From the outset, one of the many problems of Elektra is the casting. While Jennifer Garner is more than capable of the physical demands required for the role, she doesn’t look anything like the character from the comic book, which, for starters, was of Greek descent. In Daredevil, her costume bore no resemblance to the one in the comic. In Elektra, at least they finally got the colour right.

With a montage depicting Elektra’s impressive workout regime and the countless acrobatic fight scenes, the movie becomes more like a Jennifer Garner workout video than an enjoyable movie-going experience. Elektra often feels like it wants to be something along the lines of Christophe Gans’ underrated action film, Crying Freeman (1995), which shares the same setting and similar plot points but Elektra lacks that film’s style or the substance. Instead, Elektra is strictly by-the-numbers filmmaking when it could have been so much more. You can point out a lot of flaws in Daredevil but at least it tried to incorporate elements from the comic book. Elektra fails on this level as well.

Special Features:

There are three deleted scenes, including one that has Elektra spying on Mark and Abby. It is supposed to be tense but comes across as boring. There is also a scene featuring Ben Affleck reprising his Matt Murdock role in a dream sequence that was wisely cut out.

“The Making of Elektra” is standard press kit material with the cast talking briefly about their characters mixed with clips from the movie.

“Comic-Con Presentation” is Garner’s message to the San Diego Comic Con in lieu of a public appearance. She claims to have read many Elektra comics but it sure didn’t translate to the movie. This extra is about as involving as the movie itself.

“Inside the Editing Room” originally aired on the movie’s website and offered clips from the movie, introduced by director Rob Bowman, before it was released in theatres. Extras on a DVD should involve you further in a movie but this one takes you further and further out. How is this editing? This extra does little to illuminate the process.

Finally, there are teaser and theatrical trailers.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 45%



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