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Darkman (1990)

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I found Darkman in a used DVD bin for $1 and picked it up this week though never heard of it before, doing so based on its cool looking DVD cover, low price, and one review looked up at the time in a VideoHound's Golden MovieRetriever volume I carried (bought used too).  Smart phones with wifi would come in handy in those situations to get film reviews but you can't buy used smartphone service so what good is it? Don't think too hard about that.

 

Later I discovered the film is directed and written by the same guy who directed and wrote the Spiderman trilogy 2002-2007, Sam Raimi. So that made me more surprised I never happened to hear or read of Darkman before. Rated R for violence. Watched it last night. It had sprinkles of what hit me like Ozploitation, maybe due to a slight low budget or dated look which was perhaps intentional, combined with, to quote someone's review of it, "exquisite violence".  Visually it was slightly uneven but that's no way a deal breaker, that maybe enhanced it in a retro sort of way depending on taste. The action portions were really exciting and filmed interestingly. Avoiding spoilers...the helicopter & steel tower scenes near the end are great edge-of-your-seat action.  Overall I liked it, but a review site I like said it was over the top and too offensive to admire. Due to violence I assume. To me it was less offensive than a zombies-eating-people-alive film I watched recently which the same film site accepted.

 

For me it was pretty cool for $1 but maybe I'm misguided. Your take on Darkman?

 

 

IMDb summary:
96 min  -  Action | Crime | Fantasy  -  24 August 1990 (USA)
A brilliant scientist left for dead returns to exact revenge on the people who burned him alive.

Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Sam Raimi (story), Chuck Pfarrer (screenplay)
Stars: Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Colin Friels, Larry Drake

Edited by Mike_tn

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Good find, Mike. It's a cool movie, one I liked very much at the time of its release. Be sure to check out the earlier films from the director -- the low-budget horror stuff that made his name, and even his work with the Coen Brothers -- not just Crimewave, but The Hudsucker Proxy, on which Raimi did 2nd unit work. 

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I totally remember seeing ads for this film in the comic books that I collected back then, but I never actually saw it myself.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Fun fact: this movie was made after Sam Raimi couldn't get the rights to The Shadow. That property, of course, would come to the screen four years later with Alec Baldwin in the lead.

 

It's been years since I watched this, but I think I have it on my shelf somewhere. The two sequels are varying degrees of crummy, but it's a property I wouldn't mind seeing revived.

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It had two sequels? I hadn't realized it had even one.

 

Direct to video, I presume, although maybe I'm wrong.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Mike_tn wrote:
: Yes, I read direct to video for the sequels, what does that mean?

 

Means it was never released to theatres.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Mike_tn wrote:

: Yes, I read direct to video for the sequels, what does that mean?

 

Means it was never released to theatres.

 

And it shows.

 

FWIW, when I say "crummy" I don't mean I didn't enjoy them. There's actually an argument to be made that direct-to-video is a better format for the kind of pulpy hero Darkman is trying to be than conventional release is. But they aren't good, exactly; for one thing, having Neeson replaced by Arnold Vosloo--a not-terrible, but slickly plastic actor in the Billy Zane mold--doesn't to the sequels any favors.

Edited by NBooth

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Mike_tn wrote:

: Yes, I read direct to video for the sequels, what does that mean?

 

Means it was never released to theatres.

 

And it shows.

 

FWIW, when I say "crummy" I don't mean I didn't enjoy them. There's actually an argument to be made that direct-to-video is a better format for the kind of pulpy hero Darkman is trying to be than conventional release is. But they aren't good, exactly; for one thing, having Neeson replaced by Arnold Vosloo--a not-terrible, but slickly plastic actor in the Billy Zane mold--doesn't to the sequels any favors.

 

 

Arnold Vosloo, best known for his role as the mummy Imhotep in the Brendan Fraser "Mummy" films. Funny also that you should mention Billy Zane, who, speaking of THE SHADOW, starred in the other mid-nineties pulp hero role that I remember, THE PHANTOM. 


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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I associate pulp with Quentin Tarantino films which I have avoided thus far. Does anyone think Tarantino's creativity has significant parallels to Raimi's?

 

I'm no expert on either, but there's probably a sense of post-modern play that goes on in both of them. At the same time, Tarantino's forays into pulp stylings are much more ironic than I remember Darkman being--the Raimi movie strikes me as much more straight-up reconstructionist [warning: TVTropes] in the vein of other pulp-resurrections like Star Wars or Indiana Jones. Tarantino could never make Darkman because he would feel the incessant need to wink at the audience (which, to be fair, I doubt Raimi could make Inglourious Basterds). 

 

Of course, there's probably a distinction to be made between "pulp," which is essentially a literary category, and "grindhouse"/"exploitation"/"serial," which are all filmic.

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