Elektra review by Mike Long

(Warning: This review reveals plot points from the film Daredevil, so if you haven't seen it, read with caution.)

When Elektra opened at Number 5 at the box-office this past January, there were many theories as to why it hadn't garnered (pun intended) much business. I read things like "Audiences aren't ready for a female super-hero" or "The target audience, adolescent males, is intimidated by strong women". (Neither of these theories hold water as the much maligned Catwoman had a better opening and overall total than Elektra.) Yet, there were two other explanations for the lack of business that weren't as widely discussed. One is that Fox took a very odd direction in marketing the film, shying away from the fact that it is a spin-off/sequel to Daredevil. The other reason for the disappointing numbers is rather simple: The movie isn't very good.

As Elektra, we meet the title character (Jennifer Garner) who is an assassin, famed for her stealth and lethality. She works with McCabe (Colin Cunningham) who acts as her agent, arranging her jobs and payments. Through flashbacks, we learn that Elektra once died and was resurrected and trained with a sensei named Stick (Terence Stamp). Elektra's latest assignment takes her to a small island (presumably in the Pacific Northwest), where she meets Mark (Goran Visnjic) and his daughter Abby (Kirsten Prout). Getting involved with this family throws Elektra off course and pits her against The Hand, an evil organization (complete with an army of ninjas and assassins) headed by Kirigi (Will Yun Lee) and Roshi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa).

Now, I follow entertainment news quite closely and I understand that Ben Affleck's career has gone south lately and that he's considered by some to be box-office poison, but I can't understand why Fox went out of their way to distance Elektra from Daredevil. As far as I'm concerned, Daredevil was a pretty good movie (and did a fine job of sticking to the comic) and as it opened with $45 million and grossed over $100 million, it's certainly a film that people have heard of. However, if you hadn't seen Daredevil, Elektra would give you no indication that the other movie even existed. There are no references to the story from Daredevil, save for the fact that Elektra died. The character Daredevil is never mentioned, and a brief appearance by Affleck (in a dream) was deleted. The two trailers included on the DVD reinforce that fact that Elektra was left to stand alone and that casual filmgoers would have no idea that it was a continuation of one of the stories from Daredevil. Giving the fact that the movie gives little backstory, Elektra certainly feels like a sequel, just not to Daredevil.

So, Fox did some odd marketing -- that wouldn't matter if Elektra was good enough to stand on its own, right? Sure, but unfortunately, Elektra never finds its footing, as it's a prime example of style over substance. Veteran director of The X Files (both the TV show and the feature film) Rob Bowman has given Elektra a fantastic look, both in the overall cinematography (courtesy of Director of Photography Bill Roe) and the style of the film. The fight between Elektra and Kirigi is breathtaking, as they are surrounded by swirling sheets, and I also loved the effect when Elektra is attacked by Typhoid Mary (Natassia Malthe). However, the beautiful look of the film can't hide the fact that a few more hours should have been spent on the script. The film's story is simply too shallow and isn't nearly detailed enough. Elektra's an assassin, she broods a lot, she once died, she meets this man and his daughter, and fights break out....and that's about it. Screenwriter Zak Penn (here co-credited with Stu Zicherman & Raven Metzner) wrote the complicated story for X-Men 2, so it's surprising to see just light this movie is. Yes, it can be argued that most action films have little plot, but there's nothing going on here to keep the viewer invested in the film. Even the lovely Jennifer Garner, who seems to be trying her best, and who proved that she can carry a film in 13 Going on 30 can't save this sinking ship. Elektra could have been another great Marvel franchise, but instead it's a one-note film that ignored its past and now has no future.

Elektra fights its way onto DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film is being released in two separate editions, one full-frame and the other widescreen. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. As noted above, Elektra is a great looking film and this transfer certainly does it justice. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic, from Elektra's red suit to the greens of the forest. The film contains some dark scenes, but the image is never overly dark, or bright for that matter. There is some evidence of edge-enhancement, as haloes can be seen along the characters shoulders, but this won't be distracting to most. The DVD contains both a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, as well as a DTS 5.1 track. Both of these tracks sound fantastic, as they offer tons of surround sound and subwoofer action, along with the expected clear dialogue and music. The DTS track is one of the best that I've heard lately, as the "oomph!" of every gunshot and punch can clearly be heard and felt. The Elektra DVD is yet about bad movie which would make an excellent home theatre demo disc.

Presumably because it didn't set the box-office on fire, the Elektra DVD only contains a few extras. There are 3 "Deleted Scenes", all of which are brief, and the only notable one is the one included the cameo by Ben Affleck. "The Making of Elektra" (13 minutes) features comments from the cast and crew, lots of clips from the movie, and no mention of Daredevil. The "Comic-Con Presentation" is a 90-second clip which was presented at the San Diego Comic-Con last summer in which Garner introduces the film from the set and actually does mention Daredevil. With "Inside the Editing Room" (7 minutes), director Rob Bowman gives us a glimpse into four scenes. This feels like something that would have played on FX to promote the film. Finally, we have the "Theatrical Teaser" (1.85:1) and the "Theatrical Trailer" (2.35:1) for Elektra.

4 out of 10 Jackasses

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