REVIEW: “Daredevil” a refreshing take on superhero genre

Courtesy photo via Creative Commons

By Claire Alongi, Staff–

Marvel’s Netflix-produced “Daredevil” is a recent small screen gem that is darker, more violent, more human and generally more fleshed out and thoughtful compared to its flashy big screen counterparts.

“Daredevil” has very little resemblance to the poorly received 2003 movie, except for its title and general story. The show follows blind attorney Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) as he balances his day life practicing law with his best friend Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and his nightlife as a vigilante of Hell’s Kitchen battling crime lord Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio).

Strong-willed secretary Karen Paige (Deborah Ann Woll), resourceful and quick-witted nurse Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and reporter Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall) round out a colorful cast of characters that add richness to the “Daredevil” universe.

Unlike many of Marvel’s other recent movies like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” that rely on stunning visual effects and gigantic battle scenes, the 13 episode run of “Daredevil” allows creator Drew Goddard and his team more time to focus on the people, as opposed to big KABOOMS and flying aliens (which can be very enjoyable but hardly introspective).

A principal part of development that adds depth to the story is Cox’s noble and convincing portrayal of Matt’s constant struggle to protect the city he loves while maintaining his regular life and staying true to his Catholic religion. It may not sound incredibly exciting, but it’s refreshing to see a superhero portrayed as someone with not only a lack of Herculean strength and healing abilities, but also as someone with moral conflicts about putting a gun to the bad guy’s head and pulling the trigger.

It’s also nice to see a superhero show–generally known for the classic time-tested trope of righteousness vs. evil–that instead explores the good and the bad of protagonist and antagonist. Wilson Fisk certainly isn’t a saint, but he manages to infuse moments of genuine tenderness with his girlfriend Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer) in between bouts of horrific violence. And while Matt Murdock may be “a good Catholic boy,” he can certainly take a beating and give one.

The characters are not just one thing or another; they are a mix of everything. In short, they feel like real people.

Another well-oiled cog in the “Daredevil” machine is the show’s high quality and beautiful cinematography. Cool and dark tones add to the grittier vibe of the show, while facial close-ups allow for vibrant visuals of the character’s emotions.

However, the greatest cinematographic success of “Daredevil” is its many fight scenes. The most notable example is in episode two, “Cut Man.” In a fairly astounding feat, the camera crew manages to capture a seven minute plus fight, in a narrow hallway, all in one take.

In the end, this show isn’t for the young or faint of heart looking for a light superpowered romp. Be ready to sit back, pay attention, get emotionally attached to heroes and villains alike and to potentially shield eyes from the often gratuitous and gory violence.

Of course the show isn’t totally doom and gloom. It also features classic laugh-out-loud Marvel one-liners, some brief romance and even allusions to other works in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

All thirteen episodes of season one of “Daredevil” are streaming on Netflix for everyone’s binging pleasure. A second season has been renewed for 2016.

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