DAREDEVIL - DIRECTOR'S CUT
Region 2 (UK) Edition reviewed by Mike Hadfield
Mark Steven Johnson
Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan
Director’s Cuts come in two flavours. Most are very disappointing and
offer only a slightly different experience to the original. Unfortunately
there are very few that offer a totally new and improved experience.
So, sitting down to watch this movie was a very daunting experience. The
theatrical cut is nowhere near my list of top hundred movies, so I wasn’t
expecting much. Despite this I am pleased to report that I liked what I
found. Surprise, Surprise, I was actually enjoying it – yes, let me say
that again – I WAS REALLY REALLY ENJOYING IT!
This new version with its running time of 127 minutes, around thirty
minutes longer than the theatrical cut. This is due to a significant
number of new scenes. At the same time, some scenes have also been cut or
removed altogether. For example the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Garner love scene
has got the chop due to the new ending. This creates a very different feel
to the movie and helps explain the motivation and background of many of
the characters. A whole new sub-plot emerges detailing the story of a
criminal played by hip-hop star Coolio. This allows us to see Jon Favreau
and Ben Affleck at work in the courtroom providing some very funny
moments. The new thread neatly integrates with the bigger story. Colin
Farrell’s Bullseye has some extra scenes but this time he never really
emerges from the shadow of his boss, Kingpin, played by Michael Clarke
Duncan. The Director’s Cut is certainly a more hard-edged movie. It has
more violence but works all the better for it. Much of the violence was
toned down in the theatrical cut to obtain the required PG-13 rating.
Where the original was a fast action-packed movie, this new edit takes its
time and allows you to get to know the characters in more detail. This
extra insight helps the movie enormously. Things finally make sense!
Fox has produced a good transfer of this new Director’s Cut with a
bit-rate of 6.78 Mb/sec. It is presented in its original ratio of 2.35:1
with anamorphic enhancement. Most of the movie takes place in darkness
which tends to cause MPEG encoding some problems. Fortunately this time it
has been handled well and the image remains clean and stable.
Colours are slightly muted but this is quite deliberate. The use of strong
colour in certain scenes is very very startling. Look out for the rose
shots especially. I did notice a couple of discrepancies in the colour
palette between some of the new scenes and the normal theatrical shots.
These were most evident in the extended scenes where you could clearly see
the join. This manifested itself as the image jumping a little to the side
and the colours changing slightly. Given modern editing techniques, this
should have been handled better. The layer-break at 1:07:49 is not in the
best place – being in the middle of a conversation – but most players
should run past this without causing too much distraction. An English
subtitle track for the hearing impaired has also been included.
For a movie with a central character that relies on sound to ‘see’, the
audio quality of this movie is very important. Happily, Fox has supplied a
superb sound mix. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track (448 kbps) sounds solid and
clear. However, the DTS track (768 kbps) really excels. Whether it is a
bullet whistling past your head, dialogue coming from the front, or music
nicely mixed into the rear speakers, the soundtrack delivers everything
you could hope for. A very lively mix is exactly what movies like this
Writer/Director Mark Steven Johnson and Producer Avi Arad.
(Dolby Digital 2.0 192Kbps)
At last, we find out the real inside story about this movie. Johnson and
Arad give us the lowdown we have been waiting for. What inspired the plot,
what changes there were between the theatrical and director’s cuts and,
more importantly, why? They also tell us about alternative versions that
were never shot. It is a great commentary full of fascinating insights
into the film production process. This audio commentary is also
subtitled. Also worth noting is that the onscreen menu makes no mention
of Avi Arad on the commentary but I can assure you he does take part!
Giving the Devil His
Due : The Making of Daredevil Directors Cut
(Dolby Digital 2.0 192Kbps, Anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 ratio)
This fifteen minute documentary has interviews with Avi Arad (Producer /
CEO Marvel Enterprises Inc), Mark Steven Johnson (Writer / Director), Gary
Foster (Producer) and others. It delivers a brief but informative look at
what the differences are between the original theatrical version and this
new directors cut. They explain that it was the studio who insisted on the
cuts made for the theatrical version to make it a fast paced,
action-packed movie. Illustrated with various clips from both versions
this is a great ‘before and after’ type feature. It serves as a nice
taster to the commentary track which provides much more detail. English
subtitles are also available.
The animated menus are nicely put together and are all in anamorphic
widescreen. The one annoying aspect of this disc is the forced ‘piracy is
bad’ message at the start of the disc. It has now become standard on all
Fox releases but at least you can press the next button on your remote to
Daredevil is still not a great movie but the Director’s Cut
is a vast improvement over the theatrical cut. There will be some who
prefer the one shown in cinemas but for me this is a much more satisfying
experience. It just goes to show that studios should let the director cut
the film as he or she wants. If this version had made it to the multiplex,
I suspect it would have been much more highly regarded. In essence, if you
are a Daredevil fan, this is definitely worth adding to your collection.
For anyone else, it is worth a look just to see how improved a movie can
be when the director is given a free hand.