Bullet Points: Darkman
Sam Raimi has had a very interesting career. While he’s made movies like Spiderman and that Wizard of OZ movie in recent years, he started out as just another no money having nerd behind a camera. What is very cool about his style of filmmaking is that it hasn’t really changed over the past 30 years. The only thing that has changed is the amount of money that he’s been able to throw at things like special effects and make up. If you were to ask me, I would say that Darkman is one of his best movies. It feels very much like a comic book film while still being a mostly original creation by Raimi. There aren’t many superhero characters running around these days that weren’t created by Stan Lee or some old Jews during World War II so I would consider Raimi’s contribution to be very significant.
Synopsis: Scientist Peyton Westlake is working on a 3 D imaging/printing of human skin replacement that could change the world when he’s attacked and left for dead by the criminal leader Robert Durant. Instead of dying in the fiery explosion that destroyed the entire building, Westlake takes on the mantle of Darkman and uses his masking procedure to take down the crime boss from the inside.
Is it Peyton or Eli: Whatever you may think about Liam Neeson, he definitely should have been named Eli in this one. Look at that resemblance to the NFL quarterback!
Everything but the kitchen sink: The gang shootout at the beginning of the film has it all. A guy uses his prosthetic leg/machine gun to kill a dozen people, and for some odd reason, there are a few cars complete with drivers and passengers, hidden in a cargo box in the off chance that they would need them.
Trenchcoat store: If you’re returning from the dead looking for revenge, or simply searching for the perfect trenchcoat for yourself, look no further than the alleyway dumpster. Apparently that is where guys like Darkman and The Crow fill all of their jacketing needs.
Invulnerable to everything but emotions: Being invulnerable would be the first power that I would choose for myself if I weren’t already a superhero. Darkman isn’t quite invulnerable, per se, but he certainly can’t feel the pain. That is not a bad power to have when you’re fighting against a bunch of really bad dudes.
Almost Darkman: Bill Paxton was almost cast as Peyton Westlake/Darkman. He had told his good buddy Liam Neeson about his audtion out of excitement. Later, when Neeson was cast, Paxton didn’t talk to him for a few months because he was still so pissed about losing the gig.
Smoking will kill you too: As a villain, Robert Durant is cool because he immediately brings a unique quality to the table; he enjoys an occasional stogie and when he’s not clipping the end off his cigar he’s using it to cut the fingers off of his enemies. That is bad guy 101 right there. A true sign of a good heel is the ability to use any and every item as a weapon.
Editing Hell: All of Sam Raimi’s films have the same erratic editing style. It makes for some really cool action scenes but it had to be hell to edit. Darkman is no kung fu expert and he doesn’t fly around like Ironman, so his revenge killings are much different than you’ll see in traditional superhero films. I think there’s room for all sorts of vengeful scarred up monsters in cinema.
The Verdict: Darkman is a combination of many things; it is definitely a superhero movie, it has deep emotional stuff that deals with PTSD and losing oneself or a partner in a accident, and there is a very strong and perverse Sam Raimi humor, but the most important thing is when the back-from-the-dead scientist uses his science to wear the faces of other men before he kills them. This movie is meant to be silly. It does have hints of other films that will get you thinking about all levels of deep shit but in the end a guy really just wears faces of other dudes while he murders them with a myriad of items that includes a semi truck. I’ve been chugging down rum & cokes all night and even that sounds a little weird to me but if you’ve seen any of Raimi’s other films then you’ll know already that he isn’t a “normal” director. The style of Darkman is really cool and the music is something that will sound both familiar and original. Liam Neeson plays the part of The Phantom of the Opera/Hunchback of Notre Dame/Darkman perfectly. One things is certain, this movie is a hell of a lot of fun!