Review: Darkman (1990)

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An original superhero for the big screen!

Screenplay By: Chuck Pfarrer, Daniel & Joshua Goldin & Ivan & Sam Raimi
Directed By: Sam Raimi

Long before helming the Spider-Man franchise Sam Raimi brought his own superhero to the big screen with Darkman. This isn’t a comic book adaptation, the character of Darkman is an original character created for the movies. He is an interesting character, and at a time when outside of the Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies the superhero world wasn’t offering much at the cinema, Darkman was a breath of fresh air.

Darkman is big, it plays big and comes across as big. This is a film that isn’t afraid to admit that any world where superheros exist and people have superpowers would be big. Small moments would be few and far between, instead everything can be and should be big. Darkman showed how the big world of superheros could be brought to the big screen successfully. It is big yet still full of drama and believability, not an easy task to accomplish, unless someone understands their comic books.

The entirety of Darkman has an artificial feel to it, a sort of surreal quality. I rather enjoyed that facet of Darkman, the carnival sequence in particular and the images used to showcase when Darkman was ready to lose it and use his powers. The artificial nature of Darkman lends itself to the bigness the film wants to put across and it enhances the later comic book style flash cuts the action scenes will take on.

The main theme of Darkman is obviously identity, and while nothing new to cinema or to comic book inspired heroes, it tackles identity in a more adult manner than usual. Darkman isn’t your typical hero, he swears, he has anger issues and he’s not in control of who he wants to be any more. He doesn’t know who exactly he is now that he is deformed and has gained these powers. We are just as puzzled as he is over what his plight now is, and this adds weight to his dilemma and texture to the issue of identity in our minds.

I did have a few issues with some of the odd transitions that Raimi chose to go with, on more than one occasion they were a bit off putting and tough to get behind. The time line was also a bit all over the place, if you really stop and pay attention to when certain events are happening they make that much sense. Finally, the ending isn’t bad, but it does go on so long that it peters out near its conclusion.

Despite the above flaws Darkman is a wonderful little flick with an interesting take on the superhero genre. It’s more out there than most comic inspired movies you can see, features some good acting in most of the parts and is very adult in nature. Raimi would later outdo Darkman as far as his superhero efforts go, but that doesn’t change the fact that Darkman is a splendid picture that deserves a shot from any superhero fans.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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