Darkman (1990)

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Darkman (1990)

Post  BoG on Tue May 26, 2015 2:59 pm

Unable to do a Batman film or one on The Shadow, director Sam Raimi opted to create his own new super-hero for this one and, as hinted by the title, it's a darker version than what we usually expect of a super-hero film. Liam Neeson stars as the idealistic scientist named Peyton Westlake who is trying to develop a synthetic skin which would help burn victims. As the film begins, the new substance becomes unstable after 99 minutes and Peyton hasn't been able to correct this flaw. His fiancee, a lawyer, is played by Frances McDormand. As fate would have it, she finds evidence on corrupt real estate developer Strack (Colin Friels); just as Peyton finally figures out that his invention is sensitive to light, he's visited by hoodlum Durant (Larry Drake) and his goons, who are after this evidence. They proceed to brutalize Peyton in every way possible, including electro-burns and acid, and then leave him to die in an explosion.
Of course, Peyton doesn't die; he ends up briefly in a hospital, as a John Doe, where radical procedures severe his nerves so that he no longer feels pain. Believed dead, he escapes the hospital and sets himself up in an abandoned building to create his various disguises and get himself some revenge. Following up on his Evil Dead films, Raimi definitely incorporates an innovative visual style into this pulp-like yet horror-derived tale, similar in some ways to House of Wax (53), the old Vincent Price scare fest. Some of it is darkly operatic, with very dark humor - when Peyton is sent flying through the air by the explosion, his fiancee is there, though she doesn't notice his body flying by; immediately, the scene fades and shifts to her standing at his funeral, her position never changing. The story keeps the audience on their toes as Darkman takes on various guises, fooling the members of a criminal organization. It also benefits from some colorful characters, including the usually stolid Neeson as a psychotic hero prone to violent rages. Drake as Durant steals many of the scenes, however, as the main bad guy. His pre-credits introduction sets the tone for the rest of the film.  BoG's Score: 7 out of 10
Dark Trivia: cameo by Jenny Agutter as the doctor at the hospital.  There were two direct-to-video sequels in 1994 & 1996, without Neeson or most of the actors here; only Drake returned; Arnold Vosloo took over the portrayal of Peyton Westlake; Raimi, the director, finally hit super-hero gold a dozen years later with Spider-Man (2002) and its sequels...
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