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Movie of the Day – Darkman

Posted on the 20 January 2013 by Plotdevice39 @PlotDevices

Liam Neeson, as a superhero?  Hell yes sir, Darkman is the movie that showed that he could kick some serious as an action star, even before he went on a European, neck chopping spree in Taken.  Darkman is where it all begins and even as a young kid watching this movie from 1990, I was stunned and still am stunned that this Sam Raimi directed flick holds up, more so for action than the acting.  Oh that acting, prepare to watch Liam Neeson lose his shit in the role of Darkman.

Darkman 1a

Neglecting Julie (Frances McDormand), his lawyer lady friend, Dr. Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) works feverishly to perfect his latest invention — artificial skin that could be used to treat burn victims. Peyton himself falls victim to an explosion when one of Julie’s crooked clients sends his henchmen to sniff out an incriminating document that’s been left in Westlake’s lab. Hideously disfigured and left for dead, the good doctor receives an experimental medical treatment that renders him super-strong, impervious to pain and prone to heightened fits of rage. Rebuilding his lab into an underground hideout, Westlake begins using his synthetic skin to impersonate various characters and engineer his revenge against those who destroyed his life. Reconnecting with Julie, however, becomes the unsightly vigilante’s biggest challenge. ~ Brian J. Dillard, Rovi

Lord, I will say this for Darkman, Raimi knows how to craft a visually pleasing movie and Darkman is a mix of many different visuals flairs from many different movies.  Inspired by comic books, this is an original comic book movie that throws together some Batman with a little Phantom of the Opera and Elephant Man.  It had a darkly, gothic lean, not enough to make it a true goth movie, but the edge of the film really leaned towards the darkly twisted nature of a man out for vengeance, clouded in a mystery.  It’s a wonderfully vibrant and changing film that teeters between absolute madness and calming revenge film.

Darkman 1b

The biggest surprise to me is the acting that Neeson does as the rage prone, super strong Darkman.  When a character is practically impervious to pain, super strong, and rage prone, then you got a volatile character that is constantly seething.  Neeson just flies off the handle bar with his performance.  In some scenes he is calm as a coma and then lashes out to just start snapping bones and punching through walls.  You never know what is going to happen, almost as if Raimi doesn’t know what he truly wanted and just let the cameras roll.

Darkman is a bit of a forgotten gem, happening right at the start of the 90s, but never catching on as an original comic book movie without the comic.  Raimi really mixes his different movie influences and it really makes a compelling movie.  Darkman being this disfigured human being, lashing out at those who did this to him, but ultimately vulnerable when he can’t connect with his true love because of what he is.  It’s very close to Phantom of the Opera in that it is a tragic story for his character, but it propels him throughout the movie.  Neeson is just insane in this movie and you get to see him kick ass even before he had this renaissance as an action star in the later 2000′s.  Truly an underrated movie and one you got to see if you are a fan of Raimi or Neeson.

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