This is really a campy little film. or big... depends how you look at it. Think the missing link between "Evil Dead" and "SpiderMan" that would be this movie.
Darkman is not one of does really great old franchises with a humongous legacy I normally deal with.
It got a small nice legacy, that have disappeared with the movie as people kind of forgot about, and all though it was a hit at the box office upon it’s first release, it wasn’t a major hit.
I just really like it, all though it’s not perfect and pretty camped, it draws off all the classic elements in a adventure horror kind of movie, plus have an edgy phantomy fell about it.
And it’s freaking Sam Raimi when he does his best. And I love Sam Raimi, his really campy b fell kind of movies like Evil Dead, 1, 2 and 3, a simple plan and of cause Darkman is my kind of stuff. I love things to have and edge, and I love when the picture doesn’t look clean. Everything does nowadays. Even the last terminator movie which is supposed to have a setting and a apocalyptic world looks bloody like my mothers kitchen after spring cleaning. Any my mother is a cleaning Psychopath.
In any case, the movie did its good job of launching Sam Raimi into the mainstream film making after his two first Evil Dead films so he could do evil dead 3 and Spiderman, establish Liam Neeson as a Hollywood star and use the mission impossible masks the way the mission impossible films should have from the beginning. Good job movie!
Summary I think.
Peyton Westlake is a scientist who tries and develop a new form of lab created living skin tissue that can replace any skin and fix any burn, scan in a picture of the piece of skin you want make the copy and apply and wush, it works.
Problem is the skin can’t be in light for more that 99 minutes before it melts, keep it in the dark it works indefinitely, light and it melts.
A gang of evil mocks invades his lab to get a hold on a secret document that his girl friend by mistake found where she worked, and the mocks totally burns the place to the ground tortures and disfigures peyton, kills his lab assistant in front of him, and then leaves Peyton in the lab unable to move few minutes before the entire thing blows into pieces. As Peyton is blow out of the window he survives, though only just and is horrible disfigured. He is apparently so badly injured that the hospital who cares for him decides to server his nerves so he can’t fell any pain any more.
This causes three things,
1; he can’t fell any pain, at all. You can burn, pitch and beat him and he won’t fell it.
2; Without pain there are no stopping the adrenalin flow in his body which gives him enhanced strength.
3; with the adrenalin flowing that way in his body there are no controlling his emotions either, which means he becomes freaking crazy.
When he wakes up at the hospital he of cause goes crazy and runs away, he then return to his burned down lab where there are just enough equipment salvaged for him to create new skin tissue for himself, as skin creating and develop skin tissue is his profession (convenient?)
I got to say, as you can read in the previous article I am a great phantom of the opera fan, and so I have seen a lot of different kind of disfigure, some bad some pretty good. But this disfigure is awesome!
Best disfigurr I have ever seen! The over the top and campiness of Sam Raimi only help this a long, he looks amazing.. or horrible, you word choice. He is totally burned off, his lips are burned away to leave the teeth fully exposed in a constant grin. The few times we see his hands un-glowed and without skin tissue they are actually animatronics so it looks like the finger bones are fully exposed only held together by a little burned flesh and some nerves. That is really cool.
Lucky for him the studio was able to borrow the same magical face masks as they use in mission impossible, which not only is able to alter entire face structures, but height, body mass and eye colour as well!!!! Only it's the discount version as these masks only last for 99 minutes, though that time limit really works for this movie.
Just the fact that it’s all makeup and animatronics and not computer effects just makes it all look better, more gritty and organic. That’s just great.
Now, the obvious thing to do would be focus on making the skin last permanent and make the world aware that he is alive as they kind of think he is dead. Actually he do try to contact his girlfriend straight after his escape of the hospital, though when he looks like that and of all times and places chooses to do it in a alleyway really late in the evening, understandable scared the life out of her.
Well, instead of doing the right thing he decides to make masks impersonating the gang who burned down his lab, to seek revenge by taking them down one by one, and yeah I mean killing. Not that sacred capture batman kill stuff, this dude kills. And the kills are awesome and imaginative, good Sam Raimi kill off’s. thanks Raimi!
As his kills and the mystery unravels itself for a bigger plot, he just turns more and more to the dark side (this how you turn people to the dark side in a good way, I am looking at you George Lucas)
Things gets really complicated when he puts on a mask of himself and contacts his girlfriend again, trying to hide what have happened, but acts and sound so insane it would take an imbecile not to figure something is very wrong, and his girlfriend is thankfully a very intelligent woman.
Peytons attack of sudden outburst are just insane. And not many actors could do it, Liam Neeson carries it beautifully. Speaking of George Lucas, Liam Neeson made Qui Qoun look good despite the character being stupid… I guess that kind of speak for itself and his acting abilities. And in this movie he have full range of going through the transformation of a nice romantic to certified insane and over the top bat shit crazy.
The movie looks amazing and organic. His burned down lab up and running with all the gadgets in a dusty light brings the thought to the phantom layer, actually they have a couple of crows flying around just because.
The way he infiltrates the gang of bandits is really exiting and imaginative, the way he uses the mask and can impersonate anyone is just pure great. And the villains are just pure evil, not only does Darkman get to kill in gory imaginative ways, the villains does to, all the time. Great :D
And the fights really plays on the imaginative and is stuff you don’t see everywhere. which really helps to make up for a bit to obvious blue screen effects and other camped effects.
What is so great about this movie and about Sam Raimi as a director is that he is old school, all his movies are about good old fashion good typed and hyped sensation as the action and gore rules, he dosn't even pretend to do deep serious stuff and doesn't try to cramp over seized morales over his films... with the possible exception of Spiderman 3 which is another reason why to disappointed in it. but anyhow, that aint how Raimi normally rules, and it's the only miss step I can think of in his entire carrier. this movie is a blast. it's scary, hyped, grotesque, tragic. just great.
The movie had two direct to video sequels... yeah I saw both of them -_-;
Well, when you hear not only sequel but "direct to video" sequel. understandable every body is gonna assume they are both bad. and they have all the odds against them from day one, of cause Liam Neeson aint back to reprise his part as Peyton Westlake aka Darkman, so they got the mummie (Arnold Vooslo) to play the part. now, the character is already over the top and cliché filled as it is, and it's an amazing feet that Liam Neeson made it work, even really good actors would have fallen short in the part, it's a god damn difficult part. I don't think I know any other character who yells "no" quite as much and often... in all three films. and Arnold Vooslo falls short, plus his makeup does not look as good.
The first sequel exist for one reason and one reason only, they were able to get the actor who played the villain "Durant" in the first movie back.
That makes no bloody sense at all. Durant was quite dead in the end of the first movie, the freaking helicopter he was sitting in at 300 meters height exploded, there's no surviving that. and if he did, he would have to be horrible burned, he would have to look like... well... Darkman. but he is fine!? The rest of the movie is pure exposition of what happened in the first movie, and repetition of the first movie, using many of the same traps and stunts, though as it doesn't have a cinema budget, it doesn't look quite as cool, and it falls short as we have already seen it once.
Then there is the other sequel, "Die Darkman Die" yeas that's the real title.
This movie is actually really interesting, of cause it isn't as good as the first one, but it's really interesting and have great ideas. it's actually a pretty good sequel. It really fells like somebody had a story to tell and then made it, of cause it has its really cheesy head scratching moments, but all around, an admirable try and a clever way to use continuity, all though instead of using classic old cliché's. it makes the common mistake of taking itself to seriously.
Well, it's about who originally severed Peytons nerves. you see, as it turned out that procedure was actually illegal, and it was a doctor who did, he came in so horrible burned that she could freely use him as a lab rat, the point of testing the procedure was to develop a new sort of steroid to sell on the black marked, only problem is the major psychological trauma, which is why the procedure was illegal to begin with (clever huh)
In the beginning Peyton corporates as he is being convinced they are out to help him, but when he discovers otherwise he naturally gets pissed, the founding of this project of making the steroid is naturally illegal and a part of a Mafia, so he sets out to take the Mafia down, also kind of revenge for what they did to him... made him insane you know. (still pretty clever)
He then impersonate the Mafia leader and goes to the leaders home to retrieve an important disc where (in a quite frankly absolutely hilarious moment) the mafia leaders family surprised Peyton with a birthday party and wont let him go, he have no changes of escaping the birthday party at first, and have to go along where he plays with the little daughter who is just dying for her fathers attention, and he starts realising that the Mafia leader's wife and daughter are good persons, he even gets attached to them.
So now he would have to take down the Mafia without hurting the wife and kid, on the same time as he starts impersonating the Mafia leader more and more in order to go and see the kids play and stuff like that the Mafia would not do.
That.... is so clever for a direct to video sequel. I was very pleasantly surprised, and not only is it clever, it have surprise turn arounds and shock revelations enough to keep the audience on their toes, and I did not see the most of them coming, at all, often I thought "oh boy how chicle" and then something happened and I went all "oh.... did not see that coming". Hell, if this had a cinematic budget, Liam Neeson back and better time for writing and development, I could totally see this being one of the sequels of the ages, sadly it isn't.
Now that Hollywood is remaking all of the dark semi old hero movies anyway, it could be a nice re-visit. but only if Sam Raimi did it himself, I could actually see that happen as he is allready now re-making his first evil dead film on a larger budget (sweet)
In any case, for me this is a little pearl that takes all the good from the past and use them shamelessly and without pretension. worth checking out for any fan of the dark superhero, or the old campy 30 and 40 movies.