4/10/2015

Dardevil (Charlie Cox); Source: Marvel/Netflix
Daredevil has finally "aired" on Netflix, after months of teasing and expectation, and we can finally see the Man Without Fear. All thirteen episodes are available for viewing right now, but I decided to review each individual episode in the season, as if it were airing on TV. Partly that's because I wanted to share the experience of making the journey through the series, instead of just reviewing it all in one lump sum. Partly it's because I can't binge-watch. I can't sit and watch the same show for thirteen hours straight. But I think that's a good thing. This show should be digested and picked apart like only we geeks can. Today, I'll be reviewing the pilot episode, "Into the Ring." I won't spoil the episode too much if you haven't seen it, but fair warning.

For the uninitiated, Daredevil is a Marvel superhero, blinded as a child from a chemical accident that gives him heightened senses. Trained by the mysterious Stick, Daredevil fights crime as a vigilante, but also as a lawyer who seeks justice in the courtroom.

The first episode of Daredevil chronicles the beginning of Matt Murdock's career as a lawyer and as a crimefighter. Murdock and his partner Foggy Nelson begin the episode buying a run-down office building and hanging up a paper sign, fresh out of law school, ready to begin their careers. But their first case is a doozy. Secretary Karen Page is found lying on her apartment floor, dripping with fresh blood, next to a dead body with a bloody knife still in her hand, right when the police break down her door. Not only does she look incredibly guilty, but she doesn't even have an alibi. She has no memory of how she got there, who killed the man, or what happened until she woke up. It seems like a slam-dunk case, but Page has one thing on her side, Murdock. His ability to hear heartbeats makes him a human lie detector. He knows she's innocent and sets out to find the truth. The crime itself unravels a conspiracy that exposes a hidden group of gangsters working in Hell's Kitchen for a mysterious figure whose name no one will speak. As Daredevil, he works to clear her name.

Okay, now that we've got the summary, let's break it down. I thought this episode was awesome. As a longtime fan of Daredevil, I feel I waited all my life to see this show. And it delivers. As we said when the trailer premiered, this show is not a cheap knock-off. Because it's on Netflix, I feared it would cut corners. It doesn't. The acting is great, the cinematography is moody and atmospheric, and the writing is top-notch.

The show is definitely not in the mold of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This show doesn't play itself for laughs, like the movies. There are funny moments, but Daredevil is dark and menacing, and mostly realistic. Daredevil doesn't seem to have the radar sense like he did in the movie and the comics. They hint at his powers by augmenting sounds, screams, heartbeats. The alien attack on New York is called only "the incident." It's like this is another world, but I can see it ultimately fitting into the movie universe as well.

Charlie Cox makes a great Daredevil. As Murdock, he carries himself very convincingly as a blind man. He doesn't just cock his head to one side and cross his eyes (take notes, Ben Affleck). He moves with confidence, but also a slight hesitation, assessing his world. But when he dons the costume of Daredevil, he becomes powerful and scary, everything he should be. The first time he fights, there's a moment where he starts to lose control, and you really fear for the criminals he's attacking. It felt like that moment in 1989's Batman where he first appears, and starting whooping butt on the rooftop, and you're not sure how far he'll go. Yes, I compared it to Batman.
Deborah Ann Woll as Karen just swept me away. You totally see why the guys (I'm assuming, based on the comic) fall for her. But I'm looking forward to seeing her when she's not shivering and scared, like she was for most of this episode. I'd like to point out when she changed shirts right in front of Murdock. A funny moment. "He's blind, he won't see." Or did he?

Toby Leonard Moore as Wesley, the Kingpin's "lap dog" and proxy, brilliantly played the calm but ruthless villain. I like that they never showed Vincent D'Onofrio as Kingpin in this episode. He was only mentioned, not even by name, but you hear his voice in the end. It makes him more mysterious and scary as the unseen villain. Can't wait to see him in action.
I'm going to single out Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson, though, and say I thought his acting was bad. Like, the whole episode, he read lines like he was reading them off a cue card and hamming it up with his facial expressions. I hope he gets better.

I also want to point out this show was filmed in New York, which was the best move they could have done for Daredevil. Nothing looks like New York, except New York. Period. I grew up there, and filming in Vancouver and saying it's New York is not the same thing. There's a gritty, crowded feeling to the city that fits this incarnation of Daredevil to a "T."

Oh, and the costume. I liked it. I do miss the horns, but it's a more realistic version of the classic outfit. And it has red seams, so it's not all black.

I'll also add that the opening scene with Murdock as a child in the aftermath of the accident that took his sight was so amazing. Tragic and powerful. I never liked that the movie made his exposure to the toxic chemical an accident. The show brought back one element I thought was very important: Murdock was trying to save someone when he got hit with the chemical. He was a hero, even then, and his act of kindness punished him with blindness. Poetic.

Anyway, I'll wrap up by saying it was worth the wait. I'm looking forward to the next episode. Which I might watch right after I type this. Stay tuned.

Oh, in case you couldn't tell, I rate this episode: RECOMMENDED

Did you watch Daredevil? What did you think of the pilot? If you haven't seen it, do you plan to?

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9 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Couldn't read it - haven't watched them yet. My wife wants to see them so we'll binge watch a few this weekend.

MarkM said...

Great review.


I really liked the first episode. I was surprised that all eight were released at once....great for binge watching, though. I figured they'd release one a week, or something like that.


I pretty much agree with you on the actor playing Foggy. He seemed a bit cliche'd for me, as well.


I think, if they build on the first episode, it'll keep getting better and better.

Nigel Mitchell said...

Netflix releases whole seasons at once. They did the same thing with "House of Cards." They're attitude is, "We don't care if you watch them one at a time or all at once. So why wait?" It is kind of weird to be able to watch a whole season all in a row right away, but it also gives you control over how and when you see it.


And I really think it's got a lot of promise, too

Nigel Mitchell said...

Let us know what you think

jeremy [retro] said...

I have to wait, I guess I will just watch the Afleck version... 8 times.

Abdul Basit said...

I really like this review about Daredevil Netflix, daredevil is one of my favourite character in any tv series. I also know that all episodes of daredevil premiered on 10 April 2015.

DAVID WALSTON said...

I binged watched this weekend, and it was well worth it.

Nigel Mitchell said...

Time well spent

Nigel Mitchell said...

Make sure it's the director's cut. But I feel your pain

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