Region 2 (UK) Edition reviewed by Mike Hadfield
Jennifer Garner, Terence Stamp,
Goran Visnjic, Kirsten Prout
Elektra is supposed to be one of THOSE movies! I had heard nothing but
bad comments about it. It seemed to be universally despised. I was not
looking forward to this assignment. By all accounts, I would have more fun
having all my teeth extracted! So I popped the disc into my player with a
fair amount of trepidation, prepared to be subjected to ninety minutes of
tedium. To my surprise it was really rather good!
The plot is lifted from the comic strip of the same name and is the
standard battle of good versus evil. Fans of
Daredevil will have seen her being killed of half-way through.
Miraculously she was resurrected and winds up becoming an elite assassin
for hire. She now has amazing stealth powers and super-fast reflexes. She
is a super-assassin who kills without emotion. Thatís what makes her
latest assignment different. She is mysteriously contracted to murder a
father and daughter in a remote and beautiful location. By chance she gets
to know her targets before realising thatís what they are. She finds she
canít carry out her mission and turns from would-be killer to protector.
There are then two parallel journeys in the movie. The obvious one
involves the fight to keep them alive and a chase ensues Ė leading to the
usual martial-arts style fighting and stunts you associate with this type
of movie. The other is Elektraís journey to redemption.
This is the heart of the movie. It is her change of motivation that allows
us to see the two sides of Elektra. It is a resolution that ties in with
her past. Before her death and resurrection she was one of the good guys.
Having never read the comics, I donít know how closely this ties in with
the history of Elektra but it certainly adds an interesting twist to the
What also makes this movie different is the style and visual flair
employed by the director. Rob Bowman (The X Files - Fight The Future,
Reign of Fire) has used all aspects of the film-making process
to excellent effect. The whole movie feels dark and foreboding but the use
of colour and snappy editing lift crucial moments perfectly. This movie is
Jennifer Garner handles the title role well but her performance is very
reminiscent of her Sydney Bristow character in Alias. She portrays
Elektra as a woman tortured by her past and the movie covers these aspects
with a number of poignant flashback sequences.
Terence Stamp (Superman II, The Adventures of Priscilla
Queen of the Desert) plays the Zatoichi-like role of Stick, her blind mentor
(a role he also played to Matt Murdock in the Daredevil comic
performance is a little stilted and stiff at times but he does get some
good lines and has a particularly good action sequence. Mark Miller (ER's
Goran Visnjic) and his daughter Abby (Kirsten Prout) are convincing as the
family singled out for termination. Elektraís developing relationship with
them gives us a glimpse into her compassionate and vulnerable side.
The baddies consist of assorted super-villains belonging to a cult
determined to possess or destroy the father and daughter. All have
different-but-complimentary skills and work well together as a group.
However, it would have been better to have had some more character
development as we donít know much about them from this film. Hoping your
viewing public is going to have prior knowledge of the history of the
comics is a bad idea. But, having said that, the pace of the movie picks
up when the villains appear so you donít really have time to question
Peter Pan's Jason
Isaacs has a nice uncredited cameo at the beginning of the film.
Some subtle yet excellent special effects are employed. They are always a
little understated yet work perfectly in the context of the scenes. There
are no Wow moments in this movie but that actually makes a refreshing
change. On the whole this film works much better than Daredevil. It
is better paced and acted. Overall, a surprisingly good way to spend an
hour and a half.
The package is a little disappointing. It is classed as a Special
Edition which, from Fox, usually means a two-disc set. For some reason
this is just a single disc. They have crammed quite a bit onto the disc
but not all of it is good. First you get the company's usual irritating
anti-piracy message. Then you get forced trailers and adverts for
The House of Flying Daggers and The Simpsons DVD Collection
and even an advert for Mars Bars. It is getting stupid when movie studios
are advertising food on DVDs. Just use your remote to skip these. The
trailers are in 4:3 ratio and the menus are all 16:9 anamorphic and fully
Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen format, this disc displays a very stable
picture. Fox have definitely produced a much better transfer than the
Daredevil disc. Colours are muted for the most part but vibrant
splashes are used to stunning effect. Elektraís red leather costume
really leaps out from the screen. No MPEG problems were spotted. Even dark
areas were rendered with clarity and contrast. Very little grain was on
show. With a bit-rate of 6.56Mb/sec, this is a very good transfer indeed.
This is not reference quality but is as good as you could expect from this
type of release.
There is one sequence with English
subtitles - these are burnt-in, and not player-generated, so presumably
match those seen in the theatrical presentation of the film.
The film and the bonus features have
optional English HoH subtitles.
The sound mix is very lively and immersive. Surround sound speakers get a
great workout with some great effects whizzing around your head. Happily,
both the Dolby Digital 5.1 track (at 448 kbps) and the DTS track (at 768
kbps) reproduce this perfectly. The DTS track has the upper hand as you
would expect. It is more rounded and realistic with greater depth and
feeling. The only problem I had with the audio was a noticeable silence if
you paused the movie or selected the next chapter and then resumed
playback with the DTS track. At first, I thought this was my player but
testing with other DTS soundtracks proved it was this disc. This was a
check disc so perhaps the problem will be resolved for the commercial
THE BONUS MATERIAL
3 Deleted Scenes
(4:3 Widescreen / Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
The three deleted scenes donít really add that much to the movie. Rob
Bowman provides an optional commentary for the first two and explains the
reasons why they were cut. The first commentary contains strong language.
The Making of Elektra
(4:3 / 15 mins)
A brief but informative Making of... featurette. It is fairly
lightweight but still welcome. We get to see how some of the stunts were
achieved and how everyone seemed to be having a ball! For a Special
Edition you could expect something more substantial.
Elektra : Incarnations
(16:9 Widescreen / 52 mins)
The disc producers decided to make the main extra a documentary about the
world of Elektra comics. It delves deep into the history of Elektraís
character. This documentary is full of fascinating insights and stories
from her initial appearance in the Daredevil comics right through to her
dedicated graphic novels.
Elektraís creator, Frank Miller (of forthcoming Sin City fame), is
interviewed at length about why he created her and the journey he set her
upon. Other participants include Klaus Janson (Inker), Bill Sienkiewicz
(Illustrator / Cover Artist) and Brian Michael Bendis (Writer). They all
display a great passion for the character and the world they have created.
The documentary takes a very frank and critical look at the comics. We get
a great deal of insight into the comic production process with lots of
glimpses of rough artwork and samples. All the different aspects of comic
creation are detailed along with explanations of the reasons for why they
do things the way they do.
The 16:9 anamorphic picture is slightly soft but I suspect this is due to
the documentary's NTSC-to-PAL conversion.
Incarnations is a great documentary that I found truly fascinating.
Having spent a large part of my childhood reading comics, it was great to
see how they produce them. The documentary is a little slow and dry at
times so if you have no interest in comics you will probably find this as
dull as dishwater!
Daredevil : Directorís
Cut Ė Sneek Peek (4:3 / 2 mins)
Nothing more than a short trailer for the recently released
Daredevil: Directorís Cut.
Inside Look at The
Fantastic Four (4:3) and Ice Age 2:The Meltdown (16:9)
Not really worth it. They are just trailers for these forthcoming titles.
The US disc has a very brief (2m) clip of
Jennifer Garner at the Comic Con, and a short featurette about the editing
of the film, but it's missing Elektra: Incarnations.
This was a really pleasant surprise. Elektra is much better than
many people make out. It feels like the first in a series of movies. The
package is disappointing for a Special Edition. Portraying trailers
as Ďindepth featuresí is a very bad move. However the movie itself and the
documentary on the comic books more than makes up for this. Elektra
is certainly worth checking out if you are in the mood for fast action and
martial arts fun.
Potential customers are warned that in
interviews director Rob Bowman has mentioned the possibility of an R-rated
Elektra: Director's Cut DVD (which would perhaps include the
Elektra: Incarnations documentary).
A double-pack that pairs Elektra
with the Daredevil Director's Cut DVD is also available.