When I reviewed Watchmen, I thought about all the other lesser-known superhero movies that I’ve seen but never reviewed, and one popped up in my head, Darkman. While this movie looks and feels like a very well-crafted and classic superhero, you have to remember that Sam Raimi created him, this anti-hero. I remember watching this years and years ago, nearly forgotten, but when you watch it after so long, it comes flooding back to your memory – let’s get into it.
Darkman stars none other than Liam Neeson in the role, as a scientist who is working on regenerating skin cells, but his main problem is that the skin cells die after 99 minutes. He later learns its because the skin survives in the dark, and only the dark. When an attempt is made on his life, his body is badly burned, sending him to the hospital – where they save his life by removing his sense of pain. After he leaves the hospital, he’s bent on revenge, so he heads back to the lab, where he can become anyone he wants to be.
The concept of this movie is incredible, so incredible that you imagine it’s derived from a comic like every other superhero or anti-hero out there, and it’s not. This all came out from that magical mind of Sam Raimi, and you can feel Raimi’s presence. If you’ve ever seen his Spider-Man movies or the Tim Burton Batman films, you’ve got a good sense of what you’re watching. Danny Elfman scores this movie in a similar tone to Batman, which was a good choice, given how absolutely dark this movie is – and a lot of the physical elements and things that happen are borrowed years later when Raimi does Spider-Man, including swinging on a wire through a city and through steal beams, but the rest is super original, and such a great idea.
It’s such a great concept and premise that I’m actually shocked that there hasn’t been any remakes yet. There is a trilogy of the film, but it stars different people in the movies. When it comes to Liam’s role, that makes sense, but anyone else but Neeson as even just the voice isn’t worth it. He does a brilliant job as Peyton. That being said, the film does suffer when it comes to visuals, it’s 1990, and the graphics just don’t work anymore. You understand what they are getting at, but there’s a lot of badly designed things happening in the background – even with just a backdrop…they could use the benefits of modern technology. Also, the writing is sometimes cheesy, but that’s also Sam Raimi, so what do I know?
Darkman was one of the best superhero movies of its time, had a smart concept, a really great make-up team, and great sense of darkness when it comes to tone and feel – which other than Batman was completely unheard of for heroes back then. It could use some help with visuals and maybe writing, but overall, this is a fun movie that shouldn’t be missed. Check it out!