Review: “Elektra”

Just when you thought comic book adaptations had outlived their usefulness, along comes a film like “Elektra” to hammer that final nail into the coffin. Adapting a major comic hero like “Superman”, “Batman”, “Spider-Man”, etc. is one thing because everyone knows those heroes – they’re part of our pop culture whether you read comics or not. Titles like “Elektra” however aren’t mainstream not because people aren’t aware of them, but because people quite frankly don’t care.

After a series of strong earning and well-received comic adaptations like “Blade”, “X-Men” and “Spider-Man”, Marvel hit its first dip in the road with 2002’s “Daredevil”. The Ben Affleck-led actioneer was a somewhat disjointed MTV-chopped mess that came off more like a bad “Batman” clone than anything else, yet there was some signs of life thanks to a gleefully overacting Colin Farrell and the solid Jennifer Garner making her first foray onto the big screen since she became famous thanks to her award-winning work in ABC’s superb spy action series “Alias”.

Garner reprises her “Daredevil” role in “Elektra”, her death by being stabbed through the heart in the former flick explained away in a quick flashback involving an ambulance and the magically powered but blind Terence Stamp. The hope here is that not hampered by being such a high-profile title as “Daredevil”, the filmmakers can be more creative with what they do in this spin-off. It’s a pity that hope was unjustified as whilst not as bad a film as say recent schlock classic “Catwoman”, it is certainly a much blander one.

Looking like it was shot almost entirely in just two or three pretty locations around the lakes and mountains of the Pacific Northwest, this “First Blood” meets a Chinese fantasy martial arts movie clone is filled with slinky costumes, odd MTV style visual edits and all the ‘life lessons’ you’ve come to expect from these sorts of films. It’s also an incessant bore adding absolutely nothing to the genre and wasting good talent like Garner, Stamp and Lee who’ve all done so much better work.

Garner for the first time I found disappointing. One of her greatest strengths is her enthusiasm and energy, something which shines through each week on “Alias” even amongst the heavy thriller conspiracy subplots. Her Elektra in “Daredevil” at least had a sense of humour and a glint in her eye. Here, Elektra has become a cold and empty fish in cotton fetish wear. Attempts are made to try for a little emotional development without success.

After being mired in self-loathing and soul searching that goes nowhere, the last 30 minutes of the film finally gives us some action but Director Rob Bowman’s desire for funky visuals on a budget yield some very uninteresting takedown battles including one scene almost directly lifted out of “Hero”, and baddies that may have sounded cool on paper (woman with a deadly kiss/touch, man with tattoos that come alive) but just feel like cheap “X-Men” villains on screen.

Armed with a barely existent script, no real story, a slightly self-indulgent director, a snore-inducing pacing, and visuals that betray very limited financial backing, not even Garner can save “Elektra”. This is another indicator that Marvel should start getting concerned about its future. With Warners finally getting their DC comic adaptations on the right track and Pixar’s “The Incredibles” setting a precedent which Marvel’s “Fantastic Four” is going to find very hard to live up to, “Elektra” comes as a sign that some comic properties should just be left on the page.