I don’t really know anything about comic books. I don’t even know if I’d heard of the X-Men when the movie came out.
Nonetheless, you don’t really have to know anything about comic books in order to enjoy the latest comic book movie installment, “Daredevil.” Ben Affleck plays a shy little kid who gets toxic waste spilled on him, blinding him but giving him superior powers of hearing, touch, smell and taste. Eventually, he becomes a lawyer who decides to dedicate his life to wreaking vigilante justice on all the bad guys that he can’t manage to convict in court.
The plot is simple and pretty predictable — it’s a comic book hero movie. The characters are as two-dimensional as the drawings that they originally were. But there are some kick-ass fight scenes where Daredevil manages to hold his own against guys who can see, due to his special sonar-like hearing ability and his special canes of mysterious origin that shoot out fancy knives to alarm his enemies.
Unlike some other comic book movies, this movie isn’t hard to follow at all, even if you’ve never heard of Daredevil in your life. It has its fair share of symbolism that hits you over the head like a brick — when Daredevil’s father is killed, the little boy runs down an alley in front of a sign that says “End.” In a movie like this one, though, heavy-handedness doesn’t really jar. It just becomes part of telling a simple story that was originally written down in pictures.
The movie does wink at itself at points, like when characters make joking references to Daredevil’s costumes. But it stops a safe distance short of setting itself up, striking a good balance between self-deprecating irony and a movie that takes itself too seriously.
When Daredevil hears his love interest walk into a coffee shop, he can tell how beautiful she is just by the way she sounds and smells. Later on, after they’ve gotten to know each other, he gets the chance to “see” her in the rain by hearing the raindrops fall on her face. It’s a particularly creative love scene that makes the obligitory romantic storyline seem fresh and interesting.
I guess Daredevil’s sonar hearing is sort of strange, in that it’s just like seeing, only blue. But that can be forgiven if you can forgive the idea that this guy wears decorative rubber suits and jumps around on the roofs of buildings at night. And you have to — because what kind of comic book movie doesn’t have that?
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