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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Rob Bowman
Cast:
Jennifer Garner, Goran Visnjic, Kirsten Prout, Will Yun Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Terence Stamp, Natassia Malthe, Bob Sapp, Chris Ackerman
Writing Credits:
Mark Steven Johnson (motion picture characters), Frank Miller (comic book characters), Zak Penn, Stu Zicherman, Raven Metzner

Tagline:
Looks can kill.

Synopsis:
From the forces that brought you X-Men and Daredevil - Superstar Jennifer Garner proves that looks can kill as the sexiest action hero ever to burst from the pages of Marvel Comics.

Restored to life after sustaining mortal wounds in Daredevil, an icy, solitary Elektra (Garner) now lives only for death as the world’s most lethal assassin. Using her bone-crunching martial arts skills and Kimagure - the ability to see into the future - Elektra is on a collision course with darkness - until her latest assignment forces her to make a choice that will lead either to her redemption or destruction in the ultimate battle between good and evil!

Box Office:
Budget
$43 million.
Opening Weekend
$14.792 million on 3203 screens.
Domestic Gross
$24.375 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 4/5/2005

Bonus:
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Making of Elektra” Featurette
• “Inside the Editing Room” Featurettes
• Jennifer Garner’s Comic-Con Presentation
• Trailers
• Inside Look


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Elektra (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 21, 2005)

When you decide to spin off a franchise, shouldn’t the original qualify as a genuine hit? With a gross just barely past the $100 million mark, 2003’s Daredevil didn’t exactly light a lot of fires. So why’d Fox decide to spin off a supporting character for 2005’s Elektra? I guess hope springs eternal, though the horrible $40 million gross for 2004’s Catwoman must have given the folks at Fox some chills.

Does Elektra live down to the level of that classic clunker? Probably not, though the pair seem to be kissing cousins. Obviously audiences were even less interested in Daredevil’s girlfriend, as Elektra grossed a pathetic $24 million.

At the start of Elektra, we learn about a mystical order called The Hand, a group with its good and evil sides. Their prophecies predict a female warrior who will act as the final weapon in an ancient war. The Hand wants to do away with “the Treasure” so no one else can take advantage of her powers, and they send folks to get rid of her.

We meet Elektra (Jennifer Garner), a paid assassin who may go too far and who drives herself very hard. Her agent McCabe (Colin Cunningham) gets her jobs but she otherwise has little contact with the outside world. This starts to change when she takes on a new assignment and lands on an island in the Pacific Northwest. She meets somewhat wild 13-year-old Abby (Kirsten Prout) and her single dad Mark (Goran Visnjic). Against her better judgment, she starts to warm to them, and that complicates matters when she finds out they’re her assassination assignment.

This means that she backs out of the job, but that doesn’t get Abby and Mark out of the woods. Others come after them, and Elektra starts to act as their protector. This leads to even tougher foes, as the Hand sends out a group of super-powered bad-asses to take down the whole lot of them. The rest of the movie follows their battles as well as various twists.

Rather than discuss what goes wrong in Elektra, maybe it’d be easier to cover what works. Ummm… Errr…. (Cue the sound of chirping crickets.)

I suppose the film could be worse, but unfortunately, it has very little going for it. I usually like Garner, as she can almost single-handedly make a film succeed. That was the case with the surprisingly charming 13 Going on 30, and I also liked Garner when she first played Elektra in Daredevil: “Garner brings solid grace and power to her parts of the film. She certainly looks great as Elektra, and she makes her action sequences believable. She also brings a sense of danger to the role that keeps her from becoming just another action chick.”

Unfortunately, she seems overwhelmed by the burden of stretching Elektra to the leading character in a full movie, and her bland performance reflects that. Or maybe she just didn’t know how to overcome the lackluster script, but whatever the case, Garner seems badly miscast for the role as featured in this movie.

How can I see her as so good in Daredevil and so bad here when she plays the same part? Simple - this isn’t the same Elektra. The character in Daredevil more closely approximated a real person, as she had range and demonstrated various personality facets. Elektra’s lead mostly comes across as dour; though the movie occasionally allows her a little depth, Garner usually looks either sad or mad. She doesn’t handle the quiet intensity required, and she also just looks nervous when she should be determined.

Garner looks the part well enough for the battle sequences, but unfortunately, technology undermines her there. Elektra makes liberal use of CG for all its baddies and fights. Those range from simply unconvincing to wholly dreadful, and they genuinely distract from the action. At times it almost feels like you can see the wires that support the actors, and the visual effects look fake. Those problems rob the fights of any potential power and they keep us distanced from the story.

Not that this trite and predictable tale offers much intrigue anyway. The second Elektra meets Abby, it’s absolutely inevitable that she’ll become surrogate mom and will work through her own demons. Those are represented by Elektra’s flashbacks to her own childhood, and they mean that the film often feels like something you’d see on Lifetime. I suppose it’s possible to deftly meld chick flick and action tale, but that doesn’t happen here.

Bizarrely, Elektra takes an exceedingly simple plot and somehow makes it muddled and confusing. Do we ever really understand the Hand and their quest? Not really, as the movie fails to provide a good explanation of that crew. Other details don’t receive strong exposition as well, and this all comes across as sloppy storytelling.

I think Elektra theoretically could have been a decent movie, and I felt the same about Catwoman. Unfortunately, both movies falter in too many different ways to ever succeed. Elektra lacks the giddy campiness of Catwoman, which may actually be a negative. At least the latter let us laugh at it, while Elektra never presents similar mocking joy. It’s just a mess.


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus D+

Elektra appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Since Elektra hit theaters about 20 minutes ago, it didn’t have time to run into any problems. That meant a strong transfer.

Across the board, sharpness looked terrific. Virtually no softness ever crept into the presentation. The movie consistently came across as concise and distinctive. Jagged edges and shimmering created no concerns, and I also noticed only a smidgen of edge enhancement. No source flaws ever appeared, as the movie lacked marks, specks, debris or distractions of any kind.

Just like every other flick that tries to be hip and edgy, Elektra featured a highly stylized palette. Most of the time the movie went with a golden tone, all the better to make Elektra’s signature reds more prominent. Within the confines of the visual design, the colors looked solid, as I noticed no bleeding, noise or other concerns. Blacks seemed dynamic and rich, while low-light shots demonstrated fine delineation and clarity. Nothing much interfered with the picture here, as the movie always looked great.

Similar thoughts greeted the audio of Elektra. As was the case with its predecessor Daredevil, the flick boasted both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. The DTS mix seemed just a smidgen more involving and vibrant. However, the differences weren’t substantial enough to warrant a higher grade for the DTS audio, as the pair mostly appeared identical.

Big comic book movies usually come with big action soundtracks, and that was often the case with Elektra. The flick lacked the consistent assault of something like Daredevil, but it used the various channels to good effect. Music showed nice stereo imaging, and the effects cropped up from various locations with good delineation and blending. Quieter scenes demonstrated a fine sense of atmosphere, and the louder ones kicked the action into higher gear. The movie didn’t present many real standout scenes, but it balanced the five channels with good involvement and activity.

No issues connected to audio quality occurred. Speech always appeared natural and concise, with no edginess or intelligibility problems. Music sounded robust and dynamic. Highs were tight, while low-end was deep and firm. Effects followed suit, with bright, accurate elements at all times. These never became distorted, and they kicked in with good bass response when necessary. All in all, the audio impressed.

Perhaps as a reflection of the movie’s financial failure, Elektra lacks many extras. To open the DVD’s supplements, we find three Deleted Scenes. All together, they last four minutes, 55 seconds. We see “Sai Approach”, “’Come Back to Me’”, and “Rounding Up the Troops”. “’Come Back to Me’” unquestionably acts as the most interesting clip since it includes a cameo from Ben Affleck; it’s good to see some acknowledgement of Elektra’s cinematic past. Otherwise, these scenes offer minor embellishments and little more.

A documentary called The Making of Elektra runs 12 minutes, 58 seconds. It offers the standard mix of movie clips, behind the scenes shots, and interviews. We hear from director Rob Bowman, producers Gary Foster and Avi Arad, stunt coordinator Mike Gunther, stuntman JJ Makaro, costume designer Lisa Tomczeszyn, and actors Jennifer Garner, Terence Stamp, Kirsten Prout, and Goran Visnjic. The program discusses characters and story, stunts and martial arts training, costumes and the comic book influence. While “Making” approaches the flick from a promotional point of view, it tosses out some interesting tidbits. The examination of the stunts and Garner’s training are pretty good - albeit brief - recaps, and the notes about Elektra’s outfit is also cool. We don’t get a lot of useful information here, but for a program of this genre, it’s not bad.

The Comic-Con Presentation gives us a 95-second clip. A videotaped piece, it shows Garner from the set of the flick as she touts the flick for the assembled nerds. It’s vaguely cool from a historical point of view, but it’s not very interested otherwise. It exists simply to promote the movie.

Four Inside the Editing Room featurettes come next. These go for a total of seven minutes, five seconds and cover four scenes: “Only a Warrior”, “I Died Once”, “The Way” and “Don’t Force It”. I thought these programs would show various editorial choices and let us look at the movie’s assembly. That’s not the case. Instead, Bowman just tells us some minor facts about sets, costumes, and the story. Mostly these exist to promote the film, as they offer virtually no insight into the production.

In addition to the teaser and theatrical trailers for Elektra, we get ads for the movie’s soundtrack as well as the TV series American Dad and Family Guy. A staple on the studio’s DVDs, Inside Look promises “an exclusive insider’s look at upcoming projects from Fox”. Here we find trailers for The Fantastic Four and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Apparently there’s a Wonder Woman flick in development - perhaps it’ll stem the tide of poor films that star female comic book characters. Unfortunately, Elektra falls into that category. While not as laughable as Catwoman, it lacks anything to make it enjoyable or exciting. The DVD presents excellent picture and audio but fails to deliver substantial extras. A true triumph of style over substance, Elektra never lives up to its potential.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3529 Stars Number of Votes: 34
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