Elektra (2005)

elektra_2005_500x375_279977Going in to pissed off fan boy mode in 3, 2, 1: So, here’s a history lesson in case you wanted it or not. Elektra, pre-Hollywoodization, was a beautiful but incredibly vicious warrior. She had depth, and personality and humanity, and was forced to turn against her beliefs when Bullseye, the psychotic killer murdered her beloved father in front of her eyes. Elektra blamed Daredevil for not helping when he could have and trained with the Hand to become a warrior. She returned to stalk Daredevil and fell in love with him. She was killed at the hands of Bullseye and returned as an undead warrior, more vicious than ever. All of this made possible by Frank Miller.

Now, how can Hollywood turn one of the most enigmatic, beautiful, vicious, and deadly villains/allies/love interests/femme fatales of the Daredevil universe in to a bland spin-off vehicle for a somewhat talented actress? Gaze upon the offering of Hollywood Douchebaggery. “Elektra” is not only a very weak movie but a complete antecedent. Much like earlier comic adaptations, it takes a winning formula and completely changes it using little to none of the original aspects that made its original material worth reading. Over the years, I’ve come to like “Daredevil” less and less as a film, and “Elektra” is an utterly unnecessary spin-off that is much weaker. Poor Marvel, you were doing so good, you went from the upper echelons of creativity to this and Brett Ratner. My god.

“Elektra” would be tolerable if not completely lifeless and weak from beginning to end. As a film it’s not awful, I’ve seen much worse, but it’s bad because it has no life or creativity to it. And taking a different direction in terms of this spin-off along the lines of the magical isn’t original either, since Miller went with that direction for Elektra long ago, he just didn’t make it as cheese ball or Saturday Morning Cartoonish. Miller’s depiction of Daredevil and Elektra were in shades of gray, with this we know whom the good and bad guys are from the costumes. And then in a truly pathetic gauge at audience’s memory banks, there’s the explanation in the beginning that offers the origin of Elektra, but for me it was the writers declaring “Remember her? She’s from that Daredevil movie you hated”.

When it’s not being a bad-rip off of “Leon: The Professional” with almost identical scenarios, and ridiculous lines like “So you really kill people for a living?” and the obvious reply “It’s what I’m good at.” (Well, bravo for the originality.) it’s just a weak version of the character with every essence of Miller’s original story bastardized. Stick, a wise important figure in the Daredevil comics, becomes a cliché poetry spewing mentor for Elektra, Typhoid Mary goes from sadistic seductive murderer, to goofy haired henchman, and Elektra is boring. As for Garner she’s basically toned down here with little to no real dramatic nuances, and hardly any dialogue that would set her performance apart from everyone else. Garner is just not hero material. She lacks the acting skill, the appeal, and sexual allure needed to hold a movie, not to mention she’s all wrong for the character.

It’s a sentiment that I gather audiences discovered which would account for the spin-off’s poor performance. But I think it’s that “Elektra” is such a blatant obvious cash-in, it was just embarrassing. There really isn’t that much narrative except for the basic layout before the second half which is covered with action sequences and dialogue that has no real depth. “Elektra” attempts to build up to something and never pays up, and I would say it’s basically all build up and no pay off were the build up actually engrossing. The character of Elektra, for a woman who lost a lover, lost her life, has no family, or home, or money, or friends, was ex-communicated by her organization, and disowned by her master, really seems well-adjusted and as an assassin really doesn’t seem to be too depressed most of the time.

She moves next to a small family of Goran Visnjic who has nothing to do here, and Kirsten Prout, who goes from whiny kid to annoying sidekick in only thirty minutes. Not to mention she bears a shocking resemblance to Emily Van Camp. She presents more charisma here than Garner herself, but that’s not saying much in the end seeing as how she can barely act. As for Elektra, she discovers the family she moves next to is the one she’s supposed to eliminate. She has a conflict of conscience, but we wouldn’t know it since the story is so rushed. There’s not enough time spent with her bonding with them, and gaining a relationship, just a few basic scenes that let us know their relationship, and then there’s plot twist which is forced, and utterly predictable.

If that’s not enough we have a bunch of villains whom look like stalwarts from a Comic-Con. I didn’t know whether to find it funny or pathetic that Terence Stamp is in this, and one of the villains looks a lot like General Zod. Either way, with a bland lead villain, the film ends with a rather anti-climactic and understated whisper. Most skeptics have been saying that these female superhero movies don’t do well because they’re starring women, but I say that’s feminist paranoia, give us an actual interesting female superhero for once and maybe the audiences will flock to see them. Stop giving us these poor vehicles with no originality, or exciting aspects. “Elektra” is an utterly embarrassing misfire with poor performances, contrived elements, and a weak premise.