Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Before They Were Stars: Darkman


Hey all! We travel further into Before They Were Stars week and let us focus on a fellow who started as he called it a bit actor in some impressive films such as Excalibur, Krull and The Bounty.  So I thought we would reflect on his first lead role.    So get your popcorn and soda, enjoy your comfy chair.  This is Darkman.

Spoilers operate from the shadows…


Director Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, The Quick and the Dead, For Love of the Game, The Gift and Spider-Man) gathers a team of writers such as: Chuck Pfarrer (The Jackal, Red Planet and Virus), Ivan Raimi (Easy Wheels, Army of Darkness, Spy Game and Spiderman 3) Daniel Goldin (Out on a Limb and Stephen King’s Dead Zone) and Joshua Goldin (Out on a Limb, Wonderful World and Outlaw Country) collaborate to create a good, decent man and break him slowly.    With the haunting composure of Danny Elfman (Batman, Beetlejuice, The Flash, Batman Returns, Army of Darkness, Batman: The Animated Series, Tales from the Crypt and Mars Attacks) a gang war is spreading over the territories and land is being snatched up left and right no matter what the cost.   To what end you may ask?   We then shoot over to Doctor Peyton Westlake’s (Liam Neeson of Excalibur, Rob Roy, Schindler’s List, Gangs of New York, Love Actually, Batman Begins and Taken) laboratory as he and his assistant Yakitito (Nelson Mashita of Rising Sun, Independence Day, Drive and NYPD Blue) are attempting to create an artificial skin that would replace skin graphs and deep tissue burns, the catch is they cannot seem to get it to last beyond 100 minutes of exposure to light.   

So close to this discovery that would benefit humanity he discusses the experiment with lawyer girlfriend Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand of Raising Arizona, Mississippi Burning, Hidden Agenda, Fargo, Primal Fear, Wonder Boys and Almost Famous) whose pesky need for the truth may have uncovered some unsavory acts in zoning laws for the newest construction by Louis Strack (Colin Friels of Water Rats, Dark City,The Book of Revelation, BlackJack: Dead Memory, BlackJack: At the Gates and BlackJack:Ghosts) would appear to not only Strack Industries is accountable for bribes but in league with a nefarious criminal Robert G Durant (Larry Drake of L.A. Law, Dr. Giggles, Prey, Darkman II: The Return of Durant and The Beast) on this lucrative land grab scheme to net millions.  


Durant and his boys hit Westlake’s lab, pummeling and disfiguring him as well as killing Yakitito blowing up Westlake’s lab sending him in a fireball out to sea.   He awakes in the hospital but the explosion has altered him.  40% of his body is covered in burns and to cease him from having pain the doctor( Jenny Agutter of Logan’s Run, The Man in the Iron Mask, Equus, Dominique, An American Werewolf in London and MI-5) does a procedure to block the nerve endings are greatly damaged in the fact he can hardly feel anything.   With this in mind, he feels as though he is going through sensory deprivation and is easily angered causing a huge surge of adrenaline within him giving him uncharted amounts of strength.  Little point of observation, I swear one of the visiting doctors looks like John Landis (director of Animal House, An American Werewolf in London, The Blues Brothers and Coming to America).   

Afraid, ruined and broken, Westlake attempts to continue his research if not to be reunited with Julie but to take revenge on Durant and his cronies.   With all his equipment and synthetic skin at his abandoned factory (must be New York, the heroes and villains always find an abandoned factory) the ready he plots and schemes how to best destroy the men that took his life. 

You get the feel of a hybrid of a 1940’s radio show based on the villains’ dialogue but the seamy underbelly of a 1980’s graphic novel all jumbled together.  With influences like the Looney Tunes, Three Stooges and Marvel Comics is it any wonder this film is as insane as it is well constructed.  We get old favorite POV views as well as; Gunsight POV, Ram-o Cam and Shaky Cam as well.   Raimi of course keeps to his favorites to work with and we do get an appearance of Bruce Campbell, his brother Ted Raimi and Dan Hicks; you just gotta keep them eyes peeled. Over the top villains, a tormented hero and of course, the dame with the gams it’s a fun and bizarre ride.