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Darkman: Collector's Edition (1990) - Blu-ray Review

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Darkman Collector's Edition - Blu-ray Review

4 stars

Sam Raimi. Do I need to say anything more? This little film has it all: horror, sci-fi, comedy, romance, drama, and superheroes. With Raimi’s knack for detail and energy behind the camera, Darkman is a total blast from my teenage past that hints at things to come from both Raimi and his then unknown lead actor, Liam Neeson. The project was his first big studio deal and Universal ran him through the ringer with post-production woes and, while not fully as Raimi intended it to be, Darkman was a modest cult hit that has another chance to breathe thanks to Scream Factory’s blu-ray release.

Who is Darkman? That is what audiences were asked months ahead of its original release and, truth be told, we had no answer for it. It was an intriguing question that made a lot of people want to go to the movie and find out. Turns out, Darkman is a crime fighter out for revenge in this his origin story written by Ivan and Sam Raimi. Both silly and violent, Darkman was a hit for those who understood the darker themes and mixed genres.

Darkman is the story of scientist Dr. Peyton Westlake (Neeson) and his quest for a new type of synthetic skin to help acid-burned victims. He is frustrated that he is unable to develop a permanent solution but all that is interrupted by mobster Robert Durant (Larry Drake) and his gang. They burn him and permanently disfigure him while looking for important documents for corrupt city developer Louis Strack (Colin Friels) who is currently making the moves on Westlake’s girlfriend, Julie (Frances McDormand).

Westlake, unbeknownst to all, survives the attack and tries to put the pieces of this massive puzzle together. They all lead back to Julie. Developing the skin, he comes out of hiding and tries to reconnect with Julie while explaining what has happened to him. Unfortunately, the criminals force him to make a decision between the past and the present and he becomes the figure known as Darkman, out to seek justice and avenge the murder of his previous life.

Aided by an excellent score from Danny Elfman, Darkman works as homage to the Universal monster movies of yore and as an entirely new superhero creation. Some great themes are introduced as Neeson tries to reconnect with his old life but discovers his rage is too much to safely contain. So don’t quite buy into much of Darkman but it is that tone which sets it apart from modern comic book adaptations. The more you understand the tone, the more you will enjoy the movie.

Darkman is pure comic book cool.

Darkman Collector's Edition - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
96 mins
Director
: Sam Raimi
Writer:
Chuck Pfarrer
Cast:
Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Colin Friels
Genre
: Crime | Sci-fi | Fantasy
Tagline:
In the darkest hour, there is a light that shines on every human being...but ONE!
Memorable Movie Quote: "What is it about the dark? What secret does it hold?"
Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 24, 1990
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 18, 2014
Synopsis: A brilliant scientist left for dead returns to exact revenge on the people who burned him alive.

Darkman Collector's Edition - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - February 18, 2014
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

The film is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Scream Factory (an imprint of Shout! Factory) with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. Colors are slightly more robust in this transfer but the removal of the layer of grain makes things a bit too shiny and polished. The image is clear and stable, and overall this is watchable, just not the perfect update we were hoping for. Two good lossless tracks, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track are provided.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Director of Photography (and director himself) Bill Pope gives the detailed commentary in which he talks about the look of the film and the style of the genre shoot.

Special Features:

Scream Factory collects new interviews with Liam Neeson, Larry Drake, Frances McDormand, and several members of the cast and crew. Each and every one of them says that they had an enjoyable experience. Neeson reveals that he still has the hat and shirt. Drake loves playing a socially unredeemable character. McDormand still can’t believe the performance that Neeson gives and states that he just loved working behind the mask. Sadly, there are no recent interviews from Sam Raimi or composer Danny Elfman.

  • Interview with Liam Neeson (7 min)
  • The Name is Durant with Larry Drake (16 min)
  • The Face of Revenge with Makeup Designer Tony Gardner (13 min)
  • Henchmen Tales (13 min)
  • Dark Design (17 min)
  • An Interview with Frances McDormand (11 min)
  • Darkman Featurette (6 min)
  • Cast and Crew Interviews (9 min)
  • Vintage Interview Galleries include:
    • Colin Friels (12 min)
    • Frances McDormand (20 min)
    • Liam Neeson (28 min)
    • Sam Raimi (23 min)

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