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Poor execution dooms Elektra

By Lady Liberty
web posted January 17, 2005


* 1/2 out of ***

Jennifer Garner as ElektraJust over a year ago, moviemakers riding the wave of comic book characters brought to life on the big screen made a feature film of Daredevil. The story may have had potential; the hero may have been interesting. The movie, however, brought neither to audiences. It did, however, introduce the theatrical version of Elektra. The few of you who saw Daredevil may remember that, in that film, Elektra fought a movie villain and died. But as we all know, Hollywood won't let a little thing like death ruin an opportunity to sell tickets, and Elektra is back as the title character of a movie released this weekend.

Elektra (Jennifer Garner) did die in Daredevil, says the new movie, but a man named Stick (Terence Stamp) brought her back to life. As a master of a mystical discipline called kimagure, Stick is not only able to see the future in a limited way but can raise dead warriors. Elektra trains for awhile with her new mentor, but eventually finds herself on her own and voluntariily cut off from most of humanity. She works as an assassin, and communicates regularly only with the agent who gives her the information she needs to go off on her next job. When she receives her newest assignment, she travels to a remote location to prepare to kill again.

Much against Elektra's will, her solitude is invaded by a 13 year-old neighbor girl named Abby (Kirsten Prout). The teen won't take "no" for an answer, and before she knows it, Elektra finds herself visiting Abby and her father, Mark (Goran Visnjic). It isn't long before Elektra discovers there's more to Mark and Abby's story than they're telling her. Elektra, of course, has secrets of her own. But despite her reluctance to get involved or attached, Elektra is forced into at least a temporary alliance when she learns that Mark and Abby do have one thing in common with her: enemies known as The Hand.

Roshi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), the current leader of The Hand, is bound and determined to capture a treasure his group has been after for years. He agrees to let a powerful warrior named Kirigi (Will Yun Lee) make the attempt after others have failed. Kirigi calls in some powerful alllies—including Typhoid Mary, Tattoo, Stone, and Kinkou (Natassia Malthe, Chris Ackerman, Bob Sapp, and Edson T. Ribeiro)—and sets out to make his reputation and take the leadership of The Hand by succeeding. But he'll have to get past Elektra first.

The general idea behind Elektra isn't bad. Unfortunately, much of the execution is just that. The script is disjointed, and clumsy editing makes it even more so. The plot, as simple as it is, occasionally gets completely lost in some abrupt direction change or another. The choreography for the fight scenes is sorely lacking, and that lack is badly covered by editing that's far too quick and chaotic to be anything but an obvious and badly done trick (one exception is the larger portion of a fight in a vacant mansion where the cinemetography is spectacular and the fight only a little less so). The special effects are reasonably well done in most instances; in fact, I could have spent much more time watching those involving Tattoo. Meanwhile, Jennifer Garner, who was terrific in 13 Going on 30, is supposed to be stoic here, but her performance is positively wooden instead. Goran Visnjic and Kirsten Prout are good; Will Yun Lee is a treat as the charismatic Kirigi.

But a few good performances, and some instances of nice special effects, aren't nearly enough to save Elektra. I laughingly mentioned to some friends in passing this week that I intended to see Elektra this weekend because "it couldn't be as bad as Daredevil." It's not. But given that movie's shortcomings, saying another film is better is faint praise at best. And faint praise is the most that Elektra deserves.

FAMILY SUITABILITY: Elektra is rated PG-13 for "action violence." I didn't see anything in the movie that would make it unsuitable for children of age 10 or so and up, but the few younger kids in the theatre when I was there gave every impression of being bored. In truth, the first full length trailer I've seen for the Fantastic 4 movie (due out July 4) was better than the entire movie that followed it. If you're thinking of seeing a comic book-based movie this year, you might want to hold out for that one.

Lady Liberty is a graphic designer and pro-freedom activist currently residing in the Midwest. More of her writings and other political and educational information is available on her web site, Lady Liberty's Constitution Clearing House, at http://www.ladylibrty.com. E-mail Lady Liberty at ladylibrty@ladylibrty.com.


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