It never ceases to amaze me how many great films have slipped right under my radar. Especially films made by some of my favorite directors. Thanks to the ever-growing library of films distributed by Shout! Factory, I finally get a chance to not only see some of those films, but to also see them in their best presentations to date.
Darkman is one of the most overall entertaining films I’ve seen in a good while. It has something for everyone to enjoy — action scenes packed to the brim with explosions, an outstanding script, and superb acting performances delivered by an all-star cast, including a bunch of Sam Raimi mainstays, Danny Hicks, Ted Raimi, and a special appearance by Bruce Campbell.
Dr. Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) is on the verge of discovering a way to regenerate damaged skin tissue. When the local thugs and criminals pay his lab a visit, they destroy everything he’s worked for and leave him for dead. Due to a medical procedure performed to keep Westlake out of a permanent Hell of pain, his body no longer reaches limitations known to normal individuals. He now exhibits bouts of abnormal rage, but also abnormal strength and power. He’s now made it his duty to seek revenge and reunite with the love of his life, Julie (Frances McDormand).
Liam Neeson is brilliant as the vengeful Dr. Peyton who is now transformed into the Darkman. I’ve always been a fan of Neeson’s more popular roles, as seen in films like Taken or even Star Wars, but watching him perform in this 1990 Raimi film, adds a whole new dimension to the actors career, in my eyes. We witness firsthand what it is like to not only go through a large number of physical changes, but also what mental and emotion changes he must go through, as well.
The camerawork by Bill Pope is exceptionally good throughout this film. From amazing high altitude, helicopter scenes, to the classic Raimi close-ups, everything fits perfectly. Additionally, the make-up and effects displayed are exceptional well done. I’ll even go as far as saying Darkman’s burns and scars would make Aaron Eckhart’s “Two-Face” hide in shame.
If you are a fan of films like Swamp Thing and/or love Sam Raimi’s work, do yourself a favor and check out Shout! Factory’s release of Darkman. You won’t be disappointed.
I give this film 4 synthetic skin masks out of 5.