Welcome to The Daily Cup a movie blog/writing project by Kyle B. Dekker, presented by Hot Chocolate Media. You can read series concept here. The basic rules, Kyle must watch 365 movies in 2018 and write about all of them. 292 of them have to be movies he's never seen before. Thanks for reading.
"What about Darkman though? When Liam Neeson’s face was changin? Homie was straight face changin!"
I would wager a guess most people’s sum knowledge of Sam Rami’s Darkman (1990) comes from the amazing Valet sketch by Key & Peele. I have vague memories of watching this film as a kid on VHS at my friends house. It’s been at least 20 years since that day, another viewing was in order (plus one of my favorite film podcasts Junk Food Cinema just did an episode about it so it was a must watch, you should check it out).
Whenever I have distant but fond memories of a film I’m always concerned that the rose colored glasses of notalgia will set me up for a disappointing re-watch. No worries with Darkman as it holds up in almost every regard, with the exception of its optical effects. At the time of release the three best comic book movies ever made were Superman, Superman II, and Tim Burton’s Batman. Darkman holds up, and is probably my favorite out of all these. It’s goofy, violent, and I love the characters.
Liam Neeson plays scientist Peyton Westlake, who is developing 3D printing for synthetic flesh for burn victims (this may the first time 3D printing is portrayed in film). An obvious telegraph of the sad fate awaiting him. His romantic partner Julie Hastings (Frances McDormand) is an attorney who finds evidence of corruption in some big real estate developments. This leads the ringleader of an underworld crime syndicate Robert Durant (Larry Drake) to Peyton’s lab where horrible violence happens and the good doctor is horribly burned an presumed dead.
The meat of the film is about Peyton Westlake (now calling himself Darkman) getting revenge on the the criminals who destroyed his life, while he also tries to rekindle his relationship with Julie. He does this primarily by using his 3D flesh printing technology to don the skin of the bad guys and infiltrate their organization to weave chaos and destruction. Darkman only has 99 minutes in his disguise skin before it starts melting away, exposing the monster within. It’s a great plot hook that adds a sense of urgency to each scene Darkman impersonates another person (at one point even an unburned version of himself).
All of the “straight up face changin” sets up my favorite part of the film. In these scenes they do makeup on the actors who Darkman is posing as to make them look just a little off. Extra sweat, slight paleness, etc… the actors do a fantastic job in their performances in these scenes, making you think they are Liam Neeson in the skin of another person. As a performer and director, this is mind blowingly cool. The greatest strength of this film is the cast from top to bottom. Neeson and McDormand root the film in a sense of heart and respectability and the rest of the small cast create a fun and wonderful storyland you enjoy from beginning to end.
Darkman is pure fun, it’s a comic book come alive with camp, fantasy, and, stylized action that feel like they’ve been ripped from the page. My only complaint is that the blue screen/green screen work does not hold up at all and is truly terrible. The practical and makeup effects more than compensate for that, and all in all Darkman is awesome.
Movies new to me watched: 8/292
Other movies: 1/73
Total movies watched: 9/365
Have your own thoughts or opinions on this movie? Comment below or contact Kyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @kbdekker.