In "Daredevil", Elektra (Jennifer Garner) was essentially left for dead. Garner's bright-eyed, lively peformance was the best thing about that movie, so it was with moderately high hopes that I sat down to view "Elektra", the film that brings her character back. Directed by Rob Bowman (I think I'm one of the few who really liked his "Reign Of Fire"), the film has Elektra being resurrected (pretty much no backstory, aside from a flashback or two) by blind martial artist Stick (Terrence Stamp) and trained to become an even more expert fighter than she was before - sort of: she is thrown out before he finishes her training.
Meanwhile, a shadowy group called "The Hand" (it's okay to chuckle, I did, too) is seeking out Abby (Kristen Prout), who apparently has special abilities. She lives with her father (Goran Visnjic) in a house on a gorgeous lake in what appears to be somewhere in the general vicinity of British Columbia, which seems like the entirely wrong place to stage a comic book movie like this (there's just no real sense of dread and nothing really omnious about a pretty forest), but oh well.
When Elektra finds that her latest target is Abby and her father, she refuses. That's when the Hand gets upset and tries to squash all three of them, sending some of their most powerful henchmen to get the trio. These include a guy that has wolves jumping out of him via tattoos. This would all be moderately exciting if it as staged a bit better. Surprisingly, Bowman's fight scenes are edited (speaking of editing, the picture has the feeling that some pretty sizable chunks ended up on the cutting room floor) too heavily, turning them into a bit of a mess, lacking tension. The film also uses CGI in some scenes, and not only is it not of high quality, some of it's not explained well - why do the bad guys disappear in a puff of green smoke after they're killed?
The other issue with the film is the dialogue and plot - one is cheesy and the other is thin - neither gives Garner (an actress I really like) a chance to really get into the role. While some have accused Garner of being bland, I think she's excellent at comedy and in dramatic roles she can be tough, yet vulnerable and haunted, but only if the character is well-developed. The cast doesn't have much chemistry with each other, either. Supporting efforts are okay, although I don't see why Proust's character had to be such a brat. The less said about the lengthy ending, the better.
Overall, "Elektra" was neither terrible nor good - just a very average time waster that could have made much better use of the character and the actors involved.
VIDEO: "Elektra" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen (a pan & scan version is available, but certainly not recommended). The picture quality is generally excellent - this is a very fine presentation from Fox that boasts strong, largely consistent definition. Aside from a couple of minor moments here-and-there, the picture appeared crisp and clear, with strong detail.
Flaws were pretty few-and-far-between, with only a little bit of edge enhancement present on a couple of brief occasions. Pixelation was not spotted, nor were any print flaws. Colors remained bright, vivid and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: "Elektra" is presented by Fox in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. The sound mix is more than adequate for this kind of picture, with good use of the surrounds for effects and ambience. Audio quality was very good, with nice bass at times. Effects seemed well-recorded, as did music and dialogue. Both the Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks were very good, although the DTS seemed a bit more dynamic and seamless.
EXTRAS: A trio of deleted scenes and a basic "making of" featurette start things off, then we get a "Comic Con Presentation", where Garner sends a message to the fans attending the massive Comic Con. "Inside the Editing Room" has director Rob Bowman talking about the film from the editing room - the featurettes aren't too terribly informative; they mainly seem to serve to promote the picture. Finally, there are the film's teaser and theatrical trailer, as well as promos for the "Elektra" soundtrack and animator Seth McFarlane's two upcoming TV works: "American Dad" and the return of the brilliant "Family Guy".
Final Thoughts: "Elektra" could have been a strong comic book picture with a better script and stronger direction. As is, the picture is a basically entertaining and rather cheesy time-waster, but it really had the potential to be better than that. Fox's DVD edition provides very good audio/video quality and a few minor supplements. Rent it.
The Film **