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on January 5, 2006
Years before moviemakers really starting getting comic book adaptations right with films like "Spider-Man" and "Batman Begins" came "Darkman", a brilliant action-horror movie that came closer than any show before it to capturing the darker, more developed comics of the modern era. It's a gory and action-packed - and intelligent, emotional and quite often humorous - tale as Peyton Westlake (superbly played by Liam Neeson) becomes the Darkman after barely surviving an attack by mob thugs employed by the crimelord Durant (Larry Drake), who Westlake's attorney girlfriend Julie (Frances McDormand) is trying to bring down. A scientist researching the development of a perfect synthetic skin to aid burn victims, it's being immersed in this liquid in its unstable corrosive state and then left for dead following the explosive destruction of his lab that is largely responsible for Westlake's metamorphis into Darkman.

Unable to feel physical pain but constantly assailed by emotional and mental anguish. Enhanced strength due to the maximum adrenaline now coursing unchecked through his system constantly, 24 hours a day. Serious rage problems. Severely altered, scarred physical appearance. Westlake/Darkman can create perfect masks of any human being (and mimic their vocal patterns precisely) but the masks break down after a finite period in sunlight, and thus he most frequently appears in his new identity's trademark garb of bandages and black trenchcoat and hat. I realize typing that that it sounds like a dopey outfit but it's actually a striking and intimidating look onscreen thanks to the great effects and costuming. Hellbent on a path of revenge against Drake's crime empire, and on protecting his love Julie from the shadows, the violent and vengeful reign of the Darkman begins. A movie that possibly could only have been made by a man capable of directing such diverse films as the "Spider-Man" epics, the "Evil Dead" trilogy and "The Gift". Highest recommendation.
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on August 2, 2007
After being sorely disapointed by HD releases of Excalibur and Army of Darkness, I was extreamly happy when I saw the opening menu for Darkman.

As soon as the clips began to roll behind the menu I knew they'd done the job right here. This film was largely missed in theaters and the home video and DVD versions where grainy, washed-out presentations that greatly diminished the style of director Sam Rami.

This is a must for HD DVD players. The pitcture is fully restored, crisp, clear, vibrant and devoid of all film flaws such as dust and scratches. Where some HD DVD versions are nothing more than the original DVD digital masters transfered to the new format (much the way many early DVD's where really Laser-disk copied to the then new format) this is not!

Darkman is a great, twisted peice that blends the ultra-violent comic-book styles seen in now in films like Sin City with the breakneck actions sequences of films like Spiderman.

See it again for the first time on HD DVD! This is the sound and fury of Home Theater and one of the best restorations I've ever seen!

BTW, if you have a smaller HD set (1280X720p max)that only accepts up to 1080i, then set your HD DVD player only to output 720p, it reduces the pixelation in the dark grays and blacks and reduces motion blure. I use this with my Toshiba Player and 42" sony grand wega through HDMI and the picture is flawless. Remember, if your set is 46" or under, 720p is mostly likely it's native resolution and outputing at that resolution can cause major improvement.
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Sam Raimi, brilliant director of the cult classic Evil Dead trilogy and the current blockbuster Spider-Man, directed this entertaining action yarn hot on the heels of 1989's hit Batman. While many saw Darkman as a Batman rip off (sort of), Raimi's talented directorial skills gave Darkman a personality of its own. Liam Neeson (before he hit it big) stars as scientist Peyton Westlake, who has developed a synthetic skin, only problem is, it can only hold for 99 minutes before it deteriorates. When his lab is destroyed by Robert Durant (Larry Drake), Peyton is blasted into a nearby harbor. He is left horribly scarred, but when he recovers he uses the synthetic skin to get his revenge on his would be murderers while trying to get back with his girlfriend (Frances McDormand). Darkman is really entertaining and is a great twist on superhero movies, Neeson shines as the tortured soul hero, while McDormand is great as his girlfriend. Recommended to those looking for a comic style movie with a twist. A little side note, since this is a Sam Raimi movie, Evil Dead hero Bruce Campbell has a cameo as the "final shemp" in the film.
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on April 23, 2014
If you are a fan of this movie then this deserves a double dip just for the special features! Here is what you get as far as bonus features:

Interview with Liam Neeson (1080p; 7:29). Neeson has very clear memories of this film, including other actors who were up for his role. He evidently loved working with Raimi and offers some fun anecdotes about the shoot.

The Name is Durant with Larry Drake (1080p; 15:59). Drake is a lot of fun in this interview, talking about the hazards of being typecasting as well as why he liked working on Darkman.

The Face of Revenge with Makeup Designer Tony Gardner (1080p; 13:21) is a really interesting piece detailing the film's makeup effects.

Henchmen Tales (1080p; 12:57) profiles some of the other bad guys in the film.

Dark Design (1080p; 16:46) looks at the film's production design and includes interviews with Randy Ser.

An Interview with Frances McDormand (1080p; 10:50). McDormand talks about her history with the Coen Brothers and Sam Raimi. Unbelievable but true fact: she was a word processor answering fan mail for AC/DC when she was cast in this film. The clips in this piece are weirdly anamorphically squeezed for some reason.

Darkman Featurette (1080i; 6:26) is a vintage piece.

Cast and Crew Interviews (1080i; 8:59) are more vintage offerings.

Vintage Interview Galleries include:

Colin Friels (1080i; 12:14)
Frances McDormand (1080i; 20:43)
Liam Neeson (1080i; 28:02)
Sam Raimi (1080i; 23:09)

Audio Commentary with Director of Photography Bill Pope and Michael Felsher.

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on February 3, 2004
If your wondering what the title of my review means, it's because "Darkman" was a favorite movie of mine growing up. I think I was three or four years old when I saw it over and over again. Pretty young, huh? Anyway, "Darkman" is a twisted story of revenge and is entertaining thrill-ride from start to finish.
Director Sam Raimi, future commander of the "Spider-Man" blockbuster, shows us his talents by writing the screenplay of a dark tale that goes like this: an attorney named Julie (Frances McDormand) stumbles upon cover-up real estate dealings, then hoodlums brutally attack her scientist beau, Peyton Westlake(Liam Neeson) and leave him for dead. But Peyton miraculously lives, and is taken as a John Doe at a hospital. The obscure patient is yielded to breakthough, but extreme therapy which insenates his nerves to feelings and enhances his strength and emotions. Then Peyton unexpectedly awakens and escapes the hospital. He builds a dilapidated lab in an abandoned industrial plant. His terribly burned skin from the lab accident prompts him to develop synthetic skin in order to impersonate the thugs who horribly disfigured him. His revenge gives him a sign of life when he visits his love, Julie, who thought he died.
I thought it was an intriging plot, and the cinematography and fantastic score by Danny Elfman are highlights. I also loved the character Peyton, aka Darkman. He's a haunted soul and the ultimate anti-hero who can't view himself in the world because of his horribly scared skin. There's also great directing by Raimi, who balances suspense, action and moments of humor.
I'll always cherish "Darkman" because I never get sick of it. It will always be one of my favorite movies because it was a bear in memory from my childhood.
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on July 11, 2011
How do you follow up a double dosage of slapstick horror like "The Evil Dead" and "The Evil Dead II?" Why, you make a superhero film! Well, that's what Sam Raimi did, anyway. Raimi's first big-budget Hollywood film, "Darkman," marks a creative left-turn for the writer-director, one that would ultimately define his future film career and set the tone for a variety of projects that are completely different from one another yet somehow are linked by something Raimi-esque that could never be duplicated.

Liam Neeson stars as scientist turned superhero Peyton Westlake, who is left for dead by a gang of criminals. It's "Phantom of the Opera" meets "Batman," as Peyton -- burnt, battered and broken-hearted -- struggles to reconnect with the love of his life (Frances McDormand), avenge his attempted-murder and rebuild himself both externally and internally. While it's Raimi's wild visual sense and unrelenting sense of cinematic adventure that drives the film, it is ultimately Neeson who carries it through to its brilliant conclusion. Strong and sympathetic, Neeson is perhaps the ultimate good-guy and someone you can't help but root for. Likewise, his co-star, Frances McDormand, while underused, plays a big part of the film's success. Because both characters are portrayed so realistically, you believe even the most unbelievable moments of the film.

True, there are some stale green-screen effects at hand and one can't help but feel the movie moves just a little too fast, but in spite of some minor issues here and there, the film's heart is in the right place. Compared to Tim Burton's "Batman," it is (brace for backlash) a superior and near-perfect superhero film. In fact, when you stack it up against Raimi's far more successful and marketable "Spider-Man" flicks, it still comes out on top. Throughout the years it has earned its cult status, spawning two direct-to-video sequels (sorry, these are Neeson-free) and a career for Raimi that can be traced back to this little-known emotional and thrilling epic. Truly, "Darkman" deserves to see the light of day.
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THE STORY: A brilliant scientist is horribly disfigured and left for dead by ruthless mobsters who mistakenly believe he possesses documents that could expose their underworld & political connections. When he revives the doctor's fragmented mind demands retribution for the grievous injuries he's suffered and the promising professional career & personal life which they forever stole from him. Justice has a new face. The twisted face of... DARKMAN!

THOUGHTS: Part homage to the classic Universal Monster films of the 1930's & 40's, part hybrid of Phantom of the Opera & The Abominable Dr. Phibes, part comic book ...and 110% Sam Raimi. DARKMAN wasn't the hit it should have been when arrived in theaters back in 1990. Mainstream audiences then just weren't quite ready for Sam's one-of-a-kind, hyperkenetic visual storytelling style. It took almost a decade before they'd caught up and were finally ready to embrace him. DARKMAN paved the way for Sam to get access to SPIDER-MAN. There almost certainly would never have been a Sam Raimi SPIDER-MAN if DARKMAN hadn't gotten him noticed by the bigwigs in Hollywood. Before then he was only barely known as a maverick director of low budget genre films like his Evil Dead trilogy. DARKMAN put him on the map, in a big way.

THE BLU-RAY: Shout!Factory really knocks one out of the park for this deluxe Blu-ray edition of Sam Raimi's 1990 cult classic DARKMAN. The transfer looks very nice; clean, sharp picture, strong color and crisp, nicely-balanced audio. It's worth every penny to upgrade to this beautiful edition if you've got a Blu-ray player. Shout! has also gone to the extra mile for fans and delivered a truly impressive variety of newly created bonus material. Brand new interviews with the film's primary acting cast: leading man Liam Neeson, ballsy damsel in distress Frances McDormand, and slimeball extraordinaire Larry Drake. Usually, actors don't care to discuss past projects unless they've won lots of awards or were big box office successes. Darkman under-performed during its theatrical run, only becoming a hit after finding its audience on home video & cable. It's great to see the three main actors not only willing to talk about a smaller film like this one but to do it with so much enthusiasm. Neeson is a big name now, but he shows his love of the film and shares warm memories of the cast & crew. The same goes for Drake & McDormand. Nice job getting these done and including them.

But that's not all folks! There are also new interviews from two of the actors who portrayed Durant's henchmen, reminiscing about their roles and sharing their memories of the shoot. Then the interviews shift focus to the technical aspects of the production, with all-new interviews from practical make-up artist Tony Gardner, (who created the beautifully gruesome Darkman prosthetic make-ups), and achieving the look of the film with production designer Randy Ser & art director Philip Dagort. There's also an interesting audio commentary track from DOP (director of photography) Bill Pope. Original vintage interviews, actor profiles and the theatrical trailer are included as well, plus galleries of rare artwork, production stills, etc. You can tell the crew at Shout!Factory are big fans of this film. Heck, even the reversible box art for this Blu-ray is a treat; you can chose from new artwork commissioned just for this Blu-ray release or flip it over to expose the original U.S. theatrical poster art. Nice. A big round of applause to everyone who put time into this release. 5 STARS
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on July 21, 2016
Shout Factory does it again. I'm digging the films they're picking to expand their collection, and it's obvious that they are too. A Shout Factory release is pretty much guaranteed to have the best extras one will ever find for the less than mainstream (but still amazing) films they choose. A must buy for Raimi/weird superhero fans. Perfect film? Of course not. A ton of fun? You bet!
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When Dr. Peyton Westlake’s girlfriend stumbles onto a document exposing criminal activities, the villains will stop at nothing to get it back. They find the document in Westlake’s possession and try to murder him, leaving him horribly disfigured. A radical surgery that Westlake undergoes leaves him with preternatural strength and an inability to feel pain.

Using a breakthrough he made in creating artificial skin, Westlake can disguise himself as anyone, but only for 99 minutes. Now, Dr. Westlake is out for revenge against the criminals that disfigured him and stole his life, and nothing can stop him!

I must say that I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. Yes, I must admit that some of the cinematic flares that the director used to show Westlake’s explosions of rage were over-the-top and cartoonish. However, actor Liam Neeson really makes the show, making Dr. Westlake a much more human and sympathetic character than Batman can ever be.

So, if you want a good action and adventure movie with lots of suspense, and lots and lots of gunfire and explosions, then check out Darkman – you won’t be disappointed!
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on December 29, 2015
Darkman, the brainchild of Sam Raimi who couldn't acquire rights to Batman or The Shadow, puts legendary director/producer Sam Raimi together with - you thought I was going to say Liam Neeson -- I wasn't -- musician Danny Elfman. Listening to the soundtrack it is evident Elfman is all over this. You won't hear Oingo Boingo but you will certainly recognize Danny's work. As for the movie, my thoughts are that Liam Neeson was having a bad time of it and acting was still new to him. Try as he might, perhaps this is a problem with the subject matter, Neeson just didn't seem to take this to the heights it could have reached. Come to think of it, Francis McDormand didn't live up to her potential either. Larry Drake, however, well, he, Raimi and Elfman are the reasons this movie could rate a 4* rating in the first place.

Overall, Darkman does work. It's different enough to be different yet familiar enough to be familiar and because of that it makes the movie approachable.
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