Darkman is a 1990 American superhero film that was directed and co-written by Sam Raimi. It is based on a short story that Raimi wrote that paid homage to Universal’s horror films of the 1930s. The film stars Liam Neeson as Peyton Westlake, a scientist who is attacked and left for dead by a ruthless mobster, Robert Durant, after his girlfriend, an attorney, runs afoul of a corrupt developer.
Unable to secure the rights to either The Shadow or Batman, Raimi decided to create his own superhero and struck a deal with Universal Studios to make his first Hollywood studio film. It was produced by Robert Tapert, and was written by Raimi, his brother Ivan, and Chuck Pfarrer. The design and creation of the makeup effects required to turn Neeson into Darkman were the handiwork of makeup effects artist Tony Gardner, who also cameos in the film as the Lizard Man in the carnival Freak Show sequence.
Overall, Darkman was generally well received by film critics and performed really well at the box office. Grossing almost $49 million worldwide, well above its $16 million operating budget. This financial success had spawned two direct-to-video sequels, Darkman II: The Return Of Durant (1995) and Darkman III: Die Darkman Die (1996), as well as comic books, video games, and action figures. Over the hears, Darkman has become to be regarded as a cult film.
The Film Itself (4/5):
Darkman is a film that you really have to have a unique taste for. Not only is it a superhero film, but it’s a low-budget superhero film that features some of the cringiest special effects, that it gets a lot of negative feedback from those who are heavily critical of film. That said, ever since I first saw this film on DVD back in the day, I’ve absolutely loved it; cheesiness and all. It’s just something about the overall awkwardness of the backstory of the lead character, combined with his attempts to seek vengeance against Durant. There really isn’t anything that’s cinematically excellent about this film as the story has quite a few smaller holes in the plot. But, it’s one that I think is worth to sit down with and enjoy with a completely open mind.
Picture Quality (5/5):
As expected, Scream Factory did not disappoint with their release of Darkman. Offering an all new remastered video presentation, the overall picture quality of this release is beyond words and is just simply amazing. Offering a significantly cleaner look into the story of Dr. Westlake, but also doing everything that it can to help retain that original feeling that those who experienced this film when it first came out had back then.
Audio Quality (4/5):
Packaged with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track, Darkman does everything that it can do to offer an all out immersive experience for its viewers. Making perfect use of all of the channels within the limitations of the technology, this Blu-ray release does a really great job at placing its viewers right into the middle of the action. While it’s not nearly as immersive as a 7.1 audio track or even an Atmos or DTS:X track, but considering this release came out in 2014, I really can’t complain all that much since the presentation was beautifully done and offered absolutely no distortion whatsoever.
The Packaging (3/5):
Darkman comes packaged in your standard single disc Blu-ray amaray case. Within that case is the standard Blu-ray copy of the film. The disc features artwork that is relative to the film, but different than that of the case art. There are no DVD copies of the film nor are there any digital copy redemption pamphlets included. There was a slipcover provided with this release during its initial run, however I did not receive a slipcover as my personal copy was not from the first run.
Special Features (5/5):
After seeing that Darkman was a Scream Factory release, I knew that this release would have a really solid set of extras that not only allow viewers to explore the work that went into the film itself, but to look into the story further as well as the promotional work that went into advertising this film; and sure enough, this release does not disappoint. Included with this release is:
- Interview With Liam Neeson
- The Name Is Durant With Larry Drake
- The Face Of Revenge
- With Makeup Designer Tony Gardner
- Henchmen Tales
- Dark Design
- An Interview With Frances McDormand
- Darkman Featurette
- Cast & Crew Interviews
- Vintage Interview Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spots
- Still Galleries
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (27.70 Mbps)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Original Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Original Film: 96 minutes
I ultimately decided to pick up the Blu-ray release of Darkman to upgrade my DVD copy that I had, and boy let me tell you that I am glad that I did. Everything about this release is absolutely beautiful. From its visual presentation to its audio presentation, this release is amazing. While the story of the film may not be considered to be the best, or even good enough for a lot of people, but those of us who do enjoy the occasional low-budget film, this release really is the creme de la creme. Not only is the presentation above and beyond, but there are a lot of special features that have been included that not only explores the work that went into the film, but the story and its characters as well. There’s also some additional features that have been included that show some of the original promotional material from when this film originally came out. If you’re on the fence about this release, I would hands down recommend grabbing this release if you’re a fan of the film.