A spinoff prequel to Daredevil, the writers of which are presumably kicking themselves for killing this character off... No, wait, it’s not a prequel, they’re bringing her back to life. With magic. Figures. Nobody ever stays dead in the Marvel universe anyway.
What if the makers of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies and cartoons had refused to put in any laughs, and insisted on making kids’ action-adventure stories that took themselves so seriously that all sense of fun was completely squozen out of them? The result would be a lot like this. This movie is so turgid and bloated that it takes quite a bit of persistence to slog through all the wannabe-mythic somberness that gets in the way of enjoying how insanely silly this tale is. At first, I just felt disgusted with the whole mess; only in the second half was I able to find more amusement in it. Only then could the picture earn its tents. If you hang in there, it can be a hoot, because this is one of the goofiest action movies they’ve made in the last decade. It’s just too bad that it’s trying so hard to rise above the limitations of action formula and cloak itself in pretentions of being a real movie... because nothing in the script ever rises a millimeter above a purely comic book level.
I think this serving of carbonated caca illustrates better than any other film reviewed here the errors inherent in “remaining true to the source material”. The good comic book movies don’t slavishly copy a comic, they add to it — the bad ones, which get dissed for not remaining true to the spirit of the source, subtract from it and then try to add back. This is why a film like Spider-Man, however well made it is, will always be artistically limited in a way that, say, Hulk is not: because the former sticks to a comic book story, and the latter is willing to rethink the source ideas on a much deeper level, with much more insight and originality.
What we’ve got here is something that has such a bad case of “true to the source” disease that it’s aimed solely and entirely at comix readers, not general movie audiences. So the plot is full of crazy-ass magical powers, hardware store $2 clearance table psychology, and things that come true if you just wish hard enough. And not much beyond that. The dialog, like the plot, also remains stuck at the comic book level, and likewise is pretty damn silly under its humorless facade.
Because this thing does attempt to rise above action formula in how it’s presented, there are many areas where it is actually rather well made... well enough to help spoil your hopes for some “so bad it’s good” value. The acting, for instance, is decent... Jennifer Garner in the title role actually gives the finest acting performance I’ve yet seen from her. And she does her own fights and stunts, generally, and does them well. The fights are, in fact, noticeably better than those in the Daredevil film it’s a spinoff of. And it’s all wasted, because it would have been twice as fun a movie if she’d stunk. All that fine martial arts prowess is hardly central to the conflict, after all, when the real struggle is between different schools of magical powers, and the rules of conflict are just randomly pulled out of a hat between confrontations. Also, they lost the cheese value; they don’t ever let Garner be noticeably hott.
So yeah, it’s carbonated caca. Foamed feces (extra fizzy). Effervescent excrement. Sparklingly spumescent scat. You could even call it stool soda. Shall we say “turd tonic”, “distended doodoo”, or “meringued manure”? Let’s just call it puffed poop. However you say it, this is bullshit ballooned with bubbles, an aerated assload of overinflated offal... the most pretentious bad action movie in the comic book realm.