Bandage Man

Quickly following 1989’s Batman and mid-1990’s Dick Tracy, Darkman fell into an unfortunate release slot. All of the camp, darkened interiors, and serial-like storytelling too closely mirrored those films, and Darkman, although original, came away as a knock-off, making a pittance compared to its superhero-esque competition.

Still, Darkman earned sequels. Direct-to-video sequels, but sequels nonetheless. Featuring a real life Lon “Man of a Million Faces” Chaney-like hero (played by Liam Neeson), the thin revenge thriller thrives on Sam Raimi’s eccentric style. Weird cuts, awkward camera angles, slapstick violence; Darkman has it all.

Outside of Evil Dead, Darkman represents Sam Raimi at his purest

Driven by urban decay and the empty factories that serve as a perfect cinematic indicator of such, Darkman also borrows a touch from RoboCop, another hero who sets up his base in a similar location to fight crime (all while the villain plans a gentrified downtown, again like RoboCop). Forced to leave his wife, unable to feel pain or emotion after tragic chemical burns, scientist Peyton Westlake (Neeson) becomes Darkman more by accident, but also learns to love the violence.

While Darkman toys with high-concept camp, absurdities, and cartoon-esque wackiness, it does have an emotional core. Neeson, dressed with either bloody bandages or brilliantly done prosthetic makeup, capably delivers a strong performance. He’s believable, damaged as much emotionally as physically, and his fear of becoming uncontrollable keeps him separated from his wife.

Between the emotive moments, Raimi and his crew craft a number of wild action scenes. When the effects falter (especially during the finale’s helicopter ride), they do so to aid Darkman. It feels more like a low budget serial, a bit surreal and properly weird. All of Darkman’s world exists with an artificial touch – the environments are either too perfect or too decrepit, the characters logical as they are illogical, and the romance a perfect mix of schmaltz and plausibility.

Outside of Evil Dead, Darkman represents director Sam Raimi at his purest, with a studio backing his eccentric project rather than a self-funded weekend excursion. It feels massive, with Los Angeles as a visible backdrop. It’s a movie about a small scale grudge against corrupt mobsters and land developers, but feels like an all-out war despite having only a single protagonist. Darkman creates scale where it otherwise has none, and does so convincingly. All the while, it’s entertaining too.

Video

A sharp, fresh 4K master gives Darkman plenty of life. At its peaks, resolution produces detail galore. Sharpness maintains a crispness that’s impressive. Other than an occasional sign of compression in the grain structure, Darkman is borderline perfect in terms of its master.

The print itself shows small moments of damage, like small pockets of scratches and dirt, are not uncommon. However, these appear light without much impact. A fantastic Dolby Vision pass enlivens Darkman, certainly helping with shadow density. Fire and other lights reach a hearty peak.

Color doesn’t take on any notable digital-ness, remaining natural to the film stock with satisfying greenery and bold, rich primaries. Flesh tones nicely take their place and remain that way, accurately.

Audio

A moderately pleasing DTS-HD 5.1 mix livens some scenes, especially rain/thunder/storms. Surrounds and stereos pick up their duty easily, creating a wide, believable soundstage. Action scenes lack the same nuance. Things like gunfire remain locked to the fronts with only occasional movement into the rears.

Bass reveals Darkman’s age, being non-existent for much of the runtime. Dialog sounds slightly roughened too based on the time period, although hardly ruinous, just flat.

Extras

On the 4K, Shout features a new commentary with superfan Josh Ruben. An additional track is ported over from a previous release, with cinematograoher Bill Pope. The rest resides on the Blu-ray, copying Shout’s previous release. This includes interviews with actors Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Larry Drake, Danny Hicks, and Dan Bell. Crew interviews open with makeup designer Tony Gardener, production designer Randy Ser, and art director Phillip Dagort. Additional interviews are older as are the making-of materials.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Darkman
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

A wonderful, weird return to serial horror/adventure, Darkman still stands as a unique entry into the superhero genre.

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User Review
4 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 38 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


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