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Now with superspecial DVD update!

Seen: 2003.02.17   ¶   Reviewed: 2003.05.11 & 2004.01.28

Well, gee, tall, strapping, superbly-proportioned Ben Affleck as a blind guy in a red-leather bodysuit. Where do I sign?

Actually, I did not always know that Daredevil (as distinct from Daredevil) was blind. I gleaned it from the previews, which left the impression that B. Affleck might actually have the body language exactly right. (Well, the body language of a high-function blind person, and they are certainly in the minority.)

David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film:

Ben (Benjamin Geza [!]) Affleck, b. Berkeley, California, 1972

Here is a test of critical responsibility.... I have heard not one word... from anyone, come to that, to dispute my other view that Mr. Affleck is boring, complacent, and criminally lucky to have got away with everything so far.... I note that, into his early thirties, he is still playing one of the lads, just as in Pearl Harbor he was too old to be the boyhood pal of Josh Hartnett.

I am not entirely sure there is a Ben Affleck, in the way that there is no Madonna. He’s an excellent mimic, which tells you something, and I seem to recall his admitting, after going into rehab, that he’s the kind of fella who needs people around him otherwise he doesn’t know what to do with himself and, inevitably, chooses the wrong thing to do. Signs point to an absence of an inner life. (Not so with Damon, whom Thomson highly regards.)

In superhero fiction, we are expected to suspend disbelief in considering the story of the conversion from human to superhero. Radioactive spider, arriving in a ship from a distant planet, that sort of thing – consistent with the Asimov maxim, you can make up one impossibility in science fiction as long as the rest of what you conceive is plausible. (Or was that Heinlein? I think so.) Here, our esteemed filmmakers blow their single disbelief-suspending event.

If toxic waste rendered poor Matt blind but, true to stereotype, “heightened” his other senses, so much so that he has to sleep in a sensory-deprivation chamber, just how exactly does he function in the world once he gets out of it?

Moreover, the jeopardy angle doesn’t work. If Daredevil is framed for a murder because his telltale cane (a tremendous achievement in industrial design!) gets left behind, well, why doesn’t Daredevil simply stop being Daredevil for a while, or switch canes while trying to expose the true murderer?

Or simply appear on Jerry Springer to make his case?

How hard is that, exactly?

My problem with the film is its distinct lack of flavour. I attribute this to having Affleck’s eyes covered up all the time, plus of course a crap script. In Spider-man, T. Maguire’s eyes never failed to show intelligence and interest (how could they fail?). An impassive superhero cipher simply isn’t interesting, no matter how tall and strapping.

Further, this film is based on a cartoon, but nobody gives a meaty performance at all, save for Colin Farrell, who looks more than a little distasteful, even given his propensity toward “mega-rough-trade ‘take me home and bathe me then do whatever it is you want to do to completion’ energy.” You know you’re in trouble when an Irish-accented utterance of the word shite is the highlight of the film. I sat there wondering if C. Farrell had the only foreskin on the entire set. No doubt he would have actually set out to answer that question if asked.

Jon Favreau, having again gained weight (a continual problem of his), acts with his chin and gamely plods through a structurally-gay role. Sidekicks in movies like this are always in love with their heroes.

Speaking of which: While the entire theme of romance is a joke, Daredevil includes the bestest-ever courtship sequence – what Mark Leyner would no doubt call your lethal and balletic Tiger and Crane–style kung fu in a too-small children’s playground. All very dancetheatrësque. In fact, redo it with two guys (like maybe get Damon in there) and you’ve got a DV8 piece. I would nonetheless have done a few more takes: Affleck moves slightly in advance of what’s-her-face when, with his sonar vision replacement, he should move slightly in delay.

On the topic of making movies accessible if they include disabled characters: Well, yes. And describers are under increased scrutiny given that their descriptions are the only way a blind audience can determine if their number are being represented well, or poorly, or in some other way. But the presence of a disabled character should not put a movie higher up on the list to be made accessible: That’s tokenism.

Theatre experience

We had a fun little moment on the way in. I asked the present manager what she thought the procedure was to sign out gear. One ID (details simply jotted down) for any number of people in a group. But the manager was in fact the same manager who tried to get all petite fonctionnaire on my arse last time and insist on one ID per device. I pointed out the inconsistency. It depends on which manager is on duty, she told me, smiling sweetly. Oh, but you were the manager last time, I told her, at which point she smiled in a completely fake way and looked like she was sweating, which I think was a fair reaction. She reiterated her point and I reiterated my fact, telling her not to try to pretend she hadn’t screwed up the time before.

I insist on high service standards. Give me anything else and you’ll hear about it. Try to lie about it two weeks later and things are only gonna get worse.

Caption quality

My notes are particularly difficult to read and are also skimpy while taking up 11 pages (including two blanks).

Bullseye’s name cannot be rendered consistently. I saw Bullseye (correct), Bull's-eye, and Bulls-eye. This is ridiculous. Misspelling character names is a capital offense.

An apostrophe-S was written as "s.

An extreme mismatch between song lyric and caption:

Yes, they really wrote that.

Description quality

Way more problems here.

Miles Neff is our narrator.

“Which shows the pale face of a blue-eyed saint.” I couldn’t see any eye colour on this stone statue.

“And lays back in the water”: Lays what back in the water? Lies back in the water.

“Matt sits with his chubby law partner, Franklin.” Where is the evidence that he is Matt’s law partner?

“The young heiress shakes his hand, kisses his cheek, and walks away”: I know DVS goes out of its way to avoid reusing and rereusing the same character names (let alone ambiguous pronouns) throughout the length of a movie, but periphrasty of this sort should be a last resort.

“Inches from [whoever’s] face” was heard at least three times.


“Wearing sunglasses and a tight-fitting T-shirt”: When, exactly, was DVS going to get around to telling us we’re dealing with a tall, muscular man variously in a red leather bodysuit, shirtless, or naked?

What, exactly, is “a scy”? What is that word? It wasn’t “sigh” or “scythe.” It is a “Far Eastern–style eight-sided sword used for martial-arts practice.”

Franklin was IDed as Franklin in descriptions and FOGGY: (his endearing, lovable, cutesy-poo nickname) in captions.

Superspecial DVD extra!

The Region 1 NTSC DVD of Daredevil was separately audio-described by We See TV. I eventually found a disc on sale, watched it twice, took handwritten notes, then typed the notes. This took approximately forever, but here are some comments (2004.01.28).

Note that most of my objections deal with copy-editing. But the whole thing seems like a waste: As with the British redescribing already-described American productions, 20th Century Fox already had a perfectly good DVS description recording (which might need to be remixed with main audio) that could have been used rather than reinventing the wheel.

Description is still pretty rare. Every program redescribed represents a new program we didn’t have time to describe from scratch. It represents a net loss in accessibility in some limited respects. (Instead of two narrated programs, we have two narrations for one program.)

“skylights scroll the sky”
“lights become Braille, then print”
Indeed they all do! But there’s not enough of a pause before the scene begins.
“the Braille glows white-blue”
“white-red print letters appear”
I would perhaps not explain colour combinations that way.
“a rat walks through the puddle”
“Scampers,” “flits”; still not enough of a pause between scenes.
“Blood drips from the virgin’s eye”
The virgin’s eye? It’s actually a statue.
“He sees a massive blue wave washing over... wiping out the other images”
Much too much of a pause there.
“In a ring, Jack fights a black man”
Does that mean everybody else is white?
At 13:58: “Outside the Olympic Theater, the marquee reads ‘Jack “The Devil” Murdock vs. John Domita’ ”
No, John Romita. And through the magic of technology, I can prove it:
Screenshot: ‘Live Tonight: Jack “The Devil” Murdock vs. John Romita”
At 14:58, many echoes of “got up” or “gets up”
Echoes are hard to spot in your own writing, and other people checking your work have to know about them to catch them. They’re insidious, and I make this mistake all the time.
“Matt falls to his knees beside Jack.... He feels Jack’s face.... Matt... cups the rose.... He crushes it in his clenched fist”
Much too slow and portentously delivered.
“Past the alley and beyond apartment buildings... stands... the cathedral”
In fact, we soar magically through the air. We skim over the alley.
In court: “Angela lowers her head”
Who’s Angela?
“Inside, under a ceiling fan, a man lights a drink in a glass. Quesada blows it out and slams it”
“The man” and Quesada could be two different people. Better: “It’s Quesada. He blows out the flame and slams back the drink” (or “slams it back”). I like the “slam” business, actually. Bit of flavour there.
“He stands before a row of burning pool tables”
Ten full seconds pass before the next description; the sound effects are of Quesada mumbling and groaning.
“The burning Ds are reflected in Urich’s lenses”
They’re just glasses, as in eyeglasses.
A tooth “falls next to the drain”
Nope, right onto the drain grate.
“Matt’s eyes close. In a confessional”
Forgot to tell us we cut to black. (The confessional door slides over, revealing Matt through the screen. It’s important, and it’s similar to a match cut. Some cinematographic techniques we actually describe.)
At 37:51, during an ærial establishing shot
Doesn’t read a sign on a building (Fisk Corp.), but does identify “a large bald black man.”
“The man in the striped polo walks up and hands him a wad of pounds”
Pound notes, shurely?!
At 42:03: We hear a body collapse. “He falls”
We don’t see that. We’re looking at Bullseye at the time.
At 44:40
Echo of “beanie” (which Bullseye is also said to wear)
“He turns his hand and throws it in the hoop”
Through the hoop, actually.
Matt says “Here it comes”; no description
Matt takes off his glasses and turns his face upward to the falling rain, but we aren’t told that.
At 52:49: “Statued lovers reach to each other”
Where is this statue, and how is “statue” a verb?
Love scene at 53:00
Severely underdescribed. There aren’t any sound effects to speak of that one might not want to clobber.
At 53:52: “He reaches to the other pillow to find a piece of paper”
Well, it might help to mention that he’s lying flat on his back, shirtless and hairy-chested (always selling points with Ben Affleck).
“The dark-haired man grabs a glass of champagne”
Not “the” dark-haired man, a dark-haired man. We haven’t met him yet in this scene. (It’s Ben Urich.)
“A lady’s perfume shows pink-blue to Matt.”
I don’t know what that means, and I don’t see any pink, just blue. We aren’t told that Matt sniffs, frowns, and shakes his head just before this point.
“Bullseye stands on the bike’s seat”
Yes, but you didn’t tell us he was riding a motorcycle. All you said was “Bullseye weaves through oncoming traffic.”
“newspaper van”
It’s a New York Post van. That’s Urich’s paper. It’s product placement, essentially.
“She drops the gun and kneels beside Natchios”
Well, “she” too is a Natchios, and we are not told of her grief-stricken and tearful facial expression.
“The bloody baton is put in a bag labeled EVIDENCE
I’m not big on the passive voice. It’s intrinsically harder to understand. Say “a hand zips the bloody baton into an EVIDENCE bag.”
“She enters and looks out. Raindrops streak over her face through the window”
They do not! They streak down the windshield and are diffracted onto her face.
At 1:09:11: “A man lies on the floor with pencils in his neck”
Lodged in his neck. A previous electric pencil sharpener was not described.
“Bullseye throws a pencil into Wilson’s olive”
What olive? As it turns out, Wilson is fixing a martini.
A description of that favourite chop-socky-cinema-influenced Hollywood martial-arts weapon, the sai: “two-foot sai daggers... with curved pointed crossguards she slashes them through the air”
Why was the “curved pointed crossguards” business verbally part of the subsequent sentence, as I simulated above?
“On a rooftop, Bullseye snaps his coat and drops off”
How do you snap a coat? And besides, it’s a cape. (By the way, the narrator’s dialect pronounces “rooftop” with the same first vowel as book. Sort of like “booktop.”)
“She cuts the line and crosses the sai above her head”
Crosses it with what? She crosses the sais, plural.
At 1:14:09: “Daredevil blocks her slashing sai with his staff and dodges her kicks. He hops onto a ledge, then backflips over to another rooftop. He tumbles and gets up. She regrips her sai and jumps off to land before him. She kicks him into a wall. Her sai flies into the wall next to his head. She stabs with her other sai. He disarms her with his staff and wraps her up. She snaps her leg straight up, connecting with his face. She spins away and kicks his gut. She climbs up the wall, frees her sai, and backflips onto her feet. She lunges forward and stabs his shoulder. The sai breaks the window behind him. She pulls it out, and he slides down the wall”
A pretty good sequence! Too many echoes of “she” and “backflips,” though, and we’re missing the bloodstain on the window (denoted by a squeaky sound effect). And she stabs all the way through his shoulder.
“She stares open-mouthed into Matt’s face”
Matt’s uncovered face! She just pulled off his mask!
“She falls onto a lower one and lies still”
Lower what? Roof? Step?
“Bullseye kicks Daredevil’s pipe”
His pipe? (He’s holding onto the enormous vertical pipes of a church organ, but this is not clear enough from the description.) I know he carries a cane or a staff, but pipe?
“Daredevil stops as the last piece shatters on the wall behind him”
There was enough time to say that Bullseye throws across two full handfuls of broken stained glass (a great alternative to hackneyed old shuriken!). We mention the handfuls and “the first pile,” but not the second.
“Jack’s bloodied face looks up. The dark fist falls. Matt’s crushes the rose in his hand”
All that is, in fact, a flashback.
“He unbuttons his shirt and takes out his silver cufflinks”
...leaving him wearing a tank top. So we’ve got a giant black man wearing a camisole and suspenders. We could perhaps be told that.
“Kingpin opens his eyes and looks from the cane before him to Matt”
In other words, the swung cane deliberately misses Kingpin.
“He drops a rose off the Olympic”
The Olympic what? The Olympic Theater, we were told in passing exactly once ages ago.
“A long-haired brunette enters”
If Affleck stayed away from the hairstylist for a while, that could describe him, you know. Let’s not emulate the DVS tradition of sexist shorthand like this.
“Matt walks down a street, tapping his cane”
Yeah, but we just had five undescribed seconds of an ærial tracking shot over the Lower Manhattan skyline, and Matt wearing a chocolate-brown T-shirt that we could perhaps hear about.
“His baton tongs shoot upward. Darkness”
In fact, the movie’s over and we cut to black.
At 1:36:30, description credits: “This film has been described by We See TV. Additional description and credits are available at Please submit your questions and comments to info at or by calling 1-866-937-3388. Description written by Micah Grossman. Narrated by Rick Boggs. Credits appear”
“Inside, a man lies in a circle electric bed”
I don’t know what that is. In fact, he lies in traction (we’re told that in a moment), and the mattress sides are attached to a couple of huge steel hoops, like a hamster wheel.
“His right hand reaches to a tray with a syringe”
Reaches to a syringe on a tray. His hand has a syringe as it approaches the tray?
At 1:43:24: Copyright statement undescribed

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