Blu-ray Review: Elektra -- Director's Cut (2005)

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AKA Elektra; Elektra: Unrated Director's Cut

Perhaps in a last ditch attempt to entice fans of Frank Miller's Elektra series of graphic novels disappointed with Rob Bowman's chilly filmed spin-off to the far more entertaining Daredevil, Marvel's sexy blood-red suited assassin packs her Sais for the move to a high definition director's cut.

Yet, with less than five full minutes of actual action to add to the original theatrical version's running time, five years and a fresh new digital transfer later, all of the showy featurettes and behind-the-scenes documentaries in the world won't be able to make up for the fact that when it comes to Elektra, this Marvel superhero just doesn't hold our attention with the same charismatic power of Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man, Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk, the ensemble cast of X-Men and Elektra's old boyfriend and real life husband Ben Affleck in Daredevil.

Although it's hardly the fault of Jennifer Garner who is IMDb-cited as revealing that she herself even found the movie terrible and was simply bound by contractual obligation, it's mind-boggling to wonder why the studio heads would've resuscitated her from certain death in the previous movie, only to let her sleepwalk her way through this one as a lethal martial artist for hire who will rid the planet of anyone you desire if you're willing to provide enough millions – fall guys, bodyguards, and people-just-milling-around the target included.

For the first half hour of the film, we're somewhat on board with the plight of Elektra who, after being saved by martial arts instructor Stick (Terrence Stamp) and given enough lessons in the ways of Kimagure which entails the supernatural powers of seeing the future and more, is kicked out of the community where she hops aboard the killer-for-hire money train, thanks to a business savvy agent and her morally flexible nature.

Yet when her next assignment reveals itself to be murdering a doting father and his mischievous prodigal daughter, Elektra grows a conscience and sets out to protect the two from the evil order dubbed The Hand, which boasts members whose animal tattoos come to life and a woman whose kiss can kill you.

Once the female version of The Professional morphs into a lazy supernatural thriller where logic gaps abound as to Elektra's capabilities to see the future – making us wonder why she didn't know who her targets would be and more – the previously taut, martial arts assassin picture goes into video game autopilot mode and the audience's interest begins to waver until at last the roughly hundred minute running time feels like an eternity.

While the purported problems with previous video transfers of the film don't seem to be an issue in this flashy new Blu-ray, the sound balance is a bit off as the violence bursts through your speakers in Dolby Surround but as soon as Elektra begins to talk to another character, we can barely make out the whisper level conversation.

And although you realize that this was a conscious style choice by the director, some evening out of the lows and highs would've been nice to save on remote over-usage or the necessity to switch on the subtitles, that is, if you actually get involved enough in the film to care what it is they're saying.

A surprisingly dismal failure when compared to the underrated previous title, Elektra, which is synced to segue to the release of Marvel's latest Iron Man installment is further reminder that what we really need instead of more sequels is a female superhero picture that works. Hmm, somebody call Joss Whedon or Jennifer Garner's Alias collaborator J.J. Abrams -- stat!

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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.