Shiny Shelf


By Mark Clapham on 09 June 2005

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

There’s some good talent involved in this movie. Rob Bowman is a decent director who handles action well and gives the film a distinct, classy look in spite of its obviously less than stellar budget. The costumes and design work are perfectly good, with crisp use of colour. Garner can be great, as ‘Alias’ viewers know. Goran Visnjic is a pretty decent actor. Terence Stamp, on a good day, is a screen legend.

Unfortunately, all concerned are working from a script richly laden in clich?. Elektra’s story is a very standard hero’s journey to enlightenment, embellished with some fairly stupid twists. Resurrected after an embarrassing death at the hands of Colin Farrell in ‘Daredevil’, Elektra learned some more martial arts stuff from Stick (a fruity and bored-looking Stamp), then decided to become a mass-murdering assassin for no good reason. In between kills she obsessively arranges fruit (characterisation!) and dreams about the death of her mother (emotion!).

Redemption comes in the inevitable form of a teenage girl and her father (Visnjic) who Elektra is sent to kill, but for whom she develops affection for (clearly she’s only ever been sent to take out nasty looking men in suits before, not adorable moppets and their rugged-but-appealing dads).

Cue endless pursuit of Elektra, kid and dad by magical ninja goons The Hand, who disappear in a puff of computer game style green smoke when killed. Big bad guys of the piece are Typhoid Mary, a bloke with magic tattoos and a guy who can make sheets float.

Through all this Garner looks glum, Stamp phones in platitudes, and everyone else seems to be trying their best, bless their little cotton kimonos. The martial arts action clips by well enough, but unfortunately the actors just keep having to open their mouths and reading words from the lame, lame script.

Like ‘The Punisher’, long time lead item of Shiny Shelf’s much neglected DVD section, this is another Marvel movie that can’t decide whether its lead is a badass killer or a hero. Instead it does both – Elektra is a mass murderer, but she’s nice to kids and all that, so she gets a pass. Stick backs this up with a series of leaden Yodaisms about shedding your anger to become a better, purer person which don’t exactly fit with the sheer body count of Elektra’s learning curve. Working through the shape of a redemption narrative without applying any weight or sense to it, ‘Elektra’ is another one of these films that should have had the decency to be stupid fun rather than wasting time trying to be mythic. The end result is another ponderous bore, crippled by its clumsy attempts at meaning.

This DVD release has a small collection of features, including an average ‘Making Of’ doc, and a preview of ‘Fantastic Four’ that’s a strong incentive to avoid the film like the plague. Then there are the deleted scenes: the first couple come with commentary from Bowman, and are of no great interest. A third and final scene doesn’t have commentary, mainly because it’s the Affleck cameo dream sequence, and I doubt anyone wants to admit it was cut due to poor old Ben’s career being little more than a tabloid joke these days. Still, it’s nice to see the lad as Matt Murdock again, albeit briefly.

Best feature of the lot is a substantial 50 minute documentary about the history of ‘Elektra’ in comics, told through interviews with almost everyone you’d want to hear from, from Frank Miller to Brian Michael Bendis. All of these guys are interesting interviewees, and in a few months time when ‘Elektra’ is filling up DVD bargain bins across the land, comic fans might consider spending a fiver on it for this feature alone.

As for the main event, only connoisseurs of diabolical dialogue like ‘You speak in riddles, old man!’ will find much to entertain them in ‘Elektra’.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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