In "Daredevil", Elektra (Jennifer Garner) was essentially left for dead. Garner's bright-eyed, lively peformance was the best thing about that movie, so it was with moderately high hopes that I sat down to view "Elektra", the film that brings her character back. Directed by Rob Bowman (I think I'm one of the few who really liked his "Reign Of Fire"), the film has Elektra being resurrected (pretty much no backstory, aside from a flashback or two) by blind martial artist Stick (Terrence Stamp) and trained to become an even more expert fighter than she was before - sort of: she is thrown out before he finishes her training.
Meanwhile, a shadowy group called "The Hand" (it's okay to chuckle, I did, too) is seeking out Abby (Kristen Prout), who apparently has special abilities. She lives with her father (Goran Visnjic) in a house on a gorgeous lake in what appears to be somewhere in the general vicinity of British Columbia, which seems like the entirely wrong place to stage a comic book movie like this (there's just no real sense of dread and nothing really omnious about a pretty forest), but oh well.
When Elektra finds that her latest target is Abby and her father, she refuses. That's when the Hand gets upset and tries to squash all three of them, sending some of their most powerful henchmen to get the trio. These include a guy that has wolves jumping out of him via tattoos. This would all be moderately exciting if it as staged a bit better. Surprisingly, Bowman's fight scenes are edited (speaking of editing, the picture has the feeling that some pretty sizable chunks ended up on the cutting room floor) too heavily, turning them into a bit of a mess, lacking tension. The film also uses CGI in some scenes, and not only is it not of high quality, some of it's not explained well - why do the bad guys disappear in a puff of green smoke after they're killed?
The other issue with the film is the dialogue and plot - one is cheesy and the other is thin - neither gives Garner (an actress I really like) a chance to really get into the role. While some have accused Garner of being bland, I think she's excellent at comedy and in dramatic roles she can be tough, yet vulnerable and haunted, but only if the character is well-developed. The cast doesn't have much chemistry with each other, either. Supporting efforts are okay, although I don't see why Proust's character had to be such a brat. The less said about the lengthy ending, the better.
Overall, "Elektra" was neither terrible nor good - just a very average time waster that could have made much better use of the character and the actors involved.
This "director's cut" runs an additional 2 minutes longer than the theatrical cut of the film. I was hoping for something along the lines of the "Daredevil" director's cut, which added a lot of story that was taken out in order to get a much tighter cut. "Elektra"'s theatrical cut seemed like the same thing may have happened, but there isn't a wealth of additional footage here. Still, the footage is mildly interesting, as there are a few character tidbits here-and-there that do add a little bit more depth to the character. There is also a few very slight, but yet still noticable additions, such as a few more frames added to an action scene late in the movie that had to be taken out for the theatrical cut. The inclusion doesn't make a major impact on the film, but it does lightly fill out the picture in some regards.
VIDEO: "Elektra" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen (a pan & scan version is available, but certainly not recommended). The picture quality is generally excellent - this is a very fine presentation from Fox that boasts strong, largely consistent definition. Aside from a couple of minor moments here-and-there, the picture appeared crisp and clear, with strong detail.
Flaws were pretty few-and-far-between, with only a little bit of edge enhancement present on a couple of brief occasions. Pixelation was not spotted, nor were any print flaws. Colors remained bright, vivid and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: "Elektra" is presented by Fox in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. The sound mix is more than adequate for this kind of picture, with good use of the surrounds for effects and ambience. Audio quality was very good, with nice bass at times. Effects seemed well-recorded, as did music and dialogue. Both the Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks were very good, although the DTS seemed a bit more dynamic and seamless.
EXTRAS: Director Rob Bowman and editor Kevin Stitt offer an audio commentary on the first disc. Their chat is a little praise-heavy at times (and there are stretches where Bowman essentially narrates the movie), but the two do provide a mostly fun and energetic track where they discuss the film's short schedule and rather short budget, editing, production issues and a lot of story/character details. Also on the first disc are the film's theatrical and teaser trailers.
The second DVD opens with the 2-part documentary, "Relentless" - the first part being the pre-production/production and the second part focusing more on post-production. The first half starts off discussing how to approach the story, and after several interviews, we get into the behind-the-scenes footage, which is narrated and, quite interesting. Also integrated into this footage are interviews and different takes. This is definitely an enjoyable and informative piece, with some solid footage. The second part, which visits with Bowman in the editing room, is equally interesting, with one amusing moment being Bowman giving his father "notes" as his father is trying to do a temp track for part of the movie. The second half of the documentary also goes into such things as sound effects work and visual effects and scoring. The 2-part documentary as a whole is really excellent, and packs in a lot of information about various aspects of the film.
Next is an alternate angle section that offers multiple takes of a scene late in the movie. We also get three deleted and also five alternate/extended deleted scenes, with optional commentary from the director and editor. Also, there's production photo galleries and storyboards. In a "mythology" section, we get "Elektra: Incarnations", which takes a lengthy look at the history of the comic book and offers interviews with Frank Milller and others. Finally, we get "Elektra in Greek Mythology", which is a shorter piece.
Final Thoughts: "Elektra" is improved a bit by this new director's cut, but I didn't feel like the additions had a very strong impact on the film. This new edition appeared to offer the same audio/video quality, but I was pleased to see that there are some terrific supplements included here, such as the terrific, in-depth 2-part documentary. Fans of the film who want more in the way of supplements and to see a new cut of the picture should give this DVD a look, while others who are interested should rent first.