Darkman - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Darkman Reviews

Page 1 of 76
Super Reviewer
½ September 8, 2007
Sam Raimi is behind this and you get just that, full-on-Raimi. Much of it will not make much sense, but who cares, cause the action is over-the-top in capital letters. Its a comic book movie, but one of the good ones. Look for the helicopter sequence, its a good 'un. Frances McDormand, what's she doing in here, but she does alright too.
Super Reviewer
½ December 26, 2014
This is probably one of the best comicbook characters that didn't actually start out as a comicbook character, he was in fact created by director Sam Raimi. Thinking about that its actually pretty impressive really, Raimi wanted to make a comicbook movie adaptation of one of the more well known existing characters but couldn't, so he just made up his own...kudos. What's even more impressive is the fact this character has gone on to become a popular cult comicbook franchise alongside Raimi's other famous creation Ash.

The whole premise behind Darkman in my opinion is a humble beauty and the beast tale really. Obviously Liam Neeson's character gets horribly mutilated but what follows is very similar to that French fairytale. On the other hand you could also say the character is very similar to 'The Phantom of the Opera' both in plot terms and visualisation. I think its fairly easy to see how Darkman is visually similar to The Phantom with his face mask of bandages and black sweeping attire. His appearance also harks back to other classic dashing heroes of the 30's such as The Shadow and more so The Spirit in the 40's, the age old dark coloured fedora always looking the business. Yet another influence (in my opinion) for Darkman's look could be Universal's sci-fi horror icon The Invisible Man who literately wears the same outfit with bandages of course.

The plot does kinda run along the same lines as 'Beauty and the Beast' or The Phantom. A disfigured man who hides in the shadows existing away from civilisation but watching them from a far at the same time. He has strong feelings for a woman whom he tries to protect and at the same time attempt to open up to her, but of course he cannot, he is conflicted inside over his hideous appearance. He is haunted by inner demons, how he is now treated and looked upon, and of course In this movie there is the added revenge and rage element against the mobsters that destroyed his life and face. Its the old winning formula of a hero (or anti-hero) who is scary for whatever reasons...but that fear draws you in, it intrigues you and makes you cheer for him.

I remember when I first saw this movie back in my teen years I wrote it off as a blatant Batman-esque wannabe (foolishly). Back then I wasn't totally aware of Raimi's work and hadn't seen his Evil Dead movies so I thought the effects were crude and poorly done. Watching now, being wiser and more experienced with movies, its easy to spot those typical Raimi effects and sequences, his way of directing that had become his signature. Yes the effects are still crude looking (carnival mans obvious rubber fingers getting twisted by Westlake), much of the movie showcases really bad bluescreen and some of the movie just looks cheap, but it all has that glorious Raimi style that peaked with 'Army of Darkness'. The most expensive looking aspect of the movie to me seems to be the use of a helicopter towards the end.

Did anyone notice that Darkman's burnt up face looks remarkably similar to Evil Ash's undead face in 'Army of Darkness'? The bottom of the jaw especially looks to be an almost identical design, still great looking though, the makeup and prosthetics are really effective in this film. I also really liked the tiny scene where Westlake's hands get fried in a wicked little stop-motion sequence. Its little touches like that that are pure Raimi and they look marvelous, plus its always nice to see the old methods being used. Looking back now the rage sequences in Westlake's mind are quite amusing too, its all very basic.

On the whole this movie is in all honesty a bit poor visually and not exactly an original concept. The acting is passable throughout but clearly hokey, its a good job Larry Drake is so fantastically cool, evil and distinctive looking as the main bad guy Durant otherwise this may have sunk without a trace. I think the film could of done with some more action sequences at night, hence Dark...man. I realise this title isn't suppose to simply mean a dark brooding gothic type character, its more to do with his damaged psyche and where it leads him. But if ever a character did need some murky menacing action set amongst neon lit skyscrapers its this. Still, you gotta give big kudos to Raimi for thinking this colourful character up out of thin air, to look at this film you could easily be mistaken for thinking it was an adaptation of an already established comicbook character. That is a pretty solid achievement right there.
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2014
Alan Moore could probably lay claim that 'Darkman' thusly plunders the seriocomic origin story of his brainchild 'Swamp Thing' with the trope of an ingenious scientist being scorched by thugs in one of his own experiments and being revived as a freakish hybrid. On the other hand though, Sam Raimi doesn't squander the property on a shoestring budget ala Wes Craven's chintzy adaptation and Raimi is a certifiable maestro of gallows humor (ex. Liam Neeson shrieking about his "fucking" pink elephant prize while his malleable facial prosthetic is melting away). Honestly, the ebullient albeit derivative 'Darkman' is Raimi's audition for his 'Spider-Man' gig and it trounces that trilogy by leaps and bounds. He doesn't mock the material (he even rationalizes why the formula is only efficacious at night) and before he was an AARP action hero, Neeson is a superb fit for the disfigured crusader. Creatively the cinematography during the stuntwork are unparalleled with Neeson's head being smashed continually through glass cabinets during Durant's raid on his lab. The carnival of action scenes is absolutely crackerjack and thrilling with the helicopter-dangling denouement as a centerpiece (Westlake's Road Runner feet atop a truck is a hilarious use of speed ramping). One drawback is Danny Elfman's operatic score is too reminiscent of his other Tim Burton opuses.
Super Reviewer
½ June 7, 2012
A classic revenge story that features some awesome Liam Neeson overacting. I think Darkman is an extremely interesting character. It sure does pack some awesome B-movie style punches due to Sam Raimi's great direction. The Bruce Campbell cameo is just the icing on the cake. Letter Grade: A-
Super Reviewer
½ March 2, 2007
A scientist hideously disfigured during an attack on his lab utilises the synthetic skin he was working on to wreak bloody vengeance on the criminals responsible. Batman meets The Phantom Of The Opera in this superhero-horror hybrid from Sam Raimi that can be seen as the stepping stone from Evil Dead 2 to Spider Man. This is clearly where he learned the ropes of making the modern superhero film and although lacking the slickness exhibited by the Marvel franchise, Darkman still has plenty to commend it. It has a rather blacker heart than the usual masked avenger movie, Raimi exploring the idea of a "hero" that is more borderline psychotic than a brooding loner and far more interested in pure revenge than justice. It's a little rough around the edges and Liam Neeson was a slightly odd casting choice but it has a lot of Raimi's trademark B-Movie flourishes and although less humorous than a lot of his other projects, still has some real laugh out loud moments. I think more could've been made of the character and his state of mind but it cracks along at breakneck pace with come nice action set pieces and compared to its contemporaries (namely the Crow and Batman) it has dated rather well.
Super Reviewer
May 5, 2007
Before Sam Raimi relaunched the surprisingly good Spider-Man for the big screen he dabbled with another comic book hero themed film in the form of Darkman - the story of an horrifically scarred scientist who reeks revenge on the gangsters responsible for his disfigurement. A sadly overlooked film that has all the typical ingredients to please fans of superhero films. It didn't quite have the budget of other movies of its type and some of the visual effects look a little dated, but Raimi's stylish trademarks are there throughout. The action sequences at the end are awesome too with the helicopter pursuit stealing the show for me. The Darkman make-up effects look brilliant and suitably horrific with Liam Neeson doing well with the character overall. Definitely worth a watch, thoroughly entertaining.
Super Reviewer
May 3, 2007
Phantom of the Opera meets The Mummy and The Elephant Man. Only far less brilliant than any of those films. It's hard to imagine that the same man who made Spider-Man 1 & 2, also made this cringe-inducing cheese-fest. The villains are really lame, the plot thinner than toilet paper, and the directing an outright mess. Yet, somehow - despite its numerous faults and horrid esthetics - I still found myself sufficiently entertained. Maybe because it's one of those "so bad, it's good" films, but all in all, it was decent enough to be worth my time. Thankfully, however, the comic book genre has come a long way since its B-movie days in the 90's. Because who wants to watch semi-crap like this when we got quality action like The Dark Knight and X-Men: First Class? Not me, that's for sure. And what an accomplished actor like Liam Neeson is doing in it, God only knows.
Super Reviewer
½ November 29, 2006
Director Sam Raimi's film is a highly entertaining and energetic combination of sci-fi, action and thriller! It has a decent story and great special effects.
The performances are good, especially Liam Neeson is really believable as the revengeful and crime-fighting figure hero.
The villains in the movie are over-the-top, leading with Larry Drake's character Durant. There also is some outrageous Rambo action which stretches way past credibility, such as people shooting from five feet away and missing our hero!
And I was surprised what I saw the final scene of an actor appeared cameo in this film was Raimi's longtime friend and collaborator Bruce Campbell.
Super Reviewer
½ January 12, 2011
The cheese outweighs the good, Liam Neeson looks real young.
Super Reviewer
May 8, 2010
Next to the Evil Dead trilogy, this is Sam Raimi's greatest descent into the land of crazy. In many ways it is an anti-superhero movie because Dr. Westlake really has no interest in saving anyone, just getting revenge on Durant. There were some really interesting aspects of his movie that seem to go unnoticed like the human masks and the demented comedy that almost borders on pure insanity. If you've learned one thing from watching this, it's to "Take the fucking elephant".
Super Reviewer
December 22, 2009
After being immolated in an explosion set by gangsters, a hideously burned scientist undergoes an experimental treatment that gives him super strength and fits of uncontrollable rage, and seeks revenge using a synthetic skin that allows him to mimic the facial features of anyone he chooses (and also changes his height, build and eye color). Completely preposterous and not meant to be taken seriously; the hammy acting by Liam Neeson is somewhat entertaining, but otherwise its full of action movie cliches that aren't funny enough to count as parodies.
Super Reviewer
½ August 15, 2009
"Darkman" is a good action movie and features a great performance from Liam Neeson. Scientist Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) and his partner are trying to create an antidote in the form of recreated skin from a model, for people with damaged skin, such as burns or scars. Some criminals kill Peyton's partner and blow up the whole lab, and Peyton gets injured so severely that everybody thinks he is dead, even his girlfriend, Julie (Frances McDormand). Peyton will do anything he can to get his hands on the criminals that destroyed his life and made him into this unknown madman.
"Darkman" has some great special effects, a good plot, and best of all, great acting. After he's injured, Peyton becomes a totally different person by developing a flaming temper. Liam Neeson does so good of a job that it will make you wonder who the real criminal is, Peyton or the men that destroyed everything he had.

"Darkman" is like many kinds of movies wrapped into one. It's mainly an action movie, but it has both sci-fi and horror characteristics involved in parts. If you like great action movies, I would recommend getting "Darkman." The two sequels to the movie are also good, but this one is the best. NOTE: That was my Amazon review from the year 2000 - loved this movie from the first time I saw it and still a good watch from time to time! Should be more popular.
Super Reviewer
June 10, 2006
Peyton Westlake: Take the fucking elephant!

When Sam Raimi couldn't get a job directing the superhero movies he wanted to do, he made up his own, and god dammit, it worked. Of course he went on to make "SpiderGold" a decade later, but here he still makes this kick ass R-rated superhero movie, with a neat premise, a fun score, and plenty of Raimi-style humor.

Liam Neeson stars as Dr. Peyton Westlake. He is developing a synthetic skin process in his laboratory, when one day a group of mobsters brake into his lab, wreak his stuff, torture Westlake, and then attempt to blow him up.

This beating was partly caused by his girlfriend, played by Frances McDormand, who has stumbled across some problems involving the boss of her big company.

Westlake, some how survives the explosion and is treated to some kind of experimental process that effects his physical strength and abilities, but also ruins his temper.

Now mutilated, he finds a new area in a condemned building to continue his work, learning how to create masks that last for a certain amount of time, and eventually engages in a tricky plan to get revenge on those who harmed him.

The story follows most outcast superhero stories involving a tragic hero, in this case Westlake is similar to the Phantom of the Opera. Basically Raimi has made a superhero/monster movie in the style of Evil Dead, with plenty of dark comedy running throughout.

Darkman: [to conference attendees after crashing through a skyscraper window] Excuse me.

The main draw of this movie is its style. Made on a modest budget, anyone who knows the Evil Dead films knows that Raimi is a wild man with the camera when the time calls for it, and it provides some zany sequences. The whole film resembles a pulpy kind of afternoon matinée from way back in the day. It is not afraid to go over the top with the melodrama or the action and the movie is better for it.

It also helps that this movie whips by. It's a lot of fun throughout, and was able to spawn a decent following with its to direct-to-video sequels, comics, toys, and even a Bruce Campbell cameo.

Rick: Oh, god! Don't! I've told you everything!
Darkman: [softly] I know, Rick. I know you did.
Darkman: But let's pretend you didn't!
Super Reviewer
June 15, 2009
Raimi's first jump into superhero land was as dark and humorous as you might expect. It is somewhere between Batman, Spider-Man and Evil Dead. With Elfman providing the score just one year after Batman, the music is all too familiar. You can see many scenes that are Raimi would use later. The credits and inside the mind/dream sequence/transformation scenes are very similar to Spider-Man, the final fight is on a construction sight, just like Spider-Man 3, and the "doctor turning a bit bad ass" angle was used for the first two Spidey villains. The balance between gruesome and slapstick is handled with intentionally awkward hands. The make-up is fantastic and the effects are heartwarmingly retro. It's an enjoyable, if dated, film.
Super Reviewer
½ February 26, 2009
HOW did anyone involved in this film go on to have a real career? Sam Raimi employs everything that was WRONG with superhero-type films in the 80's and early 90's. Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand put on the worst performances of their career, barely worthy of a Troma film. (and the casting of McDormand as the female lead/love interest?? Whose idea was that?)

It woud be easy to blame its poor quality on the bad fx and such, but those are simply a product of its era. No, they are not to blame. The basic idea could have made for a decent film, but in the hands of Raimi, it was a complete cheesefest. There are moments scattered throughout where it's not so terrible, but the rest.... well, at times it was so bad, it seemed to be a spoof.
Super Reviewer
½ December 31, 2008
I have seen this 3-4 times since 1990, its a ok film, Just purchased the Darkman Trilogy, so this is the first of 3 reviews. Darkman is based on a comic book and its a decent job. I have always enjoyed Liam Neeson, he played an outstanding part in K-19, in this movie he does a good job as the super hero, but not sure he's really a super hero, just a pissed off guy. Larry Drake always plays a good bad guy, he just has the look and this picture is no exception, I like the finger collection he has. Its not a real seat grabber but its ok, Get the Trilogy DVD, as it can be found for less then ten dollars most places.
Super Reviewer
½ June 5, 2008
Sam Raimi's superhero prototype Darkman is not your typical superhero film in that it's darker with a few moments of light comedy involved, mainly one liners.

Liam Neeson stars as the title character, who is disfigured by a criminals wanting to silence his girlfriends (Frances McDormand) discovery of bribery in elected office. After being restored to life by killing his sensations and upping his adrenaline he becomes Darkman, a person obsessed with revenge.

Unlike other superhero films, this is a revenge tale and Darkman will stop at nothing to achieve it. The acting is mediocre at best with Neeson over acting throughout the film, but it's the story and the execution that give this film the extra push it needs. Darkman is a film that was ahead of its time. The anti-hero has been hot lately and Darkman perfected it almost twenty years before. A great story with great visual execution.
Super Reviewer
July 26, 2007
An awsome and mind-blowing action-packed thrill-machine. Brilliantly exciting and endlessly pulse-pounding. A masterwork of pure excellence. Mixing action, suspense and horror in one cool flick. Director, Sam Raimi's more succesful attempt to adapt a comic to a film. It's darker, richer and more entertaining than Spider-Man. Liam Neeson gives a strong and exhilerating performance.
Super Reviewer
April 25, 2008
A really good superhero movie that plays the genre loosely and fun. All of the actors play the roles well and really have fun with the flick as it isn't supposed to be masterpiece theatre.
Super Reviewer
July 14, 2007
This movie has managed to successfully create a live action comic book onscreen. Larry Drake makes a strange villain, but Liam Neeson makes a superb Darkman. The production design is vintage-style.
Page 1 of 76