Long before Sam Raimi directed the "Spider-Man" films, he created his own comic book superhero film with the dizzyingly fun "Darkman." Different from his "Spider-Man" pictures, this film is R-rated and has the scrappy energy and inventiveness of Raimi's earlier films (which were only thee at this point) "Evil Dead" 1 and 2 and "Crimewave." Liam Neeson plays a scientists who is horribly scarred from an attack by crime boss Robert G. Durant and his men. Neeson is left for dead in his laboratory explosion, but the chemicals and what not in his lab give him super strength and his scientific skills allow him to create lifelike masks, allowing him to impersonate anyone for a short period of time while the mask substance lasts. The explosion and attack also leave Neeson filled with uncontrollable rage. So generally speaking, it's a classic comic book superhero origin story. Neeson then seeks revenge upon those who wronged him. Larry Drake is a terrific villain as Durant, who has a penchant for chopping off fingers with his cigar cutter of those who've wronged him. I remember being shocked by Drake's performance when I originally saw this in the theater because up to this point I had only seen him as the meek mentally retarded man, Benny, on "LA Law." This character is about as polar opposite of Benny as you can get, so it was probably a smart career move for Drake (though "Dr. Giggles" is the only other film of his I can name outside of the Darkman movies). It was also brave casting by Raimi, putting an actor you'd never expect in such a central villainous role, though Raimi said he'd never seen "LA Law." But although Drake, Neeson and also Frances McDormand as Neeson's girlfriend are all strong performers, this is not a serious dramatic film and the real star of this film is director Sam Raimi's delightfully over-the-top visual style. Ramie brings a crazy amount of energy to this film that still holds up today. Michael Bay films may equal this film in terms of bombast, but is nowhere close when it comes to cleverness and inventiveness. Top all of this fun off with a great score by Danny Elfman, and I think this is a film that really deserves to be considered a minor classic. On a side note, look for a quick cameo by Bruce Campbell and also by Raimi's friends the Coen Brothers, who reportedly did some uncredited script doctoring on this film.