Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - July, 2010


"Darkman" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle



Peyton Westlake (Neeson) is a scientist working on a way to create synthetic skin.  His girlfriend, attorney Julie Hastings (McDormand) accidentally discovers evidence of bribery in the City Commissioner’s Louis Strack’s (Friels) Office.  Strack sends his henchman, Robert Durant (Drake) in to “take care of things.”  In the process, Westlake’s lab is destroyed and he is permanently disfigured.  During his treatment in the hospital his nervous system is modified so he can’t feel pain and the resulting adrenaline rush gives him super-human strength.  He escapes the hospital and sets up a lair in an abandoned factory.  There he rebuilds his lab and creates synthetic skin so he can assume different identities.  He goes about exacting revenge on the bad guys and eventually manages to kill Strack and save the city.  He is reunited with Julie but decides his condition has changed him and he decides to go it alone and disappears.



  • Universal
  • 1990, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 36 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec:  Not Specified
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Colin Friels, Larry Drake
  • Directed by Sam Raimi
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Yes


Though the plot of this film intrigued me, the execution left a lot to be desired.  I don’t mind the occasional comedic interpretation of violence but this movie seemed more like an episode of the original TV Batman.  The acting and script were so bad; I had to check the box to be sure I was really seeing Liam Neeson on the screen.  His performance was terribly overdone and hammy.  Francis McDormand had me rooting against her female-in-distress character simply because she did so many dumb things.  My favorite line from her was the gem, “If you’re not going to kill me, I have things to do.”  I was quite surprised to see Sam Raimi as the director.  He did a masterful job with the Spiderman films.  Darkman was a completely different product.  Production quality seemed quite low as well with cheesy special effects and very unimaginative action scenes.


Picture quality was about average for a catalog title of this vintage.  Color was natural and well-saturated most of the time.  Occasionally, it seemed flat.  Flesh tones were accurate but actors’ faces looked very pasty as if they were wearing too much makeup.  Detail was good with sharp rendering and no apparent edge enhancement.  Noise and film grain were minimal.  Contrast was also good with consistently deep blacks and clear shadow detail.  Special effects were very primitive and it was quite obvious when compositing or green screen work was taking place.

The DTS Master Audio track was clear and free of artifacts.  Dynamic range was fairly small with action scenes not really having much punch or presence.  Dialog was clear and easy to understand at all times.  Surrounds were used minimally and my sub never had much to do.  The musical score was very Hollywood-esque and did little to improve the low-budget feel of the film.  Danny Elfman was the composer and I’ve heard much better music from him in other movies.


There are no bonus features on this disc.