Marvel Movie Madness! Part 29: Elektra

by | July 13, 2011 | Comments

Enter Marvel Movie Madness, wherein Rotten Tomatoes watches all of the significant Marvel movies ever made. Full Marvel Movie Madness list here. Tune in! We give you our thoughts, and you give us yours.


Part 29: Elektra (2005, 10% @ 151 reviews)

Directed by Rob Bowman, starring Jennifer Garner, Terence Stamp, Goran Visnjic, Will Yun Lee

Ryan: I don’t believe Elektra deserves its current 10% Tomatometer score at all. Elektra was only marginally worse than Daredevil, and in fact, it held my attention for a much longer time than Daredevil did before it took a turn for the worse (relatively speaking).

The first thing to note about Elektra is that it doesn’t operate as a true spinoff of Daredevil, because the events of that film seem to have been wiped from Elektra’s memory. I expected to see a revenge story, with Elektra tracking down Bullseye, Kingpin, and maybe even Daredevil himself, but aside from a few vague flashbacks, we’re given precious little to connect the dots. Also, unlike Daredevil, Elektra takes itself rather seriously, with few winks at the audience and just the faintest touch of humor. The entire first act feels like a traditional action flick, and honestly, I think if they stuck to that, it could have made for a passable, if familiar, assassin’s story. But it wouldn’t be a superhero movie without a bit of “super,” and that’s where the villains come in.

The movie has a lot of problems, ranging from poor character development to lifeless action sequences, but I think my biggest gripe was with the rogue’s gallery Elektra faces. The film sets up The Hand to be a powerful force, but their abilities are more showy than effective (What was Kinkou’s power anyway? Immaculate taste in men’s undershirts?), and the final battle with Kirigi, probably the least menacing of all of them, left me wholly unsatisfied. Also, what a waste of Cary Tagawa. Despite all of its other flaws, if Elektra had had some quality enemies to battle, I really think this movie could have been better than Daredevil. As it stands, it’s just a humdrum chase movie with flaccid action and some puzzling directorial choices.


Luke: Ryan, I had the same Cary Tagawa thought: when you see that guy at the beginning, after a passable enough animated prologue invoking some pseudo-samurai babble, you kind of hope that maybe he’ll provide an interesting adversary — or at least face off against Terence Stamp in a duel of old masters. Oh well. Not that I was exactly hoping for, well, anything here.

When you can’t get your central hero right, there’s trouble. We’re led to believe that Elektra is a stone-cold assassin sworn only to her professional code — despite the fact that Jennifer Garner looks like she should be shopping for lip balm in Sherman Oaks — and yet, there she goes all gooey on the first guy she’s assigned to kill because, what, he’s got a turtleneck, an accent, and a teenage daughter who broke in and tried to rob her house? And the villains, as you say, felt like a sideshow thrown in every time the movie needed some action — and even then it was heavily CGI’d and not at all involving. I love how Rob Bowman spent so much effort orchestrating the digital sheets billowing all over the fight sequence in the hotel dining room that he seemed to forget to give the audience a proper battle. It was like Elektra and The Hand assassin were having a scuffle outside someone’s wedding reception. Like you say, this would have been better (if just as forgettable) as a straight-up assassin action movie, or maybe a mentor-prodigy thing between Elektra and the girl.


Jeff: Given my passionate loathing for Daredevil, I was expecting Elektra to be torturous, but in a lot of ways, I think it’s actually a better film. For one thing, it simply looks better; whatever the movie’s flaws — and it has plenty of them — Bill Roe’s cinematography deserves special mention. It’s all beautifully lit, with loads of artfully framed shots, and in these days of decidedly un-cinematic movies, it’s hard to take that for granted.

And for the first 45 minutes or so, Elektra almost sort of works. Garner is a credible action hero, even if I don’t think she’s capable of carrying the dramatic weight the character requires, and those opening sequences do a nice job of weaving between cleanly staged action and psychological drama. (Note: yes, I did watch the director’s cut.)

But then things start to get silly. After Elektra kills a ninja and he disappears in a puff of green smoke, she says “What comes after will be worse,” and she isn’t kidding. If you’ve ever wanted to watch a movie in which one of the villains is a guy with a magic bird tattoo that can come to life and fly, Elektra is for you; otherwise, it’s just a really weird mishmash of soapy comic thrills and further examples of Hollywood’s patronizing, confused view of Eastern mysticism and martial arts.

More Marvel Movie Madness:

Tag Cloud

LGBTQ CW Seed Britbox PaleyFest 24 frames justice league Rom-Com Infographic Super Bowl USA Cosplay President American Society of Cinematographers Star Trek harry potter Sony Pictures ABC Family Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt TIFF boxoffice Writers Guild of America Star Wars Countdown Esquire Sci-Fi Biopics Valentine's Day Certified Fresh CMT DC Universe 20th Century Fox El Rey historical drama Reality Competition Grammys Mary Tyler Moore science fiction Showtime Netflix adventure Creative Arts Emmys SDCC PBS unscripted Christmas DirecTV X-Men Tomatazos crime thriller politics SundanceTV Sundance Now Horror OWN crime 2016 dc cops 007 APB Best and Worst Comedy VICE Tumblr Comedy Central 45 political drama Photos Logo dceu Rocky Box Office supernatural BBC America HBO Marathons Country Syfy Amazon period drama Pixar Ellie Kemper TCM TCA 2017 Extras vampires Video Games Animation sports Drama BET cults Warner Bros. FX RT History History Opinion Premiere Dates cooking spy thriller TLC Disney IFC based on movie BBC A&E E3 NBC Action Bravo AMC ABC docudrama Pop TBS ITV Teen Thanksgiving Fox News FXX Reality DC Comics ESPN Awards talk show Winners Watching Series psycho Ghostbusters Summer Freeform Nominations composers See It Skip It Cartoon Network thriller TruTV Fantasy golden globes Paramount Disney Channel Martial Arts Sneak Peek Dark Horse Comics Food Network ratings The Arrangement 2017 DC streaming service Fall TV Lionsgate Musicals police drama Schedule GLAAD Spring TV social media Toys Nat Geo 2015 Paramount Network crime drama Musical dramedy Oscars Holidays Pirates Marvel Polls and Games Mystery WGN Crackle Comic Book VH1 Character Guide Trivia NYCC Masterpiece cinemax YA travel Calendar Election Spike TV Trailer USA Network Universal CNN Emmys serial killer Western Lifetime Adult Swim technology CBS All Access The CW Lucasfilm sitcom cats Year in Review 21st Century Fox medical drama Podcast Rock Hulu Nickelodeon zombie Kids & Family romance Sundance what to watch First Look Mindy Kaling Interview Music discovery binge IFC Films FOX diversity comiccon CBS Starz TNT aliens singing competition Acorn TV GoT GIFs Red Carpet MTV TCA TV Land biography Winter TV E! war transformers Superheroes Set visit MSNBC