Elektra

Posted on January 11, 2005 at 7:45 pm

C+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Extensive and graphic comic book-style violence
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters, strong women
Date Released to Theaters: 2005

To paraphrase the most famous line from A League of Their Own, “there’s no crying in comic book movies.” At least there shouldn’t be, not by the superhero, anyway. But this is a comic book movie that feels like it might have been made for the Lifetime channel. With costumes by Victoria’s Secret.

Yes, there is kick-boxing. Stuff blows up. There is faux-meaningful comic book dialogue like “This ends here.” And there are some cool special effects. But there’s too much focus on Elektra’s past and feelings and not enough focus on making the rest of the good or bad guys interesting.

Jennifer Garner plays Elektra, a highly successful assassin for hire who has flashbacks that remind her of her demanding father and loving but doomed mother. When her new targets turn out to be a father and daughter who had befriended her, she decides to save them instead. She feels protective toward them because they have a strong father-daughter bond, something she longed for with her own father. And because the girl reminds her of herself. And because the father is played by the smoulderingly attractive Goran Visnjic.

This puts her at odds with a diabolical group of bad guys known as The Hand, including Typhoid (a woman whose poisonous breath causes instant death), Tattoo (a man whose intricate tattoos of fierce creatures come alive to spy or attack), and Kinko (he isn’t there to make copies).

There are some good action sequences, the best borrowing from the far-better Hong Kong films. Garner is toned and that midriff-baring costume makes her look more like Comic Book Barbie than like a killer. But she is also toned down. We get almost no chance to see those marvelous dimples or even any facial expressions other than “tortured” and “resolute.”

Parents should know that the movie features extensive and graphic (for PG-13) comic book-style violence with a lot of martial arts fights. Many characters are killed. There are brief grisly images. Characters use some strong language (s-word, etc.).

Families who see this movie should talk about Elektra’s answer to Abby’s question about why she does what she does. Why did she have to leave her training? What will she do next?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy X-Men and its sequel, Batman, and Spider-Man and its sequels.

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