Darkman was made way back in 1990. Superman had it’s last gasp with the abysmal part 4, The Punisher flopped and only Batman broke all the box offices. Because of that it’s not illogical that Darkman feels like a cheaper version of Batman, but stating just that would be doing the movie a great injustice and justice is what Darkman is all about.
Well it’s more revenge actually as the title character is a scientist played by Liam Neeson who gets hideously deformed by a gang of thugs but just so happens to be working on skin-regeneration-tissue. What are the odds right? Problem: the skin stops working after 99 minutes and melts. So permanent do-it-yourself plastic surgery is out of the question, imitating other people for a limited amount of time however is.
This is where Darkman gets interesting, like the 2004 version of the Punisher, the bad guys are convinced the man is dead but they get played out strategically and with a thought through plan. It’s much more than just a simple revenge plot because of this it brings us classic and original scenes where for instance a woman sees a man fall 20 stories down onto a car next to her only to look to the other side and see that same man sitting on a bench. Another one of these scenes is where Darkman, now imitating the head-gangster, walks through a revolving door while the real gangster just walks in. This ensues in them both screaming “shoot him” while fighting each other and we as the audience also don’t know who’s who. Classic.
Darkman is filled with fun original scenes and it has some good acting too. But that is to be expected when Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand are the lead actors. Extra credit goes out to the make up department. The make-up on Liam Neeson is really good and looks a lot like Uncle Frank from Hellraiser: another terrific make-up job. They even speak with the same voice and both say “Don’t look at me” at least once. So Darkman doesn’t receive an award for originality and, apart from the make-up, the special effects (green screen alert!) are obvious although it did use some CGI which was still unique in that time. But it’s fun and the characters are layered and fleshed which makes them compelling.