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Daredevil and Ben Affleck are both Men Without Fear. Daredevil is a blind superhero who uses his remaining enhanced senses to swing through the canyons of Manhattan. Affleck is the actor who made “Armageddon” and “Pearl Harbor.” Which takes more courage? How natural, then, their union should be. As an actor, the amiable Affleck is a blank, best known for posing as an appendage to Jennifer Lopez. His pleasant pretty-boy, but unremarkable, features sit well behind the crimson mask Daredevil wears. He has the requisite strong jaw for the role and when he grits his teeth, you think, hey, he looks sort of angry. Affleck is the star, although not the center, of the movie version of “Daredevil,” which, at the time of this writing, was the No. 1 box-office draw in America. And you know what that means. It means that this is the dead season between the release of blockbuster holiday movies and the summer’s Popcorn Flicks, when the flotsam and jetsam of Hollywood is unleashed on unsuspecting moviegoers. (“Daredevil” should soon be replaced at the top of the charts by a movie in which Chris Rock runs for president. No. Really. He runs for president and Bernie Mac is his vice president and hilarity ensues. In fact, it doesn’t just ensue, it raises the roof, y’all! Wooo! Wooo!) Kids such as the Young Judge, who grew up in the suburbs with no friends, often turned to comic books for solace, a form of escape. As such, being of a certain age made the Young Judge thoroughly familiar with the story of Daredevil, nicknamed the Man Without Fear, and his alter ego, Matt Murdock. Matt Murdock was a blind lawyer in the violent Manhattan neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, working out of his storefront law office with his partner, Foggy Nelson. At night, Murdock became Daredevil, a red-clad superhero who relied only on his acrobatics and his advanced super-senses to fight crime. Matt gained his enhanced senses in a childhood accident in which his eyes were bathed with radioactive waste. This was back when Americans believed radioactivity could do some good things for you and not just simply grow tumors or cause your hair to fall out. See, e.g., The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Hulk, etc. Matt’s hearing, sense of smell, sense of touch, all became heightened. (One never read much about his sense of taste, although I would expect that he could tell the difference between store-bought pasta sauce and that made from scratch. Not very useful in fighting crime, however.) The concept was that Matt utilized his advanced senses in his legal work as well, using his super sense of hearing, for instance, to hear elevated heartbeats and determine when witnesses were lying. He was regarded as somewhat of a legal prodigy. But the movie turns a lot of this on its head. As “Daredevil” opens, we see young Matt blinded by biohazardous waste (upgraded from radioactive for the 21st century) while running away from his gangland enforcer father, a former heavyweight boxer named Jack “The Devil” Murdock. (Get it?) “Devil” Murdock is played by Brian Keith. (He was the Navy aviator candidate in “An Officer and a Gentleman” who washed down an engagement ring with Jack Daniels and then hung himself with his belt in a hotel room. Sadly, as the Judge has aged, he is more impressed by this feat than by Daredevil being able to jump from rooftop to rooftop.) Keith’s face is so scrunched up as he attempts to play a refugee from Palookaville that he looks like Robin Williams in the screen version of “Popeye.” The movie’s best sequence comes when young Matt awakens in the hospital after his accident and encounters his hypersenses for the first time. Drops of water sound like hammer blows. A thousand conversations pierce his brain. We feel his panic and his sense of his disorientation. And, in truth, the movie largely illustrates Matt’s abilities effectively. The “radar sense” that allows him to establish the spatial relationship to his surroundings is the movie’s best effect. As all superhero parents must, Jack Murdock dies tragically, Matt swears he will pursue justice in all its forms, and 15 years later, he’s wearing fetishistic red leather and beating up bad guys. This Matt Murdock, however, seems to serve as nothing more than an excuse for Ben Affleck to wear designer shades. As the film tells it, Matt’s a pretty lousy attorney. He pursues “justice,” as far as the Judge can tell, as a plaintiffs’ lawyer suing criminals for damages. This makes little sense to the Judge, as Matt appears to act as some sort of civil prosecutor. (And of course, the first words we hear Matt say in court are: “Justice may be blind, but …” Uh, Matt, don’t you think juries might eventually see through that line? Give it a rest, man!) When Matt loses in court, Daredevil takes to the streets to administer his own brand of justice to the victorious defendant, making him some sort of costumed court of appeals who hears cases on an expedited basis. And when Affleck, as the red-leathered Daredevil, hisses something about “coming here for justice,” feel free to laugh out loud. You won’t be alone. Matt’s doltish law partner Foggy is played by Jon Favreau, who has super-sized himself back to the dimensions he was in in “Rudy.” Sadly for the weight-challenged Favreau, there seems to be little chance that he pulled a DeNiro to gain pounds for the 10-minute role. His character is supposed to come off playful when Foggy pulls practical jokes on Matt such as switching his restaurant honey for mustard, but, exactly when is tricking a blind man supposed to be funny? If it were funny, we would see it on a “Coors Light” ad. Matt doesn’t seem to care much about keeping his identity a secret either. The movie portrays him as the most physically aware blind man in history, effortlessly moving through the streets of New York while brandishing his cane as nothing more than a prop. When Matt meets the supposed-to-be-mysterious Elektra (Jennifer Garner) in a city park and their banter soon turns to martial arts combat — that happens all the time with your main squeeze, right? One minute, you’re buying a new DVD player at Best Buy, and then it’s all “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in the parking lot — it appears that Matt has revealed himself as Daredevil to about 70 people, but the movie glosses this right over. Garner, by the way, is the star of TV’s “Alias” and is what a professional movie reviewer like the Judge would call “one hot tomato,” but, regrettably, as the avenger Elektra, she comes off as more dizzy than deadly. When she tells Matt, with a straight face, that her father made her “study with a different sensei every year,” you wonder if “sensei” is another term for “Band Camp.” Matt also openly discusses his superhero exploits with his parish priest while in the confessional, plays office basketball with Foggy and recognizes people like nosy reporter Ben Urich (Joe Pantoliano) on “sight.” The only reason we, as viewers, or anyone in the movie knows that Matt is blind is because Affleck slightly crosses his eyes when he removes his sunglasses. The Judge wishes he was making this up. Hasn’t Affleck ever seen “The Miracle Worker” with Patty Duke? Both Matt and Elektra figure in the schemes of the nefarious organized crime boss, the Kingpin, whose identity in the movie is supposed to be secret. But the actor who plays him, 350-pound Michael Clarke Duncan, gives the part such an oily vaudevillian flourish that Duncan might as well have “EVIL” tattooed to his bald pate. The Kingpin recruits Bullseye, an Irish assassin, to do his dirty work. As played by Colin Farrell, Bullseye might be the first comic book character ever to be found drinking in an Irish pub. (No, despite his name, the Green Lantern never did so.) Unlike the Kingpin, Bullseye does have his name tattooed on his bald head. Seriously. But Farrell, with his true Irish brogue roaring, quickly hijacks the picture, just as he did in last summer’s “Minority Report.” His Bullseye, a killer who murders by tossing ordinary objects with deadly accuracy, is so much fun while on screen that you want him to kill more people, maybe even Daredevil and Elektra. “Daredevil” arrives in the midst of a superhero movie revival that began with the superior “X-Men” and the sublime “Spider-Man.” This summer will bring a movie version of “The Hulk” as well as the “X-Men” sequel. The films’ popularity may be explained in part by the public’s desire for black-and-white heroes and villains in this troubled time of heightened stages of alert and duct-taped windows, when we cannot seem to catch the criminal mastermind no matter how hard we try. But “Daredevil” and Blind Boy Ben make for a poor addition to the pantheon. Justice might be blind, but you don’t have to be. Pass this by. Judge Dread presides over the harshest court of all: The Court of Public Opinion. As a lawyer, he possessed the heightened senses needed to escape from his law firm office before being grabbed for weekend work by the managing partner.

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