Instant Queue Diaries- Episode Five: Darkman II: The Return of Durant
It was one of those nights where I was too tired to watch a movie and not tired enough to fall asleep. After a long day of writing and a large meal, I should have just closed my eyes and forced myself to go to bed.
However, against my better judgment, I decided to watch “Darkman II: The Return of Durant.”
At first I was a bit apprehensive, considering the fact that I’ve never seen the original “Darkman,” but my thoughts were soon put to rest when I was basically told what transpired in the first film after the first 10 or so minutes. I was also consistently reminded throughout the rest of the movie of not only the first film, but events that happened just 20 minutes before via flashback. A lesson on how to get the most out of a limited amount of material, “Darkman II: The Return of Durant” feels like a old serial from the ’40s at times because of the constant reminders of what the characters stand for. The rest of the time though, it feels like a bad B-movie.
That’s because Darkman isn’t like other heroes in the fact that he steals from the bad guys to pay for his scientific research to rebuild his burnt face and body [imagine a Domino's pizza with no cheese and a pair of dentures and medical bandage and you have the basic look of this guy's mug]. That’s not heroic; that’s pretty damn selfish. At least Robin Hood gave to the poor. How this 200-pound piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken can scale buildings and beat the crap out of people is explained, but it’s a bit too far-fetched, making an already unbelievable character seem extra campy.
Apparently, being a burn victim the severity of Darkman has serious side effects, such as violent mood swings and adrenaline rushes, giving him the strength of 10 men.
The other powers that he does have are pretty cool though. A talented scientist, he can make masks of other peoples faces and can even copy their voices. If you’re big comic book fan, this sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it? The Marvel Comics character the Chameleon, who is a good 25 years older than Darkman can do that stuff too. Nevertheless, it did put a decent spin on the character.
While he may not be Michael Keaton in “Batman,” Arnold Vosloo [who replaced Liam Neeson, the original KFC burn victim] is solid, but is held back by a mediocre script. In spite of that, he does his best to make the title character of this flick an interesting one.
Overall, it was his performance that kept me awake throughout.
It doesn’t make the money any better though.
Despite having cuties like Kim Delaney [who chain smokes through most of the film] and Renee O’Connor [the other girl on "Xena"] on-screen for a nice chunk of the film, the horrible acting of Larry Drake as the main baddie, Durant, makes the film virtually unbearable. After he throws a guy off a roof in a golf cart in the beginning of the film, he tells him to replace his divot.
Kind of funny, but pretty lame at four in the morning. With instances of this continuing throughout, it’s hard to sit through this flick in its entirety.
The fact that Durant too is a smart guy that doesn’t rely on his fists also hurts the overall story, making it difficult to stay awake through this if you were watching it in the middle of the day.
In spite of all of this, “Darkman II: The Return of Durant” would work in a party setting just because it hasn’t aged well. While the film was made in ’95, it feels like a mid-’80s made for TV movie, which is sure to induce plenty of laughs throughout. Even by myself, battling exhaustion, I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the campy scenes and illogical plot developments.
Because of that, it has some appeal, but not the type to make it an endearing offering.
Next time I can’t sleep, I’ll look for a book, rather than take another chance with this film.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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