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'Darkman' lurks on to Blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory

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'Darkman' Collector's Edition Blu-ray

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Many people think the "Spider-Man" trilogy was director Sam Raimi's first crack at the comic book and super hero genres. Scream Factory does what they do best by releasing "Darkman" on Blu-ray and setting the record straight. Although Darkman was an original creation of the "Evil Dead" helmsman, the character was born out of Raimi's frustration at not being able to acquire the rights to make a Batman or Shadow movie. In essence, he worked backwards. The movie came first and then the comic followed.

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Dr. Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) is on the brink of discovering the secret to creating synthetic skin when his laboratory is raided and destroyed by mobsters. Left for dead, the scientist is scarred and deformed beyond recognition. He takes on the alter ego of Darkman, using his synthetic skin to take on the identity of his enemies and exact revenge upon them for his plight.

"Darkman" Collector's Edition is presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1). The video is clear but retains its "real film" flavor. The clarity of the picture does show the limitations of the blue or green screen used in the production of the movie. However, a great story helps to make up for any of these issues.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound makes every explosion and gunshot ring out from all corners of your home theater. "Darkman" is full of atmospheric whispers and noises that justify its expansive mix. A great musical score by Danny Elfman is one of the elements that make this film so unforgettable.

"Darkman" Collector's Edition is rated R for violence and language. If the movie were put out today, it easily would've been given a PG-13 rating. There's no nudity or adult situations.

Some people might be offended by Darkman's willingness to take a life. Unlike Superman or even Batman these days, the character has no problem dropping bad guys from a flying helicopter or blowing them up in his lab. You might say he lives by the credo "An eye for an eye."

The movie also delves into the concept of unconditional love. Can Dr. Westlake's girlfriend (Frances McDormand) accept him the way he looks now? It also begs the question, "What are you willing to give up to get revenge?"

Scream Factory loads the "Darkman" Collector's Edition Blu-ray full of bonus material. They have interviews with Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, and Larry Drake that appear to be new. Audio commentary is provided by Director of Photography Bill Pope. There are also interviews with many of the crew from the production of the film and some of the villain's henchmen. Original storyboards, a theatrical trailer, TV spots, a vintage electronic press kit, and vintage cast and crew profiles round out the special features.

"Darkman" Collector's Edition is a great example of Sam Raimi's early work as he climbed the ladder to become one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood. It's a testimony to the perseverance of a filmmaker doing what he wants. If Raimi couldn't make his Batman or Shadow movie, he'd just combine the two into one character and do his own thing. He was successful as is proven by the large cult following the movie has.

"Darkman" Collector's Edition is available now on Blu-ray.

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