Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Give Us Your Worst, Part 16: Electra

Electra ultimately only has two flaws; unfortunately, they are not minor: 1. the movie ultimately misses the point, and 2. it is dull. That The Middle Room remains divided over which is the more serious infraction should serve to illustrate just how completely the film misses said point.

We are not experts on the comics Electra springs from, however we have some familiarity with the character. The movie portrays Electra as something of a reluctant assassin who kills because she's good at it, though the film strongly implies she hates the work.

This is, in a word, wrong.

It is our understanding that Electra does not generally do things she does not enjoy. She seems to be largely portrayed as something of psychotic killer, albeit a fairly affable one. She is, in some ways, a female counterpart to Wolverine.

To tedious effect, the movie attempts to explore Electra's deep seated psychological state, particularly her emotional state. This is, once more, a mistake. In fact, it's more or less the exact mistake made in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

It is important to appreciate the fact that Electra is a character created by Frank Miller, a man who does not write female characters with complex psychological states (he tried once, and within 24 hours, three prostitutes were found dead and a large sum of hush money was trading hands).

While we appreciate the sentiment of wanting to add some substance to the character, it ultimately eliminates the point of the film altogether. Electra exists to be a ridiculous ninja assassin who assassinates ridiculous ninjas. That's what makes her fun: attempting to add gravitas will not end well.

In the movie's defense, there were a handful of fight sequences which were kind of fun, as well as a number of interesting supernatural supervillains for Electra to kill. The cold opening was a decent enough depiction of the character - likely as accurate as anything we'll ever see on the screen - and Jennifer Gardner certainly looks the part when she's not sniffling or crying (pity that eliminates most of the movie).

Despite making many of the same mistakes as Wolverine, this was ultimately far less offensive. But don't expect even something on the level of Ghost Rider.

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