Making the Grades
Another Marvel Comics' character is brought to life in Elektra, an action film starring Jennifer Garner in a very tight red outfit-the perfect little item for taking on some tough ninja fighters.
The film opens with Elektra doing her business as a hired assassin, having rejected her mentor, Stick (Terence Stamp). The instructor literally gave her a new life after she was mortally wounded, as well as teaching her how to become a lethal warrior, and training her in the art of Kimagure, a meditation technique that allows you to see into the near future. Of course, he hoped his student would use these powers for good, but Elektra kept falling back into darkness.
The light begins to return however, when she's asked to kill a widower, Mark Miller (Goran Visnjic), and his daughter Abby (Kirsten Prout). Unable to complete the assignment given to her by a powerful Japanese syndicate called "The Hand," she instead decides to help the fractured family escape from danger. Eventually, her efforts lead her back to Stick. Seeing her change of heart, the teacher takes her back and begins to prepare her for the unavoidable battle with The Hand's ninjitsu fighters.
A guy by the name of Kirigi (Will Yun Lee) leads this tough bunch of Tokyoites. Both a master swordsman and adept at Kimagure, he is joined by Tattoo (Chris Ackerman), a man with animals etched on his body that he can make come to life; Typhoid (Natassia Malthe), a woman whose kiss or touch is deadly; Stone (Bob Sapp), who possesses a body that is literally rock hard; and Kinkou (Edson T. Ribeiro), a man with balance so precise, he can't be knocked down.
This formidable force will give Elektra the ultimate challenge, in which she will have to completely shun the darkness inside of her so that she may concentrate all of her energies on saving the Millers and herself.
Yeah, right we've heard it all before, leaving you wondering what makes Elektra different from the other comic-to-screen characters. In a word -- nothing. Sure, the martial arts moves are cool, and Jennifer Garner will certainly keep the males interested, yet like many of the other pen-and-ink superheroes (with the exception of Spider Man), we really never get a chance to see inside this girl's heart-even with her revealing outfits.
This problem is common in movies where so much screen time needs to be spent on introducing a huge raft of characters, leaving little time to develop them or the plot. You may also feel a bit disappointed with the "place sequel here" ending.
An obvious concern for parents will be the many violent scenes of battle using extreme Asian fighting techniques. Other confrontations engage the fatal use of guns, knives, and bows-making this a killing spree (albeit bloodless) where bodies fall before questions are asked. During one of the breaks in the action, Typhoid decides to administer her poison touch to Elektra through a female-to-female kiss that is a bit more than friendly-and perhaps qualifying as an overdose for some viewers.
Although superheroes all have failings to overcome, and Elektra does determine to fight for good instead of evil, parents likely won't find enough redeeming qualities in this heroine to make her a top pick for January 2005's teen role model.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Elektra.
Parents may want to illustrate the differences in clothing between male and female superheroes. Another source of comparison are the many award shows on television this time of year. How have we become conditioned to accept the way women should dress versus men?