Darkman II: The Return of Durant (1995)

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For a straight-to-video sequel, Darkman II has pretty good production value. Despite arriving five years after its predecessor, it certainly feels like a legit continuation of Sam Raimi’s original Darkman rather than a loosely connected cash-in (and I repeat, five years, there must have been some demand due to home video sales). Larry Drake even returns as arch-villain Durant (of the title, duh) to lend a hefty bit of continuity which smooths over the absence of Raimi, Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand from the original somewhat. Darkman himself is played here by future Mummy Arnold Vosloo and he aint bad. To be honest though, given that the character is mostly hidden beneath burn make-up and bandages, you could cast Mel Gibson in the role and nobody would notice. Director Bradford May tries to bridge the gap by doing his best Raimi impression too but, as well all know, there can be only one Sam Raimi.

Where Darkman II really fails is in its story. As more or less a direct retread of the first film, just with a lower budget and none of the goofy humour, there’s just not a lot to get your teeth stuck into. The original Darkman is no classic, but there is something to be enjoyed from seeing a comic-book character conceived purely for the screen. As the origin story for the character, Raimi’s film got all the mileage he needed for a 90 minute romp. Without a rich, layered and convoluted comic-book history and rogues gallery to cull from though, the character feels immediately hollow and silly as soon as you try to stretch two movies out of him instead of just one. Maybe if the filmmakers tried to expand on Raimi’s groundwork rather than just repeat it, this sequel would have more going for it. As it stands though, it just feels like a sequel without purpose.

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