Darkman II: The Return of Durant (1995) – Review

2 Stars

Darkman II tries to be rise above its modest roots and obvious budgetary shortcomings, and nearly succeeds until the realization that not much has happened on-screen, sets in. The first thirty minutes are well handled and the story appears to be unfolding in a satisfactory manner, until the plot mechanics kick in and the film goes on auto-pilot. To be fair this is a stripped down sequel that was intended for the direct-to-video market and the craftsmanship is on the level, but this isn’t a story worth telling.

The original was directed by Sam Raimi, when his long gestating Shadow reboot was shelved he penned the script to the off-beat superhero/horror/action film. Darkman II has wisely incorporated some of the mischievous energy into sequences and this is when the film plays best. Larry Drake has inexplicably survived the events of the first film and what looked to be a fiery death, to return as Robert G. Durant, a crime-boss with a panache for cutting off fingers as trophies. Director of Photography Bradford May is behind the camera and simultaneously handles the directing chores, he acquits himself nicely and has chosen a winner in casting Arnold Vosloo as the title character.

Payton Westlake/Darkman (Vosloo) is on the verge of discovering the scientific key to making him whole again. Teaming with a brilliant doctor, the two have almost cracked the key to a formula that with enable a skin like texture to remain intact for 175 minutes, before breaking down. This clearly surpasses the 99 minute barrier, which has plagued Westlake for nearly 3000 attempts. The facility where the pair conduct their research is a an old electrical warehouse, Durant intends to buy the property to use the electricity as a battery station for a new dangerous weapon he is manufacturing. Unwilling to evacuate, the doctor is murdered and Westlake soon realizes his nemesis Durant is not dead. Leading to a showdown between the physically and psychologically scared Darkman and the kingpin, who is now determined to be the ultimate ruler of the underworld.

Darkman II: The Return of Durant is an expected step down in quality form the original. Yet, as far as direct -to-vid- follow ups go, it ranks on the upper rungs. Depending on your exposure to the genre, that might not be saying much. The re-use of Danny Elfman’s musical cues and themes are a great reminder of the man’s talents.

Director: Bradford May
Stars: Arnold Vosloo, Larry Drake, Kim Delany

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