Let us just be clear on one thing.
If you still think I am just bleating on about the tremendous Campbell because I am a snotty little fanboy who wants to see him star in everything, which let's face it I probably am but that's besides the point, then consider that his casting would've at least been a more obvious choice than Arnold Vosloo.
Yes. Arnold Vosloo.
(please feel free to say "who?" in a loud voice and look him up on IMDB)
The warning signs about these movies is that it's Larry Drake and Jeff Fahey who get lead billing, above the title no less, and I know that's because for 2/3rds of the film the character of Darkman is either in heavy prosthetics, and so essentially could be any old stuntman, or is impersonating someone else by donning their face but even so, when you take away a charismatic and interesting hero and essentially focus on the villain of the piece, why should we care about any of it.
Look, I am aware, these are straight-to-video sequels, the same heading that would feature such gems as Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice and Free Willy 3: The Rescue but if you were a unknown film-maker and someone gave you the reigns of their franchise, a modest budget and said go on, get on with it, why wouldn't you want to just make some amazing, crazy, fantastic film that would guarantee work in the future, the continuation of the franchise and, first and foremost, be a bloody good viewing experience.
To the films in hand, very briefly, Darkman 3 is a little better than Darkman 2, which makes little or no sense.
In Darkman 2 the object is to finally 'get' Durant, the villain from the first one, who essentially is responsible for creating Darkman. The trouble is it contains a finale where, basically, Darkman runs around a giant warehouse and eventually kills everyone. This is, of course, fine because they are the bad guys, they have killed his friends and disfigured him, and he is the good guy but when that comes at the end of a film where he tries to infiltrate the gang by knocking a member out, donning his face, somehow, miraculously, making himself shorter or fatter as needs be, only to then, of course, be discovered when the real henchman wakes up, thus blowing his cover, endangering his friends and sending the bad guys to him, it does make you wonder why he doesn't just impersonate a cook, pour some arsenic in their soup and be done with it.
The whole thing is an absolute joyless shambles, with feeble attempts to re-do Raimi's angry psyche montages from the first one, really, really bad sets and a plot that doesn't even bare repeating that involves Durant trying to purchase some newfangled and futuristic laser gun which is simply ludicrous. What is worse and more crushing about sitting through this, simply, boring film is that the whole affair feels like such an incredible missed opportunity. Seems like the story of Bruce Campbell's life.
As for Darkman 3, well, when I said it was slightly better, it is but only slightly. This is probably to do with the acting and the fact the direction isn't quite as badly paced and sloppy as the previous sequel.
The whole thing hinges on Jeff Fahey's manically evil businessman trying to get hold of the formula for Darkman's increased strength because he needs to win an election or some such nonsense. You know Jeff Fahey's character is evil because he is rich, wears silk scarves, is horrible to his wife and child and plays the piano. Darkman gets back at him by wearing his face, pretending to be him and showing his wife and child what a good father and husband is like. Yes the old, I will get back at you for kidnapping me and putting an electric shock chip into my spine so that you can control me by making your wife and daughter love you again. Then, as himself (now the strangely Egyptian looking Arnold Vosloo), he turns up and terrorizes the pair of them by revealing that his love was all a sham. Meanwhile Fahey is feeling up some hideous nurse in a science lab bathed in ridiculous eighties pink neon lights on a set shoddier than the set of the third most successful day time soap in Bulgaria, while his rent-a-goons are running about like whacked our steroid junkies having been injected Darkman's DNA or something. Did I say Darkman 3 was better? now I am recounting the plot it sounds a lot worse. The film ends, like the previous one, in a warehouse, with him killing all the villains.
A one way ticket to snoozeville.
Just to be clear, I bought the trilogy box set, on sale for $7.99 for Darkman 1, which is why I even own these wretched sequels and because we were visiting my in-laws in Oregon and my brother-in-law likes fantasy/horror films I took this boxset and some others, like Drag me to Hell, to show him Darkman 1. Well by the time I woke up he had just started watching Darkman 2 so I lay down on the sofa to watch the rest of it.
That's how I came to even viewing these, although, I must admit, since purchasing it I had considered a back to back viewing of all three myself so I guess I would've got round to this review eventually.
In conclusion, then, I suppose, if you had a few hours to kill and some mates round the trilogy wouldn't be the worst thing to watch and laugh at but anyone who loves the first film, is thinking they are missing out by only having seen the first one and there is some great mythology expanded apon in the later films, you're not and there isn't.
Darkman 2 - 3 out of 10 breakfast burritos filled with disappointing cardboard
Darkman 3 - 3.5 out of 10 chicken caesar wraps with old cruddy lettuce