The Punisher

The Punisher: 4/5 skulls
The DVD: 3.5/5 Skulls

The Movie

Ironically enough, I’ve got a review The Punisher right now, which is almost a total contradiction to my review of the awful ‘Alien vs Predator’- but it helps me prove my point. Artisan and Lions Gate Film’s ‘The Punisher’ is an adaptation of Garth Ennis’ comic book version of ‘The Punisher’ and I thought it was almost perfectly executed. Opposite to what others seem to think, I loved the film.

I think everyones major problem with the film stemmed from what type of killer Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) is. Is Castle a hot-tempered, loose cannon type killer who’s lost his marbles and kills without thinking or is a sadistic killer who wants his victims to suffer, so he pre-meditates everything? Most people view Castle as the on the spot killer, while anyone who reads the comics knows he takes his time. Now unlike ‘AvP’, I LIKED how the story unfolded in the comic and how his character is portrayed- I also liked how it worked on screen. Castle kills Howard Saint’s John Travolta) son in the beginning of the film, so Saint and his wife make sure Castle loses everyone in his family in a brutal massacre. After drinking himself to near death and getting his mind back in check, Castle vows to destroy Saint’s empire and life. Now I pose you this question- if someone killed your entire family, would you rather walk up to his office and shoot him point blank in the head or would you rather ruin his business, kill his kids, his friends, his family and then kill him? That’s Frank Castle’s character; he takes his time and puts the salt all over the wounds.

Now that Castle’s character has been given depth in this film, Im sure a sequel will include more action, which most of you wanted. It was very important to establish Castle’s character, without the build, the violence would seem half as vindictive. But even though they spend 20 minutes taking you into his life, the action scenes are brutal and bloody! My favorite fight scene is with Kevin Nash of the WWE, who plays a giant Russian. Just like in the comic, he beats the crap out of Frank Castle, they still exchange blows and Castle lucks out in the end barely surviving. The sound effects are great and the attention to detail is incredible. After the fight scene you can see bruises all over his body from being punched by this 350 pound beast. The end scene is great too, where Castle goes haywire and takes out an entire building of crooks- one kill in particular blew my mind- When Castle comes across a henchman, he sticks a knife through the his lower mandible straight through to his brain! How could you not like this? Then when his finally gets his hands on Saint, the dialogue is hilarious, but in a good way.

That’s another thing I loved about the film, the dialogue. The way the story was scripted, I really felt like I was watching a comic book come to life. The lines were totally cheesy, but comic book cheesy, and I loved almost every single one of them! The only line that sucked was one thrown out by Travolta, but that was the reason it didn’t work, Travolta is too ‘likable’ for the role he played.

Great acting, great characters, except for Travolta. I just couldn’t buy his character. He’s Mr. Saturday Night Fever, he’s Vincent Vega, he’s not a serious mean character. But Thomas Jane was a perfect Punisher and I loved John Pinette’s character as the fat Bumpo. The cast was well rounded and everything worked together to set the story up perfectly. My friends and I really cannot understand why people didn’t like this movie. There was only one major thing that was lame besides Travolta- the end explosion. Although it wasn’t as bad as Joe Pantoliano screaming “Go get em’ Matt Murdock!” at the end of ‘Daredevil’, it was super lame seeing cars exploding all over a parking lot to reveal a Punisher logo in flames ala ‘The Crow’.

Although the movie could have been better, it really was a treat, considering Artisan made it before Lions Gate acquired them. When I originally started thinking back on why I liked the movie so much I couldn’t remember, but after viewing it again it’s all so clear to me. ‘The Punisher’ is fast-paced, violent, fun, and freaking hilarious! ‘The Punisher’ is the perfect action-popcorn flick for you and your friends who are always trying to get you to watch ‘Predator’ and ‘Bloodsport’ over and over again.

The DVD

Everyone has different things they like about DVDs, and one of my favorites is when they go DEEP behind-the-scenes. I hate when DVDs have features that just glance over different aspects of the film and don’t really take the time to give the love and acre specific scenes deserve. ‘The Punisher’ DVD went in both directions, but had enough on there to make me a happy customer.

The interactive menus were so flippin cool, they were drawn up ‘Frank Miller style’, with the black and white imagery. The DVD had two lousy deleted scenes, which made me wonder why they even wasted the time putting them on there. But the featurettes were very informative and cool.

The first featurette was called ‘Keeping it Real: Punisher Stunts’, which ran a whopping 26 minutes. It was by far my favorite thing about the DVD. They spent a lot of time showing the stunt teams working on the different car flip sequences. Gary Hymes, the stunt coordinator detailed the events and talked about the importance of doing things right, especially when Thomas Jane did stunts on his own. The best part was when they detailed the fight scene between Thomas Jane and the Russian, played by Kevin Nash, the ex-wrestler. The scenes were so well prepped and the actors were so into the scene, which is probably why it looks so brutal on film. Jane did most of his own stunts and nearly knocked his own head off jumping through the wall.

The second feature, ‘War Journal: On the set of The Punisher’ ran 28 minutes and was more of the ‘overview’ that I was talking about. There was a lot fo skimming and less detailed explanations. They followed the shoot from day one all the way until the premiere of the film. The third feature ‘Army of One: Origins’ ran only 12 minutes- but how long do you need to explain the origin of The Punisher’ It detailed the evolution of the character from Amazing Spiderman 129 all the way until Garth Ennis’ comic book, which the movie is based on. The last feature was just an added bonus, it was called ‘Drawing Blood’ and it ran only 5 minutes. It was a feature on Bradstreets covers for Garth Ennis’ comic book of The Punisher. He’s a really cool guy, we got to sit next to him at the ‘Saw’ screening at the comicon.

‘The Punisher’ DVD is going to really give you a good bang for your buck, especially if you liked the film like I did. I understand the movie isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve heard bad things and haven’t seen it yet, I recommend giving it a chance- you might be pleasantly surprised! You can pick up the DVD in stores on September 7th. Pre order it by clicking the link at the top of this page.

 

Official Score