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The Punisher: WarZone


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By Simon Blaire

 

Here is the good news for Frank Castle fans. Punisher: War Zone is far and away the best movie based on Marvel Comic' vigilante anti-hero The Punisher to date.

 

Of course, anyone who has cable-surfed upon the 1989 Dolph Lundgren embarrassment ]or was re-gifted the DVD of 2004's Thomas Jane vehicle The Punisher knows that's a backhanded compliment if ever there was one.

 

War Zone is a relentlessly grim and unapologetically violent mess of a movie that pays tribute to comic book creators Garth Ennis and Tim Bradstreet's dark, twisted take on the character as well as give the cinematic finger to the first two films. But it's still not very good.

 

Whereas the last Punisher movie was set in Tampa, this one takes place in New York City (although not much appears to have actually been shot here). There isn't a palm tree in sight. Frank Castle's come home.

 

Here, Castle's origin (told in brief flashbacks) is faithful to the one in the comics. A picnic in Central Park with his wife and kids, they stumble upon a gangland execution and are taken out. Only Frank survives, to wage his own one-man war on crime.

 

During one scene deep into the film, an FBI agent asks a detective in a room crammed with thousands of cold case files, which ones are related to the Punisher. "They all are," says the detective.

 

Ray Stevenson ("Rome") has the right size and look of Frank Castle. He doesn't say a word until nearly 30 minutes into the movie, and when Stevenson does finally talk, you realize why we were getting the silent treatment. He can't hide his Irish accent! It pops in and out to the point of distraction.

 

The story begins with the Punisher all but wiping out the last big Mafia family. The only one left is pretty boy Billy Russoti, played by Dominic West ("300"). Horribly disfigured in a piece of factory machinery after trying to escape from Castle, Russoti quickly loses whatever marbles he has left and in one of those painfully obvious moments clumsy filmmakers use to get their points across, decides to rename himself 'Jigsaw'.

 

Castle meanwhile, is ready to hang up his skull shirt after accidentally killing an FBI undercover agent during one of his mob raids. Of course, the agent had a young daughter and beautiful wife (Julie Benz), so a guilt-ridden Punisher resolves to keep them safe from Jigsaw.

 

Also along for the ride is Micro. Wayne Knight fits the bill perfectly here as Frank's arms supplier and intel provider. The film could have used more of his casual banter with Frank. That's what made Micro so important to the Punisher comics of the early 90s. Alas, here the character is underused.

 

As Jigsaw, West - a Brit - fares even worse than Stevenson at hiding his accent. Either his agent has a great sales pitch or the casting director of War Zone really likes "The Wire." Why else would you cast an English actor who can't disguise his accent for such a distinct role as a New York crime lord?

 

West doesn't help his cause by cribbing every single bit of Hollywood Goombah Gangster shtick for his role.

 

Jigsaw's bad guy mojo is actually lifted completely by his off-his-rocker brother, Looney Bin Jim (Doug Hutchison). He's the kind of guy who, before breaking out of the sanitarium, stops for a snack. And by snack I mean the liver and intestines of the hospital attendant.

 

Remember how Jeffrey Wright stole the bad guy spotlight from Christian Bale in the remake of "Shaft," forcing the director to reshoot the ending to focus more on Wright's character, Peoples Hernandez? That's what should have happened here. Looney Bin Jim was much more interesting than this Jigsaw. Too bad director Lexi Alexander didn't see that or the many holes in the screenplay.

 

Then again, she had other things on her mind, like saving her job.

 

Alexander was reportedly fired from the project this past summer during postproduction. Whether or not it's true, her name is still on the credits. And she does craft some clever action sequences, such as the mob mansion massacre at the start of the picture.

 

The bloodbath at the end of the film in an abandoned hotel (a nice tip of the hat to Tim Bradstreet) gives "Rambo's" big finish a run for its money in terms of sheer sadistic mayhem. Body parts explode, bullets tear down walls, heads crack walls...the violence reaches almost cartoonish levels. Castle shoots, stabs, and even rocket-launches his way through a huge chunk of the New York underworld.

 

War Zone features people getting their necks punctured by wine glasses, elderly people getting machete-d in half, internal organs being ripped out by hand, and human bodies literally being exploded onscreen. It revels in its goriness. Yet the film still received an 'R' rating, from the same people who nearly gave 's "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" an 'NC-17'. Hmmm...

 

With a body count teetering close to triple digits and a handful of scenes that will force you to look away from the screen, Punisher: War Zone is the Punisher Max the diehards have been waiting for (FYI, the Marvel Knights logo shows up in the opening credits).

 

Will they like it? Only if they can ignore the lazy script and the sub-par acting. For those who don't follow Frank Castle's comic book exploits, War Zone doesn't figure to be high on their holiday movie season watch list.

 

Because despite improving on the first two Punisher films, the third time for Frank Castle was not the charm. In fact, it wasn't much good at all.

 

Source: http://www.newsarama.com/film/081125-punis...one-review.html

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It could just be a badly written review, which could be the reason why it isn't more in depth about the look or acting in the film.

 

And yeah, if was positive I doubt Nomad would have gone to the trouble of writing that essay about it being fake, and all the people railing against the reviewer/Newsarama would be non-existent. It's funny, really.

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It could just be a badly written review, which could be the reason why it isn't more in depth about the look or acting in the film.

 

And yeah, if was positive I doubt Nomad would have gone to the trouble of writing that essay about it being fake, and all the people railing against the reviewer/Newsarama would be non-existent.

I wasn't pointing a finger at Nomad, I was just saying in general. There are dozens of people calling shenanigans, over at IMDb and the GPA too.

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Guest AdminGuyX
That is a very short list of many, but whatever, you win, Mike. Let it go.

 

Actually, I side with justaguy here, and say that there is a critical bias against certain genres of film, certain types of films, and certain actors that most of your big name critics will always think less of.

 

Listing off films isn't making a very good point in my eyes because for every good review of gangs of New York, there is a bad one.

 

Darkman was hated by critics.

 

Munich was also not a critical darling.

 

The Brave One, Death Sentence, Equilibrium. The list goes on and on, and depending on the reviewer, it could go either way.

 

Dread Central isn't going to give the same kind of review as The New York Times, or Entertainment Weekly.

 

Aint it Cool News has a mixed bag of reviewers including their readers.

 

Cinescape, Chud, Dark Horizons lean toward genre and action fare, and seem to have reviewers who'd rather watch Attack of the killer tomatoes than The Piano.

 

My point being, Warzone isn't a "critics movie". If it gets a single good review outside of the usual folks who dig this kind of film, I would be surprised.

 

That usually has little effect on my opinion.

 

I wasn't either, I was just saying if it was positive I doubt she have bothered looking into everything. Just the first example I could think of, since it was posted on this forum.

 

I've come to expect no less from Nomad, and I had a feeling she was going to have some choice words for that review.

 

It doesn't matter who did what and why.

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She has a valid point though, Ray Stevenson with an Irish accent? Never heard it myself, in 2 seasons of Rome, and any interview his accent is VERY English. That and that fact that he is listed somewhere as being Irish, sounds suspect yes? Unless his attempt at a NY accent came over a bit Irish...

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I wasn't either, I was just saying if it was positive I doubt she have bothered looking into everything. Just the first example I could think of, since it was posted on this forum.

 

 

 

kind of the same I expect from you mike, jumping on this bad review pretty quickly, and if it was a positive one you would dimiss it in a second

 

 

 

 

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Guest AdminGuyX
She has a valid point though, Ray Stevenson with an Irish accent? Never heard it myself, in 2 seasons of Rome, and any interview his accent is VERY English. That and that fact that he is listed somewhere as being Irish, sounds suspect yes? Unless his attempt at a NY accent came over a bit Irish...

 

I agree that Nomad made some valid points, sure. I can't say I thought much of the review one way or the other. They rarely factor into my feelings on a film unless they come from someone I know.

 

kind of the same I expect from you mike, jumping on this bad review pretty quickly, and if it was a positive one you would dimiss it in a second

 

With all due respect, Mike can feel however he wants to about the review whether it's good or bad. Just like Nomad can.

 

Why don't we wait next week for our OWN reviews eh?

 

That's not going to happen. We'll be discussing the film right up until the 5th. ;)

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That's not going to happen. We'll be discussing the film right up until the 5th. ;)

 

 

 

I know Noeland. I know.

 

 

Worth a shot right? ;)

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Let me just toss this in and hope to clear the air.

 

The review is suspect. I'd love to find out if Newsarama or the reviewer in question has responded to the allegations aimed at the voracity of the review. Any news on that?

 

Mike, I understand what you are saying and I understand Nomad's position as well. It's pro VS con to a certain extent so I expect there to be some fallout on either side.

Everyone is on edge a bit here so let's just try and remain as civil as we can.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

I think some of this is born out of justaguy's comment about reviewers arbitrarily hating this kind of material. Let's not get too fixated on a quick post.

Justaguy already attempted to clarify, let's take that into consideration.

 

This has been a very heated subject and I don't want to have to delete more entire pages of squabbling ;)

 

Not everyone is going to agree, far from it, but let's try not to take any of this all too personally.

 

Take a deep breath before replying to something that may have pissed you off.

Please don't go off half-cocked without considering completely what that person was trying to say. Or stop yourself from posting and take a break from the boards for an hour. A lot of times this stuff is resolved fairly quickly.

 

Above all, please try and respect your fellow members and remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion.

If you disagree then please make your point respectfully.

 

Thanks - Tim

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Let me just toss this in and hope I clear the air.

 

The review is suspect. I'd love to find out if Newsarama or the reviewer in question has responded to the allegations aimed at the voracity of the review. Any news on that?

 

In spite of many calls for their comments, there has been not a peep! They're too busy consulting with their lawyers! :lol:

 

Mike, I understand what you are saying and I understand Nomad's position as well. It's pro VS con to a certain extent so I expect there to be some fallout on either side.

Everyone is on edge a bit here so let's just try and remain as civil as we can.

 

Have I been uncivil? I researched the review with people who KNOW, and I don't think I was snarky. I just parsed it as any good critical thinker would.

 

I thought I was quite clear in the opening sentence: That I EXPECT some good reviews, some bad reviews, but would NOT tolerate FRADULENT reviews. If I was unclear, there you have it again.

 

 

Thanks - Tim

 

Nomad

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In spite of many calls for their comments, there has been not a peep! They're too busy consulting with their lawyers! :lol:

 

 

 

Have I been uncivil? I researched the review with people who KNOW, and I don't think I was snarky. I just parsed it as any good critical thinker would.

 

I thought I was quite clear in the opening sentence: That I EXPECT some good reviews, some bad reviews, but would NOT tolerate FRADULENT reviews. If I was unclear, there you have it again.

 

 

 

 

Nomad

 

 

it doesnt matter if the review is GOOD or BAD

 

if its fake, it should not be allowed

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Have I been uncivil? I researched the review with people who KNOW, and I don't think I was snarky. I just parsed it as any good critical thinker would.

 

I thought I was quite clear in the opening sentence: That I EXPECT some good reviews, some bad reviews, but would NOT tolerate FRADULENT reviews. If I was unclear, there you have it again.

 

Nomad

 

Not at all Nomad, I'm speaking to the board in general ;)

 

- TB

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In spite of many calls for their comments, there has been not a peep! They're too busy consulting with their lawyers! :lol:

 

 

 

Have I been uncivil? I researched the review with people who KNOW, and I don't think I was snarky. I just parsed it as any good critical thinker would.

 

I thought I was quite clear in the opening sentence: That I EXPECT some good reviews, some bad reviews, but would NOT tolerate FRADULENT reviews. If I was unclear, there you have it again.

 

 

 

 

Nomad

 

Okay, so who do you KNOW? I'll bite. :P

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I think it's obvious that Nomad is referring to the Van Patten family.

Anyone who knows anything KNOWS that the Van Pattens (led by the unscrupulous Dick Van Patten) ARE the infamous "THEY", AKA "THEM".

As in, "I can't believe THEY approved the hairstyle Tom Hanks has in DaVinci Code." . . . Yep, the Van Patten's.

Or, "Why can't THEY keep gas prices below $2 a gallon like this all the time?" . . . You guessed it, the Van Patten family AGAIN.

 

Cheeky fuckers.

 

Here's Dick with his son, former Tiger Beat Heartthrob, Vince Van Patten at the 2007 premiere of Saw IV.

 

076_g.jpg

 

 

I know, they look harmless right?

Don't let the smiles fool you. They pull every string pullable, planet wide.*

 

 

 

- TB

 

* yes, this is satire ;)

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I think it's obvious that Nomad is referring to the Van Patten family.

Anyone who knows anything KNOWS that the Van Pattens (led by the unscrupulous Dick Van Patten) ARE the infamous "THEY", AKA "THEM".

As in, "I can't believe THEY approved the hairstyle Tom Hanks has in DaVinci Code." . . . Yep, the Van Patten's.

Or, "Why can't THEY keep gas prices below $2 a gallon like this all the time?" . . . You guessed it, the Van Patten family AGAIN.

 

Cheeky fuckers.

 

Here's Dick with his son, former Tiger Beat Heartthrob, Vince Van Patten at the 2007 premiere of Saw IV.

 

076_g.jpg

 

 

I know, they look harmless right?

Don't let the smiles fool you. They pull every string pullable, planet wide.*

 

 

 

- TB

 

* yes, this is satire ;)

 

i knew they were behind it! You don't think it's a coincidence that the last time there was an oil crisis was when their 'don' had a nice hit show, do you? 8 is Enough, indeed!

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Orchestrated entirely by Dick (Honorary Mayor of Sherman Oaks, CA.) and Co.

Been on the shoulder of every President since Johnson took office.

Oh the tangled WEB.

 

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming . . .

 

W A R Z O N E

 

 

 

 

 

- Tb

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Tim, are you sure that's not Mickey Rooney on the right? Actually, I'm channeling Judy Garland and it's SHE who is my source!

 

*wanders off humming "Over the Rainbow"*

 

Oops! I also wanted to show you conclusive proof that Ray Stevenson is the illigitmate son of Dick Van Patten. Why else wear this shirt? Even in San Francisco!

 

floralhell.gif

 

Nomad

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