Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Punisher: War Zone (2008) Review:

There is something about the production company of Marvel Knights that I'm starting to see a trend in. Look at this movie and its cousin, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012); both are darker in atmosphere, have a smaller production budget and running time, and produce better quality entertainment than their predecessors. And these are just the traits those two films have in common. There's plenty more to go through in this movie alone.

Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle
This loose sequel, reboot or remake, whatever viewers like to call it or want to believe continues the story of the Marvel anti-hero, Frank Castle AKA The Punisher. And this time, Castle is up against Jigsaw, formerly known as Billy "The Beaut" Russo. A tough crime lord who's always concerned with his looks. That is until Castle catches him and throws him into a glass crusher. Ouch. But then he's "patched" up by a surgeon, which the operation is done really poorly so from then on Russo called himself Jigsaw. In my eyes, he looks more like a grown up Chucky from Child's Play.

Starring as the new Punisher is Ray Stevenson. And although he didn't talk much at first, Stevenson is able to give a convincing performance as the mentally disturbed vigilante. Steveson's voice is not only deep and heavy but his constant frown makes his character that much more believable. I also like how he was a walking arsenal cabinet. He had every gun at his disposal on the gear that he wears. None of this staying secluded in a dingy apartment stuff from Thomas Jane's version.

Playing Jigsaw is Dominic West and he also acts well for his role. Note that West may overdo it on the New York accent, as well as several other of his henchmen. Sometimes the words seem a little over pronounced. Russo also has a brother named Loony Bin Jim (Doug Hutchison) who I have to say did a great job at making me hate his character. Loony Bin Jim has soulless looking eyes and a really strong appetite for human flesh. But the way he pronounces his words are just plain annoying. He annunciates everything. Ugh.

Accompanying Frank Castle is Microchip (Wayne Knight), a character who was originally omitted from the 2004 version because its director, Jonathan Hensleigh hated the character. Quite frankly (no pun intended), I found the role of Microchip equivalent to the supporting characters of Joan, Spacker and Bumpo combined. I only wish that Wayne Knight was given more screen time; he’s a very likeable character. Also another ally Castle has is Martin Soap played by Dash Mihok. Mihok also gives his character some charm since he knows what Castle does and how he works.

This brings me to the next topic; characters. Even though Thomas Jane's Punisher version is preferred more by many fans, I can infer that for the ones who are not pleased with it, is because of this reason. The three writers and director, Lexi Alexander show that they want to be as faithful to the comic as possible. Howard Saint, played by John Travolta in 2004 wasn't a real comic book character. It was a fictional character. The only characters from the comic in that version were the supporting characters and "The Russian".

Dominic West as the older looking Chucky
Another good element is the violence in this picture. As I stated from the first paragraph, the movie is much more black (in tone) and the violence within the picture is more frequent. Especially for the character of Frank Castle; having brutal violence is must and it's shown quite well here. It is also a good transition from the first film to this one. The first movie dealt with Castle's emotions. Here, it's Castle's anger that gets the better of him and boy does it get ugly. Perhaps the "Marvel Knights" company should take over and redo some other characters' movies if it makes it that more realistic.

I also found a lot the settings in neon lighting a little too often. There weren't enough scenes where characters were in a room with a regular light bulb. There were also a few characters that I thought would have lived through the whole running time but I was proved wrong. It also disappointed me on some accounts. Finally, for the most part, I did enjoy Michael Wandmacher's musical score. It expressed The Punisher's anger very well and also was effective on the few sentimental scenes. Occasionally there would be hard rock music playing which wasn't bad, but it did feel out of context.

Director Lexi Alexander and her writers did a great job making sure the movie was more comic book oriented. The violence is more frequent and Ray Stevenson also makes a good Punisher. Some other minor elements may seem a little off though.

Points Earned --> 8:10


  1. Love this film. It was a perfect mix of hardcore action and dark humor. Way better than the Thomas Jane version.

  2. "Marvel Knights" just seems to know how to make a better anti-hero film XD