Monday, May 20, 2013

The Punisher (1989) Review:

In the 1980's Marvel comic book movies were just beginning to make their way into theaters. The only other film based on a Marvel comic to be released to the public was Howard the Duck (1986), produced by George Lucas and also did not impress audiences at all. In a second attempt, Marvel now tries to bring the violent anti-hero, The Punisher, to fans. And as many people would say now, this particular Punisher installment, compared to other two from 2004 & 2008, is the weakest of them all. However, it is watchable. I'm really not going to go into plot details here because the concept behind this character is fairly straightforward.

Dolph Lundgren with black hair...convincing?.....maybe alittle
Here is what most fans don't like about this particular adaptation - costume design, props, dialog and casting. The costume; I can sympathize with fans on this point. What really defines the character of Frank Castle was the skull T-shirt, and it is not displayed here. It is the whole symbol that sends criminals in fear because they see that skull. If I were them, I would have no idea who's busting my dealings. Also fans didn't like that Castle rode a motorcycle. I actually found that it made him look tougher,...but it is Ghost Rider that rides a motorcycle...not The Punisher.

Dialog also might be an issue for some because this movie was filmed in the 80's, and a lot of the wording for most films at that time were cheesy. But for me, I didn't feel that way when I was finished watching it. There weren't many puns that I heard of, if any at all. However, I do have to pick at the casting. I give props to Dolph Lundgren for putting in his best performance, but seeing him as The Punisher just didn't cut it. It's like casting Sylvester Stallone as Superman. On a realistic level, how many people could take Stallone as the man of steel seriously? I couldn't. It's films like these that require an actor with not much on his plate to make a role like this. Thomas Jane & Ray Stevenson worked well for the role of Frank Castle because they haven't been the main star in a lot of films. Sure Lundgren was just getting started in the 80's too, but, he had already established a name for himself as Ivan Drago from Rocky IV (1985) so case closed.

Louis Gossett Jr.
Those are the things I wanted to confront about what most people would find as a put-off to this movie. I'm also sure people were also not pleased that Microchip was not considered into the script, or that it was never explained to how Castle got his hands on so many weapons. As well the other characters being anywhere close to the comic but after all this, the adaptation isn't really bad. The movie does at least touch upon Castle's family being killed and showing his anguish.

Also Lundgren is tough enough to pull his own weight in the picture. The supporting cast isn't terrible either. Louis Gossett Jr. as Frank Castle's ex-cop partner shows enthusiasm in his scenes too. Even the main villain played by Kim Miyori was ruthless in her acts of violence. Speaking of which, the violence was good too. Perhaps tamer than Punisher: War Zone (2008) but more frequent than the 2004 version, just not as gruelingly slow. I even liked Dennis Dreith's score to the film to a point. He gave The Punisher a theme and it did sound like an orchestra but it did also lack the emotion that both scores from the other two films had. Guess Dreith missed that.

The casting department should have started with a no name actor. So because of this, Dolph Lundgren is not as believable as he should be in the main role. This makes this entry the weakest out of the three films that have been released. But it does its best to entertain with the resources that it was given.

Points Earned --> 6:10

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