Monday, June 1, 2015

Movie Review--Marvel Movie Marathon, The "Punishing" Finale

(Image:  The Punisher Logo)
Originally, I was going to write my Marvel Movie Marathon as one blogpost.  But as I neared the end, I felt the darker, non-superhero nature of the last two movies deserved a review of their own.

 Movie #5 was...

(Image:  The Punisher 2004 movie poster)

In this origin story, mob boss Howard Saint's son gets himself killed in an FBI sting operation headed by soon-to-be-retiring Agent Frank Castle.  Saint orders his mooks to kill Frank, but his wife demands the entire Castle Clan be exterminated while attending their family reunion. Frank is left for dead, but recovers, and sets out to bring down not only his Motivational Nemesis, but his entire criminal empire.

The film deviated from the original source material in a number of ways. 

First of all Frank and his wife had two children, a son and daughter.  All of them were killed when they witnessed a mob hit.  But in this movie, Frank only had one son, but the family body-count was much higher.

Second, the action took place in Tampa, Florida, and not the Punisher's usual hunting ground of New York City.

Despite these deviations, I liked the film and thought it deserved a solid 3-star rating.

As for my final "punishing" review:  What started off as a sequel in the development stage, turned out to be the reboot known as... 

(Image:  Punisher: War Zone movie poster)

War Zone begins InMediasRes, along with returning to its New York City roots.  That is, it's been several years since Frank's was killed, which is depicted in flashback images.  Frank takes a "Ten Minute Retirement" when he learned he accidentally killed an FBI undercover agent during his one-man raid on a mob family gathering.  He's convinced to "return to duty" by his ally Microchip, he sets out to protect the widow and her daughter from the bad guys he didn't kill in the opening scene.

This movie is not for the faint-of-heart:  Mooks are mowed-down in blood-splattering droves throughout the film.

Even though Punisher: War Zone was a box-office bomb, I liked the film and rate this one as 3-stars, despite not being a date movie, or family-friendly film.

I'm not alone in my admiration for The Punisher.  Most guys who are, or have been, in the military can identify to some degree with Marvel's main vigilante.  The most notable military fan was Chris Kyle, a.k.a. American Sniper

Picking Between the Punishers:

At the risk of hedging my bets, I liked both movies in near-equal measure.

Thomas Jane did a great job of portraying Frank Castle in 2004 film.  The cunning way he waged his war against the bad guys who killed his family is known as The Batman Gambit.

On the other hand, I'm a fan of Ray Stevenson and thought he evoked more feelings into his performance in Punisher: War Zone, than perpetual vigilantism.  I thought his scenes with the widow were especially moving. 

There are actually three feature-length Punisher films available.  The one I haven't seen is the very first one, produced in 1989.

(Image:  The Punisher 1989 movie poster)
But based on the smattering of reviews I've read about this near stillborn franchise film, I feel I'd be okay skipping it.

(Image from:  Comics A Go-Go)
 In Comic Book Movie's Who Was the BEST Punisher? poll, Thomas Jane is the clear favorite (62%) with Ray Stevenson coming in a credible second (30%) and Dolph Lundgren lagging in last place (7%). 

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