Thursday, May 5, 2011
PUNISHER WAR ZONE: NO BOOBS, NO CAR CHASES, NO PROBLEM.
While I did like the Thomas Jane PUNISHER it had way too many faults to really satisfy me. The Dolph Lundgren PUNISHER had the badass action that was way ahead of its time but very little of the film and it's main character resembled the comics. The Death Skull the symbol of punishment that branded the Punisher's chest was reduced to a small tiny unimpressive silver skull that tipped the handles of hundreds of knives the Punisher carried. Oh, and lets not forget motorcycle riding down sewer tunnels! Show more of that please!
When they announced a sequel and that Thomas Jane wasn't going to do it I knew the next Punisher film would be poop-tastic. Who in the world could play the Punisher and not look totally stupid? When I finally saw the trailer though I thought that the film looked interesting. I started getting really excited. I bought all THE PUNISHER MAX hardcover editions to catch up and see if the film followed the comics. I made sure to force my expectations to remain low. You want to know how nerdy I am? The day before I went and saw the film in theaters I actually had a dream that I was watching PWZ in the theater and I said to myself I can't watch this yet so I watched the floor instead. The only other time I have ever done that is right before I saw INGLORIOUS BASTARDS. Finally I saw the damn movie. I couldn't believe it. They finally did it right. I can die a happy man. Now for most of you I figure you probably thought that this was an okay dumb action film that had some good moments in it. Let me try my best to explain how this film is truly an artistic triumph and one of the best badass films ever made.
I don't think most people get what PWZ is. Its a comic book movie. General audience members see it as a realistic action film that gets way too corny with its extreme violence and over the top characters. Bad guys having chairs smashed through their faces, heads bursting apart from gunfire, or that parcore guy getting exploded in mid air from a rocket is not realistic. People think they are smart for knowing this so they say the film is stupid for such unrealism. Is unrealism a word? Whatever. It is now. But this stuff happens all the time in the comics. So of course you are going to see over the top things happen in the comic book movie. People have a hard time understanding that unless the heroes have super powers. Then its okay.
You can see that there was a lot of thought put into the visuals of the movie. Film is art. The reason why PWZ is an artistic triumph is because it balances reality and the comic book world perfectly. Notice how colorful the film is. Scenes are saturated in colors. One scene will be all red, and the next everything is bathed in yellow lights. Down in the Punisher hideout everything is colored blue. Why is that? When you look through the first few comics of the Punisher Max series you will notice the comics look exactly like the movie. The color scheme of the comics matches perfectly with the film without it being obvious like 300 or SIN CITY. I thought that was kind of neat. The comic book is pretty much the story boards for the movie.
PUNISHER WAR ZONE avoids a couple of cliches that come standard in tough guy action movies. First there is no car chase in PWZ. Almost every single American action movie ever made has a car chase. Car chases are filler. Rarely are they exciting and they serve no purpose but to add another "action" scene to the picture because that is what the audience likes. PWZ is a tightly told story with no time for a car chase. The car chases have been replaced with shoot outs which are real action scenes. Also, where are the boobs? As far as I can tell there are no naked chicks anywhere in PWZ. I kind of like that. Usually I don't but this time I will allow it. There isn't that scene where two bad guys are talking in a strip club and some stripper is in the back doing her thing to boost the R rating which they did all the time in the eighties. The Punisher doesn't fight some big dude in a hotel and throws him through a wall into the next room and startles some couple that was having sex and the woman jumps up briefly to flash her boobs before going back under the covers. You won't find any of that here. PWZ doesn't rely on such absurdity. That's probably because this movie was directed by a woman. That's pretty cool if you ask me. You better ask me!
Ray Stevenson is the Punisher. If they ever do another one he needs to reprise the role. He is a terrific actor that brings the character to life without being too over the top. The Punisher in the comics kills his old friend Micro for helping the CIA deal drugs even though they were kind of doing it to go after Bin Laden. Comic book Punisher is zero tolerance all the way. Somehow I don't think Ray's version would do the same. The movie version is a little more believable. Again the movie balances the character from the comic with real life perfectly. Also I really liked Jigsaw in this movie. Finally we get to see Punisher's arch nemesis with the jacked up face made of stitches. While Jigsaw is nothing like the character from the comics I did like how well rounded he was as a character. Well rounded like a butt hole. Nah, I'm just messin with ya. He is a good villain that is motivated by revenge for being thrown into a glass recycler by the Punisher. That Punisher can be a real jerk sometimes. He is way over the top in this movie but he isn't campy or stupid. He is somebody to be feared. That's kind of a hard thing to do in comic book movies. He is kind of similar to the Joker in the Tim Burton Batman movie. Funny but deadly too.
This is a great movie that tells a story and ends it. They don't keep Jigsaw alive to show up in a later sequel. They kill his ass dead. Its also not another origin story. We don't see the Punisher's family life which would slow the film down. But the movie has it's fair share of shenanigans. I mean Jigsaw is cut to pieces in a glass recycler and the next time we see him (which could only be a few days not more) he is getting his bandages already taken off. That's a little too quick to heal if you ask me. It probably would take months of physical therapy just to learn how to walk again. Poor guy probably doesn't even have his balls anymore. But its no big deal. I can forgive the film for wanting to keep the quick pace of the story going. There is a rather large plot hole at the end concerning the Russian mob showing up and shooting the place up. The movie doesn't show who survived the aftermath. I would have liked to have seen like one guy survive all that and then get a chair shoved through his face by the Punisher just to let the guy know that it would have been better to have not survived at all.
PUNISHER WAR ZONE is a better movie than I think most give it credit for. Its not a dumbed down action movie where everything is exploding all the time and if the Punisher doesn't succeed everyone gets blown up. In fact I think it was Jigsaw that stopped everyone from getting blown up. That's interesting. There is a lot of action in this movie and none of it is filmed in BOURNE IDENTITY shaky cam. The characters are all interesting and overall you will not be bored unlike how you are now reading this crap. Enjoy.
I still don't get what was up with that fat guy in the elevator.