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Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Punisher War Zone

Ray Stevenson …  Frank Castle
Dominic West …  Billy Russoti / Jigsaw
Doug Hutchison …  Loony Bin Jim
Colin Salmon …  Special Agent Paul Budiansky
Wayne Knight …  Linus ‘Microchip’ Lieberman
Dash Mihok …  Det. Martin Soap
Julie Benz …  Angela Donatelli
Stephanie Janusauskas …  Grace Donatelli
Mark Camacho …  Pittsy
Romano Orzari …  Nicky Donatelli

Synopsis from IMDb: Infamous vigilante, anti-hero Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) is six years into his vengeance driven zeal as the Punisher when he brutally assaults a “beat the rap” party for notorious mob boss Gaitano Cesare. During the course of the massacre, he hideously disfigures overeager gangster Billy Russoti (Dominic West) and murders a mafia lackey who turns out to be an undercover FBI agent.

Distraught that he has now become the very evil he swore to battle, Castle is content to hang up his guns and quit the justice business for good. However, plans quickly change once he learns that Jigsaw has not only kidnapped the surviving wife and child of the dead federal agent but now has also freed his commited psychopathic brother, James (Doug Hutchison)…aka…”Loony Bin Jim.”

Reviewers: Vulcan Stev, PIT #1, PIT #2, PIT #3, Mrs. VS sat down to watch the movie with us but backed out after viewing the first scene.

VS – 1.1 pointed ears
Oh, I am so torn.  Kudos to the producers for bringing back Frank Castle’s original backstory and origin.  Kudos for bringing in Microchip.  Kudos for bringing in Jigsaw.  However, major disappointment in the use of language.  The ‘F-bomb’ is used in this movie like punctuation.  To me, that kind of gratuitous use of the word does not mirror society, but rather shows off weak writing skills.

Another problem I had with this flick, the violence was wa-a-ay too graphic.  I understand that the Punisher is a ‘dark’ character.  I understand that he ‘solves’ the problem of crime by killing off the criminals.  But I wasn’t expecting a slasher film, I’ve seen less graphic killings in the Friday 13th series.  The producers, went to great lengths to say how proud they were of the realistic details in the gore.  After seeing the over-the-top violence of the Watchmen and then seeing this movie, I’m beginning to wonder if Hollywood is trying to mainstream violence.

PIT #1 – 1.5 pointed ears
This was a very accurate portrayal of the Punisher.  However, the violence is way overboard.  Dad called this a mainstream slasher flick.  I’ve never seen a “slasher” film and asked Dad what he meant.  When Dad described what I slasher flick was, I had to agree with him.  I would not recommend this film for younger viewers.  It earned it’s R rating.  I was also put off by the language.  I don’t need to hear the “f-word” used as punctuation.

PIT #2 – 1.25 pointed ears
This has all the makings of a great action movie.  However the language and violence were way to excessive for my tastes.  The Thomas Jayne Punisher movie was much better in terms of language and violence.  I’ve never read the Punisher comics but I don’t need to see blood flying across the screen.  I don’t need to hear the “f-word” in every single scene of a movie (don’t want to hear it at all but that’s  pipe dream).

PIT #3 – 1 pointed ear.
The action in this film was great.  There was NO kissing which was also nice.  The gore used in the action scenes was too much.  I don’t need to see blood flying all over the screen.  Daddy apologized to me because he didn’t know that the gore was going to be so graphic.  The language was bad.  I think that the writer needs to have his keyboard’s mouth washed out with soap.

4.85 pointed ears out of 8 with an abstain from Mrs. VS

Overall this is a faithful adaptation of the Punisher character.  This is NOT a family film.  Not recommended for family viewing.  Be forewarned the ‘F-bomb’ is liberally sprinkled throughout the picture.

April 25, 2009 - Posted by | Comic Books, Marvel, Movie Reviews | , , , , , , , ,


  1. I like both this one and the previous Thomas Jane one almost equally; the previous wins by a trailer length for being a pyrotechnics and stunt work movie instead of a FX and make up movie. But, they are two totally different movies. Had I known you were going to be watching it I would have warned you. This one does layer on the old ultra-violence a bit thick.

    I must be linguistically jaded though; I didn’t even notice the language so much.

    What I would like to see now is maybe third, with another actor and further small tweaks to the back story. I like the notion that they do make up two parts of the same whole. What we see is Frank’s fracturing psyche. Did he have two kids or one? Was his whole family killed, or just the wife and children? What do I even look like? With out having the deus ex of a police psychologist or similar, we get solid examples of psychosis, schizophrenia, dissociative disorder…

    I don’t think any of that is intentional, but it is an interesting way to interpret the movie.

    What I find profoundly disturbing about modern movie going and our society’s consumption of movies is the glorification of violence and the suppression of sex. I don’t see as much talk about Dr. Manhattan’s violence as I do about his penis. That makes no sense to me.

    Comment by Dr. Checkmate | April 25, 2009

  2. Upon further reflection spurred by your Friday the 13th comment… I have said that Batman Begins works best when we are seeing the Bat from the criminal’s point of view. He becomes a monster of sorts. The scene amongst the containers feels like an Aliens or Predator movie, accept the monster is the good guy.

    It occurs to me that I would like both of the Nolan-Bale Bat movies more if the focus was on the criminals and Batman was more of a boogie man. CSI: Gotham like.

    All that said, a Punisher movie would be awesome if it was more like a slasher film. Most of those films see sinners getting killed by a devil made flesh, it is no stretch of the imagination to substitute camp silver lake for a big city and the counselors for drug dealers and gang bangers. Keep the worst of the gore off screen, leave it to the imagination of the movie goer. Tension. Oooo… Sam Raimi and the Shadow?

    THAT would be the ultimate vigilante movie. Right there.

    Comment by Dr. Checkmate | April 26, 2009

  3. I have been jonesing for a Shadow movie done right since the Baldwin movie in, what? 1996? That said, that version had the look, and some good ideas in the plot, but the script just didn’t do it for me.

    Comment by Hank Harwell | April 26, 2009

  4. @Dr. C – I agree that your take would make for a good movie. I just don’t think it’d work from a Bat Man/Punisher standpoint because enough fans are going to see the movie to see the hero.

    It’d work if you filed the numbers off and made the hero “Night Stalker”, did the movie from the veiwpoint of the cops and victims (ala Cloverfield).

    I TOTALLY agree that the gore should be left out of frame.

    @Hank – Haven’t seen the Shadow, it can’t be as bad as Billy Zane’s The Phantom

    Comment by Vulcan Stev | April 26, 2009

  5. @Stev: *sigh* You are correct, sir. But, that would closely resemble an original idea and we can’t have that now can we?

    @Hank: Yeah. It was alright, but I think my civilian/cop/criminals’ eye view of [vigilante] would work absolutely fabulously for the Shadow.

    I’m not a very harsh critic of pulp movies. I like the Shadow, I think I remember liking the Phantom well enough, but I’ll pick up the Shadow on DVD first, for sure. And neither hold a candle to Rocketeer. That just nails it.

    Comment by drcheckmate | April 26, 2009

  6. I loved the Rocketeer, The (Brendan Fraser) Mummy franchise.

    I liked The Shadow and The Phantom, but was disappointed by both.

    The Gold Standard is, of course, Raiders of the Lost Ark. (The rest of the Indy Franchise falls somewhere in my spectrum of like/love)

    Comment by Hank Harwell | April 27, 2009

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