Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Netflix 5: The Punisher

I usually don't miss any comic book adaptations that hit movie theaters. "The Punisher" became an odd exception, when it was released the same day as the first Yankees/Red Sox match-up of the 2004 season. While all my comic-dork friends decided to go see it on opening night, I decided to watch the game. The game was a disaster for the Yankees, and foreshadowed the end of the season. I never got a chance to check out "The Punisher" theatrically.

Now that I have seen both of my options, did I make the right choice?

I dunno, while the game was awful for the Yankees, Tim Wakefield pitched a beauty of a game. And while the movie had it's moments, it also had it's ridiculously stupid moments. The best moments of the movie are when they adapt elements from Garth Ennis run, but the elements created for the movie are pretty terrible.

First off, Tampa isn't a great setting for a crime drama. Part of the joy of the Punisher comics is that they are so New York. Also, they changed the Punisher's origin. Instead of his family being gunned down by stray bullets in a mob fight, instead it is a planned hit, revenge of Frank Castle for accidentally causing the death of the villain's son.

The cast is so-so, Tom Jane is serviceable as Frank Castle, as is John Travolta as the bad guy, Howard Saint. Where the film lacks is in it's bit players. The crew of loners and society's cast-offs, led by the Stamos-less Rebecca Romijn, who take Frank in as one of their own, is completely bland, and not as interesting as their comic book counterparts. Though, Kevin Nash is hella awesome as the Russian, but his role consists of no lines, fighting, and dying.

The stupid moments are plenty, especially the very end, where Frank Castle appears to have caused a parking lot full of cars to explode in such a manner that it forms the shape of a giant skull, which appears to be homage to the ridiculous flaming D's in Daredevil. Also, what starts off as a really great line of dialogue at the end of the film between Jane and Romijn goes on 2 sentences too long.

And, in the end, it finished with now standard main character narration at the end of the film, which has become the standard of all modern super-hero flicks.

Well, at least he actually wears a skull on his chest in this one.