Well and Truly Punished

Hello fellow lovelies!

I have been away in the land of the Giant-Sized Waistband across the atlantic and what with one thing and another haven’t had time to blog. I will catch you all up on my thoughts, experiences and impressions as and when the XXXXL spirit moves me, but for now, I want to give you a further film review.

In February the most recent Punisher film was released, called Punisher: War Zone. I didn’t see it, because it wasn’t released in Aberdeen, but it was waiting for me on my return thanks to the wonders of Play.com. I have now watched it.

Punisher: War Zone

Punisher: War Zone

The film refers to one of the more interesting characters in the Marvel universe, Frank Castle, a former soldier turned mercenary after his family is killed for witnessing a mob execution. Castle suits up in black, gets a hold of an unbelievable number of guns, grenades, grenade launchers, missiles and knives, and opens hunting season on all criminals.

He’s interesting because, like Watchmen’s Rorshach, he’s completely uncompromising in his pursuit of the goals defined by a rigid, incorruptible morality. Except that that morality leads him to kill rather than apprehend. There is no mercy with the Punisher, which means that everyone always knows where they stand with him, even if he’s just shot out their kneecaps. He’s like Batman’s darker side personified.

The Punisher comics are interesting too, particularly because they feature someone with no superpowers at all operating in a world where ‘normal’ superlegal activities are the eminent domain of superheroes. However, there are several Punisher titles. These include ones published by Marvel Max, which is the range of Marvel titles suggested for mature readers. I don’t like them, because the ‘maturity’ espoused is a red herring: they are much more violent, and they contain sexual content that is almost always unnecessary, and these things are almost never treated maturely. Garth Ennis, who also wrote Preacher and some of the Hellblazer series, was the leading light of the Punisher Max series, and his storylines apparently provided the inspiration for this horrible, horrible film.

I watched this film and wondered what I had done wrong that had earned me this dreadful, dreadful 101 minutes of gore-filled tedium. Make no mistake, this is one of the bloodiest, goriest, nastiest films I have ever seen. Heads are cut off with combat knives, legs are cut off with machinegun fire and people are chopped up with fire axes; heads explode, bodies explode and faces are shot off (a supremely hideous moment involving a sawn-off shotgun from a yard away); necks are snapped, chair legs are pushed through eyes and faces are chewed off with a glass bottle recycling facility. As a visual spectacle this is, without doubt, an incomparably unpleasant experience. A surprisingly decent cast are given nothing to work with, because money that could have been usefully spent on the script was instead clearly spent on the gallons and gallons of fake blood that dominates all available screen time.

It is possible, I think, to make a good, interesting, mature Punisher film. But this isn’t it. This is its antithesis. This is so far away from that good film, in fact, that if Einstein’s theories about the curvature of space are true then ‘Punisher: War Zone’ is almost approaching that good film from the other direction.

This is a cataclysmically awful film. It gets no stars at all.

About Gavin

I am a 32-year-old PhD student in Aberdeen, Scotland. I work in QC at an e-learning company. I'm originally Northern Irish, though I've lived here in Aberdeen for several years. I am, essentially, somebody who is very normal, yet to whom very strange things keep happening...
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