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Punisher: War Zone

Release Date: December 5, 2008


Movie of the Day for Monday, August 18, 2008
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We think one of these guys may be the Punisher, but...

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Position Staff In Brief
163/196 Max Braden More comic-booky than Jane's version, but it's nice to see real body armor on the hero for a change.

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Some comic books have self-explanatory premises. There is a Wonder Woman, a Superman, an Iron Man and (apparently) a Punisher. That last guy likes to punish people. Like I said, it’s right there in the title how he spends his days. He’s like a career hockey goon but with better artillery than a curved stick.

In 2004, Marvel Studios - in conjunction with Lionsgate - created a movie about this character starring Thomas Jane. The results were disappointing. Despite affording viewers the opportunity to see John Travolta get his ass kicked on camera, viewers paid the Punisher little attention. The $33 million production earned only $33.7 million worth of receipts. Apparently, a man clad in a skull-and-crossbones t-shirt is not that much of a draw sans the right marketing strategy. This should have been the end of the story for The Punisher as a movie concept.

Over the past couple of years, Marvel Studios has decided to finance their own productions. The idea is that they eliminate the dreaded studio notes that wind up stripping good ideas out of movies, making them the most generic output possible. Marvel has always prized the Punisher as a character, feeling that he is a darker take on the idea of DC’s Batman: a bringer of vengeance with the principal difference being that he will take a life, unlike his DC counterpart. Action heroes like this are always en vogue, particularly on the home video market. In fact, it was primarily DVD sales of the original that drove Marvel to do another Punisher movie. People weren’t willing to pay to see it in theaters, but they were willing to give it a chance at home.

So, Marvel requested a script from Kurt Sutter of The Shield in 2007. Over the three years prior to that, Thomas Jane had been telling fans of the comic books that another movie was in the works and that he would be once more portraying the lead. After Sutter’s screenplay was submitted, Jane’s tone changed. Indicating dissatisfaction with the production delays and the quality of the shooting script, the actor dropped out of the project. Almost immediately afterward (suspiciously quickly, in fact), Ray Stevenson aka Titus Pullo from HBO’s Rome was brought onboard in the title role.

Marvel announced that the new Punisher movie would have nothing to do with the previous entry. Rather than create a sequel, they would do exactly the same thing as was done with The Hulk/The Incredible Hulk. They would acknowledge a previous mistake and move on. Dominic West of 300 was added to the cast as the principal villain, Jigsaw, Hooligans director and accomplished martial interest Lexi Alexander was hired to direct, and all the pieces seemed to be in place for a quiet shoot. After filming ended, however, Sutter requested that his name be removed from the writing credits, claiming that the movie Alexander filmed bore little resemblance to the one he wrote. A script Thomas Jane hadn’t felt was up to snuff had been butchered to the point that its own writer wanted nothing to do with it. That’s probably not a good sign.

BOP’s staff loves Titus Pullo and we think his presence in a violent action film could be glorious. We also love Dominic West from The Wire and believe him to be a potentially great villain. We just worry about the fact that The Punisher was not a good movie yet its star found this script lacking. Then, the guy who wrote said script washed his hands of it. And oh yeah, the movie was delayed three months to December, not exactly the best time to be releasing a film whose body count may reach Nakatomi Building levels. We have no idea exactly what is going on with Punisher: War Zone, but we are starting to get a bad feeling about it. (David Mumpower/BOP)


Vital statistics for Punisher: War Zone
Main Cast Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Doug Hutchinson
Supporting Cast Colin Salmon, Wayne Knight, Dash Mihok, Julie Benz
Director Lexi Alexander
Screenwriter Matt Holloway, Art Marcum, Nick Santora, Lexi Alexander
Distributor Lionsgate
Official Site http://www.punishermovie.com/
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture


     


 
 

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