Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

The Punisher

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Profanity:Some very strong language
Nudity/Sex:Some nudity
Alcohol/Drugs:Character abuses alcohol, reference to alcoholism, smoking
Violence/Scariness:Extreme violence with graphic injuries, many characters killed, including a child, attempted suicide
Diversity Issues:Gay character is blackmailed
Movie Release Date:2004
C+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Profanity: Some very strong language
Nudity/Sex: Some nudity
Alcohol/Drugs: Character abuses alcohol, reference to alcoholism, smoking
Violence/Scariness: Extreme violence with graphic injuries, many characters killed, including a child, attempted suicide
Diversity Issues: Gay character is blackmailed
Movie Release Date: 2004

It’s not as easy to turn a comic book into a movie as you might think, even though comics and illustrated novels are closer to cinema in conception than any other art form. But as this second attempt to turn the story of comic hero The Punisher into a movie shows, translating tone and pacing from page to screen requires an understanding of both forms can be tricky. X-Men got it right. But this Punisher needs a time out.

Thomas Jane is square-jawed, recruiting- poster-handsome and most of all heroic undercover agent Frank Castle. The target in his last big case unexpectedly brings a friend along to the takedown, and when things go wrong, the friend is killed. It turns out he was the son of big-time bad guy Howard Saint (John Travolta), whose lady Macbeth-like wife orders the slaughter of Castle’s whole family, conveniently all vacationing together on an island. After much too much time on how wonderful it is that Castle is now going to live happily ever after with his too-perfect-to-make-it-into-the-second-reel wife (Samantha Mathis) and just-there-to-crank-up-the-guilt son, we then spend much too much time mowing down everyone Castle loves. Castle himself is attacked and badly wounded, but the explosion that is supposed to finish him off blows him to safety. Then a quick montage later he is a lean, mean revenge machine with a newly low and growly voice. He moves into a crummy apartment building and devotes all his time to drinking and orchestrating the destruction of everything Saint cares about.

But the problem is that it is orchestrated too much and too little. The revenge is too elaborate to be viscerally satisfying, slowing the story down. And it is not intricate enough to be intellectually satisfying, too dependent on a highly improbable chain of events all coming together at just the right moment for everything to work.

Jane gives Castle-turned-Punisher notes of desolation and hunger for justice, and he has what it takes to hold the screen. But Travolta’s villain is never more than a posturing despot. John Pinette, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, and Ben Foster are appealing but superfluous as neighbors who befriend Castle. Their stories seem more interesting than his. The fight scenes are, well, punishing, well-staged but so brutal that they throw the thin plot out of balance. The pacing is poor. It takes much too long to get to the massacre of Castle’s family, then the slaughter itself is dragged out unnecessarily and then it is reprised even more unnecessarily.

Parents should know that the movie has intense and graphic violence with many characters killed, including the Punisher’s parents, wife, and child. Characters are tortured and beaten. A character attempts suicide. Characters drink (and Castle abuses alcohol). They also smoke and use bad language.

Families who see this movie should talk about the risks that undercover law enforcers take and what they can do to protect their families. How can good memories save your life? Families should also talk about the line between justice and vengance. What is the answer to the question about what makes Castle different from Saint? What does it mean to say “if you want peace, prepare for war?”

Families who enjoy this movie might want to compare it to the earlier version of The Punisher, starring Dolph Lundgren. They might also like to see the X-Men movies and Tim Burton’s Batman.

Previous Posts

Trailer: Oscar Winner Eddie Redmayne in "The Danish Girl"
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/d88APYIGkjk" frameborder="0"] Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander star in "The Danish Girl," directed by Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech"). It is the true story of transgender ...

posted 11:05:10am Sep. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Who is Surprised that a Faith-Based Film Beat Zac Efron and Owen Wilson?
The end of August is traditionally one of the year's low points when it comes to Hollywood releases. So it was not surprising that the powerhouse "Straight Outta Compton" lead the box office, far ahead of the two new releases, the Owen ...

posted 5:00:55pm Aug. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Alex Sheremet on Woody Allen (Part 1)
Alex Sheremet is the author of Woody Allen: Reel to Real, an in-depth exploration of the work of one of the most prolific and singular ...

posted 3:33:45pm Aug. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Opening this Week: A Walk in the Woods and Learning to Drive
This week, two movies are based on first-person accounts by writers telling their own real-life stories. In The New Yorker, Katha ...

posted 3:15:50pm Aug. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Tribute: Wes Craven
We mourn the loss of director Wes Craven, who knew what scared us and knew how much we loved being scared.  His series films included "Scream," "Nightmare on Elm Street," and "The Hills Have Eyes." My friend Simon Abrams interviewed Craven for ...

posted 10:53:30am Aug. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.