Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Review: The Punisher War Zone

So figuring Marvel was 2 for 2 this year, with Ironman and the Incredible Hulk both being spectacular blockbusters I'll enjoy for years to come, I figured the Punisher: War Zone had a hope of success.

Seeing as Frank Castle is the primary anti-hero from the Marvel stable, I'll give a little of his origin.
In the latest iteration, Castle is a special forces instructor for the US Army, one of the elite commandos on earth. While on leave with his family, they are wittiness to a mob hit job. Once they become liabilities to the mob, they are hunted down and killed, leaving Castle with 7 bullet wounds and a dead family around him. When the District Attorney continues to be incompetent in prosecuting the mafia, he goes on his own tear of vigilante justice, raining what is essentially the wrath of God upon the mob of New York City.

This movie picks up in the middle of that, opening with brutal action at a mafia family get together, where only one son escapes the killing spree Castle engages in. While hunting down the remaining Don, an undercover FBI agent falls victim to the Punisher's rampage, and the rest of the story revolves around his family and Castle's devotion to their safety and well being. The other story line involves the remaining Don who is horribly disfigured in the face by the Punisher. He breaks his insane brother out of prison, and proceeds to raise an army to kill 'The Punisher.'

It's a movie that takes considerable suspension of disbelief to take seriously, but it succeeds on several levels.
The visceral joy of seeing violent criminals who escape justice pay for their crimes, the grim humor throughout, and the fantastic, old school shoot-em'up action, reminiscent of Die Hard or Live Free or Die Hard of last year.

In the end, there's a scene that defines the movie very succinctly.
Castle is in full battle mode, freeing the family of the FBI agent from the mafia searching for a cash stash in the family home. After freeing the family and walking out of the kitchen with the small girl in his left arm, the supervising FBI agent beings to inform the remaining mafia member of his rights. Within a few seconds, Castle returns carrying the girl and wielding a pistol-grip shot gun, and blows the mans head off, and keeps walking past, searching for the remaining enemy.
Was it justified? Probably.
Was it justice? No. Not as we would judge in a court.
Was it Right? Yes.

In the end, I'll watch it again. But there is so much comic book cliche contained within, it'll be difficult to not watch and laugh.
Which is what this boils down to. It's a fun movie, with neither pretensions of greatness nor the trappings of morality discussions. Rather this is the justice of a fictional universe where the good guys win and the bad guy's heads roll in their carnage of their own creation.


Robert's Girlfriend said...

Warning: if you are easily, midly, or even not remotly normaly nauseated by Blood, Gore, Bone Crunching, Grinding, Squishing, Cracking, Sights, Sounds, and Violence, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE.

Side effects include: spontaneous erruptions of uncontrolable screams, severe urges to vomit all of your meals from the previous week, mild insomnia and lack of appetite may also occur.

With that being said... Hey, I saw the PG version of this movie over the summer!

Shock and Awe effect of wood through the eye, happy/bouncy/childlike insane person partnered with a scar-faced man out for revenge holding a mother and child as hostage, a vigilante dressed in black haunted by victims "he" killed who is helped by a cop that feeds him information.

Sounds a lot like The Dark Knight, actually... Cept WAAAAAYYYYYY grosser.

Seriously, no wonder our generation is desensitized.

Robert's Girlfriend said...


forgive the terrible, awful, poke-your-eyes-out grammer of the previous post. I was far too lazy to try and write it in a way that made grammatical sense.

Sra. Madera said...

Wow, an honest review of the reality of the gore from the girlfriend. Thanks. Guys do seem to be far too desensitized as you say. Oh, that a GOOD movie might be produced with all the right elements. They are few and far between. Why do we waste time, money and mind on the mediocre. Get a life.

Solameanie said...

I need to find the Youtube link from the Ted Bundy (serial rapist) movie showing the last scene where Bundy is being fried in the Florida electric chair. It was very well done. (So was Bundy)

All-American Girl said...

yeah "Robert's Girlfriend"

i must agree with you, we ARE too desensitized, if we weren't, movies like this would not be made like this...but yeah,

plus, it's hard to believe Die Hard '4' was really last year....wow, i must be getting old... :)
keep up the good work Palmboy


Jeana said...

Um...good timing on the movie review. I felt that I should finish reporting on my Star Wars assignment and felt shy about interupting deep political debates (NOT! just being lazy). :(

So... which muppet-voice does Yoda the froggy-critter Jedi have? It sounded pretty much like Fuzzy wuzzy (what's his face? you know...the bear), but I could be mistaken.

I'm afraid that I'd be on the Dark Side, espcially if they had a library. Nope, I just wouldn't be able to resist all that gleaming, sparkiling, sleek cleanliness. I simply hate dirt and disorder. For instance, when Dark Raider was claiming Luke and offering him a job, I was all but shouting at him not to be stupid. "Take Dad up on it before he changes his mind!"

Ace swears up a down that I've seen the trilogy before, but I'd totally forgotten about the Teddy Bears! (probably because I was reading and watching at the same time. Yup, I'm notorious for that...just another reason that my friends won't go to movies with me anymore) Oh, they are so worth watching the whole show. I fell instantly and irrevocably in love with them. ;) I started begging for one but dad said "No. They're little heathens." *am crying heart-brokenly*

I was surprised to see many parallels between Star Wars and our own family--like the father/son relationship...you know, trust deep down but always trying to kill each other off. In fact, the fight in the chamber that turned Solo into a popsicle reminded me distinctly of an epic battle over a ham sandwich and plateful of chips. Yuuupppp, that's called father/son "bonding" at our house. *sigh*

Heya, Girlfriend, being desensitized is way better than being sick. I really have almost (ALMOST) no problem watching "Blood, Gore, Bone Crunching, Grinding, Squishing, Cracking, Sights, Sounds, and Violence," Ace, however, relishes it. He'll punch the slow motion to more closely observe which way the head flew after it was lopped and he tries to figure out fast the projectile had to be going in order for it embed itself in the "goof" standing in its way. THAT is sick.

Uh, PB is it true that there are THREE more of these? The guys who teased me into watching Star Wars in the first place, laughted at my opinoins (not a novelity) and told me I wasn't don't yet (very alarming). They said something about a Lord Seth, but I wasn't listening to them, 'cause they'd been so mean to me. So...could you tell me what's going on?

kingdavid said...

Does it have a scene where the Punisher tortures a guy using a popsicle, but the bad guy thinks it's a blowtorch? You heard me right. The guy sang like a canary.

That's from an earlier version which starred John Travolta as the main nemesis.

"Warning: if you are easily, midly, or even not remotly normaly nauseated by Blood, Gore, Bone Crunching, Grinding, Squishing, Cracking, Sights, Sounds, and Violence, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE."

If so, you might not want to go see any rugby games either.

Palm boy said...

It was violent, but not in a gratuitous fashion. The Dark Knight was actually a far darker film, because we rarely saw Batman wreaking havoc on villains. In the Punisher, Castle lays waste to an entire mafia family.

Wood, It was a good movie. ::nods::

Joel, I figured you'd agree with some harsh justice. Lol.

AAG, Live Free or Die Hard was last year, same as Transformers. Seems like an age separates the years.

Jeana... feel free to comment on anything whenever.
Frank Oz voices Yoda, and I believe his syntax is so fractured that it doesn't actually translate into any muppet.

Darth Vader, not Dark Rider. :D
The cleanliness and order of the empire is one imposed from above, not a cultural evolution of various societies. It's an enforced luster, and one ruled with an iron fist.
The Republic also had cleanliness and order, but it was from the other direction, the melting pot of a thousand systems swirling into a melange of freedom.

Teddy Bears are known as Ewoks. They were instrumental in saving the galaxy from further years of oppression.

Star Wars: /n: The epic story of the dysfunctional Skywalker family

There are 3 more films, known collectively as the prequels. The Phantom Menace shows Anikin skywalker earning his freedom. The Clone Wars shows Anikin finding love in the world, and the iniation of a brutal war that will sweep the galaxy into turmoil. The Revenge of the Sith shows Anikin in his full Jedi and Sith glory, a rising hero turned into a fallen son of the Jedi, as the Republic turns to Empire.

So, yes. 3 more to complete the training.

Palm boy said...

KD, that scene wasn't in there.
He actually didn't question anyone through out the film, but I was looking for a remake of that scene.

Daweed said...

First, If the natural reaction for girls at age 5 is to scream and the boy simply picks up the frog and says "cool!"

Why would that change?
Why would you expect the boys to simply giggle and cry during chick flicks?
Or would you expect all girls to flock to the theaters to cheer a hero on as he kills someone in a grotesque fashion?

These fights are viewable as we watch hockey, basketbrawls and even baseball...
So why can a guy not simply enjoy a movie with a hero who kills for vengance, justice or the American way?

Would it be wrong to mock a girl for watching a horribly acted, scripted and directed chick flick?

@All-American Girl
"i must agree with you, we ARE too desensitized, if we weren't, movies like this would not be made like this..."

Why would watching violence be basis for calling us men desensitized?
And if you have not seen the film I would strongly recommend that you do see it before you not only judge the film but also the people who watch it.

Yes the film was dark but the main villain was so comic book like that it made it easy to watch without the darkness of the Joker played by Heath Ledger in The Dark Night.

Not only Does Frank Castle (the Punisher) Kill a whole mafia family he also protect the family that he accidentally harmed in his fight for justice.

If you have not seen the film I suggest you do, you can close your eyes when you want to but dont judge me or judge the film without watching it.

Daweed said...

Also if you would like to watch the last punisher here is a link.


I do not take responsibility for the language in the film but Enjoy the violence.

Solameanie said...


You need to watch a few episodes of "Xena, Warrior Princess." ROFL!

It's unfortunate the series had to be based around the false gods of Greek mythology, and unfortunate that it had to get a bit on the dikey side toward the end. But it was entertaining.

Solameanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeana said...

There is no way that you can convince me that Yoda doesn't have a muppet voice. He SO does! I paid fairly good attention to the names this time, Dark Raider just sounds better (what's Darth Vader supposed to mean anyway?), I even figured out that the trashcan's called R2D2 but the tin man's number kept escaping me.

“The cleanliness and order of the empire is one imposed from above, not a cultural evolution of various societies. It's an enforced luster, and one ruled with an iron fist.” Just fine by me, especially the part about the iron fist. :D

I don't care how many galaxies those Teddy Bears saved, they are too cute for words.

Oh boy, three more... well the library has the first two that you mentioned. I guess I'll put off rereading Don Quixote to watch them. Ain't I the noble one. Heh heh

Daweed, I confess, I didn't start playing with frogs until I was seven. Before that, I believe that I ignored them in favor of earthworms. Since then, I have preferred lizards as being more graceful or less squat. In fact, there is only one harmless pocket sized creature that I can't abide—cockroaches. I will even admit to screaming when they are particularly large and unexpected.

“So why can a guy not simply enjoy a movie with a hero who kills for vengance, justice or the American way?” Since I enjoy all of the above, I see no reason why a boy shouldn't. I don't even particularly dislike the grotesqueness, although sometimes I can't quite stomach it. HOWEVER, I don't yield that calmly making a drawn out study and science of gore and gnashes isn't disgusting. Please, just kill that villain however you like and let's get on with the story.

“Would it be wrong to mock a girl for watching a horribly acted, scripted and directed chick flick?” Well, I'm not sure what a chick flick is, but if I can laugh at hammy and corny acting in Star Wars, I shan't fault you for objecting to bad acting, directing, or scripts in what I'm assuming are “just-for-girls” movies.

Daweed said...

Highschool Musical 1
Highschool Musical 2
Highschool Musical 3
sisterhood of the travelling pants..
these kinds of awful movies are chick flicks...

And to the person who keeps up with the star wars comments... WHY??
this thread was about Punisher:War Zone
not star wars.

Jeana said...

So those are chick flicks. Thankgoodness, I was so afraid that it would be some classic that I'm fond of, like Lorna Doone. As to all of the above, never seen them.

"And to the person who keeps up with the star wars comments... WHY??"
Since I am that guilty person...because I'm a weirdly evil girl out to get your goat. Obviously!!

Solameanie said...

Nobody touched my comment with a ten-foot pole. I love it.

Daweed said...

Ted Bundy was killed by the state of Florida...

So you brought this up why??

Jeana said...

Huuhhhh??? Daweed, was that comment meant for me?? or is it some inside joke addressed to someone else that I'm not supposed to understand?

Robert's Girlfriend said...

Solameanie, I actually have seen the Xena series, off and on of course. It came on network tv right after hercules. Perhaps no one touched the comment, because they weren't quite sure what to say to you. Beyond, I have seen it, I'm not exactly sure what you're goinng for either.


You. Are. So. Very. Wrong.

I happy to be a chickflick girl, and HSM 1,2,&3 are NOT chickflicks. Those are middleschool, fanatic girl movies...

ChickFlicks ARE A Walk to Remember, The NoteBook, A Knights Tale, Finding Neverland, etc.

Solameanie said...


I made the comment because of the back and forth about "chick flicks" vs. blood and gore. For many guys, the thought of a woman wiping the floor with a man makes them squirm. Sometimes they find it even more shocking when a woman doesn't mind the blood and gore.

As for the "dikey" allusion, that sort of speaks for itself. I found Xena entertaining until they began putting that stuff in as a subtext. I guess its because Xena also attracted the lesbian audience, as if it automatically follows that a woman who knows how to handle herself in a fight is automatically a lesbian.

Go figure.

Solameanie said...

Oops. Sorry. I meant Robert's girlfriend, not Jeana.

Daweed, it takes some doing to understand the random nature of my mind. Ask Robert, LOL. He got it.

Blood, gore. Punishment. Justice. The gore of the film under discussion juxtaposed to Bundy's eyes bursting open under the current. Vigilante vs legal justice.

It all adds up in a random sort of way. Plus I'm fighting a mean bronchitis bug and am on all sorts of meds. That alone can account for some very unusual trains of thought.

Palm boy said...

Joel.... Never watched that actually. Heard of it though.
Heh. Based on Greek Mythology. They have a movie based on Thor coming in a year or too, the Norse 'god of thunder'.

Dath Vader. ::shakes head::
The prequels are fun. Enjoy yourself.

Joel, I touched it. Gingerly. :D

Palm boy said...

Cripes ya'll. There's more to respond to.

MaryKate, I think HSM is definetly a chick flick. All of them.

C-3PO is the droid you were looking for. Also known as Goldenrod.

Joel... Get over that bronchititus. And you're always welcome to being any variety of randomness you choose.

Daweed, thanks for chiming in. :D

Robert's Girlfriend said...


Perhaps you may think its a chickflick, but then again, explain to me how much experience you have in that area? As for me... I outrank you in that genre in sooo many ways.

HSM is NOT a chickflick.

Palm boy said...


You would have more experience then me.

I think there is really no other way to describe High School Musical aside from 'chick flick'.

Its a movie made by females for females to watch with other females.
Thus, Chick Flick. :D

Jeana said...

"Its a movie made by females for females to watch with other females.
Thus, Chick Flick. :D"

FINALLY, a definition!! I'm celebrating. Now I'll definitely know a chick flick if I see one. :D

Note: *this has nothing to do with anything*
My dad put this up unbeknownst to me. We didn't do very well but we were dog tried, having listened to about 1001 different versions of twinkle twinkle little star before it was our turn. But we had fun! :)

Palm boy said...

Well, now i have the side of a head to put with a name. :D

KnightWing said...

You people like to derail comment threads, huh?

Well, I agree with PB's review of Punisher.
It may speak to the desensitization of today's culture, but in all honesty I think that you're only desensitized if you're not affected by the REAL death of a REAL individual. No matter how realistically violent something looks, it's not real violence being done upon real people. You can't judge someone harshly simply for not being repulsed by something that they know isn't real.

Solameanie said...


I think it depends on the cumulative effect on society. Remember, Scripture says that in the last days most people's love will grow cold because lawlessness is increased.

I do think that many in the upcoming generation have been desensitized. They've been exposed to so much violence (and gross sexual sin) that it really doesn't rattle their cages too much.

KnightWing said...

Sex for sure, but I was referring specifically to violence.

I don't believe in the concept of visual blood and gore making viewers desensitized to violence. If that were true, then soldiers and doctors would be much more deeply affected by seeing (and dealing with) the effects of violence.

There's a difference between seeing fictional violence and becoming apathetic to real-world crime. At some point, movie gore becomes basic physics: "when a bullet goes through a human head, this is what happens." It doesn't mean that the viewer will care any less about a real-world death. If the viewer "changes" at all, it's more likely that he or she will get less squeamish at the sight of blood/gore (though not necessarily).

I think that people these days put too much emphasis on the basic physical action of murder, but not enough on the fact that murderers choose to murder. It's that actual choice that we have to watch out for. After all, American soldiers are exposed to more violence than is seen in any action movie, but they are actually fighting with the righteous cause of putting their lives in harm's way for their country.

Normally one would apply the same analysis to movies as well, but Punisher: War Zone is extremely far-removed from reality and gives very little insight into the psychology of a murderer (perhaps unlike The Dark Knight).