Stop Punishing Us!

Today the third attempt at a Punisher film is being released. That film is Punisher: War Zone and it’s getting atrocious reviews. I’m not terribly surprised. I’ve been following the progress of this film for quite some time. Though it showed early promise (new, grizzled Frank Castle; female director who acknowledged the flaws of the Tom Jane version) reports began to surface that things were not going well. I heard some rumors that the director wanted her name off the thing after she was stripped of creative control in the editing room. These things did not bode well but I still held out naive hope that they would perhaps accidentally make something good. After all, how hard can it be? Any of Garth Ennis’ books could be used as a storyboard for a decent Punisher film. Change nothing and you’ll win.

To see it or not to see it. I’m torn. This Onion review of the movie sounds like it’s written from my own head in the future. On the other hand, Aint It Cool News says that it’s bad but in a Starship Troopers kind of way. I heart the camptastic Starship Troopers. But I went in ignorant of the characters. People who loved the book Starship Troopers hate the movie. And I LOVE the Punisher.

It should be pretty simple. Frank Castle is a vengeance-driven badass. He’s constantly getting shot and beaten to the point of death and always recovers just enough to get his man. He’s utterly devoid of a sense of humor and every sentence he utters is the toughest thing you’ve ever heard. He’s walking testosterone.

But he’s not devoid of a heart. If anything, his moral code is pretty black and white. If you kill an innocent person, he will kill you. Occasionally, someone will almost get through to him but they will never succeed because his humanity is broken. He is probably incapable of ever really loving again. But he knows who needs protection and who deserves to die. Imagine Robocop as a flesh-and-blood Frank Castle, and you’re not far off. He’s not complex. The fact that circumstances have turned him into a revenge automaton is what’s so compelling about the character. You would think it difficult to screw it up. And yet…

Yeah, I’m probably gonna see this crap anyway. But the outlook is not good. And unfortunately, these misdeeds will continue to go unpunished.

Watching (Snippets of) the Watchmen

Preceding the Dark Knight is the first trailer for the upcoming Watchmen film, based on what is essentially considered the greatest graphic novel ever written. This film has been in development forever, shuffling about directors and actors and continuing to piss off Alan Moore, the man behind the book. Alan Moore is right to be concerned. So far, his brilliant graphic novels have been turned into appalling films which strip them utterly of their effulgent genius. Remember The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? I try not to myself. (Fun tidbit. League was the film which Sean Connery accepted in lieu of the role of GANDALF in a little indie trilogy called The Lord of the Rings.)

watchmenYou know what though? The Watchmen trailer didn’t look…that…bad. I know. I couldn’t believe it either. Granted that Billy Corgan soundtrack was pretty atrocious and I couldn’t help but snicker when they billed it as being “from the visionary director of 300“. Visionary? Really? The man knows how to use a green screen and that freeze motion camera effect, I’ll give him that. But so do lots of people in Hollywood. Was Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow a visionary film? (Don’t answer that. It’s rhetorical. And also, no.) 300 was at best a decent action film (and at worst, an offensive right wing polemic.) Before that, Zach Snyder poorly (and needlessly) remade one of my favorite films of all time, Dawn of the Dead. The man is on pretty thin ice with me.

But Dr. Manhattan looked pretty amazing. Hell, everyone kinda did. We saw a glimpse of Dr. Manhattan’s Mars. We heard Rorschach’s growl. We saw the Comedian’s cocky grin. We know that the movie is taking place in it’s original time period (the 80’s) which lessens the preachy parallel-to-our-current-administration potential. Everything, thus far, appears to be in order. Time will tell, of course. I am worried about what they will cut out. At 400 pages of Moore’s signature dialog-heavy storytelling, they have to cut something. (And I sure hope it isn’t ANY of Dr. Manhattan’s explanation of time travel and why he is unable to stay connected to the human world.) But for now, I rest a bit easier. I hope Alan Moore does too. But let’s be honest. Ain’t nothing pleasing that old curmudgeon.

And just remember. No matter how bad it gets, it could have been much, much worse:

watchmen nightmare