Posts Tagged ‘police

06
Mar
09

The Punisher: War Zone Review

He is all out of bubblegum.

He is all out of bubblegum.

2008 was, without a doubt, the year of the comic book movie.  Along side the earth shattering success of The Dark Knight, there was the surprisingly impressive Hulk movie, and the Robert Downey Jr. resurrection machine known as Iron Man.  Both turned out to be great movies in their own right, with the Hulk finally getting the balance between the rage fueled violence and the plight of the scientist with a curse right, and with Iron Man, where Downey Jr. literally transformed himself into a living, breathing Tony Stark.

So then why didn’t anyone pay any attention to Punisher War Zone?  Maybe it was because the 2004 entry was almost universally panned for being quite atrocious.  Maybe because it didn’t have anywhere near the hype and media coverage that the big three got.  Maybe because it’s R rated (and let me tell you, its earns ALL of that R rating and then some).  Maybe it’s because the plot concerning an ex-military mans family being slaughtered because they witnessed a mob killing is just to grim for most audiences.  Whatever the reason, it’s truly a damn shame, because against what seemed like all odds, the old adage of “third times a charm” came shining through, and Frank Castle finally get his long overdue opus on the silver screen.

The Punisher to me, always seemed like the safest and easiest bet of all the Marvel heroes to turn into a feature film.  There’s no expensive CGI and complicated suits to create.  There’s no interplanetary or ridiculously complex scientific origin to the hero.  His appearance is just that of a middle-aged tired and emotionally distraught Italian male.  And he actually doesn’t even has superpowers, his is just an incredibly driven, superlatively trained warrior who occupies the gray area in between the good and evil of society.  Aside from some more intimate and provoking undertones that go on within The Punishers own conscious, his main method of entertaining comic books fans was plowing his way as violently as possible through droves of street thugs, gangsters, and criminals.  It’s at about this time your probably recognizing how male orientated this comic series was.  It seems like every male action junkies fantasy, to be this near suicidal, empty shell of a man who can just kill with absolute impunity.  Yet, in a strange twist, it took a woman to get this story right.

The Punisher can kill a man with a chair.  That's hardcore.

The Punisher can kill a man with a chair. That's hardcore.

Director Lexi Alexanders’ command of the visual style and pacing of this movie is probably the most immediate and impressive of the taunting hurdles she had to overcome to create such an exceptionally accurate representation of The Punisher as it is presented in the comics.  The Punisher is a man of action, a man of finality, in his world there are three colors, Black (evil), White (good), and Red (Blood and Justice).  Lexi encapsulates that beautifully, knowing exactly when to allow the story play out a bit, and maybe let the characters get a little introspective, and when to crank it up to 11 by unleashing the Punisher without any hesitation or restriction.  Combining those strengths, with a keen eye for lighting, to give everything  that grimy, almost mafia look, and some dynamite performances and well thought out actions set pieces and you have a recipe for success.

But while Lexi may have created quite the landscape for a vigilante superhero with an uncanny talent for dealing death, it would be nothing if there weren’t solid actors to bring the persona’s off the pages of the comics.  Everyone, let me introduce to Ray Stevenson.  This guy is a presence on screen, I liken him to Gerald Butler, who completely stole the show in every scene he was in in 300.  His somber and weathered face and flat voice was a perfect fit for bringing to life the near emotionless Frank Castle.  He wasn’t just a revelation because he accurately portrayed a comic book character, he was a revelation because he acted his fucking ass off, and bridged the gap between inflated, comically quirky superheroes, and three-dimensional characters who seem to live and breath in an incredibly believable manner.

Jigsaw.

Jigsaw.

Surrounding him is a ensemble cast that includes Julie Benz (RAMBO, Dexter TV show), Dominic West (The Wire TV show), and Wayne Knight (Seinfeld and Jurassic Park).  They all fit the bill perfectly, and bring the kind of subtle, validating emotions to the screen, while still being incredibly fun to marvel (pun intended) at due to their fan service nature and faithful reproduction on screen.

Technically speaking, the audio is superb, with the score being allowed to creep into the forefront at just the right moments to give more emotional resonance and weight to a particular scene.  Also, every gunshot, shell casing, bullet wound, lost limb, and blown up body is accounted for, with satisfyingly loud, deep, and visceral sound effects.  As previously mentioned, the lighting is a perfect blend of realistic city environments, and heavily stylized colorful comic book cities.  The camera also always seems to be in the right place, never wearing out its welcome by using too many gimmicks or by sitting around like a seemingly uninterested bystander.  It moves with the pace of the action, and always gives a great glimpse of what is happening.

Heavy Handed for those uninitiated in Punisher lore, but this is as fitting a message to go out on as any.

Heavy Handed for those uninitiated in Punisher lore, but this is as fitting a message to go out on as any.

The Punisher, is my humble opinion, is better than the Hulk movie, and right up there with Iron Man as far as 2008 comic book movies are concerned, with the The Dark Knight being the obvious number 1.   This is an incredibly faithful, stunningly grisly, and frighteningly accurate depiction of everything that is great about the character Marvel fans seem to forget about the most in The Punisher.  The acting is simply spot on, only once or twice spilling into hammy territory.  The look and feel is wonderful without being overbearing.  It sounds like a dream John Woo had, and it moves quickly, avoiding all those slippery little chasms where character exposition and plot development can lead to mind-numbing boredom and frustration.

The birth of the alternative comic book movie is upon us, and I for one am eagerly awaiting whats next.

Get out of my way, punk.

Get out of my way, punk

Advertisements
27
Dec
08

Tokyo Gore Police

Tokyo Gore Police

Tokyo Gore Police

Oh yes, it’s here!

Tokyo Gore Police!

If you’ve seen The Machine Girl, then it’s more of the same crazy gore-fest goodness.

The basic story is as thus: (from IMDb)

Set in a future-world vision of Tokyo where the police have been privatized and bitter self-mutilation is so casual that advertising is often specially geared to the “cutter” demographic, this is the story of samurai-sword-wielding Ruka and her mission to avenge her father’s assassination. Ruka is a cop from a squad who’s mission is to destroy homicidal mutant humans known as “engineers” possessing the ability to transform any injury to a weapon in and of itself.

Sound crazy? Kinda. But you’ve really got to see it to believe it.

Some parts of TGP remind me of Robocop. There are parts in the movie where it suddenly switches to a TV advert, one in particular (which I thought was hilarious in this day and emo-age) was for special cutter blades, where emo-kids could use these fancy blades to cut cool shapes in to themselves, all done in over the top TV ad style. Very funny.

Tokyo Gore Police - she's the radio control chick

Tokyo Gore Police - she's the Police radio controller chick

Other parts of the movie are just plain mad. We often cut to scenes where a woman with an old 1950’s style microphone announces, in her best radio voice, incidents that are occurring. I can only assume that she’s the radio controller for the Police!

In other scenes we see a maniac murdering a woman and stuffing her remains in to a cardboard box:

She's a boxer. Hah! Geddit?! I made a funny!

She's a boxer. Hah! Geddit?! I made a funny!

In a rather fetishistic scene we see odd looking mutants dance across a stage with a skin covered, still breathing, chair that pees on people! Behold:

It's a living, breathing, peeing chair!

It's a living, breathing, peeing chair!

But there is some inventive stuff here. When the engineers are making other people engineers, they hold an organic key to the persons skin and a little keyhole appears, they pop the key in and turn it and a part of the person just pops open, unlocked, for the engineer to stick the key in to. I’ve not seen that done before!

Crazy/gory/mutated scenes are ten a penny in this film, too many to capture for here, but TGP is definitely a beautiful film. It’s well lit (colourful), the effects are pretty much all latex (yay! No CGI!) and there is a story.

I’ll be honest with you people. I downloaded a DVD-rip of TGP with subs, but I’ll tell you: if this comes out on DVD as a Directors Cut I’ll be all over it like a rash. You mark my words!

Tokyo Gore Police… it’s your DUTY to watch it!

Behold, the trailer… bow before it’s greatness!

29
Oct
08

Saw V – Spoiler Free Review

Saw V

Saw V

Readers of this blog will know that I am a self-confessed Saw fanboy. So I was eager to see how the Saw franchise would move forward with the death of it’s leading character.

Fear not dear reader, this review will be spoiler free, I will not be giving away any new plot details, I promise!

Saw V begins with a quick review of what we found out at the end of Saw IV, that Jigsaw is dead, Strahm is trapped in a room and the other players from IV are also dead. The only survivor is Hoffman.

Saw V starts with the pendulum trap that we saw in one of the first clips released. V spends half of its time jumping back and forth between the past explaining stuff (‘stuff’ that I shan’t expand upon), and the present, with five new players in a trap. This is the ‘five will become one’ clip that was circulating before the release of V.

A lot of questions are answered in Saw V, but – true to the series – more questions arise as the movie trundles along. Speaking of which, I found the first twenty or so minutes quite slow, but – true to form – picked up pace. This is definitely more of a story Saw, than a gore Saw.

You won’t believe how it ends‘ say all the posters. Well, I obviously won’t give away the ending, but it’s hardly earth shattering – still a nice twist though.

I breath a sigh of relief and say: I like Saw V, I’m still a fan. And well done Mr Hackl too, his first full film as a Director, and it looks good… has the continuity of Saw I – IV (hardly surprising since Hackl practically is Jigsaw!), it’s dark, nicely lit and gory when it needs to be.

I just worry that there’s an outsider lined up to Direct Saw VI. Oh well, won’t be long now ’til Oct ’09…