14 October 2008

I still hope for Punishment

I’m hoping for a good Punisher film when Punisher: War Zone comes out in December, and perhaps this isn’t as delusional as it sounds. I am one of the few comic-book-familiar folks out here who actually enjoyed the 2004 Punisher starring Thomas Jane. When I first saw it, I didn’t think it was much of anything, but when I later bought a DVD copy (used) on a whim, I found that the darn thing had really grown on me. It’s hard to explain; to give you some perspective, I feel the same way about the film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I showed the movie to my father, who only knows of the Punisher because I dressed as him for Halloween one year, and he unabashedly loved it, which has also altered my perception of it.

So I was excited about a sequel. I wanted Thomas Jane to return, but when I heard that the new film would go the re-boot route with a new cast and director, I felt it was a legitimate way to go. The new director, German martial artist Lexi Alexander, was an intriguing choice—and she clearly loves the material. Classic Punisher villain Jigsaw would be the head heavy. The cast was wonderful: Ray Stevenson, Wayne Knight, Dominic West, Colin Salmon. The future looked bright and bloody.

However, since the beginning of the year, Punisher: War Zone has turned into its own war zone of negative rumors and danger signs and tales of re-cuts and infights and firings. Stories are flying back and forth, rumor meets denial meets rumor meets denial. A writer has his name removed from the film. Opening date gets pushed back. The director has been fired. No, she hasn’t been. The film will get cut to PG-13. No, it will be R. Frank Castle will be digitally replaced with a singing giraffe. No, it will be a swing dancing lemur.

I try to avoid letting Internet rumors affect me—nothing is official until it’s, you know, official. I hope it is all nothing but overactive hype. However, with all this flak flying around, I cannot help but get a touch worried. A commentator at CHUD points out that we have no right to expect a decent Punisher movie. But he also says we can hope for the best, and that is what I am doing. I want this film to work. I like the footage I’ve seen from the trailers, as well as the new minute of carnage on the official website.

Will this be a time when all the negative buzz is only gunsmoke in the wind? I hope so.

Update: Here it is. And here’s what I think.