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The Punisher walks through the world we all know, a world darkened by war, crime, cruelty and injustice. He has no superpowers to battle the evil he sees - only his fierce intelligence, his years of combat experience, and above all, his iron determination to avenge those wronged by society's villains.
For more about The Punisher and the The Punisher Blu-ray release, see the The Punisher Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 6, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Thomas Jane, John Travolta, Will Patton, Roy Scheider, Laura Elena Harring, Ben Foster
Director: Jonathan Hensleigh
» See full cast & crew
The Punisher Blu-ray Review
Is this fun and energetic action flick worth your Blu-ray dollars?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 6, 2008
God's going to sit this one out.
What is it about the comic book turned movie genre? Just about everything I have seen has either been a hit (the Spider-Man and X-Men series) or a miss (Catwoman and Batman and Robin). Even the franchises that start off really well find themselves severely lacking after two movies. This holds true for the Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and X-Men series for sure. I guess it's "long in the tooth" or "cash cow" syndrome, both of which are primers for bad films, but for whatever reason, comic book movies are seemingly either doomed from the get go or after a third film. As someone who doesn't read comic books, my analyses of such films is based solely on the film itself rather than nitpicking it with a fine tooth comb, looking for any and all discrepancies between paper and celluloid. The Punisher seems to have broken the mold, at least for the time being, as a comic book standalone film that actually works. All the great ones listed above have seen sequels that ultimately bombed or failed to live up to the standard set with the first films, and most stand- alones like the aforementioned Catwoman, Daredevil, and Elektra have proven to be utter disasters. Perhaps a film like The Punisher that brings out the heavy artillery and dispatches with the overt "cute" factor that often accompanies the bad comic movies is what won me over. As pure entertainment for an action fan such as myself, The Punisher simply delivers.
Frank Castle (Thomas Jane, The Mist) is an undercover cop working on a deal involving illegal weapons. When the police break up the deal, the son of mobster Howard Saint (John Travolta, Hairspray) is killed, and Saint vows revenge against Castle and his family. A retired Castle is celebrating a family reunion when he witnesses his parents, wife, and and youg son murdered by Saint's men. Castle is presumed dead, but his near lifeless body is recovered by a local friend. After several months, Castle is healed and he vows revenge on Saint and his family. Castle assembles an arsenal of weapons and constructs a crude armored car to assist him in carrying out vigilante justice. With the help of several oddball neighbors, Castle will fight off thugs and assassins, destroying Saint's life bit by bit until the two square off for an exciting final confrontation.
The Punisher works very well as an action/revenge film. Like the "everyday" heroes of films like Die Hard, Castle is a mere mortal who bleeds, feels, and cares. He relies on guile, guts, and brains rather than brute strength (which he does have to an extent) to dispatch his enemies. He's driven by the rawest of emotions and after witnessing the slaughter of his family, the viewer feels the same hate towards the Saint character as Castle does. The villains of the film are the scum of the Earth. We're supposed to hate the bad guys, and not all movies accomplish the goal of making them so sick and twisted that we actively root against them, but here we do. This is one mark of a good action movie, and its present and accounted for here. The acting in this film is a little bland, but it's not atrocious by any means. It's competent, and in an action vehicle such as this, it's all one can really expect. On the whole, The Punisher works by maintaining a brisk pace, fairly well developed characters, and plenty of action.
The Punisher Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Punisher, presented here in 1080p and framed at 2.35:1, proved to be a decent looking Blu-ray release. The print utilized is mostly clean with only a few discernible and minor splotches and marks. The image is mostly dark in nature throughout, and solid, deep, and accurate black levels are more critical than ever in a movie with this look. Thankfully, they do not disappoint. While I have certainly seen better blacks, I've also seen far, far worse than this. The image had softer than normal look about it in several scenes, and flesh tones seemingly wavered from one shot to the next, but never to such an extent to be a major distraction during a casual viewing of the film. A very fine layer of grain is apparent during some scenes. Fine detail, such as blemishes on faces and in the environments, can only be described as "so-so." The image certainly lacked a depth we've come to expect from the better Blu-ray transfers. Despite all of these quibbles, the image looks good on the whole, but it is certainly not the best Blu-ray has to offer, nor is it the worst I've seen on the format.
The Punisher Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Sporting only a 1.5 Mbps DTS track alongside a Dolby Digital 5.1 option, The Punisher sounds about as good as I expected. Surrounds are active during all the action sequences with good flow, separation, and clarity across the rear soundstage. The track offers up bass that is deep and heavy, but it's not much better than what has become par for the course for most lossy soundtracks. Dialogue sounds just fine with no muffling or loss of clarity during action sequences. This track is pretty good, but it's not much better than average. It certainly sounds very good, but a lossless track would have been a marked improvement. Fans of the film should not be too disappointed with this soundtrack.
The Punisher Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Well, this is a first for me. The Punisher marks the first film I've reviewed that doesn't contain a single solitary extra. We don't even get the film's trailer. A comic book movie is ripe for extras. Perhaps a history of the comic book, maybe a digital version of some of the more memorable Punisher comic books, or at least a look at the similarities and differences between the comic and the movie. I'm not a comic book reader so I do not know how true this film stays to its origins, but I would like to know as I enjoyed the film, and some extras on this disc would have been a perfect introduction to the world of The Punisher in comic book form.
I bought 'The Punisher' and I didn't even get this lousy T-shirt!
The Punisher Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Punisher is a pretty good action movie in the spirit of Death Wish. This movie is brutal and showcases humanity's dark side as we witness some of the most heartless characters ever commit some of the most heinous crimes imaginable. We get to know Castle's slain family enough to care, and Thomas Jane turns in a good performance as a man out for blood. The action is well staged and the script fairly well written, all of which make The Punisher a fine action film. This Blu-ray is neither magnificent nor dreadful in its audio and video presentation. Unfortunately, Lionsgate has released a bare-bones release in the truest sense of the word as there is absolutely nothing in the way of special features on this disc. Still, The Punisher is recommended as a buy (especially at its current $14 price) for fans of the film or of action movies.
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