• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

The Punisher

TITLE: The Punisher

YEAR: 2004

GENRE: Superhero/Comics

In general the films in the superhero genre are designed to be entertaining in a way that is designed to engage the masses. This is completely understandable: investors put hundreds of millions of dollars into these blockbuster films and want a profitable return on their investments. Periodically though there are superhero films that are bleak in nature and are not necessarily about making millions in the box office. The 2004 version of The Punisher would fall into the latter category. The Punisher is a great example of an old school revenge film that is presented with some panache and a lot of bloodshed.

Frank Castle (played by Thomas Jane) is a recently retired Special Forces agent who is celebrating his entry into civilian life with his wife and family. The merriment turns into horror when drug kingpin and businessman Howard Saint (John Travolta) settles an old score and kills Castle’s family and leaves Castle for dead. Castle does not die however, and after his recovery he becomes a one man judge, jury, and executioner against Saint and his criminal empire. In order to stalk Saint, Castle hides out in a seedy flop house where he meets waitress Joan (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) and career losers Bumpo (John Pinette) and Spacker Dave (Ben Foster) who become more involved in Castle’s affairs than they would ever wish. In the end Castle becomes The Punisher, a vigilante who acts on his own set of rules to punish those who prey on the weak and innocent.

First of all The Punisher received a well deserved R-rating due to the extreme graphic violence throughout the movie. Much of the violence in the film is well stylized, and I appreciated the fact that the special effects and car chases were all real stunts with real cars and real stunt men compared to most CGI-laced superhero flicks which gives The Punisher a more gritty and realistic feel than most of the caped avenger movies out there. Periodically the violence is over and top, especially during the fight scene with The Russian (professional wrestler Kevin Nash) where the weapons can be insane including a toilet ripped out of a bathroom floor and the door of a refrigerator. Some of the lines are especially entertaining after a brutal fight scene such as when Castle says “I’m fine. He’s not,” just before passing out.  The script by Jonathon Hensleigh (who also wrote Die Hard: With A Vengeance) and Michael France (Hulk and Fantastic Four) has more depth than would be expected that delves within a man’s soul who drowns himself in Wild Turkey bourbon and is hell-bent on punishing those who have wronged him. The Punisher is an excellent study on the darker side of retribution and how revenge can be an all-consuming cancer, yet for some reason we as a society celebrate this behavior in our heroes.

The Punisher is a classic revenge film which will not appeal to most of the superhero fans out there expecting amazing special effects and hot girls in spandex. This is a more mature comic epic that deals with some of the darkest sides of humanity and the evils committed in the name of profit. The Punisher has been a difficult character to create for Hollywood as the adaptations have mostly been over the top in their translation especially Ray Stevenson in Punisher: War Zone. This is the consummate film adaptation of The Punisher character due to a more realistic approach and spending some time poking around Frank Castle’s dark, tortured soul. It may not be the flashiest superhero adaptation, but The Punisher is one of the most grimy which is probably the way it would be if Frank Castle or Bruce Wayne lived in our existence.

* * * *

–Mark

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