Friday, June 13, 2008

Pride and Punishment

Well, the Hulk is back in theaters today after a five-year hiatus, joining stablemate Iron Man in the cineplexes, but Marvel's already looking ahead to its next big screen hero: The Punisher. Again.

Noticeably bereft of cosmic rays, superpowers, or other comic book standbys, you'd think the Punisher, the Death Wish-esque story of Vietnam vet Frank Castle, who wreaks havoc on all criminals after his family is wiped out in mob crossfire, would be among the easiest to translate to the big screen. I mean, hell, we've been seeing some variation or another on this story for as long there've been movies. And yet they keep swinging and missing.

Dolph Lundgren starred as the character in an uneven 1990 flick that went straight to video, then Tom Jane gave it a go in a Jonathan Hensleigh-directed 2004 version. While Jane himself wasn't bad at all, in fact he was rather good, the movie he got stuck in failed to measure up, sadly. And don't even get me started on John Travolta as the bad guy...

Normally that would be the end of it, but here's the trailer for Christmas' Punisher: War Zone, with the folks at Marvel and Lionsgate no doubt hoping the third time is charmed. This time out, Ray Stevenson (late of TV's Rome) dons Castle's ammo belt for the Lexi Alexander-helmed film, which appears to be yet another restart.

I had my doubts when I first learned of Stevenson's casting, but he definitely looks the part, even moreso than Tom Jane, but as to whether he ends up in a movie that's worth the effort, well, let's just say history isn't on his side as far as this character goes.

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