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but than we got The Punisher: War Zone, what the hell?

Punisher War Zone was fantastic. It's in no way a great movie, but I'm amazed it was actually made. It never goes five minutes without Frank breaking someones leg or doing a slow motion shot of a bullet going through someone's head. It's entertaining in the same way the Crank movies are.

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Punisher: War Zone contains high doses of pure, undiluted awesome in it. Like the moment where Frank Castle, while cradling a young girl in his arm, shoots a scumbag in the face. At point blank range. Awesome.

I’m so getting that movie on DVD.

Now, some blathering and pontificating about the Spider-Man reboot and comic book movies in general (WARNING, it may not make sense):

1) Who knows what will work and what won’t. William Goldman said it best, in regards to Hollywood, “No one knows anything.” No one in Hollywood knows what will and will not work. Scripts are constantly altered to fit in the whims of the producer, the talents (or lack there of) of the actors casts in the roles, and also the very strict limitations of both time and money. This movie, like all others, will be a creative crap shoot, regardless of what they do and who they hire to do it...

Which brings me to...

2) Who will they hire? Will the director be the “muscle” (the one in charge) or will it be the producer or the studio? Avoiding Raimi apologetics, it is not a good sign that a studio scraps a major franchise picture simply because the director refuses to budge regarding what villain will be in the film. To me that is a crystal clear sign that the studio will be the muscle on the next production, which means hiring a director that won’t fight over whatever villain the studio wants (and, with a Venom picture announced, it is pretty much a done deal that there will be some sort of acknowledgment of, or set-up for, that character in the reboot). However, the producer controlling the production is not necessarily a bad thing. David O. Selznick was the muscle behind Gone With the Wind, and just about every other movie he produced, while Val Lewton is the only producer to ever be considered a genuine cinematic auteur. Then again, there’s the producer muscle of Dino De Laurentis, or the late Irwin Allen...

Oh, and speaking of cinematic auteurs...

3) Cinematic adaptations (and adaptations in general) are not transcriptions. (Hello, Mr. Obvious.) They are creations filtered through the subjective and idiosyncratic talents of (or lack of) the writer, the actor, the set designers, the director, the producer, etc. No one adapting a novel, a play, or a comic book to the big screen is required to be faithful to the source material, and they are going to want to put their own personal stamp on it. Both Jaws and The Shining ignored or reinvented their source material, and both are fine films. The mini-series adaptation of The Shining also showed that simply being faithful to the source material is not an assurance of quality. The characters, their origins and their motivations, will no doubt be altered and tweaked to fit into a new kind of story dynamic based entirely on who is making the movie (See #2). Will it work? (See #1.)

Speaking of working...

4) Ah, what works for some will not work for others. Bruce Campbell as Mysterio (long shot to snowball’s chance in hell, IMHO) sounds great (I’m all for it) but what if the muscle doesn’t like or want Campbell? Maybe The Chin’s too busy... Yeah, right. The fact that he’s best buds with Sam Raimi (and appeared in each of the three previous films) really works against him, though. Then again, Judi Dench survived the Bond reboot. But Dench is a Dame and The Chin isn’t. So maybe they get Alan Cumming (currently playing the Green Goblin on Broadway, “Wait!” screams the reboot producer, “Cumming is playing that Goblin guy on Broadway!?! Get me a production assistant to go and see how he is, maybe we’ll get him to play the Gobbler in the movie...if he wins a Tony for it, that is. Then for sure we’ll get him.”) or Hugo Weaving, or maybe that guy who played McLovin can be Mysterio. Each of those actors would play the character in a unique way that will bring the character to life for some, and nuke it into oblivion for others. So it goes.

One of my more interesting cinema going experiences of late was seeing The Dark Knight with a female friend that I was “dating” at the time. (Man, what a clusterfuck of a romantic dalliance that was, but I digress.) She was a literate and intelligent woman, a political activist with long and storied connections to the anti-war, peak oil, and 9/11 truth movements, with a sharp critical eye. Now, I enjoyed TDK (although it was way too long and that final half hour was almost painful in its unnecessary twists and turns) but she did not. When Batman captured the Joker for a second, or third, time and saves the Clown Prince of Crime’s life in the process, my friend sneered at the screen, “Oh just fucking kill the son of a bitch already.” After the film had ended we discussed it, and her comment came up. I explained that Batman does not kill people, to which she replied “that character [the Joker] was so obviously unredeemable and completely evil, there was no logical or sane justification in keeping him alive.” He was never going to stop, she argued, and he was never going to get better. To her, not killing the Joker off was just a foolish waste of future time and energy. The only reason they kept that idiot alive (her descriptive, not mine) was so they could have him in the sequel.

And, to be the devil’s advocate, she was, to a certain extent, right. Seen from the viewpoint of the movie as a stand alone story removed from its comic book origins, not going Dirty Harry on the Joker was foolish. My female friend had no vested intellectual or emotional interest in the character’s origins or back story, which is something that she shares with the majority of the movie ticket buying public. Don’t believe me? Just compare sales of comic books with theater ticket sales, and the fact that a hit movie adaptation of a comic book will sell more video games and action figures than it will comic books. Me? I loved the fact that he had no origin story and no one could figure out who he was or where he had come from. It not only made him iconic, but mythic, as well. To her it just made him a one dimensional and annoyingly contrived cardboard cutout of a psycho killer. Between us, and past us, are millions of points on a reactionary scale, each on unique to the certain individual.

What does this all mean? Nothing, really. No one knows how the movie will play out with the general audience until it plays. Will I see it? Hard to say. It depends on the creative team assembled and, shallow as it sounds, the villain that they choose to use. My interest has already waned considerably knowing that non-human villains are off the table entirely, which means no Lizard. If they opt to redo either the Green Goblin, Doc Ock, or Venom, it will wan even further. I have already seen them, give me something, or someone, new. Something other than a retelling of the origin story (which looks to have been pretty much stated outright as to what is going to happen) and someone other than the same old villain, but with a brand new face, in 3-D.

Who knows? (See #1) Maybe we will get more than that. Chances are very good that we will. The studio and the producers are not fools. The current script rumor has a “love rectangle” between Peter Park/Mary Jane and Flash Thompson/Gwen Stacy. Whether that story is one that will actually wind up being in the movie? Just see #1.

Damn, I should have posted this on my blog. I am so sorry for prattling for so long.

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And, to be the devils advocate, she was, to a certain extent, right. Seen from the viewpoint of the movie as a stand alone story removed from its comic book origins, not going Dirty Harry on the Joker was foolish. My female friend had no vested intellectual or emotional interest in the characters origins or back story, which is something that she shares with the majority of the movie ticket buying public. Dont believe me? Just compare sales of comic books with theater ticket sales, and the fact that a hit movie adaptation of a comic book will sell more video games and action figures than it will comic books. Me? I loved the fact that he had no origin story and no one could figure out who he was or where he had come from. It not only made him iconic, but mythic, as well. To her it just made him a one dimensional and annoyingly contrived cardboard cutout of a psycho killer. Between us, and past us, are millions of points on a reactionary scale, each on unique to the certain individual.

Well, hey, without the comics, the movie never would have existed. Besides, the movie (which stayed true to the comics' character portrayals) is now one of the top-grossing movies of all time.

And yeah, I forgot about Punisher: War Zone's shotgun-to-the-face-with-a-girl-over-the-shoulder move. That was awesome. :D

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Besides, the movie (which stayed true to the comics' character portrayals) is now one of the top-grossing movies of all time.

That and the fact that it is one of the best (if not THE best) comic book movies ever made. (I have do have a greater fondness for Iron Man.)

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