So once again we have survived.

The Punisher (2004)

Well from what they tell me “The Punisher” is a Marvel Comics type super hero character. In the comic strip he’s a sadistic bastard that goes around “punishing” people. What this means I guess is not spidermanning them with webs or hulking them or whatever, what he does is kill them in horrible painful ways. He does not wear a cape or fly but he wears black spandex and a picture of a skull on his chest. Basically he is the guy from Rolling Thunder as a super hero. Without super powers or a hook hand. Superman’s morally questionable co-worker.

Guys who like The Punisher are not guys I can relate to. They like the violence and sadism and revenge aspects. They have a lot of anger in them and they enjoy getting it out. So far so good. But for some reason their idea of a bad motherfucker is a super hero in a comic strip. They think the right guy to get the rage out is a guy who wears a super hero costume. They can’t just watch Charles Bronson movies like everybody else, they gotta put the guy in a fucking uniform. That was one of the reasons they hated the earlier PUNISHER movie starring Dolph Lundgren. He didn’t wear the uniform. He doesn’t count as the Punisher because he wears different clothes. (maybe the movie takes place on laundry day. Huh? Ever thoughta that, asswipes?)

The PunisherAnother thing, they got John Travolta as the villain in this movie. Now obviously Travolta has been good before. I liked him in BLOWOUT, I liked him in PULP FICTION, etc. But these days the only surer sign of a bad movie is if Sean Connery is in it. I mean I could see Sean Connery being in SWORDFISH, I could see Travolta being in LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN. But without one of those two, movies like that would not exist. They just wouldn’t happen.

So I gotta be honest, I REALLY thought this movie was gonna be a piece of shit. My colleague Moriarty of The Ain’t It Cool News made it sound good, but this is a guy who liked DAREDEVIL. This is a guy who liked THE GRINCH. I mean you never know with this guy. Otherwise the reviews were 100% negative, and when I got ahold of the screener I thought maybe it would be a good laugh.

So I was kind of embarrassed when a little ways into the movie, suddenly I started to suspect that maybe I was getting into it. Starting to enjoy it. It starts out generic enough, when Detective John Punisher (Thomas Jane, who was so great in the south african bank robber movie STANDER) is undercover, John Travolta’s son accidentally gets killed, Travolta and wife send their thugs to Puerto Rico not just to kill the Punisher, but to kill his entire family. Which works out well, because he’s at a family reunion.

(Okay, I gotta admit. He’s not named Detective John Punisher. I was just fuckin with you. He’s called Frank Castle. But unbetwixt to him, we call him Punisher.)

Sometimes in a movie if the bad guy is gonna pull some ridiculously cold blooded shit, it’s gonna be entertaining. Like I always love that part in PETEY WHEATSTRAW where some gangsters decide not to stop at just killing a guy – they then go to the guy’s funeral and gun down all his relatives. I mean, that’s taking it a little far, and that’s a great time at the movies. This is the same thing. They go to the Punisher’s family reunion and just start killing everybody. And if somebody runs, they chase them down and kill them. You’re expecting this is gonna be a quick scene, the bad guys come in and shoot the wife and kid offscreen, and the Punisher has to get revenge. That happens all the time in the movies. BANG! No! Dear god! Not my baby! Fade to black. And then, TWO YEARS LATER… next scene maybe he fondles his wedding ring, stares at his family portraits, that type of shit.

But this movie turns the initial murder into a full blown action scene. The wife and kid escape, and there’s a good car chase. I think it was about the time when the jeep, towing a boat, accidentally caught air, that I realized that this movie was starting to win me over. And then when the bad guys cornered them on a dock and ran them over, that seemed to reinforce the theory.

So the movie of course is about the Punisher getting his revenge on Travolta and his minions. Well, he doesn’t call it revenge though. He narrates, “Not revenge. Punishment.” (He’s not the Revenger.) Turns out he’s not just a cop, he’s got the full Seagal background – special forces, all that shit. So he knows how to fortify his car like that nut did with his bulldozer a few weeks ago. He puts together a small arsenal. He holes up in a rathole apartment in Tampa, sits at a bare table swigging Wild Turkey and Maker’s Mark, plotting horrible ways to kill these criminals, or to play them against each other. And then he does it.

Maybe that’s part of why it works. The story is real simple, not some complicated supervillain taking over the world shit. And there’s no whooshy MTV show off business. It feels pretty old school, with the main modern stylistic choice being the use of an orchestral score that sometimes says “comic book epic” instead of “gritty ’70s revenge thriller.”

The movie is at its best when it’s just straight ahead action or tense pre-action showdowns. There are two absolutely great scenes involving cartoonish assassins who come after him. One scene, Punisher is sitting in a cafe eating breakfast. A guy comes in with a guitar case, straight out of El Mariachi. He sits down and opens his case – Punisher reaches for his gun. But the mariachi pulls out a guitar. And he starts playing, singing to him. Getting really into it.

When he’s done he says something like, “You like my song? I wrote it just for you. I’m going to sing it at your funeral.” Picks up his guitar and walks out casually.

And Punisher takes another bite of his egg and sorta shrugs.

I mean, what the fuck was that? Maybe the greatest scene of random weirdness in an action movie since the classic trunk full of bunnies incident in THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT. Or a good one, anyway.

Another great scene, a 7 foot tall behemoth in a goofy red and white striped shirt just walks into Punisher’s apartment and starts beating the shit out of him. There is a long, brutal fight scene – I don’t think they even talk to each other – that destroys every wall in the apartment. After alot of pain, Punisher turns the tables and punishes the guy bad enough to kill him, and then he just leaves the body there at the apartment entrance. Welcome, please wipe your feet, and don’t trip on the giant dead guy in the striped shirt.

I’m guessing those characters come from the comic strip, but they work great, like colorful villains from a spaghetti western or something. On the other hand there are some goofy comic book elements that don’t work. Something about a witch doctor in one part. And a dumb explanation of why Punisher sometimes wears the skull on his t-shirt. (His son gave it to him. Thanks, son. Why not a mug?) Worst of all, late in the picture, long after I’ve already accepted I like this movie, all the sudden they got this scene where he blows up enough cars to form a giant, fiery skull symbol. In case somebody happens to be flying over, I guess. It’s a phoney CGI effect, but I didn’t notice anything else like that. The rest of the movie feels organic.

There is a subplot about some wacky neighbors in the apartment building who try to look out for Punisher and invite him over for dinner. You got battered waitress Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (no longer a blue naked chick), you got a weaselly guy with lip rings, and you got a big jolly round dude. I would’ve liked this part better if the two guys seemed less like comedic movie types and more like real people, but honestly, I’m not gonna ask for too much in a Punisher movie. These guys kind of work. They are way more than I could ask for in a movie called The Punisher, about a guy who punishes. I mean come on.

This Thomas Jane is real good in the movie. He’s a handsome, broad shouldered muscle dude, but you like him. And he pulls off the emotionless psychopath with an empty heart shaped area of gold routine. He has more to do in STANDER, which should be higher on your to-see list than this one. But he really makes this movie work. I enjoyed his reve– er, punishment rampage, the same way I did Mel Gibson’s in PAYBACK.

Yeah, the more I think about it, the more sure of it I am. I actually liked THE PUNISHER. I’m not ready to say it out loud yet but I’m saying it to you. This is the best Marvel Comics movie I’ve seen since AT LEAST Spiderman part 2 the day before.

comic book movies that are worse: Spawn, Extraordinary Gentlemen, Daredevil, the Schumacher pictures, etc.

comic book movies that are better: Lone Wolf and Cub, the Blade saga, Barbarella

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Saturday, July 3rd, 2004 at 12:15 pm and is filed under Action, Comic strips/Super heroes, Crime, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

80 Responses to “The Punisher (2004)”

  1. CaseyF*ckinRyback

    July 16th, 2012 at 2:59 am

    Not sure which thread this belongs, so I thought I’d take a shot here…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWpK0wsnitc&feature=share

    Short film (10 mins) of Tom Jane badassness (and some Ron Perlman too!), a quasi-sequel to the above unveiled at comic-con…

  2. Casey – Thanks for the link. It really made this day brighter. I was the other day lamenting the severe lack of Punisher-ism around. But this gives me hope. A great little short. I always hate laundring myself, but the way Frank Castle does his laundry, I dig.

  3. I didn’t even like this movie but that short was cool. It felt more like THE PUNISHER than the entire Tom Jane movie. See Shoot THAT is how you do fake blood justice. It’s still over the top but at least it doesn’t look like tomato sauce.

  4. Broddie – probably because its Thomas Jane. As The Punisher. he should be able to recognize what blood looks like by now from all them killings

  5. caruso_stalker217

    July 16th, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    That had more badassness squeezed into ten minutes than the entire 2004 PUNISHER film.

  6. I don’t know. I’m slightly underwhelmed by it. I’m willing to ignore the cheap YouTube-viral-video cinematography, but something doesn’t feel right about it. Maybe it’s how someone, who is supposed to be The Punisher just stands there and does nothing while a woman gets beaten and raped and a kid almost gets murdered, before he decides to strike. I mean, I get that he apparently tried to quit being The Punisher for any reason at this point, but I think if a vigilante wakes up in shock, because he dreamed again of how his son got murdered, he wouldn’t just stand there and watch.

  7. Love the short, seems like Jane really loves and knows this character and I would love to see a version of The Punisher done properly with him in the lead. With his luck though, he will probably get cast but then get replaced by an Asian dude later on.

    By the way, nice to see a bottle do some damage for a change. It always bothers me in films where people get hit and the glass breaks immediately, and they just shrug it off and continue fighting. This is a little more realistic, not to mention fucking brutal. I like it.

  8. Shoot – LOL Seriously though compared to the DREDD clip CGI blood I just think it’s a case of sharper CGI guys.

    CJ – I just started reading THE PUNISHER again last year after 10 years of not reading Punishcer comics. I will say this though in the years I grew up reading WAR JOURNAL and WAR ZONE and the main PUNISHER book during the late 80’s and early 90’s he wasn’t like the superheroes. It’s what made him stand out.

    He’s not an altruist he doesn’t do this to save everybody. That’s what makes him interesting. He’s the true definition of anti-hero Wolverine and Lobo be damned.

    A hooker is no more a law breaker than her enabling pimp. He minds his own business and tries to keep a low profile for the most part. He doesn’t just jump head first into things he’s meticulous. He’s like Reacher he’s not a hero but he’s trained to obliterate motherfuckers.

    He observes the scenery find out what’s really going on by getting the scoop (in this clip via Ron Perlman in the comics via Deus Ex Machina characters). When scum get in his way he takes action and sometimes in ways so elaborate that it makes Spider-Man and Daredevil throw up and always be in conflict with the guy.

    He’s a chaotic pacifist a true paradox if there ever was one. He wants to be left alone; to kill the criminals who really are on top of the food chain then have that trickle down. But there are times when he gets tested. There are times when he has to remember that he is also human. There are times when he knows he has to step up for helpless people and punish bullies. Like what happened in this clip.

    He’s not a reactive captain superhero to the rescue type. Never has been. Daredevil would’ve stepped in the moment they were verbally abusing the kid; Spidey would’ve saved the ho. That’s not The Punisher’s style and I’m glad that this clip understood that. It says more about The Punisher as he really has been for most of his comics history than any of the 3 movies ever did.

  9. I quite like both PUNISHER movies (i’m not counting that one made in the 80s with Ludgren), and both Thomas Jane and Ray Stevenson were excelent in the role. I think the 2004 movie with Thomas Jane is rather underrated. And the short film aforementioned is also quite sweet. Seems that Jane really loved playing the character and loves to return to it.

  10. My problem with THE PUNISHER 2004 was that The Punisher needed to have done more punishing,instead of scheming. All that bullshit about setting up Will Patton and John Travoltas wife was just lame.I wanted THE PUNISHER not THE STING.

  11. I kind of feel it was worth it to include Travolta’s wife in the story, just for his oneliner: “Your mother’s gone. She took the train.”

    Guess that’s a two-liner.

  12. I agree that Castle just doesn’t have time for the kinds of Machiavellian schemes he was pulling in the 2004 one. In terms of hours spent vs. criminals punished, it’s just not efficient for him to waste all this time outing gay henchmen or framing adulterous wives or whatever the hell they had him doing. He’s got 35 more people to kill before lunch, so he’s just gonna put two in your brainbox and move on.

    I guess this extended punishment is a function of having him go after the actual people who killed his family. (Having it be not just the usual wife and kids but his ENTIRE FUCKING FAMILY TREE was easily the best innovation of this version.) That was never a part of his comic book mythology. Having no way to know who ordered the hit or who pulled the trigger, he vowed to kill ALL violent criminals, just to be sure. It’s a systematic extinction, not, as Broddie mentioned, a reactive campaign against specific villains. That’s why, as much as I appreciate Jane’s commitment to the character, I think the other two (yes, even the Dolph one) got more right about the Punisher’s MO than Jane’s did. Jane was a man on a mission, but the other two guys were fighting a war with no end, and that’s what Frank Castle is all about.

  13. PUNISHER Olympics continues, eh? Every 4 years, a fresh iteration, as Vern prophesied, more or less.

    If Hollywood wants to marry the cast of 2004 PUNISHER with the gloriously violent sensibility of the 2008 PUNISHER (also a great cast), then I want to give Hollywood my money to witness the consummation & offspring.

  14. caruso_stalker217

    July 17th, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    “If you’re guilty…you’re dead.”

    Dolph’s Punisher is very clear on that point.

  15. Mouth: But which Punisher would you prefer? Jane has the attitude down, but he’s not exactly the most formidable physical specimen on the block. As Vern put it, Ray Stevenson looks like he could bite Jane’s head off. Plus, he’s got those sad eyes, so he can give the character soul without having to make a big speech about it. He’s got the job for as long as he wants it, far as I’m concerned.

    Jane would make a great backup Daredevil, though, if my first choice, Michael C. Hall, is unavailable. Discuss.

  16. Haven’t gotten around to any Daredevil literature yet, but I guess it’d depend on whether Hall’s judo training, suggested throughout DEXTER (an okay tv show until I got super bored after the Lithgow arc), is legit.

    Honestly, I’ve never been that impressed by a Thomas Jane performance, other than his best roles, which were in STANDER and BOOGIE NIGHTS, in my opinion. I like him alright, seems like a cool dude, might have had swollen knuckles & a mean manly squint in another incarnation if he weren’t a Hollywood actor, but from what I’ve seen it seems like you could plug in another well-built white guy into any of his roles and it wouldn’t change the movie much.

    I won’t say anything that could be construed as derogatory toward Ray Stevenson, and I don’t remember checking out his eyes. Sorry, Mr. M, that observation is all you, bud. Dude looks like he has a full body bulletproof encasement between his epidermis & his dermis.

  17. You’re trying to tell me that this doesn’t look like a heavily armored man-mountain who needs a good cry?

    http://www.allouttabubblegum.com/main/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/raystevenson-270×300.jpg

  18. On a completely different topic, I just re-watched the movie that Vern reviewed above and I liked it better this time around. On my first viewing I thought it dragged a lot, but this time I really enjoyed its straight forward old school action approach. And yeah, turning The Punisher from a guy who just storms into your house and kills you, into a slick schemer, who comes up with a perfectly working plan to humiliate the villain before the killening starts, is a way too obvious try, to make the material more mainstream, but I liked it.
    I just think it’s a shame that he worked so long on his Punishermobile, just to lose it after one single crash.

  19. Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I like the Jane version as a kinda quirky action-revenge type movie (I actually own both versions), just not as a Punisher movie. Which is fine, since he’s only the Punisher for like two seconds at the very end.

  20. I could never be bothered to revisit this one. It just bored the shit out of me and pissed me off. I own the Dolph one and I’m good with that. Still haven’t seen WAR ZONE and probably never will.

  21. Should read “WAR ZONE in it’s entirety” I’ve caught bits and pieces here but nothing that makes me go “man this could be a nice exploitation gem” because a lot of it was obnoxious. Ray did look cool though.

  22. I prefer Dolph´s and Ray´s versions better, simply because they are more straighforward action, 2004 PUNISHER suffers from being overlong, but is still enjoyable because it have some good shit in it despite the flaws. PUNISHER simply needs to murder more people and don´t take so much godamntime before he does. Yes that sentence sums up my problems with it.

  23. What I always thought would be perfect, given my limited knowledge of the character and the comic books in general, is set the origin story from the 2004 film in a fictional late 1970’s NYC. Finally comes home from Vietnam after too long a tour, to find his family dead at the hands of the mobbed-up mayor, and go from there. Make it as anti-glamorous as possible. Action sequences in small rooms, delve into the seedier side of that time in NYC (coked-up disco lounges, dark ghettos, rough S&M clubs), make a pretty clear distinction that he’s now fighting an uglier war at home with more personal consequences.

  24. The Original Paul

    June 21st, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    So I have come, late to the party as usual, to this one. And for once, Vern’s articulated my exact feeling about this movie so damn well that it’s scary. It started winning me over at the EXACT moment that Vern’s said it started winning him over. I mean, if you want to know my exact feelings about this movie, read Vern’s review. There’s only two small things that I’d change:

    – I liked the neighbours a little more than Vern. To me they felt like what Ben Foster’s character called them, a “family”. I think they were supposed to be fairly pathetic at the start, but that changed when Foster refused to give Castle up to the villains.

    – I liked the score a little less, though. At a lot of times, especially early on in the film, it felt really hokey. The score’s production quality was noticeably less than the rest of the film’s, which was slightly bizarre.

    A few other random comments:

    – Cars are treated oddly in this movie. There’s the trailer that detaches its cargo whenever it hits a big bump (dunno what the heck it’d do with the traffic-calming in my street here). There’s the fact that the bad guys have every opportunity to disable the getaway vehicles at their chosen massacre site, but don’t do so. (Why?! Later on Castle doesn’t make the same mistake.) And of course there’s giant flamey skull head, and the only thing I’ve got to say about that is: I seriously hope Castle checked that all the cars he was using actually belonged to the bad guys. I somehow doubt it though (as melodramatic as these bad guys could get, I doubt they’d park their vehicles in an exact skull shape). And if, as I suspect is the case, some of the cars don’t belong to Saint’s men – does that mean that somebody’s poor grandmother got her car blown up because she happened to park in the wrong place? Man, I hope she has insurance.

    – I absolutely loved the scene with Harry Heck, the assassin who randomly decides to play a song for Castle in the restaurant before attempting to murder him. Would’ve liked to have seen more of that guy in fact. I was pretty sure I recognised the actor playing Heck, Mark Collie, so I searched him on IMDB. Turns out the guy was in, not one, but two Seagal films that I’ve seen: FIRE DOWN BELOW (yay!) and KILL SWITCH (boo!) As it turns out, Mark Collie was the man who played Hatch from FIRE DOWN BELOW, and for the life of me I don’t recall who that is. I’ll have to rewatch FIRE and find out. He’s better known as an actor-performer, and has soundtrack credits in two films (one of which is FIRE DOWN BELOW).

    Erm… yeah… that’s all I got… I had a good time with this one though.

  25. The Original Paul

    June 21st, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Reading the other comments:

    – I liked the scheming. But then I know nothing about the character’s origins (apart from the Dolph movie, which I also quite like). I took it to mean that Castle didn’t just want to kill Saint, he wanted to break him first. And I’m fine with that. Having the wife (who Castle knows is the person who wanted his family, as well as him, dead) get killed off by her own husband was a satisfyingly slick move too. My only problem with this whole story arc would be: would Saint really fall for this? He seems kinda gullible.

    – The guy who Castle tortures with an ice-pop(!) near the start of the movie does a really quick face-heel turn, doesn’t he? Yeah, that didn’t really work. He goes from being so scared of what Saint will do to him that he’d rather risk Castle’s wrath, to admitting that he hates everything about the Saint family and being willing to fall-in with Castle’s entire plan. That was probably the worst scene in the movie for me.

    – Travolta is a magnificent bastard in this movie.

  26. I’m half-way done so far, but Jon Bernthal is doing an excellent job with the character so far on the current season of DAREDEVIL

  27. I can’t get over the new Punisher looking like a cosplayer. Doesn’t help that I couldn’t get past the first half of season 1 due to incompetent man baby Kingpin and Charlie Cox sucking as much as Affleck in the role for different reasons. I love Daredevil too which is why I feel so bad not being on the hype wagon with everyone else on this. Maybe next time.

  28. Oh and seeing WAR ZONE in it’s entirety this year I take back my dismissal of it in this thread. Seeing everything in context by watching it from front to back worked much better and the movie won me over. I’m gonna find it hard to see anybody but Stevenson in this role going forward. He was perfect.

  29. Yeah, not sure why they seem scared to give The Punisher his skull logo in DD season 2.

    Bernthal is an actor I’ve never taken to, for some reason, but he’s good here as our Frank. He looks like he’s been drawn by John Romita Jr, which helps. I’m liking the guy.

    In fact, half way thru, I’m thinking this season overall is much better than S1.

  30. I think we’ll see some version of the logo towards the end of the season, not unlike the reveal of Daredevil’s costume at the end of the first.

  31. Broddie- You may not have been ready for the power of WARZONE. Glad you enjoy it now!

  32. KINDA SORTA MINOR SPOILER FOR DD SEASON 2
    KINDA SORTA MINOR SPOILER FOR DD SEASON 2
    KINDA SORTA MINOR SPOILER FOR DD SEASON 2
    KINDA SORTA MINOR SPOILER FOR DD SEASON 2

    William Forsythe has just turned up as a prison inmate.

    I’m now imagining an alternate version of OUT FOR JUSTICE where Richie lived and went to jail.

  33. Man, I’m trying to start back up again on Daredevil season 1 so I can watch season 2, but I don’t know if I can make it. Are you sure there are gonna be ninjas on this, because I am gonna need some soon.

  34. Vern, you really don’t need to re-watch S1 – there are very few references to it in S2 and even those are explained in “previously, on Daredevil…” type dialogue.

    And as for your last point – let’s just say, you won’t be disappointed.

  35. That hallway fight in ep 9 might be more badass than anything The Punisher did in the three movies. Holy shit… That scene by itself already makes the second season worth watching.

  36. I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who struggles to get any enjoyment out of DAREDEVIL.

  37. Second season is a HUGE improvement though, whereas the first season felt like it only had enough material for 7 eps but stretched it to 13. The only major annoyances still firmly in place are Foggy and Karen, but if you look past that it’s well worth your time. Especially for you Punisher fans, it’d be a shame to miss Bernthal’s excellent interpretation of the character.

  38. The Original Paul

    March 21st, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Ok… seeing as this seems to be something of a Marvel dumping ground right now… I have to bring this up. (Feel free to move it to “nerd shit” or somewhere if it’s out of place.)

    So, after very much liking JESSICA JONES, I thought I’d go ahead and watch another Marvel TV property. Just because it happened to be on TV at the time, I decided to go with THE FLASH. The result… oh dear God.

    So first of all, let me express my disappointment in the choice of “main villain” of this show. It’s not Ming the Merciless. As far as I can tell, even Bryan Blessed never gets a cameo. And at no point does anybody ever refer to the Flash as “Gordon”. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the costume, you wouldn’t know that this guy was supposed to be the same character as the one in the film.

    But more seriously – I don’t know what pure distilled stupid would look or sound like. But I think this TV show comes close. The actors in it are given the task of making dialogue, written by someone who clearly hasn’t ever had a conversation in actual spoken language, sound “natural”. They fail. It’s genuinely impressive how much they fail. There is not a word spoken by any character in this film that does not come off as rehearsed, staged, or just “exposition-like”. The characters… the science team, who we spend most of our time with, are one-note stereotypes. The police are somewhat more interesting. The Flash himself is a geeky kid who accidentally acquired superpowers but still has unrequited love for the daughter of his police-officer guardian-turned-confidente (because hey, stick to the classics, right?) The person I presume is going to be the main bad guy is the head of the science team, a morally-ambiguous billionaire named Wells who spends his time pretending to have lost the use of his legs (for reasons as yet undetermined) and who is constantly doing blatantly evil stuff under the noses of the “genius” team he’s assembled without them ever suspecting him. The actor who plays Wells is clearly aware of just how goddamn stupid this character is, and milks it for all it’s worth. (Yeah, I’d still prefer Ming, but let’s give credit where it’s due – this guy is fucking hilarious.)

    Each episode follows pretty much the same formula: a new “meta-human” appears, generally someone who was affected by the particle accelerator accident. The Flash fights them, loses, Wells does something evil, nobody notices, technobabble is spoken, The Flash fights the meta-human a second time, the meta-human is defeated, Welles does something else evil, there’s a cliffhanger, the episode ends. Just like that.

    So to make the level of stupidity we’re dealing with clear… Danielle Panabaker character (traits: hot-looking but uptight scientist with tragic past) is mourning the loss of her fiancee, Ronnie, who was presumed dead when he got trapped in the particle accelerator that caused the accident that gave the Flash his powers in the first place. In a shocking twist, it’s revealed that Ronnie (whose body was never found and who’s played by an actor who’s clearly way too famous for a few flashback scenes) is actually alive! Not only that, but he’s developed nuclear flamey powers as a result of the particle accelerator thing. (This kind of thing happens a lot in this show.) Only it turns out that Ronnie is now actually two people who were spliced together, THE FLY-style, by the explosion. The team eventually find a way to separate them – using some classic technobabble and a nuclear explosion – at which point the TV show turns into, I kid you not, a dumber version of I KNOW WHO KILLED ME. One of them is kidnapped, the other starts receiving sensory messages via some kind of “psychic link” between the two, etc. I’m not exaggerating here. This TV show managed to rip off one of the most infamously stupid films ever made, and somehow made it more stupid in the process. Let that one sink in.

    So that’s THE FLASH. To misquote the Cloon, it’s dumber than a sackful of hammers. It’s also utterly compulsive. I kid you not, I’m addicted to this shit. I haven’t had this much fun with a Marvel product since the last twenty minutes or so of THOR 2. Every time I think it can’t get any more entertaining, a supervillain turns up wearing the exact same clothes as they were wearing a year ago when the particle accelerator blew up, or Wells will blatantly make a deal with an evil military guy or tell a meta-human to kill someone for him without anybody ever noticing or suspecting him, or some other absurdity will happen. And none of it is self-aware or ironic (to quickly flog a dead horse once more, those of you who think LONDON HAS FALLEN was playing it straight, just try watching this series and comparing the two. Guys, this is what stupid feels like.) They’re already advertising a second series, and I can’t wait.

    Goddamn it, I think I need help.

  39. I really liked the 2nd season of DD. I liked the 1st one, too, but Kingpin Big Baby just got so very, very, very annoying to me. Like, to the point where I thought he was so stupid that he made me bubble up with anger. I’m sure he was being portrayed exactly like they wanted him to be because he seemed like he was right out of a cartoon, but everything about him – voice, mannerisms, etc. just felt like such a put on I couldn’t stand it by the end of the season. I don’t know if another actor could have made him more palatable to me or not. I just know that I hate him and when *SPOILER* he popped up for an episode and a bit in the 2nd season I literally cried out, “NO!!!!”

    I loved Bernthal. I didn’t really think much of him when I first saw him as Shane in WALKING DEAD until the end of his run when he started totally melting down. Then when I saw him on MOB CITY I was blown away. Again, I think he was fantastic. The way he worked the emotional dialogue moved me to tears. And he was totally badass. He could play the vulnerable and the rage both equally well.

    The only note on the 2nd season that I didn’t like was the repeated preaching about how he doesn’t kill people only to be interspersed with scenes of him beating someone’s head in with the equivalent of a lead pipe. It might not have pinged on me so badly if I hadn’t days ago had a conversation with a friend about Batman. I wondered if his incarnation in BATMAN VS SUPERMAN was going to be one that killed people. My friend got all passionate and demanded that Batman has always killed people. They/he/whoever might try to get high and mighty, saying he doesn’t, but when you “beat someone in the head to the point of unconsciousness, odds are you killed him.” To quote my friend. This is what went through my head every time DD did so. I kept waffling back and forth between thinking it was one thing too far for me to suspend reality and being okay with it. I assume the argument is that his special ninja training and mystical senses make him able to beat someone into unconsciousness without killing him, but I wish I didn’t have to make that assumption and someone would’ve voiced it for me. If someone had called him on it during one of the many, many, many discussions about it and he simply said, “I have a certain set of skills…” I probably would’ve been able to dismiss it and gone ahead with my enjoyment of the carnage. And, *SPOILER* I kind of want him to walk around with a big ass chain bound to his wrist all the time so he can wrench it up to the ceiling, knocking out lights as he goes. Favorite fight of the season.

    I agree with you, Gaul that the layout of this season was a lot better due to its complexity. I happen to actually like Foggy and Karen, though. *KINDA SPOILERS, I GUESS* Even if I did get tired of Foggy bitching about Matt being in danger. Since half of that was actually about Foggy being pissed that Matt was falling down on his part of the lawyering and leaving Foggy holding the bag, I could understand it. I did like when Matt finally said he was done apologizing for being DD.

    *STILL SPOILERS* I also thought Cox and Woll had excellent romantic chemistry. I very much enjoyed that. I didn’t think DD and Elektra had much chemistry at all. Maybe that was only because I was really digging DD and Karen, though. I dunno. I still think it should’ve been more…electric (sorry, I couldn’t stop myself), though, since this is supposed to be such a mythic relationship.

    To wrap up – Season 2 very good!

  40. Paul, are you making a joke, or do you really think The Flash and Flash Gordon are the same character? I cannot tell.

    Also, The Flash is DC, not Marvel.

    Also, also, the production of The Flash is on the CW channel and JESSICA JONES is produced by Netflix. I’m not sure you could’ve found two more divergent production companies. I happen to like THE FLASH, but it’s marshmallow fluff, whereas JESSICA JONES is whiskey. Totally different animals.

  41. Yes, yes, we can all make fun of Pauls criminally poor taste of mixing DC and Marvel up. And as I am squinting my eyes scrolling through the comments to not get NETFLIXS DAREDEVIL PART DEAUX spoiled, I was thinking of ways to enjoy THE PUNISHER TRILOGY the most.

    I started with the 2004 version, naturally. Then I figured Dolphs version might be the most appropriate as it is the one in which Castle is in his darkest state five years after the events of the origin story. His psychotic behaviour that was not as prevalent in the 2004 version is here because he has been stuck in that frame of mind of “punishing” for five years. Lou Gossett Jr is trying to make him realize how crazy he is and what he has become. He does not really listen. But at the start of WARZONE he kills a cop, which is inevitable in the long run and also raises the question if he should quit killing people, which is the first step to recovery; to realize you have a problem. So maybe Gossett Jr got through to him.

    I need to rewatch WARZONE again to see if it holds up.

  42. The Original Paul

    March 21st, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Maggie – I was actually making a joke about the FLASH GORDON thing. Kind of an *insert self-deprecating quip because Paul knows nothing about comic books* kinda deal. Although I stand by what I said: THE FLASH would definitely be improved by the inclusion of more Ming the Merciless. (Heck, what wouldn’t be?)

    I genuinely didn’t know that THE FLASH was DC, though. So feel free to point and laugh at me for that one.

    The rest of it was, well, about as serious as I could be with something that ridiculous. It’s… bafflingly addictive. But as you say, a very very different animal to JESSICA JONES. When the heck did “Netflix Original” become a sign of quality? It does seem like some of their shows are receiving a lot of acclaim all of a sudden. Hey, I’m happy people enjoy their stuff, but I gotta admit I didn’t see this one coming.

  43. I’ll take THE FLASH over the self important piece of wannabe Whedon fluff called JESSICA JONES. Any day of the week. THE FLASH is actually fun and not afraid of being based on a comic book. JESSICA JONES us just not afraid of being based in a comic book but I have 0 fun with it.

  44. How do I do an internet equivalent to an eye roll?

  45. Boo fucking hoo and all that jazz.

  46. Paul- The Flash is a pretty obscure hero, so you´d be forgiven for that overlook that it is DC not Marvel.

  47. I remember when I used to argue in public forums over the relative merits of children’s comic strip adventure films and television programs. It was a lot like hitting myself in the face with a board over and over again and expecting different results.

  48. Here here Majestyk.

    Speaking of THE FLASH it finally returns tonight and I couldn’t be happier. Tuesday nights are so much better with THE FLASH and AMERICAN CRIME STORY (featuring a superbly eccentric John Travolta just like this movie) in them.

  49. I really wasn’t pointing & laughing at you, Paul, for saying The Flash was Marvel. Believe it or not, but I thought I was helping, since you seem to be conducting a case study of Marvel studios. Just wanted you to have the correct info.

  50. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking any of you dudes or ladies who still get something out of the discussion. But those days are over for me. I’m hoping to get through the entire REDACTED VS WORSE THAN HITLER debacle without typing a single word about it unless it’s in a private message. That’s been my policy for the last few Marvel movies (worked wonders for the inexplicable-to-me AVENGERS 2 backlash) and I hope that training will carry me through my most difficult challenge yet.

    You know, when I was a teenager, all I wanted was some people to talk to who’d seen the same movies I had. Now all I want is a refuge from them.

  51. I will comment on REDACTED CONTRA UBERMENSCH but strictly as Snyder’s latest movie and the sequel to his worse movie yet imo (yes I liked the Owl movie more). I will avoid any conversation about it’s merits as a DC Comics joint.

  52. Everyone I know hates Superman, so there are no discussions to be made there.

  53. The Original Paul

    March 22nd, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Maggie – hey, no probs; I wasn’t “having a go” at you, and I didn’t think you were trying to have a go at me either! When I say stuff like “feel free to point and laugh”, I don’t mean “you horrible, horrible people”. By my own admission I’m probably the person here who knows the least about comic books or their related media, so if it gives you guys a chuckle, go for it. Believe me, I don’t take offence!

    (I’ll school you on any bit of bodyshock horror from the 1950s onwards though.)

    If I sounded a bit testy lately, it’s because:

    1) I’d just come out of 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (which I wrote my thoughts on in the review thread; suffice to say, the screening was awful, the volume was set way too loud, I was the only person in the cinema at the time, and while this film probably would’ve been worth watching under better conditions, I certainly didn’t think it was good enough to make up for the ensuing headache), and

    2) I kinda got into an argument recently where I felt that a film was being misinterprited (although I’m still not sure if that was a deliberate decision to alter parts of the film for the UK and US markets. That could very well be the case – google has failed to provide confirmation either way.) That’s probably the first substantial thing I’ve seen on this site for months. I don’t go to the cinema often any more, for exactly the reasons you’d think; the pleasure of anticipation kinda wears off when you’re worried that you’ll end up with tinitus every time you leave the screening. So on the rare occasions that I have something to say, it’s a bit disspiriting feeling as though it’s being dismissed without so much as an argument or debate, which is what I felt happened there for a while. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine now. I’m just explaining my annoyance back when this stuff was going on.

    Anyway, THE FLASH is not that occasion when I have something serious to say. It’s a joke review of a joke show. Don’t get me wrong, I find it both entertaining and gripping, so they must be doing something right. But it is most definitely not something I feel serious about. I do love the idea that someone somewhere is reading a bunch of forum comments poking fun at THE FLASH and is madly typing: “You guys are wrong! You just don’t understand the lore of this show!” But I feel safe to say that I am not that person!

  54. The Original Paul

    March 22nd, 2016 at 9:21 am

    Probably the most substantial thing I’ve “written” on this site, I meant. Not seen.

  55. Crushinator Jones

    March 22nd, 2016 at 9:46 am

    I don’t know if anyone has read this but it’s a really good essay about all this comic book shit flying around.

    http://moviemezzanine.com/marvel-avengers-essay/

    and the follow up:

    Round 2: The Marvel-Industrial Complex

    When I wrote “The Marvel-Industrial Complex” at the invitation of Movie Mezzanine a few weeks ago, it was just supposed to be a thinkpiece with some actual thought behind it, as well as…

  56. The Original Paul

    March 22nd, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Crushinator – thanks for that link. It’s an interesting one.

    Most of the article I’d agree with (at least in terms of its broader conclusions). I do question the bit about $250mil Marvel movies being made “instead of” other projects though. Is there any actual evidence for that? I don’t doubt that you could make a whole lot of Indie movies for the price of one Cap or Thor movie, but I question the assumption that anybody involved with Marvel Studios would be interested in financing them.

  57. It wasn’t an argument, Paul. It was a satire. Meow :)

  58. Ouch!

  59. Shoot, was your comment sarcasm because The Flash isn’t an obscure superhero.

  60. No, it was satire…

  61. But, yeah. I was fooling around. I guess. For me at least he is obscure. He is up there with The Plastic Man and pre-Alan Moore Swamp Thing. You know why? because back in the 80´s there was a swedish comic book called GIGANT who had these superheroes in that book. And I thought they were lame and boring. Maybe The Flash is alright, but he seem a bit one note.

  62. For what it’s worth Paul, I only found out a few days ago that the classic Blessed/von Sydow/Muti Flash Gordon film is not regarded by our American cousins as a high water mark of 80s cinema the way it is in the UK. Inconceivable!

  63. Cosh, it sure as hell is regarded as the high water mark by this American! I chose it for the first movie I reviewed, in fact. Mind you, that was only 3 months ago, but still, I had a lot of movies to pick from.

  64. The Original Paul

    March 22nd, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Look, say whatever you want about LONDON HAS FALLEN, but do not insult pre-Alan Moore Swamp Thing!

  65. Are you being sarcastic now, Paul?

  66. The Original Paul

    March 23rd, 2016 at 4:18 am

    Shoot…

    …I think I’m gonna leave it up to the audience to decide that one.

  67. Too bad. I´d love to read your thoughts on pre-Alan Moore Swamp Thing. I really don´t remember anything about it except the shitty monster

  68. The Original Paul

    March 23rd, 2016 at 4:55 am

    Ok, after that I gotta confess – I was joking.

    I also don’t remember too much about the fifties(?) version of the Swamp Thing. I have more vivid memories of the Triffids, the Fifty Foot Woman, the original WAR OF THE WORLDS, the Blob, and of course the Bodysnatchers. I’m sure I saw the Swamp Thing, but even as a kid it didn’t make too much of an impression on me. But maybe that was just because I was so young. I used to eat all of those fifties monster movies up. Sadly, the only one I saw recently (THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD) turned out to be a big disappointment. I kinda don’t want to revisit the other ones just in case they turn out to be the same deal – loved ’em as a kid, wouldn’t be able to tolerate them nowadays. Sometimes it’s better just to have the memories.

  69. ” Sometimes it’s better just to have the memories.”

    That is why I never want to revisit AUTOMAN.

  70. I thought the only Swamp Thing adaptations were the one by Wes Craven from the 80s and the sequel by the dude who did CHOPPING MALL. Was there one in the 50s?

  71. The earlier ones was from the 70´s I believe. Not the 50´s.

  72. The 80s Craven one I still found enjoyable as an adult. You have this dude who looks like a giant turd with a Clint Eastwood Halloween mask glued to it, and he punches cars and motorboats and then he sees Adrienne Barbeau’s breasts and has serious tragic philosophical monologues about the fragile beauty of life, and then he fights a stuntman whose monster suit is even worse than his. Good stuff if you’re into that kind of stuff.

  73. I feel I should watch that one.

  74. The Original Paul

    March 23rd, 2016 at 6:42 am

    Yeah, I couldn’t remember when the SWAMP THING movie came out. It’s been almost thirty years since I saw it, so my recall is never going to be that great! Toxic makes a great case for the Craven one though.

  75. I was almost sure Vern had reviewed it but I can’t find it. I must be confusing with MAN-THING.

  76. I met Brian Blessed a few months ago. I’m happy to report he’s every bit as awesomely funny and endlessly interesting as I’d hoped.

    He waved at me as I left. What a guy!

  77. After three episodes, I decided that I was just going to have to take everyone’s word that it was super awesome and the greatest superhero show ever made.

    I haven’t watched The Flash because I disliked Arrow and like Daredevil everyone told me Arrow is super awesome and the greatest superhero show ever made. Though since The Flash embraces the sillier over-the-top things I like(d) about super hero comics I guess I should give it a chance. Now if you’re talking about the early-90s Flash TV series then I can get behind that. I remember it being good (at least the second season) but feel I should not revisit to keep the good memories.

  78. What THE FLASH has done has been uprecedented with superhero TV. It is proud to be based on a silly sci-fi comic book and completely wears it on it’s sleeve. We’ve gotten multiple Gorilla Grodd episodes and one with King Shark who is an anthropomorphic great white. Like “how the fuck?!?” it’s too awesome. Plus the way it has tastefully paid respect to the underrated 90s Flash series (Mark Hammill could still play The Trickster like nobody’s business) is very commendable.

    But it also has a shit ton of heart. It’s ensemble has excellent chemistry and really do feel like a family. That’s it’s greatest strength and is so much so that I could easily overlook the soap opera tropes with ease.

    ARROW on the other hand has been an abomination and I only really watch it when some other DC character crosses over like Flash, Vixen or John Constantine. With DAREDEVIL I really struggle to get into it but I HAVE tried. What Marvel needs is a netflix Ghost Rider, Moon Knight, Mobius and fucking Blade (played by Wes of course) as the supernatural Avengers. I’d take that over LUKE CAGE or Dr. Strange and Hulk-less DEFENDERS any day.

    Speaking of a supernatural sci-fi shows I remember that SWAMP THING series that came after the movies being pretty good.

  79. Crushinator Jones

    March 23rd, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    The first season of Flash is appropriately silly and fun. I enjoyed it. I tuned out of the second season after what I felt was a very weak start. I also stopped watching Arrow in Season 3.

  80. Broddie – Your enthusiasm has been selling me. My interest peaked a bit ago when someone tipped me off that Grodd and Killer Shark are/are going to be in it. I have been watching Supergirl on and off and been mostly enjoying it (more or less). So I was thinking of just waiting for the Flash crossover episode before delving in. I may start sooner based on your glowing recommendation though.

    I used to watch Swamp Thing, I can’t remember much of it though. As for Dr. Strange, my heart is with the early weird and trippy versions that you know they are definitely not going to adapt.

    Another reason I’m a bit tepid to try live-action superhero shows is because I was alive during Smallville and everyone telling me how great Smallville was and while I can admit it had great *moments* it sure as hell was not great (or even good).

    My favorite live action (American) superhero show is still Adventures of Superman from the 50s with George Reeves by-the-way. Reeves is still my favorite (live-action) take on the character as well.

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