Punisher War Zone Movie Review

Punisher War Zone Movie Logo

See, here’s the thing about the Punisher movies: they just don’t quite satisfy. The films go down that indulgent path that movies like Taken and Man on Fire navigate to satiate the dark, furious part of people’s souls that require a solution in the face of  violent injustice. No? Just us? Uh-huh, right. Of course, those movies get the extra boost of urgency, while the Punisher movies are mostly about destroying bad people that have nothing to do with the original horror from which our anti-hero was created. So, that being said, what the Punisher movies really only offer is a chance to stomp around sadistically in the criminal world, cutting the cancer out of human society with impunity. There’s no redemption or finality. Frank Castle’s quest will never end and his heroic motivation died long ago. He is now just the Punisher, former father and husband turned killing machine.

Revenge Movies: Taken & Man on Fire

Excellent examples of good revenge movies

In spite of the Punisher’s limited dimensionality, however, he is effing good at what he does. In that regard, the Punisher is a fantastic character. So, given that a significant portion of the public has an appetite for angry, vengeful movies, one might think the Punisher would translate successfully into film. But, not so much. Marvel’s foray into Movieland with the character has now failed three times.

Punisher Movies: 1989, 2004, 2008

The problem is that while Taken and Man on Fire have a clearly defined overarching objective to save a specific innocent (or innocents) from harm, there’s no one in particular or at least no one special that needs saving in a Punisher story. Without that desperate journey, the Punisher storylines devolve into hunting expeditions interspersed with heady action and gore. Tremendously exhilarating, yes, but hollow at the end.

Having said that, we firmly believe that there is a place for The Punisher in live action … not in the movies, but in an episodic format. In this scenario, stories could be built that reach through several serialized moments stretching the drama and allowing characters to be developed more fully. One of the best parts of the Punisher comic books (which follow this format) is that Frank builds a cat-and-mouse game as he closes in on his prey. The longer (albeit not too long) the culmination, the more satisfying. And, in this format, it would be easier to introduce sympathetic characters that could add complexity and life to the character. Ideally, we think the Punisher could fit nicely into one-hour episodes on Showtime or a similar production house. We’ve heard rumor of this sort of project bouncing around, but thus far there’s been no official notice.

PBS Mini Series: The Punisher

When you wish upon a star…

The Punisher is clearly a popular character. Since his introduction in Amazing Spider-man #129 (and yes, we own a copy and we only paid $5 for it back in the early 1990s (but it does have a one inch rip on the front cover, dammit)), Frank Castle has given the Marvel Universe a dark realism that much of the superhero dross can’t create. There have been several series, one-shots, graphic novels, cross-overs, etc. culminating in hundreds of appearances. Incidentally, The Punisher will celebrate 40 years in print next year. We hope he’ll kill a few hundred bad guys to mark the event.

Punisher character in Marvel Comics

But we’re not here to talk about what should be done for future projects nor to discuss the comic books. So, here’s a brief review of Punisher: War Zone.

As we stated, the Punisher has had three chances at movie success. The first film was released in 1989 starring Dolph Lundgren (yeah, we’re confused too) as the titular character. The back story is essentially the same as the comic book version except that Frank Castle is a cop in this one. The story is pretty thin. The Punisher (2004) has a better set of bad guys and is just better done overall. Punisher War Zone portrays a grittier anti-hero and we like him better overall but the characters in the rest of the movie are actually pretty boring.

The Punisher Movie Flare Scene

That’s right. Happy Birthday. Prepare to be stabbed in the head.

The Good: Violence is what we’d expect (the first scene with the flare and the knife through the skull is awesome!) and violence is what we get. Lots of it. The darkness is interrupted by small amounts of dry humor which gives the movie a MAX comic book series feel of the story. There were several complaints about Irish-English actor Ray Stevenson playing the role of the New York vigilante with Italian heritage and special ops roots. But movies almost always stray away from printed characters and we were pleased with Ray’s look and performance.

Punisher War Zone Opening Scene

Rita Bennett from Dexter in a Lara Croft, Tomb Raider outfit

Julie Benz as Rita Bennett as Lara Croft. Sexier in Dexter than in Punisher War Zone

The Bad: We like Julie Benz but didn’t care for her character, Angela. Plus, stupid story elements like an immediate the attachment of Angela’s daughter to Frank is absurd (hey little why are you giving the big angry man in black that your Mom was screaming at earlier a big snuggly hug?!) because it’s a sloppy mechanism to humanize his character. He’s the damn Punisher for crying out loud! He doesn’t need to be soft! Also, remember what we said about serialization? At 103 minutes, the movie was too short to really build up the evil of the antagonists so we couldn’t really grow to hate Jigsaw, his brother, and the host of criminals offered throughout the movie.

Angela, Character in Punisher War Zone

The Ugly: Jigsaw’s face. Yes, Jigsaw is a core member of the Punisher pantheon (see Amazing Spider-man #162), but we can’t stand him or his idiot brother. Jigsaw (Dominic West) and Loony Bin Jim (Doug Hutchison) are too over the top as characters that they come off as much more annoying than scary.

Jigsaw, Character from Punisher War Zone

Jack Nicholson’s … oh, sooooorry, geez, … the Joker’s doctor came highly recommended.

We really want to give this movie a higher rating, but the relatively boring storyline puts it at a lower mark. Still, that hasn’t stopped us from watching it three times. And repeat viewings are rare things for us.

2.5 star out of 5

Punisher Quote: "Sometimes I'd like to get my hands on God"

The best line in the movie: “Sometimes I’d like to get my hands on God.”


Punisher War Zone Movie (2008) - Flare Scene

Punisher War Zone Movie (2008) - Chandelier Scene

We appreciate an efficient killer.

Punisher War Zone Movie (2008) - Parkour Jump Scene

Here goes nothin’!

Punisher War Zone Movie (2008) - Parkour Explosion Scene


Punisher War Zone Movie (2008) - Parkour and Missile Scene

And, that’s pretty much that.

Punisher War Zone: Rock River Arms Tactical CAR-A4 Carbine

Gang boys, come out to playeeyay!

Punisher War Zone Movie (2008) - Micro Scene


Punisher War Zone Movie (2008) - Billy the Beaut in the Glass Crusher Scene

Billy the Beaut in the glass crusher = Jigsaw is born

Punisher War Zone Movie (2008) - Angela's House Scene

Julie Benz plays Angela, the widow of an undercover FBI agent the Punisher accidentally killed.

Punisher War Zone Movie (2008) - End Scene

Apparently not.


Punisher War Zone Movie Poster, staring at you Punisher War Zone Movie Poster, black and white, explosions
Punisher War Zone Movie Poster, aiming close Punisher War Zone Movie Poster, face in shadows
Punisher War Zone Movie Poster, city, skull
Punisher War Zone Movie Poster, surrounded by guns Punisher War Zone Movie Poster, San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive
Punisher War Zone Movie Poster, bullet holes in wall Punisher War Zone Movie Poster, aiming, full body

Movie Review: Iron Sky

Iron Sky 2012 Movie, Nazis in Space

Iron Sky Movie 2012The film Iron Sky was pitched pretty heavily at Comic-Con 2012 to coincide with its U.S. launch. It was first released in Europe in April 2012. We wanted to go by the booth for details but forgot about it until the last few minutes of the Con on Sunday and by then the staff had vacated it. Too bad since we were really curious. So, we were glad it made its way to Netflix last week. Wondering if you should take the plunge and watch it yourselves? Pull up a chair and listen to a story.

What’s it all about?

Iron Sky is a dark comedy with a sci-fi substrate.  The premise is absolutely ridiculous and that is absolutely awesome.  There have been Nazis as clones. Nazis as zombies. Nazis as close personal advisers to the President of the United States of America. So, why not Nazis on the moon?!  The movie is tongue in cheek throughout although it gets a bit preachy at the end. That was unnecessary since it doesn’t fit the general outrageous atmosphere of the movie.

Iron Sky Movie, Nazi Stormtroopers

The Plot Synopsis

The year is 2018 and Sarah Palin is president. President Miss Diva spends a lot of time on her treadmill in the Oval Office barking out orders to her psychotic re-election campaign manager. Meanwhile, there are Nazis on the dark side of the moon (that’s an awesome phrase, huh?  We think the next time a co-worker says something like “OK, we’re taking care of [xyz customer]’s concerns and should be wrapped up tomorrow,” we will respond “Meanwhile, there are Nazis on the dark side of the moon.” Ah, we crack ourselves up) . They got there somehow (it isn’t explained) and have erected a massive fort where they are raising a generation of Fourth Reich warriors to invade Earth and Aryan-ize the planet. The residents of Earth don’t know this when President Soccer Mom uses an unnecessary moon landing as  re-election PR gimmick. One of the austronauts, a black man who’s actually a model and is only there to make the whole thing look good, gets captured and is hauled off to the lab so the Nazis can learn about the current state of affairs on Planet Earth. Since no one in the younger generations has ever seen a black man, they assume there must be something wrong with him so a clichéd eccentric old scientist Aryan-izes him by whitening his skin, converting his eyes to blue, straightening his hair, and coloring it blond.

Sarah Palin, Iron Sky Movie

Yes, She Can!

So, the adventure is afoot as the Nazi leadership, in the midst of an internal power struggle, prepares to launch a massive attack on the Earth. They do so by sending enormous space zeppelins to release meteors to rain down on Earth as bombs. They also engage Earth fighter jets in air-to-air combat with their UFO-like aircraft. On a side note, retro-futurism (like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow in film, and like Terminal City and other books by Dean Motter in comic form) is always a joy and there is plenty of it here as the film’s creators imagine what an isolated population of Nazis do with their technology while removed from the rest of the Earth’s populace.   Anyway, the battle wages on and President Sarah takes advantage of it because she knows a “war president” has a really good shot at re-election. We won’t get into the details about the dynamic between the New Führer and the psychotic campaign manager and how that leads to a retaliatory strike on the moon, but suffice it to say it happens.

Sarah Palin and Vivian Wagner characters in Iron Sky Movie

As we said, the film ends on a somber note. That must be a European convention. Funny movies can’t just be funny through and through for you Old Country-ers, can they? What the hell is it with you Europeans and your whole “make peace not war” thing? We Americans have learned how to embrace the entertainment value of pain, suffering, mayhem, and destruction. As for the music, the closing song by Laibach is a nice touch. Kind of reminds us of the type of song you’d hear at the end of a Bond movie. We didn’t pay much attention to the score during the rest of the film but it gets generally positive reviews from critics, so it must be good or something.

Iron Sky movie, the moon partially destroyed

How is this going to affect gravitational pull and therefore tides and werewolves?

The nut of it is, we recommend watching Iron Sky even if it is just to support small films like these. Maybe this one was only passable (and we think it deserves more credit than that), but there are other fantastic films begging to be made if they can just get public support.

Nazi Fortress on the moon

The Sci-Fi of Iron Sky

Yes, you need to get past things like the inconsistent science of air and vacuums, noise in space, moon vs. Earth gravity, African-American astronauts, how the hell the Nazis got there to begin with …. etc. Some movies take their sci-fi too seriously and these types of conundrums make them unwatchable. Iron Sky doesn’t bother focusing on the science at all, nor should it.

Nazi warship from Iron Sky

Surprisingly, the Götterdämmerung gets about 20 mpg city / 28 mpg space. Kudos to the Nazis and their efforts in sustainable energy management. Now if they just get that pesky human rights thing under control …

Production details: Iron Sky is an Australian-Finnish-German joint venture shot mostly in English. What makes the production of this type of film remarkable is that it was partially crowd-funded. Crowd-funding is when part of a film is built by pre-selling merchandise and taking donations.

Budget: An astonishingly low US$8 million (before final marketing).

Income: An astonishingly low US$8 million (before residuals). It’s tough for small films like this to get visibility. With a larger marketing budget, this film would have ended up with viral cult status probably.

Götterdämmerung from Iron Sky movie

The “R” rating may have hurt it. The only thing we can think of that justified it was the much maligned “F” word. The film would have had a much better draw at PG-13. Even though teenagers (especially in America) are far enough removed from the WWII period (holy hell, it’s been almost 70 years since it ended), the goof-ballsy story would have made for some late night cinema fun for anyone.

Zeppelins in Iron Sky

Oh, the humanity!

The Good: The CGI and special effects are surprisingly good. It’s nice that movies don’t need a ridiculous budget anymore to produce impressive effects. And beyond that, the whole concept is simply crazy funny.

The Bad: The acting and directing was so choppy it was hard to get into the moments of dialogue. Some of the scripting was awful too. It’s clear this is a relatively amateur venture. It was also much more formulaic than necessary. It wouldn’t have taken much to throw in a few plot twists that wouldn’t have cost much either.

The Ugly: Dammit! This could have been so much more. It’s too bad it didn’t catch the eye of Guillermo del Toro. He could have added some depth to the evil intentions of the Fourth Reich. As it is, this is a very shallow film. Fun, but even less substance than it should have had.

WWII parody in Iron Sky movie

Getcher war bonds, heya! Support the troops!


Timo Vuorensola, writer and director of Iron Sky

Timo Vuorensola, writer and director of Iron Sky.

Timo Vuorensola: We didn’t even know Finland had cinema. In fact, we didn’t even really believe Finland existed until we saw concert footage of some air guitar competition followed up by a long tourism advert proclaiming that Finland really did exist. Anyway, it’s easy to tell that this is one of Timo’s first ventures. The film could have used some help pretty much across the board, but our view is that it was actually not a bad start for a first feature film. And, to his defense, a budget of about US$8 million for a sci-fi war thriller doesn’t give a guy much room to explore.

Julia Dietze, the German actress

Julia Dietze: She plays a second generation moon Nazi. The character is misguided and is ultimately a good person. We’ve never seen Julia before. She’s a French-born German. She looks good in a conveniently placed underwear scene and in a low cut blouse, corset, and high cut skirt. Who said Nazis aren’t sexy? Hopefully, Julia is a better actress than this film demonstrated.

Julia Dietze in Iron Sky

Christopher Kirby, Actor

Christopher Kirby: His character is caught up in the middle of it all. He gives the Nazis fits. Christopher’s other credits include Mauser from the Matrix movies. Also, he has backup roles in Star Wars III and Daybreakers. He’s an American actor living in Australia. The fact that he was converted into an Aryan is racist at one level, but actually pretty funny if you think about it. Oh, what we wouldn’t give to get a look at Hitler’s, Himmler’s, Eichmann’s and all the other pig shitters’ faces if they could see Jonathan in white face!

James Washington, Black Nazi Christopher Jones, actor in Matrix and Star Wars

Christopher Kirby

Gotz Otto, Actor

Götz Otto: He plays the ambitious Nazi leader who fancies himself the next leader of the Fourth Reich. It seems like his name is backwards, huh? Gotz is a German actor. His performance is OK. The character Herr Klaus Adler has a pretty long title: Der Schutzstaffel Obergruppenführer von Schweinehund. By the way, did you recognize him as Herr Stamper from one of our least favorite James Bond movies? That’s right, he was the tall blond muscle-bound baddie in Tomorrow Never Dies.

Götz Otto, actor

Götz Otto as Stamper in Tomorrow Never Dies

Udo Kier: Udo plays the Heir to the Herr. The moon’s resident Führer. Did you recognize him as the artsy-fartsy dude from Ace Ventura? Yes, of course he is a seasoned veteran of a ton of movies and TV shows, but that one just stood out to us. Udo’s is a small role. He is a bit foppish for a Nazi. Wait, actually Himmler and Göering were self-possessed and fastidious dandies, so maybe Udo is spot on.

Udo Kier in Iron Sky

Peta Sergeant, actress

Peta Sergeant: Yikes. Her character, Vivian Wagner, is a Bitch in Leather. Having said that, Vivian can spank us anytime. Peta’s an Australian hottie. Good gravy, her acting was so hammy. But, we enjoyed her corset ever so much. Peta has done a ton of TV work yet we haven’t seen any of it. She looks so familiar but we can’t quite put our finger on why …

The epitome of bitch

Stephanie Paul

Stephanie Paul: Plays Sarah Palin. Pulls it off OK in the looks department and it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t have her mannerisms since her character is just a caricature anyway. But hey, the essential question is “How the hell did Palin get in the White House?”  That would be an interesting sidebar to explore.  We can’t find anything about Stephanie, so we’ll make it up. She’s 6’2″ tall, ambidextrous, and double jointed. She has a rare mynx hybrid cat called Bootsies. Stephanie graduated with a degree in philosophy. Statuesque and gorgeous (this part isn’t made up).

Stephanie Paul as Sarah Palin

Tilo Prückner, actor

Tilo Prückner: Mad scientist Doktor Richter is more befuddled than evil. He is the father of the history-misinformed Nazi ingénue palyed by Julia Dietze. There’s not much about Tilo online, so again, we make it up, yes? Tilo was born with hoofs instead of feet. Really. Like full blown hoofs. Also, his family was the last one to escape East Germany before the Wall came down. Kinda anticlimactic, that.

Tilo Pruckner, actor

So, here’s the breakdown:

  • Directing: 2 out of 5
  • Acting: 2 out of 5
  • Effects: 4+ish out of 5 (given the budget)
  • Story: 2 out of 5
  • Concept: 5 out of 5
  • TOTAL: 3 out of 5

Here’s the official trailer:

And here’s the music video to the Laibach’s “Under the Iron Sky”

Well. There’s always the possibility of a Fifth Reich, right? Oh, let’s hope not. So, Heil Nobody in Particular!

In parting, here are some posters.

Iron Sky Movie Poster

Iron Sky poster aircraft

Iron Sky the Evil has Landed Poster

The Devil’s Double movie poster

… of the week? Like, there are other posters posts we put on our blog for special recognition? No, we’re too lazy for that. But we saw this image of The Devil’s Double (2011) pop up on Netflix as we were browsing the new releases. The movie actually sounds pretty interesting. It’s about an Iraqi man that was forced to double for Grade-A prime sociopath, murderer, torturer, and a generally extreme malevolent rat bastard, Uday Hussein. The film delves into the inner workings of the Hussein family and their unholy war against humanity. If the history of the Iraqi whackos weren’t true, the story would probably be just another violence fetish film.  As it is, we’re not sure if we can watch this kind of barbarism since it involves the horror of pain and suffering of actual people.

The movie poster is artistic brilliance. Kind of a Tony Montana thing going on combined with the Middle Eastern obsession with gold. Reminds us a bit of a scene from the new Winnie the Pooh movie — honey dripping all over the place. Only we really like honey and it’s innocent as far as we know.

Anyway, very cool image. Once you click it open to a new screen click it again to expand all the way. It’s even more incredible in a larger size.

 Uday Hussein

Side note: We were trying to figure out who Uday Hussein looks like. It took us a while, but we’ve got it. Carlos Boozer (NBA’s Cavs, Jazz, and Bulls) is the guy. That doesn’t seem fair. Carlos may be thuggish but he’s no mass murderer or mysogenist. Still, uncanny isn’t it.

Separated at Birth

Dark Knight Rises Secret Poster (Catwoman stiletto boot)

The Dark Knight Movie

Just 53 days until the release of The Dark Knight Rises. That means 44 days to a big disappointment. We’ll miss this year’s Comic Con (again, damn it), so we’re planning to wear our Occupy SDCC T-Shirt in protest. We’re the 99%. You who have tickets are the 1%. We don’t like you.


Drones, UNITE!

Anyway, Warner Bros. has cleverly released the image of a hard-to-find poster for The Dark Knight Rises. The poster shows Catwoman’s sexy (and thoroughly impractical) stiletto boot standing on a Batman batarang. Speaking of these throwing weapons, we’re not sure we’d like to have said objects return our way. They look terribly sharp. Probably best as shuriken. Stay in his forehead, you li’l rascal.

So, enjoy a high res view of the new poster. All of you except the Comic Con attendees. You can go here instead … grrr.


Click for big size

Skyfall trailer!

James Bond

It’s out! The first trailer for the 23rd outing in the James Bond franchise: Skyfall. Release date in the US is November 9, 2012.

Daniel Craig


Skyfall 007

Skyfall 007


James Bond

We posted pictures and information on Skyfall and Sam Mendes, the director, in a previous post: Skyfall set pictures.

We have several additional posts on James Bond related news, pictures, reviews, trading cards, etc. Do a search for “james bond” in the search box above or click on the link on the phrase list to the right.