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A.P. Fuchs, author of The Axiom-man Saga "www.canisterx.com"

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Superman II (Widescreen)
Superman II (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Gene Hackman
Offered by gabysbookscanada
Price: CDN$ 5.49
35 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Superman II: Standard Version Review - Supes is Back!, March 27 2015
This review is from: Superman II (Widescreen) (DVD)
Superman is back, and when he inadvertently releases three inmates from the Phantom Zone, he has to go up against three supervillains every bit as powerful as he is. Complicating matters, Lois Lane is getting wise to the possibility that Clark Kent might not be who he claims to be and that, just maybe, beneath those glasses is the Man of Steel she so desperately loves.

As the two become close and spend time together, the three Kryptonian villains arrive on Earth and wreak havoc and destruction. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor seizes the opportunity to cash in on the aliens’ arrival and tries to exploit their powers for his own gain.

With the fate of the world hanging in the balance and Superman nowhere to be found, will the Earth fall to General Zod forever?

This is a great follow up to Superman I, and is basically a direct continuation of that story, with seeds for this one planted in the first movie. This is also true behind-the-scenes as Superman I and II were shot simultaneously but due to various complications, the version that came out in 1980 wasn’t completely what was intended, and thus the birth of Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, which is the subject of another review.

Regardless, this version is fantastic, beginning with a recap of the Superman origin and mythology during the opening credits, and jumping right into Superman action pretty much from the start. The ante is upped by putting Superman against not only someone who is his equal power-wise, but three people who are, never mind Lex Luthor as well, who is a big challenge to Superman in the struggle of brains vs brawn.

This movie at its center carries a lot of heart as it goes into the relationship between Lois and Clark and Lois and Superman, making for a love story that is every bit as good as some romance movies without transforming this whole film into a romance flick. The ending is heart-wrenching as you understand the cost of being Superman and even the cost of being someone close to him.

Like its predecessor, Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder know their roles and fulfill them to a T. Same with Gene Hackman. Obviously, a great deal of this has to do with them filming Superman I and II simultaneously, but in the interest of watching them from one movie to the next, that seamless transition adds to the believability of the whole thing.

Terrance Stamp stole the show as General Zod, easily holding up against Christopher Reeve and oftentimes overshadowing him. He carried with him a powerful presence, and gave off a rage that only one who had been—in his eyes—unrightfully imprisoned in the Phantom Zone could give. Sarah Douglas as Ursa and Jack O’Halloran as Non did just fine in their roles, but their main score was their reverence and allegiance to Zod, which then added to Stamp’s performance.

The super battle at the end was great and awesome for its time. Most of the effects were practical effects—the best kind, in my opinion—and so while nowadays these guys wouldn’t look so tough fighting it out on screen, back then I remember being in awe at how mean and powerful the bad guys were and how Superman really had a run for his money.

Superman II carries the same awe and wonder that Superman I did, even more so depending on what angle you want to tackle it from (i.e. Superman II showcases all of Superman’s powers whereas the first one didn’t).

Whether as a kid or an adult, I love this movie.

Recommended.

Superman: The Movie [Blu-ray]
Superman: The Movie [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Christopher Reeve
Price: CDN$ 14.96
32 used & new from CDN$ 6.35

5.0 out of 5 stars You'll Believe . . ., March 25 2015
Before the doomed planet Krypton explodes, Jor-El and wife Lara send their infant son, Kal-El, to Earth to save his life. Discovered in a field and raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent, Kal-El—renamed Clark—grows up to discover he has powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. After leaving the farm after high school, Clark heads north and meets a holographic projection of Jor-El and learns who he really is and what he is meant to do. Twelve years later, Clark re-enters the world and becomes Superman, a symbol of hope in a world that desperately needs it.

Upon observing Superman’s debut, the greatest criminal mind of our time, Lex Luthor, hatches a clever real estate scheme to destroy the Man of Steel while also making himself filthy rich.

With millions of lives in the balance as well as his own, can Superman stop Lex and put an end to the madman’s plan?

Like most kids, I watched this flick a thousand times. Okay, maybe not a thousand, but as often as I could considering my parents taped it for me and I knew how to work the VCR. At one point, I think we even had a VHS tape that had all four Superman movies on it from when they aired on TV. Anyway, I’ll freely admit this review is totally biased as we’re talking about a movie—especially a Superman movie—from my childhood, and it’s impossible for me to watch the movie now without memories of being a kid, holding my Superman action figure and watching Superman catch Lois Lane falling from a helicopter that’s stuck on the side of a building.

That said, this movie is still aces for loads of reasons. One, it was taken seriously. I read somewhere that Christopher Reeve—who plays Superman/Clark Kent—put forth that he wanted to do it straight-laced. Up until then, you had the Batman TV series for men in tights (unless you counted the Green Hornet TV series, which was semi-serious), and then the cartoons. There was the George Reeves Adventures of Superman series in the ’50s and the Kirk Allen series before that, but in terms of immediate “superheroes in people” memory, you had ’60s Batman and that was it.

By taking the source material seriously, by playing Superman as if it’s really happening, this was the first time audiences were treated to superheroes in real life and the filmmakers weren’t kidding when they said, “You’ll believe a man can fly.” I know I did, both now and when I was a kid. Superman was larger than life on the screen, whether he was using his powers or not. He inspired hope, and the film didn’t shy away from showcasing a Superman that fought for “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”

We got to see Superman enjoy being Superman, especially during his first night out saving a cat stuck in a tree, stopping Air Force One from falling to the ground, apprehending a jewel thief and putting an end to a criminal/police car chase.

Christopher Reeve as Superman has been the benchmark every other Superman actor has tried to reach. His Superman is bold, idealistic, hopeful and kind. As Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for the Daily Planet, he did a fine job of really making you believe he was two different people when all he really had to use was a change of clothes, a new hairstyle and a pair of glasses. The guy changed his voice, his mannerisms, his speech—everything. I bought it. Go ahead. Put a picture of the two side-by-side and it’s like two different guys, so I don’t believe it when people nowadays say a pair of glasses is a stupid idea to conceal your identity. Ever have someone you know really well not recognize you after a haircut? It’s happened to me and that’s just a haircut not something covering part of my face like glasses. Anyway . . .

Margot Kidder was a solid Lois Lane: brash, driven and totally obsessed with Superman while being dismissive of Clark Kent. Her way of treating the two totally made the bizarre love triangle that is Superman/Lois/Clark work. Aside from some bad decisions that maybe we wouldn’t expect a smart-as-a-whip reporter to make, she still sold it.

Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. His version was good. I don’t know much about the comics of the time, so I can’t say how faithful he was. But in terms of being a good villain, for sure. And he was a bad guy here, an actual criminal and not the revered-but-shady businessman he would later become in the comics world.

The overall story: hey, it’s simple, but so were most movies back then. At the same time, the superhero movies of today—as good as they are—could learn a lot from Superman and sometimes keeping things simple instead of just non-stop explosions and action is the better way to go. So much more room for character development and interaction.

This review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning John Williams’s iconic score. The “Theme from Superman” is right up there with Beethoven’s Sixth. You play the tune anywhere and people recognize it. It’s iconic, inspiring, heroic and like one of the folks who worked on the movie said—I think it was Richard Donner himself—you can actually hear the song say the word, “Superman.”

Watch this movie. Just watch it.

You’ll believe a man can fly.

Highly recommended.

Superhero Movie (Extended Edition) [Blu-ray] [Import] (Bilingual)
Superhero Movie (Extended Edition) [Blu-ray] [Import] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Drake Bell
Price: CDN$ 22.52
16 used & new from CDN$ 10.10

4.0 out of 5 stars These Movies Are Brilliant: Deadpan Meets Slapstick, March 24 2015
After being bitten by a genetically-engineered super dragonfly, Rick Riker (Drake Bell) discovers he has superpowers and can stick to walls, has superstrength and can even fly! Trying to live up to the high expectations of the Riker family name, he becomes the Dragonfly, stopping evildoers wherever they may tread.

Meanwhile, evil billionaire industrialist Lou Landers (Christopher McDonald), trying to cure a disease that’s killing him, tests an experimental procedure on himself. It goes wrong and he’s left with the ability to suck the life energy out of people. For each person he kills, he can live an extra twenty-four hours. To accomplish this, he takes on the identity of the Hourglass and starts killing people left and right.

It’s going to take a real hero to stop him and the Dragonfly is the right hero for the job!

This blatant superhero parody is basically a retelling of the 2002 Spider-Man movie, with a few references to other heroes thrown in (i.e. a scene from Batman Begins).

Part slapstick comedy, part tongue-in-cheek, part smart and witty, this flick travels in the vein of the Scary Movie franchise, the Naked Gun flicks, Disaster Movie and others. As a fan of all those movies, to see the superhero genre getting the same treatment made this flick even more of a delight. What makes these types of movies brilliant is the deadpan delivery of most of the lines, where every character plays both the straight man and the funny man, the roles interchanging between whoever they are playing along with.

Again, storywise, it’s the Spider-Man 2002 movie, with names changed, a few different scenarios and, well, that’s about it, so I don’t need to recap here.

The action was fine, but obviously toned down because that’s not what this movie was about.

Riffing on the Spider-Man 2002 costume, Dragonfly’s suit was pretty slick, actually. Hourglass’s, not so much.

The super effects were well done and believable, and it had a soundtrack that was a take-off of, again, the 2002 Spider-Man movie (I sense a theme).

As one who isn’t a fan of over-the-top crude humor, I’m glad that that stuff was toned down for this flick. Maybe because they thought some parents would let their kids see it because it has a superhero in it, I don’t know, but by doing that, it also forces the jokes and sight gags not to default to the easy stuff like sex humor.

Definitely a movie for grownups, Superhero Movie is a tip of the hat to the superhero genre from the comedy genre without it simply being a campy rendition of the same.

Funny stuff.

Supergirl (Bilingual)
Supergirl (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Faye Dunaway
Price: CDN$ 9.93
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4.0 out of 5 stars You'll Believe a Girl Can Fly!, March 21 2015
This review is from: Supergirl (Bilingual) (DVD)
3.5 out of 5

After accidentally losing the Omegahedron, Argo City’s power source, Kara Zor-El (Helen Slater) embarks on a journey to go recover it before Argo City perishes. Upon arriving on Earth, she discovers she has superpowers and adopts the identity of Supergirl, which she uses to help others while on her quest to recover the Omegahedron.

Elsewhere, the Omegahedron has fallen into the hands of Selena (Faye Dunaway), a flunky witch who quickly becomes powerful because of it and who sets her sights on Supergirl, ready to eliminate the Girl of Steel the first chance she can get.

Can Supergirl recover the Omegahedron before Argo City goes dark and Selena is victorious?

It’s superheroine versus supervillainness in this ’80s classic of Good vs Evil.

This flick is every bit a part of my childhood as the Superman movies were. At the time, of course, I was too young to understand the story, but now older, it’s not too bad. Sure, it has some flaws and continuity issues, but at its heart it’s the story about someone trying to right a grievous mistake, something that most of us can relate to.

The visuals and hints of Kryptonian mythology put forth quickly link it to the Superman movies—Supergirl identifies herself as Superman’s cousin while in costume, and also as Clark Kent’s cousin when she’s in disguise as Linda Lee; her supersuit is basically the Christopher Reeve costume from the waist up—and it has a cinematic score that carries a similar heroic tone to that of its male counterpart. Likewise, Marc McClure reprises his role as Jimmy Olsen from the Superman movies and appears as Lucy Lane’s boyfriend (Lucy is Lois Lane’s younger sister).

They seem to want to jump right into Kara being Supergirl so don’t give an explanation as to why she leaves Argo City in that bubble ship in one outfit then transforms inside the ship and flies out of the water in her supersuit, but whatever. They do a good job of showing her discovering her powers, the joy of having them, and also the satisfaction of using them for good.

As hopeful and cheery as this flick is at times, it’s also equally dark thanks to Selena being a witch. There is a ton of occult imagery and when you’re watching this stuff as a kid, it creeps you right out. And that funhouse that Supergirl’s “man in distress” has to find his way out of? Shivers, man. But who isn’t afraid of creepy funhouses, right?

The pacing was pretty decent and each obstacle Supergirl must overcome as the movie rolls along keeps getting bigger and bigger until the end when it seems all hope is lost and even the Girl of Steel is helpless.

What was especially cool is during the time of Supergirl’s tenure on Earth, Superman was elsewhere in the galaxy doing his thing, so when the story wraps up, Supergirl asks those who knew of her presence to forget she was there and flies off triumphant back to Argo City. This, of course, kept the two super franchises separate while still linking them. I heard Christopher Reeve was supposed to have a cameo in Supergirl but it didn’t work out, with Reeve citing personal reasons (whatever those might’ve been). Would’ve been amazing had the two teamed up for it. Maybe we’ll finally get to see Supergirl and Superman together in Man of Steel 2 . . .

In the end, Supergirl is an overall enjoyable flick that is from a time before superhero movies got all dark and gritty, the hero was filled with angst and turmoil, and it enjoys itself for what it is: a movie about a girl who can fly.

The Spirit [Blu-ray + Digital Copy] (Bilingual)
The Spirit [Blu-ray + Digital Copy] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Gabriel Macht
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 13.98
19 used & new from CDN$ 3.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Over-the-top Crazy!, March 20 2015
3.5 out of 5

Denny Colt was one of the best cops Central City has ever known. After being killed in the line of duty, he returns from the grave as the Spirit and fights evil as a masked crime fighter. Enter the Octopus, an evil villain bent on gaining immortality and will do anything and stop at nothing to achieve it.

So basically this is Sin City meets an old pulp superhero, the Spirit, who was created by Will Eisner. We can thank Frank Miller for the Sin City spin on this flick as he was the man behind it. Which, to me, is fine. I thought Sin City was the breath of fresh air movies needed and adding that kind of style and storytelling to the world of the Spirit is cool with me. Granted, I never read the comics so I can’t comment on if that was a smart move for an adaptation or not. I can comment that the costume change—going from an all-blue suit and fedora with a red tie, to an all-black suit and fedora with a red tie—was a cool move as a guy in a blue suit, a non-spandex one, wouldn’t translate to film very well.

This movie is big time over-the-top, so leave your expectations for a realistic comic book movie at the door. The characters take a ton of abuse and keep on kicking. I mean, the Spirit taking a toilet to the head and still standing after? Come on. But if you go in not expecting a realistic superhero movie, then this won’t bother you.

On a visual scale, this movie is aces. The black and white, the spot coloring, the glows, the different animated scenes thrown in—again, like Sin City but a really cool way to do a super flick and it makes me wonder how it might look if it was done with some of the more major franchises—i.e. if Captain America had a couple slick, three-or-four-second animated scenes as part of the movie. You never know.

Gabriel Macht did just fine as the Spirit—was tough, suave and able to hold his own on the action scale. Samuel L. Jackson as the Octopus—well, he’s SLJ so you got SLJ. I love the guy but he’s the same guy in every movie despite what he’s supposed to be. Granted, there are a few exceptions (i.e. The Caveman’s Valentine).

Bottom line: this is a crazy ride and cool detective story blended with superhero action and mayhem. It won’t change your life, but it certainly might add to it in a little way.

Good movie.

Spawn [Blu-ray]
Spawn [Blu-ray]
Offered by OptiShopper Canada
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3.0 out of 5 stars Born in Darkness, Sworn to Justice. Spawn!, March 16 2015
This review is from: Spawn [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Seasoned soldier Al Simmons is double-crossed by his boss, Jason Wynn, and is assassinated. Heading straight to Hell, Al cuts a deal with the devil and is sent back to Earth. The catch? It’s five years later and his beloved wife Wanda is married to his best friend. Worse, Al’s rethinking his vow to lead Hell’s war against Heaven. Endowed with the powers of a hellspawn, he not only looks terrible but is hounded by a demented and demonic clown and finds himself at a crossroads as to what to do with these new abilities. Deciding to take his fate into his own hands, Al begins to mark out his own path as Spawn.

This movie is a CGI extravaganza unlike anything that had ever been seen in a superhero film at the time. Most of the effects are computer, and I mean com-put-er, but those were how effects looked back then so whatever.

That stuff aside, the movie’s all right. They got Al’s origin right, but really seemed to tame down the gruesome exploits of a hellspawn for mainstream audiences. Realistically, a true Spawn film would be rated R and loaded with language and so much gore that even the most desensitized audiences would cringe.

Michael Jai White as Spawn worked for me. He was tough, brooding, had the grumbly voice, and the dude knows how to fight! (He’s a real-life martial artist in several disciplines.)

John Leguizamo as the Clown/Violator was awesome. He was disgusting, funny, rude and was a thorn in Al’s side right from the get-go.

The story seemed more like an overview versus the thick of Spawn’s mythos. Spawn does have a dense mythology with a lot of players and it’s real hard to get all that into an hour-and-a-half movie. At the same time, they didn’t have a choice but to go short and sweet because Spawn—back then and outside of the comic book universe—was completely unknown. Even now, unless you’re a comic fan, not many people know who he is. Hard to convince a studio to green-light a long Spawn movie.

On the plus side, this flick is intensely atmospheric and harkens back to Tim Burton’s Batman movies in a lot of ways. There is a sense of Spawn’s world throughout the film and not just, “Oh, this is happening in that city down the block.” Some of the fights were top notch, too, especially the Spawn vs Violator battle when the Clown first reveals his true form. This was new for comic book flicks at the time and should not go unappreciated.

Maybe Spawn’ll get a second shot at the big screen? There have been rumors of that for years. You never know.

Sky High [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
Sky High [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Kurt Russell
Price: CDN$ 10.93
19 used & new from CDN$ 10.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Times!, March 14 2015
Will Stronghold’s parents are the world’s greatest superheroes—the Commander and Jetstream—and his folks are hoping that by him enlisting in the super high school, Sky High, he’ll achieve his full potential and become a great hero himself. Unfortunately, Will doesn’t have any superpowers and must try and make his way out from under his parents’ super shadows and through the trials and tortures of a super high school. When one of the Commander’s old enemies, Royal Pain, surfaces, Will must find it in himself to be the man he was destined to be, and not just become a hero, but a superhero.

Seriously, Kurt Russell as a superhero? Yes. That is a good idea and I’m dead serious. He’s got the looks, the charm and the coolness factor to pull it off. Turning him into a Superman rip-off makes it even more perfect so I’m totally down with Kurt Russell as the Commander. Throw in Kelly Preston as his wife and fellow super crime fighter Jetstream and you’ve got a match made in super Heaven.

This movie is a love letter to the genre, featuring all the things that make superheroes great. As said, you got the Superman-type hero in the Commander, the beautiful heroine ala Wonder Woman in Jetstream, and loads of students at Sky High exhibiting all the classic powers throughout the movie, everything from flight to heat vision, to freezing people to superstrength, to shape shifting to superspeed—the list just keeps going. Tell the story from the point-of-view of the Commander and Jetstream’s son, Will (Michael Angarano), and you have the excuse to be on the outside looking in while also taking part in the adventure yourself.

It’s a simple story, but a good story and, as said, was a love letter to the genre and the tale used to share that letter with viewers was a good one to do it with.

I’ve also made it no secret in my other reviews that I’m a fan of superhero comedies. Usually, they’re done pretty well and Sky High is no exception. By making these superhero comedies and pulling it off, it goes to show how versatile the superhero genre really is. People generally view superheroes as so one-dimensional—sometimes two-dimensional—and that’s about it. Doing an assortment of super flicks breaks that perception and as a diehard fan of the genre, I’m happy these other variations on men and women in tights are created.

This movie has fantastic cameos by the likes of Lynda Carter (TV’s Wonder Woman), Bruce Campbell (Evil’s Dead’s Ash—who is kind of a superhero on his own, in a way; I mean, Ash has a chainsaw hand for crying out loud!)—Patrick Warburton as the voice of Royal Pain (Patrick was TV’s the Tick) and a bunch of other familiar faces. Nice.

Sky High is complete family fun, kid-friendly and is highly recommended for those looking to expand their superhero-movies-I’ve-watched repertoire.

Go see it. Buy it, borrow it, rent it—just see it. It’s good times.

The Shadow (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
The Shadow (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Alec Baldwin
Price: CDN$ 29.99
19 used & new from CDN$ 25.30

4.0 out of 5 stars Pulpy Heroic Goodness!, March 12 2015
3.5 out of 5

An avenging force for good and a terror of the criminal underworld, the Shadow operates in New York after dark, but when Shiwan Khan—last descendent of Genghis Khan—comes to the city and plans on world domination, the Shadow must defend the Big Apple from him. When the Shadow refuses to join forces with Khan, the two battle it out with the fate of the city hanging in the balance.

This flick was my first exposure to the pulp superhero when I was younger. With loads of shadows, gothic ambience, an exciting soundtrack and a hero with the biggest cape I’d ever seen, the Shadow quickly became one of my favorites growing up. I mean, he was kind of like Batman, but had a superpower—he could get into your mind, control you, make you see things that weren’t there and thus become a “shadow.”

Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston totally worked. He had the cool rough voice, the playboy debonair down to a T, and had an air of mystery about him that suited the character well. Good stuff.

Action-wise, no complaints. Nothing over-the-top or extremely spectacular, but enough to get the job done. I will say those shots of the Shadow materializing and dematerializing out of view as he fights is especially cool and spooky. I mean, how do you fight what you can’t see?

The plotline was well thought out, especially because you’re dealing with a hero and villain with mental powers, which isn’t always easy to show people. It all takes place in the head, after all, so depicting the manifestation of these mental powers was well done.

This movie really had that old radio drama feel to it, which I’m sure was something the filmmakers were going for as The Shadow used to be a radio drama back in the day.

Some recognizable names in this flick, too: Sir Ian McKellen, Peter Boyle, Tim Curry.

The Shadow is an excellent foray into the “realistic fantastic” and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for pulpy heroic goodness.

The Rocketeer: 20th Anniversary Edition - BD [Blu-ray]
The Rocketeer: 20th Anniversary Edition - BD [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Bill Campbell
Price: CDN$ 24.93
20 used & new from CDN$ 23.33

4.0 out of 5 stars Blast Off for a Good Time!, March 11 2015
When Cliff Secord stumbles upon a rocket pack stashed away in an airplane, him and his friend Peevy soon find themselves on the run from gangsters with ties to the Nazis.

I saw this back when I was a kid and it’s still one of my favorite superhero flicks, namely because it’s historical, has a very human superhero, and is about flying. I mean, who doesn’t want to fly? Better, who doesn’t want to think they can somehow piece together a rocket pack, strap it on and take to the sky?

What makes this superhero movie different is it’s not about a guy going around and helping people while trying to juggle a secret identity and, later, ultimately facing off against a supervillain. Instead, it’s about someone who has something the bad guys want and spends all his time running from them, occasionally helping people along the way. So while true the standard superhero “ingredients” are there, they’re presented outside of the standard formula thus setting this flick apart. Couple that with it taking place in the past during a simpler time—a classier time, too—and you’ve got a memorable movie.

I like how they also blended real life history into this, namely bringing in Howard Hughes as the designer of the rocket pack. Very cool. Throw in a Nazi as a main villain and you’ve got some solid Good vs Evil going on. Speaking of which, Timothy Dalton as Neville Sinclair the Nazi was awesome. He was super evil in this and once you found out who he really was you just hated the guy. You gotta love villains you can hate and feel justified in doing so.

There was certainly a pulpy feel to this movie, which is good, as the Rocketeer is an old time hero, a pulp hero, in fact. They kept that element alive, even so far as having him go up against a giant goon with a unique visage. Reminded me of the Dick Tracy villains. Sweet.

If you dig pulp heroes, The Rocketeer is definitely recommended viewing. Go see for yourself.

The Punisher (Bilingue) [Blu-ray + DVD]
The Punisher (Bilingue) [Blu-ray + DVD]
DVD ~ Thomas Jane
Price: CDN$ 14.97
6 used & new from CDN$ 14.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes the Law is Inadequate - This Movie Delivers!, March 10 2015
4.5 out of 5

Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) has just completed his final mission with the FBI: posing as European arms dealer Otto Krieg to lure Bobby Saint—son of crime boss Howard Saint (John Travolta)—into a deal and eventually put him away. A shootout ensues and Bobby is killed. Frank retires and heads down to Florida on vacation with his family. When Howard Saint discovers Frank’s true identity and that “Krieg” didn’t die in the shootout, he sends a team of men to take out Frank’s family as payback for killing his son. Howard Saint’s men kill everyone including, they think, Frank. But Frank survives—barely—and soon gets well enough to punish Howard and his family slowly and painfully in an effort to balance the scales of justice.

I’m a huge fan of this movie despite there being a big divide amongst fans about it. Personally, it hit home to me on a lot of levels and this is why I love it. It’s a story of tragedy and pain, things going south in a big way, and one man trying to make things right the only way he knows how. What especially impressed me was the overall feel of the film and how that reflected Frank’s journey from family man to broken man to Punisher. In the beginning, everything is happy, cheery, colorful, and then once all are killed, suddenly the tone goes bleak, it’s all grays and browns and blacks, and everything becomes ultra serious. Even the humorous bits are done in a serious manner.

I also liked the glimpses into the lives of the others in Frank’s apartment building: Joan (Rebecca Romijn), Bumpo (John Pinette) and Spacker Dave (Ben Foster). To be honest, I don’t know how true they were to their comic book counterparts as I haven’t read them, but as portrayed on film, I liked them as characters and had a soft spot for each of them as I saw bits and pieces of others I once knew inside them.

Back to Frank, Thomas Jane played it in spades. He was depressed, brooding, angry, idealistic, righteous and distraught all at the same time. He brought each of these elements to the fore whenever they were best called upon and went beyond just a gun-wielding vigilante. He would’ve made an excellent Batman should he have ever been offered the role.

When I saw him as the Punisher again in the fan film, Dirty Laundry, I cheered him on the whole way through and felt like I was back at home in Frank Castle’s life, walking with him as he dealt with the pain of losing everyone he’d ever loved while once again rising to the call of duty because he was needed.

Frank’s inspiring speech in The Punisher about sometimes the law being inadequate gets every fanboy pumped up and cheering, and while I find it hard to believe Frank’s motive is only punishment and not vengeance, it’s still a memorable moment in the film.

This flick is one of my favorites and is highly recommended.

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