EDITORIAL: A look back at The Punisher films, and the factors they all missed.
I may not list every problem that it misses, but I will write the ones that I think were important to the success of the films.
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Louis Gossett Jr.
While I always took a realistic approach to this one when watching it, I couldn't help but feel disappointment every time I would notice that his symbol wasn't there, that he wasn't even ex-military, and just like the 2004 version, his family didn't match. He was just a cop with the same name. It had a very dark and gritty tone, but I just never knew why they would leave the skull out. As for Dolph's portrayal of The Punisher, I think he pretty much nailed it. When the film started you could tell he was a man who was dead inside, and he had lost everything. With an engaging story, a decent villain, and tons of gunplay, all this film needed was to stay a little more faithful in terms of the symbol and backstory, and this truly would have been The Punisher. This film is my favorite out of all of them, accept the extended cut of the 2004 version is probably tied with it.
Starring: Thomas Jane, John Travolta
This one missed one great detail from the comic books...action. At times it did have some interesting gunfights, it just did not have enough. The Punisher took a very emotional path about things, and it did take away from any potential action that could have been there. As for The Punisher and his emotions in the film, I never complained because I don't know how I'd feel if I just suddenly lost entire generations of my family, so I understood. Tom Jane's portrayal of Frank was good, but not great, because I feel that it lacked ruthlessness. You could tell that Frank was still there, holding on. John Travolta and his part could have been further explored if not edited completely and just re-done, and The Russian should have spoke, because he wouldn't shut up in the comics. With Kevin Nash portraying the goliath, I feel he could have voiced him as well. The thing is, is that if this cut hadn't been so rushed and edited, It would have been a great CBM.
EXTENDED CUT: Now to move on to what the 2004 edition should have been. This version went into greater detail of How Frank succumbed to his darker side. This version portrays him as the more ruthless, and unforgiving vigilante that he his, it connects the puzzles of the original, and it deeply delves into a darker and deeper story. However, even though this is considered a masterpiece compared to its original, it still lacked action, it lacked the very thing that The Punisher does best. Without that, the essence of The Punisher is not there, and it is hard to take in. I do recommend this version, as well as the 1989 version, because even though they both have missed important things, they still balanced out what elements they had very well.
Punisher: War Zone
Starring: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West
This one really needed more work. This film was over almost just as soon as it had started, with over-the-top gore, and some times of needless action that were not important the story in any way, considering that this film had any story direction to begin with, in which it hardly did. I was impressed by Ray Stevenson's portrayal of The Punisher, the symbol was there, and I felt he did great. On the other hand though, this film lacked the one thing the the others had...a good story. This film was so intent on accomplishing the action factor, that it had almost completely missed the things that make a good plot. It's a shame that an extended cut to this wasn't released to really patch up the things that went wrong, such as the mentioned undeveloped story, the weak villain, the comical feel, and its lack of seriousness. Even though we had a good Punisher, the film did not carry itself too well at all.
The truth is, is that these movies all missed something vital. These movies are good to watch in their own way, and even though the actors themselves may have captured some essence of the The Punisher, the filmmakers did not. There was always something that each missed, but yet, if you were to combine the good qualities of these films, I think we would have a truly great and faithful adaptation of my favorite comic book character. Now with news of a T.V. show in the works, lets hope they can get it right.
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