hombre en fuego

I saw the Punisher not long ago and for the most part enjoyed the experience. I went in to the movie with full knowledge of the more juicier tidbits of Frank Castles origin and where the movie was supposed to be going.

Little did I know that the real Punisher was 2 weeks away.

In simplest terms the plot of Man on Fire is the story of how a drunken former commando (Denzel) gets a job as a bodyguard for a little girl. What follows is an intricate tale of abductions, conspiracy, duplicity and revenge.

The first half hour of the film is almost entirely exposition but it is handled in such a way as to allow the viewer to absorb the information at the same time as the actual story is unfolding. Denzel’s character, Creasy, is a drunk. This fact is reinforced consistently throughout the opening scenes. We are shown images of a man who has done things that he can not escape; Things for which he believes there is no penance. The situation comes to a head one night when Creasy simply gives up, puts a gun to his temple and pulls the trigger. Over the next few minutes we hear explanations of what failure to fire is and the prophetic theme of “A Bullet Never Lies”. Creasy sees the evening’s events as a sign. He is meant to be where he is. He is meant to protect this little girl.

Needless to say when she is subsequently kidnapped and murdered he becomes upset. The scenes following this point in the story are what Punisher could have and should have been. His actions are justified, if not specifically just. The viewer is left to simply watch in awe as he carves a path through those people responsible. Watching the next hour of the movie you truly feel what he is feeling. You know he can and will do whatever it takes to see his task completed.

Technically speaking the movie is a bit heavy-handed at times in its cinematography but only to a minor degree. I did like the almost over-use of subtitles/text on screen to reinforce specific details. I believe the point was to tie the on-screen text to Pita’s (the little girl) notebook, which Creasy commandeers and becomes a recurring item in the story.

Overall I can’t say any of the negatives even approach the caliber of the positive aspects. The chemistry between ten year-old Dakota Fanning and Denzel is worth the price of admission alone. Worth noting as well, I don’t work for any of the above-mentioned parties. Even though with this much metaphorical wang in my metaphorical mouth it’s hard to tell.

Still, this is easily the best summer popcorn movie I’ve seen thus far.

Kill Quentin (volume 2)

I watched Ebert & Roper’s review of part 2 of Tarantino’s latest creation with great hope. Both loved the movie, going so far as to say that after seeing volume 2 they liked volume 1 even more.

Well 1 out of 2 ain’t bad, I guess.

The film opened with a blissfully short recap of the events in volume one. While I am normally against such moron-heavy devices in movies I accept the need for them and just let it pass. Looking back at the entire experience now I wish that recap had lasted longer. Much, much longer. Going back over the celluloidic gold that was KBv1 was the best part of the “sequel”.

Volume 2 lacked the style that made V1 an instant classic. Gone are the scenes of ultra-violence so extreme that they evolve into caricatures of themselves. They were replaced by droning dialog that dragged the viewer along and added nothing to the overall story. What little combat there was seemed abbreviated and lacked the raw emotion that made first movies scenes even more potent.

The best/worst example of this absurd abbreviation is the plot points and scenes related to Pai Mai, the Kung-Fu master who trained Uma Thurman’s character. Throughout the movie, and I believe even at brief times in the last one, Pai Mai’s teachings are referenced along with a bond shared between master and student. One would think that the perfect opportunity to expose this bond would be during the chapter titled “The Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mai”. One would be wrong. The all too short scenes with the master serve only show how Uma would escape the coffin Budd had buried her in. That’s the kind of slack-jawed plotting I expect from a Karate Kid movie, not a Tarantino joint.

This review isn’t going to get any better so I?m just going to stop right here and call it an afternoon.

Kill Bill v1 was a hurricane, a tsunami, a deluge of such power that were you to be swept under by it your family would die. Volume 2? No so much.

Someday I hope Quentin revisits this project with a critical eye and re-cuts the entire thing into the singular movie experience it was meant to be. A five hour flic is a small price to pay when creating a masterpiece.

Punisher No Punishment!

Last night I was able to see the latest Marvel page-to-screen adaptation. As the title suggests it was The Punisher and, well, me rikey.

Note: For title complaints please see DiscoKid of #p2p “fame” (sorcery.net).

Thomas Jayne plays the title character facing off against his arch nemesis played by John Travolta. Rebecca Romijn (now single) and Laura Harring “round” out the cast. Yes, yes, I skipped a few people, but you shouldn’t need more info after Rebecca and Laura. For those of you cinematically deficient she was 1/2 of the most glorious sammich ever (with Naomi Watts) in Mulholland Drive.

The movie starts off fairly slowly, giving neophytes to the world of Frank Castle a chance to acclimate and get their bearings before it wades into the good stuff. We begin with a blonde Castle as an undercover officer brokering an arms deal in a FBI sting. The plan is that Castle will be “killed” by the feds during the deal giving his character a clean exit from the operation. The plan goes south when one of the crooks loses it and opens fire on the police. We learn that this (now dead) man is the son of John Travolta’s character and wealthy banker/mafia don/crime lord/etc. Needless to say he’s not pleased. He does what any good crime lord does and learns the identity and location of Castle and sends his troops to eliminate him along with a special request from his ravishing wife – “kill his family”.

We cut through some touchy-feely stuff to a family reunion of Castle?s family hosted by his father, the Captain of the SeaQuest, Roy Schnider. We see the black-clad forces approach the 30-strong party with Castle and his father in the house looking over some conveniently placed weaponry. Fast-forward and everyone save Castle and his wife and son are dead. They flee, pursued by the remaining baddies pursued by Castle himself. Let?s just say it ends badly.

The remainder of the movie his Castle exacting a special kind of vengeance punishment for the crime. I spent a lot of time on the exposition because I plan to breeze through the rest of the movie rather quickly. A considerable amount of information would be lost in the translation. Castle wades through the hit-men and muscle Travolta sends his way and sets up detailed revenge scheme resulting in Travolta himself killing his best friend and wife for cheating.

The plot after the initial exposition is silly. Quite frankly it?s my only real beef with this movie. Frank Castle, The Punisher, is not about elaborate plots or tricky bullshit. He?s about death; however that?s accomplished is not a matter for much forethought. The only scene that lived up to this was the long brawl with a Russian assassin at the halfway point. The fights before and after were simply eye-candy and gunplay.

It?s fitting that this movie was released the same week as the Kill Bill v1 DVD and the same day as Kill Bill v2 ? they are all nasty gore-fest-slasher-flics gone amok. It?s good shit, but be prepared.

A few things to note: We saw the movie in the AMC theater in one of the Milwaukee Mayfair mall. It was expansive, clean and a most excellent experience. The seats could have reclined like in my beloved Marcus, but generally speaking they were dandy. I had no idea that you could see a movie and have food DELIVERED. The only knock I have against said theater is that it suffers from the same wussy attitude regarding children in movies that shouldn?t have children in them.


So you want to be a hero?

Doesn’t everybody?

A wanker from Milwaukee, who will go unnamed, has been gushing like a little schoolgirl about City of Heroes for a couple weeks on a near-daily basis. Combined with the unholy amount of BEST GAM EVAR I hear in IRC all day long these days a situation was created for which there is only one response – preorder.

At present I am just passing the first hour mark of the download and as luck would have it my super l337 bandwidth pulls it down at 60 whole k/s. 60! I know, I know – but HF how can you possibly be downloading a file at that speed? It’s unbelievable!

Some of us are just blessed with fat pipes I guess.

I’ll post something sane after this pig finishes… 2 nevers from now.

edit: Blessed be, the game doesn’t suck. The controls are a bit nuanced but once you get used to them it’s not bad. The game systems seem serviceable and I dare say even the Wolverine and Hulk knock-offs on every corner aren’t nearly as offensive as say a horde of Drizzzt, Drizzyt, Drizit’s, et al.

the mission is what matters

The summer movie season has gotten off to a great start. Hellboy and Walking Tall were both serviceable flics and the long tradition of huge-budget “historical” was extended with The Alamo.

Short version: Decent flic, see it.

Having the best historical education a Midwestern public school can provide in addition to never having even met someone from Texas not withstanding this movie pushed all the right historical buttons with me. The movie is what one would expect from the telling of a factual story where everyone in the seats should already know how it turns out. Hint: Santa Ana kills everyone at the Alamo. That in and of itself is not a bad thing, what matters most in a movie such as this is how you get from point A to point B, not what either of them happen to be.

Dennis Quaid and the rest of the B-level cast all do decent jobs with the roles they were given. Colonel Travis, played by Patrick Wilson, rendered an abysmal performance. Neither the actor nor the caricature he portrayed clicked for me at all. I’m not sure if that’s by design or just bad dialog/acting. I am most definitely a fan of Dennis Quaid but his Sam Houston seemed far too subtle for what I expected of the character. He did a good job with it, as he always does, but it just seemed a shade too pale.

Not since Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow has an actor stolen the show so completely than Billy Bob Thornton’s Davy Crockett. His performance of the legendary frontiersman was absolutely masterful. He brought humor, humility and an amazing sense of sincerity to the role that made it a joy to watch. The Alamo isn’t the kind of flic that nets one an award show nominations but Billy Bob’s performance deserves one. Also: Marc Blucas (aka Riley Finn) getting shot is most pleasing to me.

The movie itself is probably the least graphic historical picture I’ve seen in a while. Even sanitized for your protection Pearl Harbor was more graphic than this movie. That said, I haven’t seen a depiction of war as visceral as this since Saving Private Ryan. I freely admit that I squirmed more than once during a few of the battle scenes. I’m not saying that’s a positive or negative, really. Different strokes and all… The fall of the Alamo was masterfully shot. Every second sold the reality of the situation these people were facing. The battle was already lost, they were all already dead men and they all knew it. None of it mattered however.

edit: Because you suck at pop culture.


postNuke, while robust, is not the content manager that I would have liked. Having a hojillion options at your disposal when all you really needed is something to dump nicely formated text is just silly. I’ll rip the phpBB forums out sometime next week and restore the proper functionality to them.

Oh, and pretty up the place too, I guess.