Slowly but surely, Punisher: War Zone is being lowered into a grave of WTF by Lionsgate. First, Lexi Alexander, director of the gorey Marvel actioner, was seemingly kicked off the project. We still don’t know what happened exactly. Her candid, rah-rah website was suddenly wiped clean of all prior updates on the film, save for a cryptic “see, hear, speak no evil” monkey post, which was later replaced by a detached entry about a friend’s Bugatti. Today, Latino Review hears that Lionsgate might edit the film for a PG-13 rating. The site speculates that The Dark Knight‘s money volcano was an influence. Strange since Lionsgate is moving forward with an R-rated Conan reboot, also being compared (of course) to TDK. But if true, this is beyond absurd. We’re almost intrigued to see them brick, given that Alexander enticed fans with boasts of hardcore bloodshed and Castle-worthy violence for months—later confirmed by this entertaining, head smashing red band clip.
If Lionsgate is reading this, all it takes is a short statement to the fans clarifying your flick’s status. I was just interviewed by a mag about the detrimental impact a studio’s silence in 2008 can have on a movie generally perceived as troubled. War Zone is becoming a prototypical botched case. Current online perception is that there are two bad-buzz nails already in this film’s coffin, and buzz wasn’t too hot to start with. All it takes is one more, like star Ray Stevenson issuing a quiet diss, and this December outing will meet a worse fate than the prior Thomas Jane Punisher. That would make Frank Castle, a character that is, uhhh, not a “college educated Ferrari engine,” 3-for-3 for movie wipeouts.
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With the boffo box office and good worth of mouth for Wanted, we look toward the next violent and proud, R-rated comic book adaptation, Punisher: War Zone, opening this December. IGN received a new teaser poster for Lexi Alexander‘s Marvel/Lionsgate reboot starring Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle, and besides the Indiana Jones rip-off tagline (look for future “LOL: Subway Vandals” Slashfilm posts), what’s not to like. Eyeballs equal overrated.
Discuss: Improve the poster’s tagline or ditch it and come up with a better one.
Update: /Film reader, Wizard in Tights, suggests, “I have a grenade.” Haha. Good job.
Opening with a scene/yelp recalling The Bride’s headshot in Kill Bill, the teaser trailer for director Lexi Alexander‘s Punisher: War Zone plays it hard and fast underneath cyber-noirish lighting (Swordfish, much?) that is sure to turn some people off. However, besides an emasculated bit of firearm ballet atop a chandelier (re: marketing dept., ditch it!), there are hints that War Zone could be a solid R-rated action entry free of the sarcasm seen in Crank and Shoot ‘Em Up and much rougher than the barcoded dork-out that was Hitman. One film that seems to have inspired the editing here, per Frank Castle’s light flickering intro, is The Crow…if set inside a laser tag arena.
Actor Tom Jane was a dead-on looker for Castle in the absolutely dreadful, Florida-set 2004 Punisher, but Ray Stevenson (Rome) has a grittier, crazed appearance that nicely compliments the vigilante’s signature, mob-ridden cityscape. Earlier in the year, some readers were fond of saying that Stevenson looked too much like Steven Seagal, but I don’t think the snark/comparisons hold up after this. What about you?
The teaser barely shows us Dominic West (The Wire) playing Jigsaw (a split second outside a hotel) or much of the graphic violence that Alexander has boasted about on her blog (a red band trailer surely awaits), but War Zone definitely looks like an improvement. Bonus points for not having an aloof John Travolta with a villainous hair-don’t. As an early supporter, I’ve found it surprising how many people have dismissed this flick and Alexander (Green Street Hooligans) from day one, and I think the trailer will put some on pause until the next one.
After Iron Man, isn’t it odd/cool to see the Marvel logo on a trailer for an R-rated flick? If this flops it’s probably the last time to boot. Good thing or no?
Punisher: War Zone opens on December 5th.
Discuss: Thoughts on the first teaser trailer? How does this compare to when you saw the trailer for 2004’s The Punisher (if you can remember that, ha)? Do any of you guys/gals like the chandelier scene (I mean, really)?
A couple new photos from Lexi Alexander’s Punisher: War Zone have shown up online. The film stars Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, who faces his most deadly foe yet: Jigsaw. I’ve also included the previously released photos below. As always, click to enlarge.
Yup, looks pretty shitty. Punisher: War Zone hits theaters on December 5th 2008.
Confident female action movie directors with veddy dirty mouths rock. Lexi Alexander (above), the candid director behind Punisher: War Zone, has posted an update for the semi-quiet Marvel reboot on her tidy official site. She informs that the film was screened for studio brass this month, that it went reasonably well, and she seems cool with the flick now moving from its original September 12th release to December 5th.
Ms. Alexander on the “studio experience”…
“Well, thank God [the screening] went well and, although I’ll probably have to compromise on a few minor notes, it’s not nearly as bad as some of my filmmaker friends predicted it would be. I guess I got away with an actual okay studio experience (knocking on wood since it’s not quite over yet).”
And her NSFW thoughts on Frank Castle (played by Rome‘s Ray Stevenson, above right with his stunt double) now raining/reigning blood during the jolly holidays; she includes a nice shout to the comic book/action fans rah-rahing for a hard R-rating (the kids are getting restless)…
“[The studio] also moved our release date to December 5th, which is, according to my reps, a much, much better date. I myself would have thought that people will think twice about going to see an extremely violent movie the closer it gets to Jesus’ B-day, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever other holy holiday you’re celebrating. Well, the box office records prove different and instead, all you sick fucks get more blood thirsty that time of year. (And I say that with lovingly affection, cause I’m relying on all the sick fucks to show up).”
We haven’t seen much at all from the latest Punisher, but I really like Alexander’s attitude thus far. She just kinda gives ‘r and if I had to choose, after being strapped to a lawn chair, between watching Punisher: War Zone or the similar Max Payne (which is rumored to be going PG-13: Rockstar Games, wassup with that?) 100 times in a row, I’d choose the former off loony intuition. Crush much?
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The official website for this September’s Punisher re-do Punisher: War Zone is now online. The site is pretty bare right now, offering a mere two stills from the film, but the presentation is heavy on tone, with hushed police sirens, faint voices and a buzzing drone of dread all present as gunshots pierce glass and guns smoke on the image above. Actor Ray Stevenson (Rome) definitely has the character’s stare of forthcoming death down. Check it out, and there’s an option to register for updates as well.
Buzz on the Lionsgate/Marvel film is not the greatest, a lot of that due to the last craptastic Punisher with Tom Jane, but hearing that War Zone uses all of the fuel in its R-rated tank, is set in a gritty metropolis and not Floriduh, and then peeping the site makes me hopeful. And the fact that the director, Lexi Alexander (Hooligans) is a cool gal and a bad ass in her own right (re: karate champion)…I dunno, it seems to be clicking to me.
Discuss: When you think about Punisher: War Zone, what crosses your mind? What’s the gnarliest R-rated comic book movie? The Crow? Sin City? Dolph’s naked-meditating-in-sewer Punisher?
The photo above is our first look at Ray Stevenson (Rome) as Frank Castle aka The Punisher in Lionsgate’s The Punisher: War Zone. Click on the photo to enlarge.
I’ve always thought that The Punisher would be one of the best comic book to film adaptations, however I wasn’t a fan of the previous Thomas Jane film. I’m not entirely impressed by the photo above, and I’m not entirely convinced of Ray Stevenson as The Punisher (to be fair, I never watched Rome), but I do have faith in director Lexi Alexander (Green Street Hooligans).
Cinematical has an interview with Lexi regarding the film, here are some highlights:
“The one thing I concentrated on was to really really make it as close to the MAX series as possible. I think we really achieved it as far as the look, as well as the tone. When I look at the dailies that I’m getting, I seriously feel like I’m looking at a MAX comic book right in front of me.”
“It’s definitely going to be a Hard R. “
“I would say it’s about 70% gunplay, and 30% hand-to-hand combat.”
“I would say it’s a complete different re-boot, just because neither one of the previous [films] were relevant. And with Castle, it’s one story — the mythology stays the same — and I think I just have a very very different take on it. I was lucky to put it in the right environment, which was dark and cold.”
Continuing his crusade to punish violent criminals in America, former FBI agent Frank Castle arrives in New York to take on a underworld boss who plots to take control of the underworld. The Marvel comic book adaptation co-stars Dominic West, Doug Hutchinson, Colin Salmon, Wayne Knight, Dash Mihok and Julie Benz.
The Punisher: War Zone hits theaters on September 12th 2008.
As you probably know, Thomas Jane pulled out of The Punisher sequel because he didn’t want to be part of a movie that he didn’t believe in. The search began for a Frank Castle replacement, and LatinoReview are now reporting that Ray Stevenson (HBO’s Rome) has been cast in The Punisher 2. The timing of this casting rumor seems to fit. Comic-Con is next week and Marvel were probably prepping a surprise announcement at the Con.
I must admit, I was not a fan of the first film. In fact, a friend and I walked out of the film at just about an hour in. I’ve heard the film gets better in the second half, but I wouldn’t know because I’ve never seen it. It’s too bad too because the recent revamp of The Punisher comic book series is pretty good, and could make a series of great films if done right. Jane was supposedly a big fan of the comic. His walk-out is probably a good indication of the quality of the script. So I don’t expect the sequel to be any better.
And as for Ray Stevenson – I never got into HBO’s Rome despite the recommendation of many people. May-be some of our commentors can speak about his abilities and potential in the role of Frank Castle.