Revenge: Best served with popcorn

If you like action movies and, more specifically, revenge movies, this was your weekend at the movie theater. And if you like it when your revenge flicks are, at times, laughably ridiculous (either on purpose or not), then you were probably a really happy moviegoer no matter what you saw.

Of course, the two biggest movies to come out this weekend were Kill Bill Vol. 2 and the Punisher. Aside from a few movies here and there, the only big reason for me to hit the movieplex in the past few months has been Hellboy. Of course Hollywood likes to get your money at once in bulk, and I'm a slave to the system, so there I was buying tickets two nights in a row.

Of course, Kill Bill and Punisher are not the same movie. Not even close. But the similiarities were worth pointing out.

As I said last October, I enjoyed Volume 1 of Kill Bill. While the story wasn't the most engaging piece of cinema I had seen, the action and cinematography made for a fun, bloody moviegoing experience. If you really enjoyed Volume 1, though, Volume 2 might not be your cup of tea. The first half of the movie might have you thinking that this was all leading up to some unconceivably over-the-top action-packed finale. Volume 2 couldn't be more different, as the film spends a great deal of time fleshing out the characters and backstory that were skimped on in the first half. The result is a very interesting, entertaining, and beautifully shot film that serves as an excellent compliment to Volume 1 but has enough qualities to stand on its own.

I feel the decision to break Kill Bill into two films was the right one. The adrenaline rush of the first half would lead to a second half that would be hard to sit through for a movie that would clock in at over four hours (with no editing done to its current state). Since the House of Leaves from Vol. 1 would have been halfway through the movie as a whole, it would have been much more difficult to appreciate the outstanding performance of David Carradine or the beautiful visuals created by Quentin Tarantino.

As for the other end of the spectrum, the Punisher is the mindless action movie of the 80s reincarnated for the new millennium. This is in no way an insult: my love for dumb, horrible action movies that know how to kill brain cells is nothing new. However, it should serve as a warning for anyone who is expecting something more.

The Punisher comic was never big in the story department anyhow. Frank Castle is Marvel's equivalent of DC's Batman. He's the "superhero" with no superhero powers. Just an alter-ego who takes out the bad guys because of the death of family members. To me, that's enough of a storyline, and the Punisher was one of my favorite comics to read growing up.

The story is contrived, the score is horrible, Travolta is unimpressive, the dialogue is embarassing, yet somehow it all works. Thomas Jane IS Frank Castle and he fills the role perfectly in every scene. A lot of the moments and lines delivered were what I assume to be unintentionally laughable, but in an odd way, it worked. Sure, the crowd was laughing at scenes they probably shouldn't have, but it was still enjoyable.

My personal favorite is when Travolta's wife says something to the extent of "I asked you to avenge our son's death, and you did" before screwing him. Brilliant. As long as dialogue like that is interlaced with people getting knives stabbed through their skulls, I am a happy man.

But really, how can you not like a movie where a 'roided Kevin Nash sporting a blonde crew cut delivers no lines while he throws Frank Castle through walls?

If you cannot resist watching "Bloodsport" (or anything similar) in its entirety every time you see it on TV, "The Punisher" is for you.

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2003 - 2005
Reverend Hughes