Sunday, April 18, 2004

Not much to report from Melbotis HQ. Slow weekend, not much happening. Beautiful weather. Etc...

I'm skipping the Punisher movie. For those of you who don't know, The Punisher is a Marvel character from the mid-70's who was originally a Spider-Man villain, and later became an anti-hero. He was cut from the same cloth as some Bronson movies (think the Death Wish series... in which you get to see Jeff Goldblum playing a "tough.) The Punisher's popularity soared in the mid-80's in the era of "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" action movies, and killing everyone in your path seemed like the most direct way to resolve a conflict.

Now, this may be surprising, but watching a dude in black pants kill every human being who crosses his path gets a bit stale after a while. So the Punisher's popularity waned in the early 90's.

Around 2000 The Punisher was relaunched as a dark, dark comedy about a guy out to kill everybody who ever committed a crime, and the very silly ways people try to stop him (not to mention a police force who secretly roots for him to take out the scumbags). It starred insane roid-infested Russian assassins, goofy nebbish cops and a slew of other characters trying to make sense of The Punisher's quest for vengeance.

My understanding is that the new movie uses these characters while refusing to be a comedy. Which is an odd choice, but I'm no genius of a producer. Furthermore, for reasons probably related to budgeting, the Punisher has moved from the "anything can happen" shadows of New York's underbelly to the tropical clime of Tampa, Florida, where one can, presumably, soak up the ocean air while acting as an unstoppable killing machine.

The truth is, we've all already seen this movie. There's no point to it if they weren't going to do something new (which is also why the black comedy series worked so well). After Commando, what the hell is there? Commando is the template for the video game action movie. You move up and up, collecting weapons until you fight the big boss. One could point to bruce Lee movies as pre-dating the concept, and I imagine they'd be right, but those movies had a certain grace and panache utterly lacking in testosterone bonanza's exemplified by Commando.

I don't really love Commando the way I did when I was 13, but it's brutal simplicity must have really struck a chord with people, because they've remade that movie a few hundred times over since it was released. As an interesting side-note, Jeph Loeb, one of my favorite comic writers, is also responsible for Commando.

Speaking of comics... Did anybody else see this week's epsidoe of Simpsons (entitled My Big Fat Geek Wedding)? Truly, a day of shame in the Steans household.

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