Ray Stevenson, Punisher: War Zone
Credit: Tim Palen

Not a remake, not a sequel, Lionsgate and MarvelStudio’s new Punisher: War Zone looks to do the samefor Frank Castle as the recent Hulk did for olBruce Banner. The only difference is, unfortunately, that at this point, War Zone kind of looks, well, bad.

Now played by Ray Stevenson (2004’s Punisher movie starred Thomas Jane), Frank Castle is back in New York, and smack dab in the middle of a turf war started by the grotesqueJigsaw (Dominic West). Yet despite the fact that the folks behind the film repeatedly promised the audience thatthis Punisher reboot will play to the fanboys — the story is based on Garth Ennis’work; there’ll be cameos by comic-fan favorites Microchip, MartinSoap and Budiansky; the look will closely resemble Tim Bradstreet’s artwork; and, as producer Gale Anne Hurde put it, there will be “ruthless,ultra-violent, vigilante justice” — the clips shown here at Comic-Con failed to inspire.

Maybe it’s the newly cut, candy-colored teaser theyshowed us — Frank looked great…it was everyone and everything aroundhim that was questionable — or maybe my geek hackles were raised at theproducers’ tired insistence that everything we saw wasstraight out of the comic. From the badly situated press section, wherethe podium not only obscured Hurde’s face, but partof the projection screen as well, you could’ve fooled me.

The weird angles, the super-saturated colors, and the stilteddialog combined to leave me feeling deflated: I wanted to get stupdily excited forthis film, both as a comic geek, and a TV snob who wants TitusPullo and Detective McNulty to get the financial and critical success they deserve.