The Punisher: Season Two – More Punishment

It’s a good thing that Netflix has approved a second season of Marvel’s The Punisher, though it concerns me somewhat because–tonality speaking–there’s only so many places the series can go, and most of them involve lots of people killed by gunshot.

Most of the Marvel Television series on Netflix have gone out of their way to reflect a more grounded, realistic take on Marvel superheroes.  And that works for some, not so well for others (and probably had more than a little bit to do with Inhumans not doing particularly well).

And while I don’t expect Frank Castle to spend too much time in the company of The Defenders I do hope that the creators of the series manage to inject more tonal variety into the upcoming season (maybe a new cinematographer.  Oddly enough this would be a perfect series for Zach Snyder to direct).

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Gerald’s Game – Review

Screenshot 2017-11-27 00.46.08Gerald’s Game, currently on Netflix is a remarkable bit of television because it understands that horror is more than things that go ‘bump’ in the night, but is also a way of working through the most evil of demons, namely those that haunt us in our everyday, waking lives.

And imagine to my surprise to learn that it’s directed by Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Ouija: Origin of Evil) who understands that the best horror is like a satisfying meal in that it sticks to your ribs.

So when you combine Mike Flanagan’s minimalistic direction (with not a jump scare in literally the entire movie) with a story written by Stephen King, the likelihood is that both auteurs will brew a potent, horrible (in the best possible way) stew.

Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood star as Jessie and Gerald Burlingame, who we meet when they’re preparing for a holiday (though when Gerald packs two pairs of handcuffs we know that whatever is going to go on will be at the very least, very, very interesting).  As the story progresses we learn that much of what we learned about the couple earlier is a facade, revealed by nothing less than a Shakesperean narrative device.

While having more in common with a psychological thriller than outright horror, Gerald’s Game isn’t afraid to scale that fence when it comes to it.

So if you haven’t see Gerald’s Game, consider giving it a spin but keep in mind that some games–once you start playing–are Hell to stop.

Welcome To Millarworld?

Screenshot 2017-11-08 02.38.43I thought the benefit of Netflix buying Millarworld (the publisher of comics like Kick-Ass and The Golden Circle) was to provide competition to Marvel and DC (especially when you consider that Disney is starting their own streaming service sometime in 2019 and taking their content–Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm and Pixar–with them.

According to Vulture, Netflix is planning to launch a new comic via Millarworld, The Magic Order, about a bunch of magician families that come together to protect the world against a threat potentially more powerful than themselves.

Which is interesting because I’m no longer certain what direction Netflix is taking with Millarworld, and perhaps more importantly, why (other than to keep the comic publisher out of someone else’s hands)?

This November, Marvel and Netflix Unleash The Punisher

imageMarvel’s The Punisher will premiere November 17, which we didn’t learn during Marvel Television’s presentation at the 2017 New York Comic-Con because if never actually happened.

The panel for the latest Marvel Television/Netflix co-production was cancelled  out of respect for those who were killed in Las Vegas (which makes sense considering the Punisher is particularly fond of guns.  And while the violence that he projects is typically directed at various shades of criminal–and isn’t real–I applaud Marvel for being wise enough to see that it would have been in particularly bad taste).

Though what’s worse than ‘bad taste’ is willfully neglecting the issue, which is the ready availability of guns combined with the moral cowardice of our so-called representatives–who respond to almost monthly mass shootings with condolences and regret, but never with legislation that actually does anything to prevent such violence in the first place (so forget about anything as commonsensical as limiting the amount of guns one person can own–or ways to make them even deadlier, like bump stocks).

Let’s be honest: if we had rules to limit the amount of weapons a person could own, if conversion kits (which change a semi-automatic rifle to, essentially a full automatic) were illegal to sell or own, if background checks to purchase weapons were thorough and rigorous and if buying a gun meant you were registered in a national database (which would flag ‘unusual’ purchasing patterns) it likely wouldn’t be the end of gun violence.

But it would (probably) be lessened considerably, and mass shootings would be significantly less ‘massy.’

Though even if it did nothing at all, it would be better than burying our collective heads in the sand, waiting for the next time.

And isn’t that a bit more important than whether or not the Punisher appears at Comic-Con?

Marvel’s The Punisher – Teaser Trailer

There have been three movie incarnations of The Punisher since he was created by Gerry Conway and John Romita Sr. in 1974, and while a popular character in comics, his movies never quite seemed to connect with audiences.

The first movie was in 1978, with Dolph Lundgren as Frank Castle/The Punisher.  It was okay, though he never displayed the the iconic skull emblem the character is known for (this lack of fidelity to the character was made up by it being somewhat gory).

The next version was in 2004 with Thomas Jane (who while physically is probably a bit short, he brought acting chops beyond Lundgren’s). It was okay, but failed in some really peculiar ways, such as as some underwhelming special effects and odd story beats (what I like to call the ‘fire hydrant scene’ is pretty bizarre).

Though at least he wore the iconic skull.

Thomas Jane also appeared in a short as The Punisher in 2012 (The Punisher: Dirty Laundry).

The Punisher next made another appearance in 2008 (This time played by Ray Stevenson) in Lexi Alexander’s Punisher: War Zone.  

Easily the best interpretation of the character in movies–though some of the violence was way over the top and more cartoonish than anything seen prior–Stevenson brought the size of Lundgren, and the acting chops of Jane to the role.

Though it still underperformed in theaters.

Enter 2017, and the Punisher is back.  Introduced in season two of Marvel’s Daredevil and graduating to his own series (a better format for the character than movies) Jon Bernthal brings us a Punisher worthy of the name.

Bright – Official Trailer

David Ayer’s Bright is the ‘fast-talking cop teams up with Orc’ movie we didn’t know we needed.

Watching the trailer I’m shocked at how long it feels (I haven’t seen the movie, yet it feels like I already have).

I also get the impression that the movie is treating orcs as Ordinary People, except for being…well…orcs.

Max Landis apparently earned a few million to write this, yet I suspect all he did was replace aliens with supernatural beings because this sounds awfully like Alien Nation.

The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance – Teaser Trailer

Wow, can’t say that this didn’t surprise me. Jim Henson’s 1982 fantasy The Dark Crystal was always sort of an odd duck.  Too creepy for younger viewers, too ‘YA’ for older audiences, I get the feeling that it never quite connected with its intended audience. 

So 35 years later, there’s the sequel, The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance.  Visually it looks to be as weird as the original, though this time around it will be made with the use of computer graphics, which weren’t available when the first movie was made. 

I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to return to the world of the Dark Crystal, but have to admit that Netflix is the perfect platform for the revival.