Friday, December 12, 2008

Heroes in fire and ice

My review of Call of Duty: World at War is posted. Take a look!

I hope to see some of you in my sights this weekend ...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Punisher's tragic triumph

Here's my short review of the new Punisher movie, which I saw tonight.

On one hand, "The Punisher: War Zone" is as crass a shoot-'em-up as you'll ever see, with grotesque violence and appalling bloodshed. Ray Stevenson absolutely looks the part of the comic-book anti-hero, and the movie is relentless with action. The Punisher's cold precision and deadly grace with his weapons are showcased without apology. The violence is ugly. Frank Castle knows it's ugly but he faces it, and the film doesn't turn away from it either.

On the other hand, opposite from the heavy-handed carnage, Stevenson gives a subtle and compelling performance as Frank Castle. The Punisher is a commando with a broken heart and an iron will. He lives a nightmare existence of grief and despair and anger. He doesn't revel in his revenge. He does the job that he feels God has failed to do by punishing evildoers. He knows the blood on his hands condemns him, but he accepts it as the price he must pay to get the job done.

The Punisher is perhaps the most realistic of Marvel's "superheroes," because he has no super power. You may even view the character as a metaphor for the United States, like Viggo Mortensen's character in "A History of Violence." He detests violence, but he's terribly good at it despite himself, when he's pushed to it. It also reminds me of Clint Eastwood's character in "Unforgiven," who is a terrible, clumsy farmer, but as a killer he's as graceful as the angel of death.

This film is not going to be widely embraced like a Spider-Man or Hulk or Iron Man movie, because of the horrific violence (although if the camera in those movies were pointed at the recipients of the heroes' violence, they'd look this awful, too). It's the nature of The Punisher's story, because it's so dark.

For people who might be inclined to read a Punisher comic, "The Punisher: War Zone" is awesome. Ray Stevenson makes the character real. Frank Castle is a tragic hero is scorns himself, even as others admire him.

I've been a fan of Stevenson since he played the quiet, ax-wielding knight Dagonet in "King Arthur" who broke the ice on the lake and sent the Vikings for a swim. I became an even bigger fan of his with the HBO series "Rome," in which he played Roman soldier Titus Pullo, one of the main characters.

Won't it be interesting if Marvel movies become the venue for a "Rome" reunion? With Stevenson playing The Punisher, rumors are circulating again that "Rome" co-star Kevin McKidd may play Thor. For my money (which will be spent on tickets, DVDs and collectibles), that would be fantastic. I'll be one happy geek.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My favorite games of the year

My annual Video Game Gift Guide is posted. Check it out! Leave some comments!

Hope you're having fun this weekend. Fortiscule and I are about to head out to see "The Punisher: War Zone," but I expect I'll be on Call of Duty: World at War later tonight. I'm up to lieutenant in multiplayer, and doing pretty well thanks to some sage shooter advice from my buddy Fartknocckker. I'll post more about that advice later.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Where's the 'B' button on this thing?

This may be the most dangerous object I have ever seen, yet I am strangely drawn to it.

Kotaku reports that some gun enthusiasts created this real-life version of a Gears of War Lancer assault rifle. Its creators call it a "Firearm Mounted Anti Zombie Device." All the zombies who read Kotaku (and there are probably lots of them) are doubtless quaking in fear after seeing this.

You have to admire American ingenuity. Zombie-slayers, we salute you!

On a related note, here's my review of Gears of War 2.