a zoo in hell


And your frustration/Will not let you speak


Strangely earnest action-adventure film which offers plenty of biblical subtext for those who still enjoy that sort of thing. A good script, adapted from a novel, which hits many levels simultaneously. Struggles between ethnicity, morality of violence, and leadership styles propel most of the drama.

While there is plenty of violence and brutality, it is mostly bloodless, returning us to a pre-Saving Private Ryan kind of war movie. Which only augmented the biblical undercurrents to me, the lack of gore seemed to say, this isn't really a war movie, you know? It's a parable.

Performances are strong, but the production itself wavers between a solid mid-budget film and a low-budget one. A few glitches in cinematography lower the value a bit, and yes, I noticed that they used the same five geese in all the farm scenes. There is also a strangely impressionistic interlude with the arrival of spring in the forest, which stands out as looking like it was shot for another film entirely.

Overall, it's an inspiring film about solidarity, resistance and survival in a miniature sort of apocalypse. Not epic, Oscar, or everlasting but a solid film which could've benefited with a better budget or shooting schedule.



More proof that all the good fantasy flicks are being made far-outside the borders of the US. An alien, or time-traveler, not made clear which, falls back into medieval Norway in pursuit of a hostile life form. Hold on, it's not a new Van Damme, Lambert or Statham vehicle. It stars James Caviezel, an actor who has been in the trenches for a long time and is finally surfacing in this, and in the new version of The Prisoner.

He's learned a good deal along the way, bringing needed grounding to this hybrid film which manages to mix the best of medieval swordplay films with neo-Predator flicks. There plenty of Viking politicking and skullduggery to keep things flowing in between monster attacks, too.

There are a few low points of momentum killing plot digressions, but overall it moves forward solidly. Some CGI blood kills what were solid combat and monster kills. Please, low-budget filmmakers, leave the CGI to the people who can afford it and stick to what worked for your forerunners. Thanks.


The Punisher: War Zone

I've had plenty to think about these last few weeks, so you'll excuse me if my viewing habits have been less than avant-garde, okay? I've been a fan of The Punisher since the four-issue limited series was released by Marvel and I've been suckered in by every film as a result.

Maybe it took the success of the Dark Knight films to get this franchise moving in the right direction. Smart casting by bringing up Ray Stevenson (Rome) to carry his own lead and bring a solid fury to the character which isn't really supposed to be a super-hero. Even smarter move bringing in action superstar Gale Anne Hurd to bring her razor sharp instincts to bear.

So, it's pretty solid. Much meaner and more action than any of the other films, and none of the cute to kill the mood. Sadly, the final showdown kills the momentum of the previous three acts, and suffers from a bit of anti-climax. The writing is decent and elevates the material above your run-of-the-mill cable action cheapie.

CGI blood? Yes, and see above.

The productions is gorgeous, a neon nightmare of noir visuals which occasionally get too dark for small screen viewing, but have hints of Blade Runner (without the rain), Batman Begins, and a more realistic rendering of Sin City. The rock and roll soundtrack is a bit cliched and disappointing, but there are a few moments of inspiration.

Sadly, the movie bombed mercilessly in release. But here's to a valiant effort and the hope that Gale Anne Hurd can bring something similar forward in the coming years.