• Tag Archives Michael France
  • Canister X Movie Review #64: The Punisher (2004)

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    The Punisher (2004)
    Written by Jonathan Hensleigh and Michael France
    Directed by Jonathan Hensleigh
    Runtime 124 min.
    4.5 out of 5

    Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) has just completed his final mission with the FBI: posing as European arms dealer Otto Krieg to lure Bobby Saint—son of crime boss Howard Saint (John Travolta)—into a deal and eventually put him away. A shootout ensues and Bobby is killed. Frank retires and heads down to Florida on vacation with his family. When Howard Saint discovers Frank’s true identity and that “Krieg” didn’t die in the shootout, he sends a team of men to take out Frank’s family as payback for killing his son. Howard Saint’s men kill everyone including, they think, Frank. But Frank survives—barely—and soon gets well enough to punish Howard and his family slowly and painfully in an effort to balance the scales of justice.


    I’m a huge fan of this movie despite there being a big divide amongst fans about it. Personally, it hit home to me on a lot of levels and this is why I love it. It’s a story of tragedy and pain, things going south in a big way, and one man trying to make things right the only way he knows how. What especially impressed me was the overall feel of the film and how that reflected Frank’s journey from family man to broken man to Punisher. In the beginning, everything is happy, cheery, colorful, and then once all are killed, suddenly the tone goes bleak, it’s all grays and browns and blacks, and everything becomes ultra serious. Even the humorous bits are done in a serious manner.

    I also liked the glimpses into the lives of the others in Frank’s apartment building: Joan (Rebecca Romijn), Bumpo (John Pinette) and Spacker Dave (Ben Foster). To be honest, I don’t know how true they were to their comic book counterparts as I haven’t read them, but as portrayed on film, I liked them as characters and had a soft spot for each of them as I saw bits and pieces of others I once knew inside them.

    Back to Frank, Thomas Jane played it in spades. He was depressed, brooding, angry, idealistic, righteous and distraught all at the same time. He brought each of these elements to the fore whenever they were best called upon and went beyond just a gun-wielding vigilante. He would’ve made an excellent Batman should he have ever been offered the role.

    When I saw him as the Punisher again in the fan film, Dirty Laundry, I cheered him on the whole way through and felt like I was back at home in Frank Castle’s life, walking with him as he dealt with the pain of losing everyone he’d ever loved while once again rising to the call of duty because he was needed.

    Frank’s inspiring speech in The Punisher about sometimes the law being inadequate gets every fanboy pumped up and cheering, and while I find it hard to believe Frank’s motive is only punishment and not vengeance, it’s still a memorable moment in the film.

    This flick is one of my favorites and is highly recommended.

  • Canister X Movie Review #40: Hulk (2003)

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    Hulk (2003)
    Written by James Schamus, Michael France and John Turman
    Directed by Ang Lee
    Runtime 138 min.
    3.5 out of 5

    You’re making me angry.

    You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

    In a lab accident, Bruce Banner (played by Eric Bana) is hit with a healthy dose of gamma radiation, the effects from the blast triggering the dormant bizarre alterations to his body done to him by his father (played by Nick Nolte) when he was just a toddler. Now, every time Bruce gets angry, the gamma rays still in his body course through his veins and transform him into the Hulk, a booming mass of pure green muscle driven by rage and fueled by anger and frustration at all those trying to hurt him.

    Bulldozing everything in his path, Hulk tries to outrun those who want a sample of his tissue and those who want him dead.

    Bruce Banner must face what he’s become and come to terms with its effects on his life, especially those on his ex-girlfriend, Betty Ross (played by Jennifer Connelly), and the relationship with her he’s trying to salvage.


    This Ang Lee-directed flick was well done, all in all. It took a while to get going (the opening credit sequence was especially long), but once it did, things got intense, heavy and also fun.

    This is a very emotional story. It’s a story of domestic abuse, suppressed memories, obsession, confusion, loss and everything in between.

    If anything, though, it was too emotional.

    Hulk is a hard character to bring to the screen but given the time allotment he had to convey as much story as possible, Ang Lee did a good job.

    This is not a good-guy-versus-bad-guy superhero movie. To watch it as one would be doing it a disservice.

    The comic book-framed shots added to the experience for this reviewer. Likewise, the all-CGI Hulk, once you got used to seeing him (he looks pretty cartoony at first sight), was believable and incredibly, no pun, well done. The way his muscles rippled when he tore stuff apart or flexed, the sweat on his skin, his hair blowing in the breeze—Ah, all good.

    This film is for true Hulk fans and for the viewer who likes the occasional monster flick or man-on-the-run movie.

    Hulk smash!

  • Canister X Movie Review #31: Fantastic Four (2005)

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    Fantastic Four (2005)
    Written by Michael France and Mark Frost
    Directed by Tim Story
    Runtime 106 min.
    3.5 out of 5

    Five people are endowed with superpowers after an accident on a space station. Four become a force for good. One becomes a force for evil. That’s pretty much it.


    This is a fun movie and I liked it. It had a solid origin story, some good action, and pretty good SFX. Each character was clearly defined, even stereotypical, but that’s the Fantastic Four for you.

    A lot of people griped on this movie. It was not bad. Wasn’t as “cosmic” or over-the-top as I would’ve liked, but it wasn’t a bad flick by any means. It was a great translation of comic book to screen and carried that vibe with it from beginning to end.

    The invisibility effects of the Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba) were awesome, a sweet combination of complete I-can’t-see-you-at-all invisibility with the glass-like, transparent humanoid figure so we can see her enough to know what she’s doing.

    The Human Torch (Chris Evans) looked like a man on fire, which he is, but animated enough so we can make out his actions, his costume, facial expressions and anything else we needed to in a given scene.

    Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd): at some points he looked like a real-life stretchy dude, at others the CGI was very clear (i.e. that scene when he stretches his hand under the door to unlock it from the outside).

    The Thing (Michael Chiklis), arguably the hardest costume because you didn’t want to run the risk of making him look like a cartoon character by going all CGI (as good as the Hulk looks even in The Avengers, there’s still an animated quality to it), but you also didn’t want bad prosthetics either. The Thing in this movie looked amazing and looked real. Well done.

    Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon) was fine as is, his costume something like an elaborate cosplay. I would’ve liked more detail in the cloak, some sort of pattern, but the whole how-he-got-his-armor thing was pretty cool.

    What worked especially well was the dynamic of family and all the love, bickering and craziness that goes along with having one. There was real chemistry between all the main players and it added a dynamic to the team that made the whole scenario believable.

    What also makes the Fantastic Four different is they’re public superheroes without secret identities, that is, though they have codenames, everyone knows who they are. While Iron Man did this, too, having a whole family who everyone knows who they are changes the game. It’s also different because, unlike Iron Man, they didn’t decide, “Hey, let’s be superheroes,” but instead it’s something that kind of happens and they discover how important it is they use their powers to help people.

    For me, Fantastic Four was a good movie that I like popping into the DVD player now and then.