Michael France

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The Punisher (2004) Review


Terrible
Over the course of two hours, the Punisher, Marvel Comics' black-clad antihero (played by Thomas Jane -- now rebranded as "Tom Jane") kills more people than cardiovascular disease. Bad guys get their head split in two, knives in the throat, and shot in all kinds of sensitive places. So, why will action junkies, like myself, feel like they've been duped? Read on.

The plot stars promisingly enough. Frank Castle (Jane, *61, The Sweetest Thing) is an FBI undercover agent, the kind of guy who's so good that the Bureau moves him around for his own protection. At his final job in Tampa, he busts up a major weapons deal that kills the son of powerful crime lord Howard Saint (poor, poor John Travolta).

Continue reading: The Punisher (2004) Review

Fantastic Four Review


Grim
Fantastic? Not exactly, but Tim Story's take on Marvel Comic's first family of superheroes can be fun if your expectations are low enough.

This summer's second superhero saga, Fantastic Four explains how five members of a planned space expedition face exposure to a cosmic storm that alters each person's DNA, giving them unique powers. Brilliant scientist Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) initiates the mission, which is bankrolled by his longtime rival Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon). They are accompanied by Reed's buddy Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), Victor's director of genetic research; Sue Storm (Jessica Alba); and her cocky pilot brother, Johnny (Chris Evans).

Continue reading: Fantastic Four Review

The Hulk Review


Good
Months before The Hulk director Ang Lee announced he'd rely solely on CGI to create his colossal star, fanboys from Portland to Poughkeepsie worried about how the not-so-jolly green giant would look on screen. Early trailers fuelled speculation that Hulk would resemble Shrek, which made dedicated Hulk-a-maniacs very angry. And as we know, you wouldn't like them when they're angry.

In the words of the immortal Public Enemy, don't believe the hype. Nothing you've seen does Lee's finished product justice. For the most part, the Hulk looks fantastic. He has texture, and he certainly has mass. There's the occasional slippage to video game-quality graphics, but the aftermath of Hulk's actions, the devastation left in his wake, convince us of his existence. Until you've seen the Hulk smash a tank and wrestle a helicopter in mid-air, you ain't seen nothing.

Continue reading: The Hulk Review

The Punisher (2004) Review


Terrible
Over the course of two hours, the Punisher, Marvel Comics' black-clad antihero (played by Thomas Jane -- now rebranded as "Tom Jane") kills more people than cardiovascular disease. Bad guys get their head split in two, knives in the throat, and shot in all kinds of sensitive places. So, why will action junkies, like myself, feel like they've been duped? Read on.

The plot stars promisingly enough. Frank Castle (Jane, *61, The Sweetest Thing) is an FBI undercover agent, the kind of guy who's so good that the Bureau moves him around for his own protection. At his final job in Tampa, he busts up a major weapons deal that kills the son of powerful crime lord Howard Saint (poor, poor John Travolta).

Continue reading: The Punisher (2004) Review

Cliffhanger Review


OK
Once you've seen the trailer for Cliffhanger, you have no choice but to see the film. I mean: Is Stallone really going to jump that chasm? Those flashlights in the dark... that guy under the ice. Wow. Too bad Cliffhanger the movie is nowhere near as good as Cliffhanger the trailer. But the snowbound Die Hard has a certain appeal that makes it giddy Saturday afternoon fun.
Michael France

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