FantasticFest is the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and action movies from all around the world. Here's a list of some of our favorite movies at FantasticFest.
Elektra the warrior survives a near-death experience, becomes an assassin-for-hire, and tries to protect her two latest targets, a single father and his young daughter, from a group of supernatural assassins.
Will Yun Lee
Agents of an oil tycoon vanish while exploring a swamp marked for drilling. The local sheriff investigates and faces a Seminole legend come to life: Man-Thing, a shambling swamp-monster whose touch burns those who feel fear.
Matthew Le Nevez,
Frank Castle, the ex-military man whose family was killed by criminals, who became a vigilante known as the Punisher, goes after a whole mob family and gets everyone except enforcer Billy Russoti. He tracks Russoti down and chases him into a vat that is used for crushing bottles. Frank turns on the crusher hoping it would take care of him but it doesn't. He survives but sustains very severe injuries that even with plastic surgery his face looks like a jigsaw puzzle. So he decides to adopt the name Jigsaw. Frank who killed one of Russoti's people who unknown to him is an undercover Fed, decides to pack it in. But when he learns Russoti didn't die and is looking for the money he entrusted to the Fed and will go looking for it at his home which means his family is in danger. So Frank tries to save them. But Russoti wants revenge on Frank so he breaks out his brother who is so crazed that he is committed to an asylum, to deal with him. And also another Fed who's a friend of the man Frank ... Written by
Taken on its own terms, "Punisher: War Zone" is everything it is supposed to be: excessively violent, larger than life, fast paced, and almost always loads of fun. War Zone doesn't take itself seriously and it doesn't ask the audience to do so, like the '90 and '04 films did. It never ponders the morality of its hero any more than necessary; it's The Punisher for gods' sakes.
The casting of Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle is, in a word, perfect. He is commanding, intimidating, and always fun to watch. If you can't enjoy Stevenson as The Punisher, you shouldn't even be watching the damn movie. Though the film is shot tongue-in-cheek, Stevenson stays consistent but is almost always interesting to watch. The supporting cast, led by Dominic West as Jigsaw, also shines in several scenes. There are no weak links in the cast to undermine WZ the way, say, John Travolta undermined the already-suffering Thomas Jane-"Punisher" movie.
There are many reasons to fault the first two Punisher pics for perhaps giving the character a bad rap, because the critics sure seem to be roasting this more than necessary. One perplexing review comes from Roger Ebert, who seems to praise the film in several ways while outright damning it to the same exact two star rating he applied to the first two (far dumber and less entertaining) Punisher movies: "The Punisher: War Zone is one of the best-made bad movies I've seen. It looks great, it hurtles through its paces and is well-acted. The soundtrack is like elevator music if the elevator were in a death plunge. The special effects are state of the art. Its only flaw is that it's disgusting."
I don't see what's wrong with that. This isn't an average mainstream film. This is an extremely gory film, with a level of violence that is rarely seen on the big screen outside of the "Saw" movies. And yet it remains entertaining, even comedic in how far it goes. The superb and colorful cinematography, action choreography, sound effects, score, and editing make "Punisher: War Zone" a must for (dark) comic book fans and action film junkies.
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