PicturePresented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen the picture quality is a solid one. Early scenes are shot in Tampa (doubling for Puerto Rico) and have a bright, slightly washed out look that fits the opening shots of happy Frank having fun with his family. Following the death of his family and Frank's decline into a bleak alcohol fuelled revenge, the tone changes to reflect this. Black becomes the dominant colour, with contrast ramped up to the max. This looks stunning on the screen as long as your set-up can deal with the deep, deep blacks on offer. As the movie enters into its final third a degree of graininess is apparent but is never overwhelming. Digital artefacts are noticeable only by their absence.
SoundThe soundtrack is a superb Dolby Digital 5.1 EX encoding recorded at 448kbps with a +4dB push to the dialogue channel. Most of the track is of demonstration quality. The opening credits have that Morricone inspired score playing over ricocheting gunshots echoing all around your viewing room. Those rear channels get a boisterous workout and those of you wondering why you shelled out for that extra rear speaker will be smiling like the cat that got the cream. Like some bass with that soundtrack, Sir? How about a large portion? Good, 'cos with gut wrenching explosions, and the throaty roar of Frank's beefed up muscle car, that is exactly what you get. The balance of these effects is perfect, with the rock solid dialogue, which is never overwhelmed, whilst maintaining a pleasing warmth, avoiding the stridency of poorer encodings.
ExtrasExtras are uniformly interesting and worthwhile. Four behind- the-scenes featurettes are available looking at the stunts of the movie, the origins of The Punisher, as well as an interview with Tim Bradstreet - the cover artist for the Punisher series since 1999. All of these give a fascinating and informative insight into the development of the movie. The fourth featurette is a 30-minute “War Journal” made during the pre-production and shooting of the movie, with a few scenes at the premiere. Hensleigh's budget problems are covered, along with storm dodging in Tampa. Hensleigh also provides an excellent commentary, where his informative observations are absorbing and are unlikely to disappoint. One of the highlights here is a forty minute side story cut form the movie, and the fact that a sequel is already in development.
Also included on the disc is a trailer for the forthcoming video game, a music video by Drowning Pool, and a couple of deleted scenes with optional director commentary.
VerdictThe Punisher is a superior comic book to screen translation. It deals with adult subject matter and it does so in an adult way. Some of the early scenes make for uncomfortable viewing, but are required to give justification to Frank's subsequent destructive rage. Image quality is excellent, and the soundtrack is particularly praiseworthy. This disc is a keeper.
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