Kevin Strange’s Netflix Punisher Season 1 Review

How do you take the most hyped-up and exciting new character in the Marvel Netflix super hero universe who has comic book fans and military/gun aficionados going bonkers waiting for a spin-off solo show putting his brand of take-no-prisoners, hyper-violent vigilante justice and totally and completely shit the fucking bed with it?

Start by reducing what was Daredevil season 2’s best, most action packed and talked about character, The Punisher, back down to just a guy named Frank who wears a hoodie and has a hard time making eye contact.

DDS2 so perfectly told Frank Castle’s back-story, all the way up to giving him his iconic white-skull chest costume, that a spin-off show was a no brainer. Everything was right there. All you had to do was write him some compelling villains, some pot-boiler plots, and let Jon Bernthal act his ass off while shooting every last motherfucker in the room.

The episode of DDS2 where Frank goes to jail, meets Kingpin and pounds his way through a couple of dozen inmates is one of the coolest episodes of comic book TV ever.

In fact, Daredevil remains the only consistently GOOD Marvel Netflix show. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage wear their liberal progressive agendas on their sleeve while presenting snoozefest stories of, you guessed it, super heroes wearing hoodies talking really seriously to each other sprinkled, almost begrudgingly with several short minutes of action scenes.

The SJW Marvel crowd so thoroughly took a shit on the WHITE MALE LEAD in Iron Fist, laughably calling for the show to change the character’s ethnicity because reasons, that it’s clear who Marvel Netflix is aiming these shows at.

These three shows are so awful, I didn’t even bother watching their cross-over event season THE DEFENDERS and it doesn’t seem like anybody else did either because there is not one single reference to them in the entire first season of The Punisher.

Which gets us back to where we started. Frank Castle. The Punisher. Double-crossed by the CIAFBIDHS, basically the entire big bad US government, run by WHITE MEN with the sole purpose of lying, cheating, stealing and killing their way into becoming corrupt millionaires.

They killed his family. We saw all this in DDS2 and thankfully, they do not rehash those events. Frank is the Punisher in the first episode. We get an AWESOME montage of him murking every last person involved in the death of his family. Then he burns his Punisher vest and retires to a quiet life of beating the shit out of concrete walls with a sledge hammer day and night for presumably a cash-under-the-table construction gig.

This episode is bizarre because it seems like they shot it as a pilot pitch to a network, even though the character was firmly established as a huge hit with its audience. The entire episode is a stand-alone. There are characters who are never seen or referenced again, as though there was a chance that the network would pass on the show, so they didn’t want to get too deep into the plot right away.

And that shows one of the Netflix binge-show formula’s biggest weaknesses. The pilot of the Punisher is fucking amazing. It’s a slow burn, shot and edited to build the suspense right up until the moment Tom Waits’ “Hell Broke Luce” pounds out of the speakers and Frank starts beating the shit out of dudes with a sledge hammer. Ruthless. Violent. Unforgiving. The Punisher.

And that’s it. The end. A one hour, fully realized story. A one-shot comic book, if you will. In its glory days, network television would produce a couple of dozen stories like these for its TV shows every season. Some a half hour, some an hour. Then episodic TV fell out of fashion sometime shortly before LOST became all the rage and now 99% of shows use the serial format.

Which can be great. But in the case of Netflix shows, since the service is able to analyze its viewers’ habits down to the millisecond, they’ve decided to write specialized serials built around the concept of “binge watching.”

Some clowns sit at home and manage to smash out a 12 hour TV show in 10 hours. I’ll barely be a quarter of the way through a new Netflix show when assholes will start posting spoilers online for the season ender. It’s absurd how quickly people burn through these shows.

And as such, Netflix paces its shows for this obnoxious habit. In essence, what that means is, Frank Castle and “Micro” (maybe the worst name for a sidekick since Robin) can sit in the same set-piece and talk hour after hour after hour in what is ostensibly marketed as an action thriller show.

Don’t get me wrong, there is action, but the pacing between endless dialogue scenes and the little bit of violence and gun fighting sprinkled throughout is so wonky for people like me who tend to watch one episode every few days. If you cram 12 hours of TV into 10 hours, it doesn’t seem like that three to four hours in the middle drags too badly.

You were zoned out scrolling Facebook laughing at memes for those 4 hours anyway. For people like me, that’s almost an entire week of viewing. And it fucking sucks.

Look, I’m already way further into this review than I have any right to be without ever even touching on a single plot point in The Punisher season 1. Suffice to say, this show takes an enormous leap backward with the character, makes every aspect of the US government out to be evil and tyrannical just by virtue of existing, (except for the one non-white Mary Sue FBI agent girl who can out-smart, out-drive, out-fight and out-shoot every male character on the show) and gives every ex-military character either PTSD or a villainy motivation.

But without a doubt the WORST part of Netflix’s The Punisher? The main baddy ends up being a 25 year old war vet with PTSD who becomes a bomb-making domestic terrorist the likes of which the United States hasn’t seen since Timothy Mcveigh.

That’s right, Netflix takes a page right out of the batshit crazy alt-left’s handbook and digs up a 1990s boogieman with which to scare its viewers. THE EVIL WHITE “PATRIOT” IS COMING TO GET YOU!

America is bad OK? And The Punisher TV show is worse.

I DGAF if that storyline was lifted right off the page of a 90s run of Punisher comics and is panel for panel faithful to the source material. It’s insulting in the current year while the Western world is being bombed and terrorized weekly by Muslim psychos. Now ain’t the time nor the place to write a “US soldiers are terrorists” story line.

In the end, as much as I absolutely love this character and the Jon Bernthal casting, I have to give this piece of SJW lefty crap 2 out of 5 Strangeheads for pushing their tired binge-formula and unpopular liberal agenda instead of delivering an apologetically violent, merciless and exciting Punisher TV show.

Kevin Strange’s Star Wars: Rogue One Review

Lucasfilm and Disney took a HUGE gamble by breaking from the traditional Skywalker storyline with its “A Star Wars Story” franchise which follows characters only tangentially related to the saga of Luke, Leia, Obi Wan and Darth Vader.

Does this gamble pay off or does ROGUE ONE turn out to be a giant, unmitigated disaster?

STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE was directed by Gareth Edwards who last helmed the big budget American Godzilla film from 2014 (and incidentally shows Darth Vader here about as much as he showed Big Green in that film.)  So he’s no stranger to taking on franchises with a ton of history behind them.

But to be tasked with creating the first STAR WARS film outside of the Skywalkerverse? Lots of pressure. And rumors of massive re-shoots only months before the film was set to be released only intensified the feeling of unease as we inched closer and closer to its December 2016 release date.

As Han Solo famously says, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

So does it crash and burn like a Star Destroyer after one too many laser blasts from a squad of X-Wings? Or does it soar into nastalgia-land and do enough fan service to earn its place in the pantheon of STAR WARS films before it?

For me, it lands somewhere in the middle. It’s not as good as Episode 7 and still worlds better than any one of the prequels without touching the brilliance of original trilogy. ROGUE ONE is the kind of STAR WARS movie I EXPECTED to see back when THE PHANTOM MENACE came out.

It’s a big, loud, dumb blockbuster with enough heart to propel it forward while failing to create that charm that Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher had in the original trilogy.

None of the characters stand out as the kind that people will be talking about for years to come. For me, the only character I really gave a shit about was Forest Whitaker’s batshit crazy turn as Saw Gerrera the robot-legged, oxygen-huffing rebel who helped Jyn Erso (played wooden and dead-eyed by Felicity Jones) escape after the imperial general Orson Krennic comes for her father.

Mads Mikkelsen, who I normally love, phones it in as Jyn’s father Galen. The rest of the cast is a fairly generic (but ethnically diverse because, you know, political correctness) group of rebels who deliver the equally generic hero dialogue with little conviction and then die on command as the story calls for tragedy.

Even the android here, K-2S0, failed to impress me. Of all the droids in all the STAR WARS films, this one impressed me the least. He’s a cheap C-3P0 worry-bot knock off who looks like a rejected IRON GIANT prototype.

The only characters outside of Saw Gerrea that even held my attention were the duo of Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe and his friend Baze Malbus, played by Jiang Wen. These two would have been awesome characters in a better movie. In fact, I would have loved to see them in their own movie.

Same goes for Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera. I would have much rather watched a movie about him going crazy and losing his feet, slowly drifting further and further away from the rebel alliance’s core values until he practically becomes their enemy.

But we don’t get that movie here. We get 6 or 7 story lines all rushed to get us to the final attack on the imperial garrison on Scarif which, admittedly, is a breathtaking scene. It’s a scene that, by itself, makes Episode 4: A NEW HOPE a better movie.

It’s unfortunate that the rest of the film doesn’t have the same emotional gravitas as the brave rebel team’s doomed final mission at the end of the movie. There are so many cut scenes to new planets, new characters, and convoluted exposition scenes explaining which video-game-like task they need to complete next, that the film seems both rushed and boring at the same time. No story thread is given enough time to unwind in a natural way.

Even the score seems overly loud, driving us impatiently from one character death and set piece explosion to the next until we’re both bored and numb from all of the elaborate visual effects space ship fights and CGI aliens shouting orders at each other.

ROGUE ONE isn’t a bad film. But it suffers from trying to serve too many masters all at once. The re-shoots didn’t help to shore up the story lines. The score doesn’t help to add emotion to scenes that simply needed more time to connect with the audience, and ultimately, while the movie serves as a great lead-in to A NEW HOPE, it only manages to show how much better of a film the original STAR WARS is, rather than existing as a great  STAR WARS story in and of itself.

I give it an 89% chance of having 3 out of 5 Strangeheads.

Kevin Strange’s Phantasm: Ravager Review


Fresh off a theatrical screening of the new 4K restoration version of the original 1979 PHANTASM film, I decided it was high time to man up and give the latest sequel of one of my favorite horror franchises a go. So I rented PHANTASM: RAVAGER and held on to my balls. So to speak. Get it? Balls? Spheres? Anyway.

As I finished watching the original Phantasm the other night, I couldn’t help but remember the words of a prominent horror fiction editor about “it was all a dream” trope endings. He’d said, more or less, that if your book ended with all of the happenings turning out to have just been a dream or a hallucination, don’t bother sending him your work for publication. I’m paraphrasing here, but basically he said that it felt cheap, like he’d wasted his time reading the story because none of it “really happened.”


As Phantasm ended, I couldn’t help but think that this is maybe the only horror franchise in existence that sort of hinges its entire mythology on “it was all a dream” logic. I laughed as I exited the movie theater, thinking of how cool it was that a horror franchise had thrived and became a cult favorite off of a reviled story telling trope.

So imagine my glee when Phantasm: Ravager started and within the first five minutes of the movie, a startlingly old Michael sat with an even older Reggie at a retirement home and told him that everything they’d ever been through in THE ENTIRE PHANTASM FRANCHISE had been nothing more than Reggie suffering from early onset dementia. Forty years of storytelling right down the fucking tubes for that horror editor. A lifetime of fandom just… poof, up and gone, just like that.



So this 4th sequel of the Tall Man franchise is every bit a loving tribute and fan service to a four decade long franchise full of head popping shiny spheres, creepy mausoleums, hooded dwarves and quadruple sawed off shotguns. Just look at the end credits. David Hartman was basically a one man band here. He directed, co-wrote with series creator Don Coscarelli, shot it, scored it, edited it, and did the visual effects for it.

I’m not gonna lie. When I heard that this movie was basically David and Reggie and a camcorder, shot over long periods of time when money allowed it, I was not at all excited to see the final product. But seeing it play out with all of the jumps in time and setting, it turns out that was the perfect way to shoot the script that David and Don wrote.

And so the film plays with this idea that Reggie is suffering from dementia, casting him in and out of vivid post-apocalyptic landscapes with awesome gigantic spheres laying waste to everything in sight.


Angus Skrimm, The Tall Man, to his credit, old as the goddamn stars in this film, hits all his lines note-perfect. It’s like he was born to play the sinister Tall Man. And die playing him as well. Which is fine by this Phan. The man in the suit screamed BOOYYYYYYY! one last time, and it brought a goddamn tear to my eye.

PHANTASM: RAVAGER is cheap. Man, is it cheap. There are long passages of the film that reek of a made for Sci-Fi channel original. And much of the film’s visual effects are jarringly bad CGI. But you know what? Having just watched the 1979 original, there’s a fucking puppet fly monster that Michael and Jody beat to death inside a jacket.

This wasn’t a series based on fancy visual effects in the first place. It was about atmosphere and unique storytelling. And while much of the acting is stiff and lines are delivered halfheartedly, Reggie and Angus–really the two most important players here–play their roles with the utmost sincerity.


Did PHANTASM: RAVAGER need to be made? No. But I’m glad it was. I’m glad Reggie got to fire that bad mother fucking four barrel shotgun one last time. I’m glad Reggie, Michael and Jody got to cruise in the ‘Cuda one last time. And I’m glad Angus’s Tall Man got to menace our heroes one last time.

Very few franchises get to keep their heart, their soul and their enthusiasm over the decades without being taken over by different writers, directors, or studios who want to change or re-imagine, remake or recast the characters and drastically alter the story.

The PHANTASM franchise went out on its own terms with its integrity intact and that, for me, was worth every goddamn sequel. I give it four out of five Strangeheads.