Marvel’s Punisher – Netflix Review

Frank Castle / The Punisher was introduced to our screens in season 2 of Netflix’s Daredevil. Such was the popularity of the character that he was given his own series which came out a few weeks ago. Led by the perfectly cast Jon Bernthal, I was excited to see an action packed series that focused on Marvel’s most brutal character. 

What we actually got wasn’t the over the top action series we may have expected or even hoped for. Instead this series, based on an insane comic book character with a big white skull on his chest, gives us one of the most realistic accounts of just what military veterans go through when returning from war and how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder really affects people’s lives. 

I didn’t expect that, and at first it threw me off. I went in expecting a basic plot, around some kind of drug ring that Frank had to take down with a hail of bullets, but this isn’t that simple. The decision to delve into this sensitive area and pull no punches about how tough it can be was a very brave call, and one that I think has paid off massively. The Punisher is one of the best dramatic TV shows I’ve watched in recent years, and it’s broken up by the visceral violence that you would expect in a Punisher series. 

Of course the main characters story is front and centre, featuring regular flashbacks to his families murder and his time in Afghanistan. This all gives so much for Jon Bernthal to work with and he grabs it with both hands. He is so good as this character, from the grunts and growls in combat scenes to the quiet looks and the rage bubbling away beneath his eyes. He is immense and carries the series on his shoulders. 
Backing him up is Amber Rose Revah as Homeland Security Agent Dinah Madani, Ben Barnes as Franks ex military friend Billy Russo (if you know comics that name might mean something), and Ebon Moss-Bachrach as David Leiberman / Micro. All 3 are really excellent, with each character fleshed out over the series and all go through an arc of some kind. Frank Castle is the main character, but these three all are key parts of what makes The Punisher a great series. 

The rest of the cast are good, even the child actors weren’t distracting and Marvels Netflix shows continue to cast good, talented actors in all the roles they have, the only misstep perhaps being Iron Fist. 

This is a Punisher series, so despite all the dramatic tension and excellent character building, we do need to see some action. I can imagine some people feeling frustrated by the lack of a minigun welding Punisher that nerds like me would love to see, as there are a few episodes where there’s not much action. However the action that is spread throughout the series is very hard hitting, even if the Punisher himself seems to soak up bullets like a sponge in water and not think much of it. 

There is a couple of scenes in the final episodes of the series that are really not for the queezy among you, but overall I think the action was well done. It lacks anything as memorable as the Daredevil hallway scene fights, and many of the firefights blend into one another in my memory, but they’re still entertaining enough to watch. 

I found the Punisher to be a much more thought provoking and harrowing series than I expected it to be. The quality of the performances and the way it paints a picture of what war vets go through is 100% worth watching. It might not be the Punisher series you expected, but it’s one that you’ll be glad you watched.

Good For: Shows PTSD in a very real, moving way. Great performances and doesn’t drag like most 13 episode marvel series have for me.

Bad for: if you are hoping for non stop action, this isn’t for you. Also Bernthals permanent batman impression from the Nolan trilogy might grate on you. 

9/10 – Great, clever series that surprised me! 

Star Trek: Discovery –  First 9 Review

Star Trek has never grabbed me. I’m not sure why, it’s always sounded on paper like something I would love. It has really deep science fiction roots, diverse story lines and beloved characters which all appeal to me. Perhaps it’s the older look of the series which feels dated to me that’s kept me away. Star Trek Discovery was released onto Netflix and looked shiny and new, so I decided to jump in. 

In the first episode the world is set up and the characters of Michael (a girl) and Saru are set up. We are introduced to the discovery, a space ship with more to it than first meets the eye, and from their things take off into an exciting story that I have found myself quite invested in.

The characters are introduced quickly, and then given more meat to them over the course of the series making each storyline feel important in its own way. The star of the show is Sonequa Martin, playing Michael Burnham, who is divided between her human nature and her Vulcan logic based upbringing. This inner conflict is a regular theme in the early part of the show and builds her character well.

The whole cast is solid, in particular Jason Isaacs as driven Captain Lorca, and Doug Jones as the cautious alien Saru. Isaacs commands every scene he is in, as you’d expect from a leader of a ship and has a dark history that’s delved into throughout the series. Doug Jones, in full make up which somehow still lets him emote, is in many ways the opposite of the main character but with the same goals, and their dynamic is a really intriguing part of Discovery.

The make up effects used on Saru is exceptional, and the same goes for the make up and practical effects throughout the entire show. The Klingons are realised in a way I’ve never seen before, with full make up on every one of them, no CG, and it’s really effective. They look like real aliens, and the hours of time spent on them pays off.  On top of the practical effects, the special effects and space battles are stunning, and wouldn’t be out-of-place in the Star Trek cinematic efforts. This series looks incredible, everything from the effects above to the costumes to the screens and displays on the ships is made to look futuristic and yet practical.

I imagine some star trek fans may have problems with the series due to the incredible production values, it does make the old series, that are set years after this one, feel extremely dated. I don’t have this connection so I’m just happy to have a series that has got me into the series more than I ever thought possible.

Like most Netflix produced shows, there are a couple of odd, throwaway episodes/story lines that go nowhere. I think these episodes may mean more than I’m grasping being a Star Trek novice, as a few times I’ve been left questioning what is happening with no explanation given. This is a Star Trek series, and it doesn’t walk you into the world. It tells its story and if you don’t understand something, googling it will normally reveal something that links back to a previous series.

The only real problem I have with Discovery is the love interest for the character, which seems a bit forced and in the context of the show and where the love interest has been, doesn’t seem to make much sense. It’s a minor gripe, and one that may be explained away like a lot of my minor issues from the early episodes have been.

Star Trek Discovery is a really good Sci-fi series with strong production values, interesting characters and clever story lines. It might have a lot of references I am missing that star trek fans would love, but I am thoroughly enjoying it without any of that. We are only 9 episodes in, as the series has a mid season break, and returns on January 8th, but so far so good.

Good for: Anyone who is a Sci-fi fan. I’d have thought Trekkies will love it even more than the average sci-fi fan, but I’ve found it to be a great introduction into the TV universe if you’ve just seen the recent movies like me.

Bad for: Those of you who aren’t into sci-fi, obviously. People who get weirded out by girls with men’s names.