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Press Conference w/Lexi Alexander

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Nov 17, 2005
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FIRST LOOK: 'The Punisher: War Zone'

Posted Dec 6th 2007 4:32PM by Erik Davis
Filed under: Action, Lionsgate Films, Fandom, DIY/Filmmaking, Comic/Superhero/Geek, Remakes and Sequels

Pictured above: Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle aka "The Punisher." (Click on the image for a larger version)
Cinematical was lucky enough to attend a conference call earlier today with The Punisher: War Zone director Lexi Alexander in which we talked about the new film, the characters and the exciting Punisher universe. Above you will find the first image from the film, featuring Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle (aka The Punisher), a former FBI agent who wages war on the criminal underworld following the death of his family. The film arrives in theaters on September 12th, 2008. Here's a bit of our conversation:
Does this movie take place more in the Marvel universe or in its own world?
Lexi Alexander: Well I think in the sense of the other Marvel characters, it's definitely in its own world in terms of location, though, we call it the Marvel New York because, you know, rather than setting it in the real New York, we wanted it to have a little bit of a surreal feeling.
What one thing do you think distinguishes your take on The Punisher compared to the last Punisher movies that fans of the comic will truly appreciate?
LA: Well, the last Punisher movie really wasn't relevant to us. There's a lot of comparison to it, but none of the people on my team ever looked at that and said how can we be different or better -- we just kind of made our own film. The one thing I concentrated on was to really really make it as close to the MAX series as possible. I think we really achieved it as far as the look, as well as the tone. When I look at the dailies that I'm getting, I seriously feel like I'm looking at a MAX comic book right in front of me.
Related question: I think one thing the comic fans will realize immediately is that the world we created feels like the comic book in terms of the look as well.
Will this be a Hard-R Punisher?
LA: Well, it definitely will be a Hard R, and luckily Lionsgate's been great about it. They haven't given me any guidelines in terms of violence. I think they're a real good studio to make a violent movie, and I really like violent movies. So it's definitely going to be a Hard R.
Photo credit: Jonathan Wenk/Lionsgate

What is the significance of the subtitle War Zone to the story we'll be seeing?
When we were discussing titles, and obviously Marvel has a big input on that, we wanted to go with one the fans would recognize as the title. When they suggested a few, War Zone seemed like the one. This one in particular has something to do with the ending; it will make more sense once you see the film. I think the ending really justifies the title War Zone.
How much hand-to-hand fighting do you expect Frank Castle to engage in, or will most of the action be gunplay?
LA: I would say it's about 70% gunplay, and 30% hand-to-hand combat.
Your storyline incorporates elements from the Welcome Back Frank story arc. Why was the decision made to bring in Jigsaw who is not a part of that storyline?
LA: The first script I received had Jigsaw already in it, and at that point I wasn't very familiar with where Jigsaw came into the series. But he was there, he was the antagonist, he was the villain -- and I fell in love with this character, He's a great villain, and I wanted to keep him. So I don't think we strictly went for one story in the comic books; I think we took parts out of the world of Frank Castle and tried to make the best story possible.
Note: Jigsaw is being played by Dominic West.
What was the most brutal scene that you've shot, and do you have a favorite kill?
The most brutal scene would have to be two weeks ago when we shot part of the finale. It was really cold and toxic building, and we all had to have these masks on ... which didn't help a lot because we all got sick anyway. It was toxic, so we had to shoot the entire time with these oxygen masks on. Except for the cast; they didn't get any. I do have a favorite kill; without giving too much away I can say it has to do with a head-butt.
Is this a complete re-boot, or is it more like Batman Forever (ie: different characters in the outfit, but the same Frank Castle from the last movie)?
LA: I would say it's a complete different re-boot, just because neither one of the previous [films] were relevant. And with Castle, it's one story -- the mythology stays the same -- and I think I just have a very very different take on it. I was lucky to put it in the right environment, which was dark and cold.
Will Microchip be Frank's ally or enemy in this film?
LA: He's his ally; definitely his ally.
Do you have any particular interest in a Green Street Hooligans 2?
LA: No, no Hooligans 2 -- I know you're a big fan, but that's definitely not in the future. Those are the sort of mytholigies I like, so they're might be something in that area.

I'm loving this. Punisher Max is awesome. I love the direction they are going and everything above she said. :)
Nice. This is going to be a good one.
I'm sure Superherohype was there too and they just haven't published it yet.
Probably. Perhaps tomorrow or later tonight.
Too bad about the ex-FBI origin thing.
well, she sounds like she is doing the right thing. I guess I'll be convinced when I see a decent trailer.
Not to be skeptic, but realisticaly she's obviously going to talk like she's doing all the right things. She's not gonna say "I'm making a crap movie!"

Though I hope everything she says is true.
Not to be skeptic, but realisticaly she's obviously going to talk like she's doing all the right things. She's not gonna say "I'm making a crap movie!"

Though I hope everything she says is true.

Well look at the colors in the pic. I'm sure she's right about the MAX comic look.
Im looking forward to this movie even more now reading this and seeing the new picture. I think Lexi is going in the right direction and making a good movie that us punisher fans can really sink our teeth into. Looking forward to this "head-butt" kill scene :woot:
I Know exacty what she's talking about in the "head-butt" scene.....

Punisher MAX issue #5!!! check it out!
I Know exacty what she's talking about in the "head-butt" scene.....

Punisher MAX issue #5!!! check it out!

That would rock. That would almost make me as happy as seeing the decapitating train doors in Circle of Blood.
Hahaha I had to look it up after reading your #5 reference.

That would be really cool to see on screen; it'd get a great reaction. Hopefully you're right and that's what we get.
$%^& my MAX trades are on loan to a friend, can someone refresh me?
If liquidshh is right, this is the headbutt scene.

Yah, how in the hell would Frank pass the mental exam.
Something about the FBI just doesn't wring hardcore to me, more like highly trained bureaucrats with guns, like the IRS or something.

Nothing really satisfies me like the Vietnam angle, but then we'd have a Punisher filling his depends faster then his rifle.
There are men well into their 70's who are proficient body builders, Frank would only be in his mid fifties, and since Lexi said she was going for a surreal tone, what would be more surreal then having a 50 something urban legend. Must I bore you with a lecture about electromagnetism? It would bring added appeal to the movie, heres a guy who was so pissed at the world that even father time couldn't hold him back. I think it could work, and since this isnt Batman Begins were discussing we don't need that much realism in the story. Think about it a 50 something pissed of Force Recon Marine, or a 2 piece suit wearing , hail to the cheif FBI agent??? Which would you fear more? I dunno bout you but Id be ****ting bricks if it were the Marine, I could always call the FBI agents superiors and complain I was being targeted, but being that all marines are more then sufficient marksman, Id be afraid to step outside or go near a window. I don't want to get sniped by no Lee Harvey Oswald!!!!

And think about this

Do you want the movie Born to take place in Iraq????!!!!
The Very Best parts of the interview IMO:

The one thing I concentrated on is to really make it as close to the MAX series as possible. I think we really achieved it in terms of the look, as well as the tone. When I look at the dailies that I am getting, seriously, I think I am looking at a MAX comic book right in front of me. It's the same color tones; it's the same tone.

It will definitely be a hard R. Luckily, Lionsgate has been great about it. They haven't given me any guidelines in terms of violence. I really like violent movies.

I think the reason I have been sick all week is I have been shooting in minus degrees all night for eight weeks. I literally haven't seen daylight; I'm like a vampire. So, you can imagine how this movie is going to look. It's all dark and cold.

I think the ending really justifies the title "War Zone."

It's definitely Marvel MAX and it is a vigilante story; it's pretty dark and violent in the comic books as Punisher fans know. There is really no boundary to his darkness. I tried to go there. Hopefully, I have achieved it.
They(Ray Stevenson and Dominic West) really are perfect. Everyday we stand behind the monitor and we just shake our heads. We look at these guys and go, like "Holy *****," how lucky did we get. Ray Stevenson is incredibly intense. Not only does he totally look like the Punisher, he kind of has his life up on his face. He is not a pretty boy. You can definitely see that he has had a life. He is skilled and he teaches all of us now about guns, machine guns and bullets. He is very physical. On the other hand, Dominic is just a really skilled actor. I think people will see a side of him that they haven't seen before.

There is a lot of action and a lot of violence. The real essence of what happened to Frank Castle and how he is dealing with it will come through. There are a lot of quiet scenes in the film as well.

I would say it's a completely different reboot because the first, and the previous one, were not relevant to us at all. Castle is one story; the mythology stays the same. I have a very different take on it. I was lucky enough to put it in the right environment where I think Frank Castle belongs, which is very dark and cold.

I said(to her fight coreographer) when we do hand-to-hand contact I want to see that he is skilled in all these different things so he can go from one thing to the other. At the same time he is not acrobatic. He is not an elegant fighter. You will see different things but they are not going to be beautiful. I think we have achieved that.
I just love this woman! She is so open and upfront about the movie. Great interview!

Oh please God, I'm just praying this movie is going to be as good as it sounds.
Sounds great. I like its gonna be a Hard R. Punisher looks like steven segal in that picture though
Didnt like the picture, but LOVED the interview, some great things said by Lexi, still looking forward to this.

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