Punisher War Zone

WSR Score3.5
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
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Pervasive strong brutal violence, language and some drug use
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Lexi Alexander
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Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS HD Lossless 7.1
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Based on Marvel's Punisher comic book series, War Zone depicts ruthless vigilante-hero Frank Castle (Stevenson) waging his one-man war on the world of organized crime. Castle sets his sights on overeager mob boss, Billy Russoti (West). After Russoti is left horribly disfigured by Castle, he sets out to seek vengeance under his new alias: Jigsaw. With the "Punisher Task Force" hot on his trail and the FBI unable to take Jigsaw in, Castle must stand up to the formidable army that Jigsaw has recruited before more of his evil deeds go unpunished. (Gary Reber)

Special features on Disc One include audio commentary with Director Lexi Alexander and Cinematographer Steve Gainer; five featurettes: Making Of The Punisher (HD 09:02), Meet Jigsaw (HD 03:34), Weapons Of The Punisher (HD 04:39), Training To Become The Punisher (HD 05:47), and Creating The Look Of The Film (HD 02:46); the theatrical trailer; up-front previews; and Lionsgate's MoLog™ BD-Live interactivity. Disc Two contains a standard-definition digital copy of the film.

The 2.40:1 1080p AVC picture quality is terrific, with varying stylized imagery that presents a compelling film look. As such, fleshtones can look perfectly natural or purposely desaturated and edgy. Likewise, color fidelity is, at times, desaturated and at other times fully saturated, using differing sets per scene of three colors to simulate the comic book feel. Blacks are deep and solid, though, and shadow delineation is rendered well. Resolution is outstanding, especially in close-ups of facial features and textures. Contrast, as a result of the stylization, is a bit restricted at times, but the overall effect is impressive. This is, after all, a comic book story, and the imagery is deliberately distorted. Pristine throughout, the picture is a pleasure, with plenty of visual variations to stimulate. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 7.1-channel soundtrack is wonderfully holosonic® in character. Surround envelopment is aggressive and directionalized, with impressive pans and phantom imaging all around, including center back positioning. Bass is deep, and at times powerful, extending to below 25 Hz in the LFE .1 channel and below 30 Hz in the other channels. The music score is well recorded and impressively energizes the entire soundfield. SPL can be powerful and the sound very dynamic, with sharp transients, such as loud gunshots. Dialogue is generally nicely recorded with, at times, good spatial integration. Unfortunately, the added side channels appear to be positioned to the back sides of the sweet spot listening position, not to the sides, as they should be. This occurs with Lionsgate 7.1 soundtracks (or possibly the processor manufacturer, to be determined). Thus, unless you switch outputs, the normal surrounds in a 5.1-channel mix will be at the sides, not to the back sides Mi Casa Multimedia re-mixed in the 7.1 format and they position the added two channels to the sides. Thus, there is a problem in the delivery. Unfortunately, the creative community, the studios, and the equipment manufacturers have not dictated a spatial loudspeaker setup standard, nor has the DTS® seven-position loudspeaker remapping software been implemented in receivers and processors. This is supposed to allow the end user to tell the processor how his or her 7.1-channel loudspeaker system is positioned in the room. Our preferred 7.1-channel setup is a perfect circle with each full-range loudspeaker location equidistant from the sweet spot and equidistant from each other along the perimeter of the 360-degree circle, forming six equally defined 60-degree segments relative to the sweet spot. In this arrangement, the added mid-left and mid-right surrounds at 90 degrees convey enhanced surround envelopment and dimensionality. Unfortunately, in addition to Lionsgate, some other 7.1-channel soundtracks are produced with the added channels not at the sides but behind the sweet spot listening position, which then creates positioning problems for normal 5.1-channel presentations, with the surround loudspeakers located to the back sides of the prime listening position, including for surround music reproduction. Nonetheless, this is an exciting soundtrack that delivers effective sound effects and Foley sounds, along with the expansive music score. (Gary Reber)