The Punisher was one of my favorite superheroes as a kid. He is the vigilante element of the superhero distilled down to its core essence. Like Batman, The Punisher didn’t have any superpowers, just a whole lot of anger. Unlike Batman, he didn’t feel the need to get all theatrical about it. Forget dressing up like a bat and pretending like that would do anything but make criminals kind of scratch their heads a little, all The Punisher needed as his costume was a goddamn skull on his shirt.
There have now been four different live-action takes on The Punisher, three on the big screen and the most recent one in Netflix’s Daredevil series. They have had varying degrees of success, both creatively and financially, and they have also been quite distinct from each other. I’ve seen them all, and I’m here to give you my hot take on which are the best and which are the worst.
Last year for my obligatory year-end “best of” post, I wrote about the best songs of 2013. It had been a pretty damn good year for music, so it seemed like a natural choice to focus on that. In 2014… well, I was a bit underwhelmed by most of the music that came out. Not all of it, mind you, but there just wasn’t as much great music as the year before. So to mix it up for the new year, I’m branching out a bit and writing about all of my favorite things of 2014.
Nancy Grace is a human parasite. She feeds off of tragedy and human misery to boost her ratings while at the same time positioning herself as a crusader for justice. The results of her crusades speak for themselves, although plenty of other people have spoken about them, too. In short, she’s a terrible person. But terrible people often make for some pretty hilarious Twitter accounts, and Nancy Grace’s Twitter account is the crème de la crème of awfulness.
It occurred to me while watching the TV series Hannibal: “This is a really good-looking, artistically done show, but I could not possibly care less about the characters in it.” There are other flaws with Hannibal, too, most of them having to do with plausibility. In the past, I think I would have overlooked these flaws. I might have watched the show for its shock value alone. Who knew that you could get away with such graphic, gruesome violence on network TV? Here’s the thing, though: none of that violence affects me in even the slightest way. It’s so over the top that it’s downright cartoonish. A serial killer who plays his victims’ vocal chords like a cello? Yeah, it’s bloody, but it’s also bloody ridiculous. Contrast that with the violence in Breaking Bad. There has been some pretty gruesome stuff there, too: a corpse being dissolved in acid, a character having his throat slit, another having half his face blown off by a bomb. Yet, none of it has been gratuitous because it has all served the plot, rather than the plot serving it. That’s one difference between a mediocre show like Hannibal and a great show like Breaking Bad. The horror in Breaking Bad feels so much more real, because you’ve come to know and sympathize with the characters. Continue reading