Punisher: War Zone in Trouble - Director Lexi Alexander Off?
Yesterday we brought you a ridiculously violent red band trailer for the holiday-slated Punisher: War Zone. The material caught us a bit off guard, considering the first, albeit subdued, teaser we saw back in June. Personally, I think this is a sign that Lionsgate is getting a bit desperate and that Punisher is headed for a bloody box office crash. I'm more convinced of this today given director Lexi Alexander's absence from the Comic-Con panel for the film, and allegations brought to light by our friends over at Ain't It Cool News. Despite producer Gale Anne Hurd's statements that Alexander missed the event due to her "honeymoon," AICN is reporting that the director is actually off the project entirely, along with the film's composer, meaning we've got another studio butchered film. Can I get a collective uh oh?
Now, the news is still pretty hazy at this point, and we can't expect the director to clear the air anytime soon; AICN is also claiming (via an insider they're fittingly calling Jigsaw) that she's wrapped up in a non-disclosure agreement. However, I'm struggling to figure out a reason why the director would leave the project. The rumoring indicates that Lionsgate aims to market the film "HARDCORE." This makes a bit of sense considering the latest trailer and the heavy metal crap that runs through it - a change of direction that also supposedly got the film's original composer clipped. But I can't imagine that taking the film in a "HARDCORE" direction would be reason enough for Alexander to leave the project. After all, throughout production she's been a huge proponent of the blood and violence that saturates the Punisher's world. She said of the lame teaser trailer in June:
"I am utterly impressed, though, they managed to find that much PG rated action footage at all. It had to be a challenge to cut a trailer from our action stuff without showing any gore and blood. I’ve been told that you can’t even show heads blowing up in red-band trailers. I hope that’s not true because that would suck. It’s weird to see Castle shoot all those bullets and not see the thugs who are catching them. That's the best fucking part about it!!!"
It seems the latest trailer falls directly in line with Alexander's vision. So what gives? The exact reasons may not be known at this time, but what's on the director's personal website is pretty telling - all the posts have been removed and in their place is a graphic of the "Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil" monkeys. For the longest time Lionsgate was using her blog posts as a major selling point, pushing them to websites like our for coverage, but indeed they've been entirely removed. What does that tell you?
All of this said, and despite my affinity for the Frank Castle comic book character, Punisher: War Zone is going to erupt in a lifeless mess come December, not unlike the bad guys' in the latest trailer. And speaking of, what's with the "right round" spinning and shooting ala Hitman (or even Boondock Saints) and hanging from a chandelier no less? I like Alexander's work on Green Street Hooligans and feel for her if indeed she's been booted from a project she's been so enthusiastic about, but I can't say I'm excited for Punisher. Lionsgate is only going to make things worse by grabbing at straws at the 11th hour and so far it doesn't sound good. This seem consistent with almost all of Marvel's recent films, like The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man, even if we couldn't tell in the final result. So why does this keep happening?