Do you remember that rather average Iron Man: Rise of Technovore animated film from last year? Well, this time around, Punisher and his new found partner, Black Widow, get an animation of their very own in Marvel’s Avengers Confidential: Punisher and Black Widow.
As usual, The Punisher is doing what he does best; killing goons and arms dealers. However, this time his vigilante tactics have gone too far as he ends up interrupting a S.H.I.E.L.D investigation. In order to prevent himself from facing punishment for his actions, Nick Fury forces Frank Castle to team up with Black Widow in order to finish what they started, taking down the arms dealer known as Leviathan. Frank could never have comprehended what Leviathan had been producing for sale.
The action sequences are great and contain a level of amped up suggested violence. Whilst not showing blood, the fatalities are suggested rather strongly. Right from the opening of the film you have criminals being slaughtered from throat slicing to point blank head shots, but as the blade slices or the trigger is pulled the camera will shift at the last second allowing the film to fit into the PG 13 age restriction.
The story on the other hand leaves much to be desired; in fact it is rather bland. The plot seems to revolve around the life of S.H.I.E.L.D’s top covert operative, the Black Widow. Leviathan has managed to make the most dangerous weapon of all, the human weapon. And the reasoning behind the development of these weapons is truly silly and not well thought out.
Another aspect that steals from the animation is the poor voice acting that ends up being teamed up with badly timed dubbing. The voice actors do not sound motivated or even excited. This creates a rather forced feeling to the romance between two of the main characters and, fortunately, this lack of excitement in voice acting is well suited to the character of The Punisher. He is not happy about anything and you can feel this through his voice acting.
The characters do get some development which is a breath of fresh air. So, whilst the action sequences are certainly the strong point, we are still able to see characters grow. We even get to see Elias Starr reborn and given a fresh new… far better look! The only other real character growth belongs to The Punisher, as he for once begins to question his actions and the ethics behind it. As for Black Widow, on the other hand, the only thing that seems to have grown in this movie are her… assets. She ends up falling victim to the fan-service nature of busty Japanese anime babes; she is overly flirtatious, curvaceous and suggestive. It is not great to see her presented for her assets more than her skills.
Avengers Confidential: Punisher and Black Widow is far from great and still not on par with DC animation releases, but it is definitely a stronger contender when it comes to Marvel Animation releases. Whilst the plot is rather dry and predictabl, the cameos and extended action sequences make up for it. Had this film solely focused on The Punisher, his problems and his victims, it could have been a greater experience. However, it is good to see that Marvel is trying to introduce him into the greater, more popular franchises. This is definitely a project that is showing that Marvel is finally beginning to step into the right direction. Had the plot been original or contained more references to the comic universe, this could have been a hit, but slow and steady wins the race and they certainly need to catch up to DC animation! [2.5/5]