Saturday, March 26, 2011

SUCKER PUNCH- he said/she said, Cool Gals Don't Look at Explosions

Directed by Zack Snyder
Written by Zack Snyder
Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone, Jamie Chung,
Oscar Isaac, Carla Gugino, and Jon Hamm
Synopsis: A young girl is sent to a mental institution, and with the help of her fellow inmates, they use their imagination and dreams to help them plan an escape.

Jonesy:  SUCKER PUNCH is what happens when we take an unfiltered glimpse inside the mind of Zack Synder.  There are cyborgs, ninjas/samurai, dragons, Lord of the Rings Orc rejects, Nazi-ish zombie soldiers, evil medical workers, oh yea, and girls, lots and lots of semi-looking-school-girl-uniform-wearing girls.  At a little less than two hours, the movie feels long.  That's an impressive feat to accomplish for an action film.  Synder seems to take a stab at creating a modern-day Romanticism movie (maybe that's me trying to look too deep into things), but leaves us with a sloppy, wanna-be INCEPTION crossed with 300 with a splash of ALICE IN WONDERLAND (which Snyder actually said himself).  I'm not sure if he was trying to empower women with this movie, but word of advice, most women don't feel empowered wearing those outfits.  Also, most girls don't always look so angsty like these characters did.  Just sayin.

The aesthetic of the film is surprisingly visually appealing.  Each "level" of the movie has it's own unique style.  The main world is dabbed with shades of grey, then the make believe world the gals live in (a weird Mouin Rouge-ish whore house) is punctuated with bright colors, glitter, and short skirts, and finally the action world (so the imagination within the imagination if you're keeping up), is super saturated with greens...and short skirts.  And really, that's about the extent to which I enjoyed the movie.

SUCKER PUNCH could lend itself to explore very deep themes of free will and finding yourself, but apparently the normal movie-going crowd isn't clever enough to figure this out, so we're treated to a voice overs at the beginning and end that literally shove it down our throats.  Thanks, but I promise we understood.  SUCKER PUNCH wanted to be better than it was, but in the end, it was loud, messy, and mediocre.  But we did learn that cool gals, just like cool guys, don't look at explosions. 

Javi: I don't even know where to begin. The one phrase I've always said about SUCKER PUNCH is tha everything that could potentially make it awesome is exactly why it would suck (no pun intended.) For the majority of the time that I watched this movie, I was reminded of that silly Robot Chicken Star Wars skit where Boba Fett is wielding dual lightsabers, killing Ewoks and I'm pretty sure Jar-Jar while making out with Gold Bikini Leia.  The joke was that it was all some nerdy kids' imagination.  This is exactly what SUCKER PUNCH feels like.  It's almost like a Richard Kelly movie, you see the good intentions and the deeper message that might somehow be in the product that you're watching, but then it gets muddled down in the sub-par execution.

For all of its supposed message of empowerment, I feel the actual execution and what ends p happening in the screen is less about female empowerment than just rebellion and sacrifice, even if it's justified.  What's really even more annoying is seeing the ever-pouting Emily Browning looking sad even as she's cutting down gattling-gun wielding samurais (WTF?!?)  this gets ridiculously annoying as this brings to the forefront exactly how ridiculously artificial the whole movie looks.

I understand Snyder's style, using green screen, and the speed ramping, but this is too much.  This is not a stylistic crutch brought about by the source material.  This should have been dialed down a little.  Unlike his other previous movies, this one reminded me of the overused CGI of STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES and that takes me out of the movie a lot. In addition, the music SUCKS. It's bad enough when Julie Taymor messed with all of the Beatles' songs in ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, but these covers feel completely out of place and made the audience laugh a few times.  The first time that Emily Browning's Baby Doll does her dance, instead of playing something appropriate to supposed 1960's radio, we get this Nine Inch Nails-lite music.  Talk about distracting.

As the final part of my review, we have the "dream" aspect.  It cleverly goes in and out of the "layers" much more smoothly than INCEPTION, but because it stays in the second Moulin Rouge-whore house level, we don't see a lot of the consequences of their "dream world" actions and that takes away from the suspense of the action scenes.  I hate to bring up a video game reference, but even if they did "die" in the actions scenes you almost felt that they would get another 1UP later.

I will say the only stand out of this movie is Jena Malone.  I've loved that lady since Donnie Darko and I feel that she never gets cast in movies as often as she should be.  Unfortunately, this big role did have to come in Zack Snyder's worst movie.  Like I tweeted once, we have seen unfiltered Michael Bay (TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN) now we have unfiltered Zack Snyder (SUCKER PUNCH), let's hope we never see an unfiltered Brett Ratner.  I get what he was going for, but he needs to realize that plot and complex characters will beat out hawt babes with swords and guns in lingerie killing Nazi, steampunk, dragon, zombie, wizards, with rocket launchers that shoot out rockets that have bees coming out of them.

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