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March 27, 2011

10

Movie Review – Sucker Punch (2011)

by HELEN GEIB

It’s often said that Hollywood movie-making is all about the numbers. Allow me to break down Sucker Punch by the numbers.

Watching Sucker Punch is like watching somebody else play a video game for two hours. A video game that sprang fully formed from the mind of a 14-year old boy.

I had half a mind to leave before the end.

The world within the film is composed of three nested fantasy layers. The top layer is the characters’ reality, a mock-Gothic insane asylum to which heroine Baby Doll (Emily Browning) has been wrongfully committed by her evil stepfather. The middle layer is a showclub/bordello fractured mirror of the asylum, apparently inexplicably Baby Doll’s escape from reality into imagination. The bottom and relatively most interesting layer is a multiverse video game-like construct in which Baby Doll and her four member girl-victim posse are invincible warriors. Their names are Sweet Pea, Rocket, Blondie, and Amber.

The layers are connected by the film’s one defining visual motif, namely nubile young women in stripper-hooker outfits.

Sucker Punch might possibly have been an entertaining women in prison/anime hottie/comic book/female warrior fantasy pastiche if it had one of these three things:

1) A STORY. The damaged mind that escapes into a fantasy world is an idea. It’s proved a fruitful idea for numerous filmmakers since at least The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. But it’s not a story.

2) CHARACTERS. Sucker Punch doesn’t have characters. It has six beautiful actresses, including a thrown away Carla Gugino, in various and varied stages of near-nudity representing suffering and exploited womanhood and a few fully-clothed actors representing stock male villains. Plus Scott Glenn as Baby Doll & Co.’s portentous spirit guide.

3) HUMOR. Humor in this self-serious movie? Now there’s a laugh.

The script lapses into pretentious voiceover narration two times, the first during the pre-commitment prologue that is the film’s otherwise wordless high point and the second to close out the post-escape epilogue that constitutes the titular punch aimed squarely at the audience.

Abbie Cornish is the only one of the five young actresses able to wrestle the dialogue to the mat.

Sucker Punch was directed by Zack Snyder. Story and screenplay by Zack Snyder. Zack Snyder makes his appearance on the list of directors who should stick to directing and let other people do the writing at number one, tied with Robert Rodriguez.

1/2 star


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Review of Watchmen (directed by Zack Snyder, original story not by Zack Snyder)

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. miriam
    Mar 27 2011

    You can make it ZERO chance that I will see this!

  2. Mar 27 2011

    Well, I for one dislike every film that Zack Snyder has made, so far and after having seen the trailer to this film months ago I knew that it would suck. Also, having a 20% rating on RottenTomatoes helps others to know that the movie sucks.
    Superman: the Man of Steel is the only movie of his that I am looking forward to seeing because it is being, very carefully, produced by Christopher Nolan. It’s his baby, technically.

  3. Mar 28 2011

    Also, Rodriguez had never directed someone else’s script. And, in my own opinion he’s made mostly good films, when not making family films (because they suck). Also, Once Upon a Time in Mexico doesn’t exist, as far as I’m concerned.
    But with a resume containing El Mariachi, Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, The Faculty (yes, I liked it), Sin City, Planet Terror (the best zombie film in a decade or so), and Machete he’s up there as the great white hope for (potential) cheese films that know what they’re about and do it well.
    Zack Snyder… he’s lame. He directs video games cut scenes and portrays them in slow motion. He’ll never grasp the concept that slow motion doesn’t portray emotions because it’s only supposed to excentuate the happening of a situation in a single shot or so. For expert use of slow motion, look to Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. If you can spot the one or two scenes that are slowed down you’ll see what I mean. :O)

  4. miriam
    Mar 28 2011

    Sure, if you leave out all the ones you don’t like, you can say Rodriguez has made mostly good movies. I liked The Faculty, too, but that’s not his script nor is Sin City. I think he’s an immensely talented filmmaker and I admire the way he can work within a budget. It disappoints me to see him make so many movies unworthy of his talents. Spy Kids was fun, I thought, but one was enough (his kids aren’t writers either) and the same goes for the faux grindhouse stuff. If he wanted to do Planet Terror for fun, ok, but I really wish he’d tackle something ambitious and substantive.

  5. Helen
    Mar 28 2011

    Coincidentally, I read a review of “Machete” this weekend that captured my feelings by assessing Rodriguez the laziest real talent working in Hollywood. Not coincidentally, “Sin City” and “The Faculty” are his best films. “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn” is good (schlocky) fun and also goes on the somebody else wrote it list.

    (Speaking of Frank Miller, he’s currently no. 1 on the companion list, “writers who should stick to writing and leave the directing to somebody else.”)

    @Nir: We’ll have to agree to disagree on “300” and “Watchmen.”

  6. Mar 29 2011

    I liked 300 back when I saw in theatres in IMAX but it’s not what one would call an actually good movie. It’s a nice adaptation from the Frank Miller comic cook but even the comic is weak.

    Watchman… too cheesy, too glossy, too much like the comic (which is bad because the comic’s 800 pages long) and the different ending trally blows. I wasn’t even a die hard fan of the comic; truthfully I hadn’t even heard of it ’till the film came out. But you can read my complaints about it on my blog.

    Dawn of the Dead (1978) is the greatest zombie film of all time so the remake, to me, was more than waste of time, and the Legend of the Guardians is nothing more than eye candy, like Snyder’s other films.

    Zack Snyder’s passion prpjects (even those made just for fun) all suck compared to Robert Rodriguez’s ad he’s not even taking filmmaking seriously (except for Sin City.) I just hate Snyder’s cinema and I hope that he learns a lot from Nolan.

  7. Jun 20 2011

    I finally watched this wretched film last night and I agree with you, Helen that it deserves no more than a half a star rating. It’s one of the worst movies that I ever saw and I don’t even know why I watched all of it.

  8. Helen
    Jun 23 2011

    Its awfulness must be seen to be believed, but better to take the critics’ word for it- I know I wish I had!

  9. Jun 23 2011

    Ditto.

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