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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Sucker Punch

Directed by: Zack Snyder

Produced by: Deborah Snyder
Zack Snyder

Screenplay by: Zack Snyder
Steve Shibuya

Starring: Emily Browning
Abbie Cornish
Jena Malone
Vanessa Hudgens
Jamie Chung
Carla Gugino
Oscar Isaac
John Hamm
Scott Glenn

Music by: Tyler Bates
Marius de Vries

Cinematography by: Larry Fong

Editing by: William Hoy

Studio(s): Legendary Pictures
Cruel and Unusual Films

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date(s): March 25, 2011 (United States)
April 1, 2011 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 110 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $82 million

Box office revenue: $89, 792, 502

Well, things are going well, although I have yet to advance on to watching two movies a day, much less my intended three a day. A lot of cramming is going on, and I have since acquired through various means seven films from 2011 that I can review. As such, I have now seen J. Edgar, and can guarantee a good few more in there. Some are one's that I have been consistently harping on about watching, others are surprises, so keep your eyes posted for details!

Alright, so my next film for review is Sucker Punch, the latest film from Zack Snyder. For those of you who don't know, me and Snyder have a little history. I first started paying attention to Snyder with 300, his adaptation of the Frank Miller comic book series, a simple yet highly stylish and entertaining film. However, since he has plied his craft to an adaptation of Alan Moore's Watchmen, a well-intentioned picture that ultimately flounders in style over substance. After this, he did Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga'Hoole, a departure being an animated family film which I have yet to see. His latest is also a landmark in Snyder's career, in that it is the first time he has directed something he (and Steve Shibuya) wrote, as opposed to an adaptation. Sucker Punch follows 'Babydoll' (Emily Browning), who is blamed for the death of her sister, in actuality at the hands of her abusive stepfather (Gerard Plunkett), and as a result is institutionalised. After orderly Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac) is bribed into forging the asylum's psychiatrist Dr. Vera Gorski's (Carla Gugino) signature, Babydoll is next in line for a lobotomy. However, seconds before lobotomisation, she/we enter a fantasy world in which she joins an assortment of characters as the newest arrival at a brothel. Long story short, Babydoll and four other girls decide to make an escape plan.

Starting off with what is good about Sucker Punch, I must mention that Zack Snyder is a visual stylist and as such with every one of his films you are guaranteed a movie that has a number of good-looking moments. Larry Fong's cinematography is good, even if the lighting is a tad too dark, though that might be down to visual effects. Anyway, Fong comes up with some innovative shots, particularly the long-take with the girl's doing their makeup in front the mirrors that really distorts your perception of perspective. Also, I appreciate the music tastes of those involved. Regardless of content, this is a great soundtrack, with some inspired remixes/covers of songs by Eurythmics, Bjork, Jefferson Airplane, The Stooges, The Beatles, Pixies, The Smiths, Mozart and Roxy Music. Like the film or not, this is one fine collection of music, particularly Emily Browning's vocal performance.

Now, before I get suckered into thinking this is a good film, I'll get to what my brain tells me I think of the film. I'll buck the conventional form of analysis, concluding first and providing my argument second. Conclusion: Sucker Punch sucks! Why? Well, the main problem is not the depiction of women, which has had the film labelled as misogynistic, I think to label it is as such would be to give it credit of having a perspective any kind. No, the problem is the fact that the film has no narrative backbone. In the wake of Inception, it seems that every film of every genre has decided they can play limber and loose with film narrative, but the fact is that Inception had a structure, whereas Sucker Punch has the structural flimsiness of a marshmallow. At the moment of lobotomy, Babydoll dreams of brothels, as you do, and every time she dances goes off into battle with the rest of the gang of dolls/molls. It is so flimsy and weak the whole movie collapses within about ten minutes. Also, structurally as a whole, not just in the narrative sense, not only is it ludicrous but it is also repetitive. Look, I bought and enjoyed the opening scene, shot and edited around Emily Browning singing 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).' However, and this not an insult to the music video or video games, which I think is a perfectly valid art form, whenever you repeat the same pattern of 'music video-story-video game' over and over, it gets really boring. I mean, The Wall consists of a rock star's mental degeneration in his apartment, but at least it has a structure (incidentally, it's the best thing Bob Geldof has ever done). Also, this 'assortment' of battle scenes, which essentially are there to indulge Snyder's pet hobbies and dress the girls in different fetish outfits, for all their different backgrounds, are essentially the same ten-minute sequence repeated five-fold. Also, as much as I love the songs, this is a loud and highly overbearing film that resulted in a more resonating headache than something as all over the place (in a good way) than Source Code managed, leaving me feeling like I had suffered a punt to the head (I know what that feels like, believe me) and both emotionally and physically exhausted and overwhelmed. Furthermore, Snyder's directorial trademarks are jacked up to eleven, and with Sucker Punch being his most self-indulgent film, it ends up feeling (and looking) like a grotesque parody of everything that he has accomplished as a director. Furthermore, this is a compromised indulgence: Snyder said that this was going to be an R-rated film, but ended up going for PG-13, opting to release an extended director's cut on DVD. Now, there is no excuse for this when you have final cut on your movie, so if you are going to appease your fetishes Mr. Snyder, you may as well go the full monty. As far I'm concerned Zack, you can take your extended cut, no wait, any cut of this film and shove it up your ass, because I'm not going to sit here and try to swallow this regurgitated vomit that you have decided to call a feature film. Virtually everything about this film made me irritable and disgruntled.

For all I liked about Sucker Punch, such as some good visual stylistics and cinematography, and a great soundtrack, I really did not like this film. Zack Snyder reaches Michael Bay-esque levels of self-indulgence/self-prostitution, and his compromised pet project left me annoyed at it's lack of narrative structure and overbearingness. How pertinent that this is a film produced by a studio called Cruel and Unusual Films. I'm happy to note that it barely broke even, because it didn't deserve any paying audiences full attention. It's not my worst film of the year, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't in my bottom ten films of the year. I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone, not least the institutionalised, who I think would feel themselves lobotomised and the whole process a torturous affair.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 2.6/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Tired (having to reprocess this mess of a film was something akin to a parasite draining my life-force)

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