BOX OFFICE REVIEW: Sucker Punch
Zack Snyder's latest delivers bullets, babes, and brainless fun...
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I wanted to love Sucker Punch so much.
I first heard about the film last July when, at Comic Con, a single teaser trailer showed which featured all those things which make every fan boy sit up and take notice: beautiful, scantily-clothed women wielding swords and automatic rifles battling samurai, dragons, orcs, zombies, knights, and cyborgs and the name "Zack Snyder" as director. What more could a film fan want?
Sadly, after watching Sucker Punch earlier this week, I realized the movie, while including all of the above mentioned fantasies, was missing a few things very very important to a quality film: an enthralling story, decent dialogue, and quality acting.
Now first let me be clear: I'm not saying the story is non-existent; it's simply lost behind a tirade of beautiful costumes, gorgeous scene designs, amazing special effects, awesome slow motion battle sequences, and video game-like action. The film's tagline, "You will be unprepared," unfortunately came true as I was truly unprepared for the poor quality dialogue and the less-than-stellar acting portrayed by what is a much more talented cast.
The film's script is the freshmen writing effort for both director Snyder and Steve Shibuya, who have plenty of film experience and should have known better. The film's story, which is a parable of sorts about how people are all powerful enough to overcome any obstacle if they can find the unlikely people and things which can grant them salvation, sadly begins to meander early on after which it becomes completely lost behind the sound of full-auto gunfire delivered in droves by hospital patients-turned-dancers-turned-warriors Baby Doll (Emily Browning), Rocket (Jena Malone), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung) and the cliche one-liners delivered by The Wise Man (Scott Glenn).
The previously mentioned actor and actresses as well as the rest of the cast - which includes John Hamm as the High Roller/Doctor, Carla Gugino as the doctor/madam Gorski, and Oscar Isaac as the care provider/owner Blue - all deliver dialogue which seems, at times, completely irrelevant and unnecessary. While it's up to moviegoers to judge, the dialogue seemed - at least to me - almost worthless. If the goal of the film was to truly catch audiences unprepared, it would have been amazing if Sndyer had cut the dialogue completely and told the story through the assaulting rap/rock/techno music soundtrack and gorgeous visuals, which - when combined - succeed in emotionally capturing viewers with their unique combination and delivery.
The first 8 or so minutes of Sucker Punch feature no dialogue, simply a visual story that's easy to understand set to a techno remix of the Eurhythmics' '80s hit "Sweet Dreams," which - even without dialogue - had me completely absorbed. Not since director Kazuaki Kiriya's 2004 sci-fi masterpiece Casshern have I been as emotionally invested and mesmerized by a film's auditory and visual splendor. That is, until one of Sucker Punch's characters opened their mouths to speak...
Other things Sucker Punch does well: the costume and set designs. Stunningly detailed and absolutely impressive, the movie features some amazing design work which will have impressed fans seeking out a copy of the recently released "The Art of Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch" art book, which is well worth the $25. Likewise, and as previously mentioned, if you're a fan of anime and over-the-top fight scenes, Sucker Punch is right up your alley.
Sucker Punch will polarize Zack Snyder fans. In one camp, we'll find the die-hard, "Zach can do no wrong" fans of the writer/director, who'll express their love for this film (and its writer/director) by saying things like "You simply didn't understand it" or "It's not supposed to be easy to understand." In the other camp, you'll have those moviegoers and critics who'll roll their eyes, comfortable in the knowledge the film featured a meandering story, less than stellar acting, and any real cohesion.
It's safe to say the film will do well with fan boys and girls who love nothing more than the previously mentioned fantasies: beautiful, scantily-clothed women wielding swords and automatic rifles battling samurai, dragons, orcs, zombies, knights, and cyborgs. That said, it's truly a sad day for pop culture and Hollywood when these things and the name "Snyder" are all it takes to get the green light on a film with a budget of $82 million. While his past work on such films as 300 and Watchmen prove Snyder will do well with the forthcoming Superman movie, my gut tells me it'll be a while before we see another original from him.
That said, the more I watch movies today, the more I realize story and substance aren't always necessary for one to be entertained...or at least entertained once. I'm as guilty as anyone and I'll probably end up buying Sucker Punch when it hits blu-ray in four or five months; if only for the simple fact that I - like every other kid who grew playing video games, reading comics, and watching sci-fi and fantasy films - love watching beautiful, scantily-clothed women wielding swords and automatic rifles battle samurai, dragons, orcs, zombies, knights, and cyborgs.
Sucker Punch has that going for it...which is nice.
Sucker Punch is in theaters today and is rated PG-13 for thematic material involving sexuality, violence and combat sequences, and for language.
- Jess C. Horlsey
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley