Monday, April 4, 2011

Movie Review: Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch

All flare, no care.

I probably cold write for a month and still never address all the different ways critics hate director Zack Snyder's (300) new movie, Sucker Punch. Snyder is one artist whose work it is currently en vogue to hate on, but I have never felt that he deserved the derision until now.

Snyder shows virtually no restraint in any way here, except that the exploitative presentation of the film's young, female antagonists never quite reaches R-level, and I will give him credit for restraining himself from falling into Tony Scott-like hyper cutting to round out the obnoxious presentation, but that was probably only avoided to allow for the exceedingly long takes of CGI cartoonery.

The lovely Emily Browning (Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events) plays Baby Doll, a girl forced into a mental institution in Vermont after her mother dies and she accidentally kills her sister. The institution's cruel master, Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac), plans to lobotomize her. Doll and the four friends she earns (Abbie Cornish, Jenna Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jamie Chung) plan a way to escape, but that way is through their own imaginations.

It is all a mess from here, as the mental institution is immediately re-presented as a burlesque, the girls now trashed up, dancing whores and Blue their pimp. Within this more colorful world, Baby doll uses her dancing to gain power over her audience, the same trick Snyder apparently wanted to pull. But even when the girls dance, we don't see it; the metaphorical battle against sci-fi enemies in video game locales becomes our reality.

Sucker Punch is inane and derivative, three levels of Inception deep in a trashy Christina Aguilera video, by way of anime action leftovers. You never have time to care about the characters, and the action scenes fail to entertain, but they annoy with their excessively loud pop music remix soundtracks. Almost the entire film is an enigmatic daydream, and the total running time in what you could exhaustedly call the real world- or what Christopher Nolan would call zero levels deep- is probably about 20 minutes.

The film is outright ugly, as a smog renders all things brown and even the (mostly animated) fight scenes look blurry. A faithful DVD/Blu-ray transfer in a couple of month's time will not be fun to look at, though it will shake your house non-stop, so if you want to own this movie you had better find something worthwhile in its content. If you are a teenage boy, I am not judging.

Happy viewing,


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