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8/30/11

SUCKER PUNCH - REVIEW


Zack Snyder is a weird one. Directing career so far: 300, Watchmen, OWLS, Sucker Punch, Superman. I can't say it's been a smooth, flawless ride so far but it's been...interesting. Even the best of the bunch, Watchmen, was far from perfect and failed to to live up to the source material's deeper aspects.

What it seems to come down to is a disconnect between style and content. Snyder's films, Sucker Punch included, look fab from start to finish and the over-ambition is always welcome as it gives us the sense that there's nothing Mr Snyder will shy away from.

Alas this can also prove to be something of a curse.

Titanic scales, tedious slo-mos, gratuitous sex/violence, CGI up the ass, grungy pop music...these seem to be regulars now when it comes to Snyder's films. He's like a Michael Bay wrapped inside a Robert Rodriguez. And although I can't stand 300 and care not for owls I enjoyed Watchmen in parts and was looking forward to this new comic book adaptation. After all, with Superman: Man Of Steel coming up, one wants to feel secure that Mr Kal-El will get some good, fresh treatment this time around.

Curses...

Alright, I've stalled long enough: Sucker Punch review.

It's not good.

It's not TOO bad, there's definitely far worse out there, but it's not good.

Like I said: style vs content. Here we have an over-stylized, overblown film telling a story which could (and should) have been told in a very gritty, infinitely more focused way. Think Darren Aronofsky meets Michel Gondry?  Because as it stands we've got an Alice in Wonderland-style structure in which both the real world and the "dream" world are equally OTT and unbelievable with the whole thing linked together through, lets be honest here, music videos and peppered with overwhelming amounts of CGI backgrounds, foregrounds and...everything else.

It's literally one big headache after another.

A lot of stuff just doesn't work...at all. Worst offender: by far the music video editing of ALL the action scenes (and some of the rest). I hate to make the comparison but the only other director I know who loves that kind of fast-paced, pop music-ridden rubbish spread throughout entire films is Uwe Boll, the man behind Bloodrayne (yikes!). I understand the main audience for Sucker Punch was most likely teenagers but plastering on the emo pop/rock just tends to ruin most scenes making this one loud, relentless, obnoxious, LOUD movie to watch.

It all seems so unnecessary as well. After all, what are we meant to care about in this story? One young woman possibly undergoing a lobotomy.

Urgh...

Gonna need me some giant samurais, fire-shitting robots and zombie nazis for THAT one!

It is a shame that this whole mess fails to gather any real emotions or make us care a little about these characters. There are gorgeous shots here and there, impressive CGI and the girls are, frankly, not that bad at all. It's hardly Shakespearian but the actresses involved do give decent enough performances in between Barbarella-style skimpy outfits. The guys fare less well with some hit-and-miss B casting though. I should mention the film's structure also. Now I'm a big fan of that kind of Alice in Wonderland/Coraline/Wizard Of Oz dream/reality mash-up style and when done right (Return To Oz, anyone?) this can prove to be a very creative and rewarding surrealist experience.

Here though, we get a bunch of dreams within a dream, all of them completely intrusive and repetitively replacing silly dances (probably not so pleasant things in the real world) main gal Baby Doll indulges in. It's all about as subtle as a...sucker punch to the 'nads and is just about as rewarding. The way the story is told just isn't involving and when it gets to the, frankly refreshing, third act you find yourself being thankful not only that things are starting to make a little bit of sense but also that some actual drama does exist in Sucker Punch. Shame it's so last minute and comes after so much empty *booms* and *pows*.

*zzzaaaaaap*

So yeah, hardly perfect. I did like the genuine effort that went into the design of those various action scenes as well as the themes touched upon in the film but on the whole this is a loud, bloated mess of a creation and I just couldn't recommend it without a word of warning. It looks mostly great and is occasionally fun but overall feels like an indigestion. It's not awful and is thankfully better than 300 but unless you're a die-hard Sucker Punch or Zack Snyder fan you might want to stick with good-old psychodramas (The Snake Pit) or just something altogether smarter.

Lets just hope that Snyder leaves the slo-mo and the emo behind for The Man Of Steel.

And the OWLS.


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