Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sucker Punch - 2011

Sucker Punch
          Vanessa Hudgens
          Abbie Cornish
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Summary: A young girl is institutionalized by her abusive stepfather. Retreating to an alternative reality as a coping strategy, she envisions a plan which will help her escape from the mental facility (via imdb). Some spoilers ahead.
I'd like to start by stating for the record that I have been a huge fan of Zack Snyder's work. Dawn of the Dead was that rare beast, a remake that added something to the original without debasing it. 300 was an epic mix of incredible action and showed a true flair for style. Watchmen  only added to the mix, and while it has its detractors, I personally thought it was a beautiful and moving film, even with the plethora of blue male nudity. So, when I first heard about Sucker Punch, I was excited. Even more so after the trailer came out. I pictured what the trailer promised: intense, stylized action, fantasy/sci-fi settings and kick-ass women in revealing clothes kicking ass left and right. Oh, and the great Scott Glenn too... and that's exactly what Snyder delivers, and yet...
Sorry Charlie, it just doesn't work, in a way I can't quite wrap my head around. For all intents and purposes, this movie should have rung all the cherries on my personal slot machine. The film is beautifully shot, the acting was pretty good, the action scenes were first-class, imaginative, and not in the usual, so close and quick that you can't see anything style that has permeated the action genre. The women were beautiful and sexy and supposedly strong, but overall portrayed as weak and controlled, outside of the lead, Baby Doll's imagination. The overall story had promise, but the dream within a dream within a yada yada yada concept that Inception does brilliantly simply does not work here. 
Sucker Punch is being sold as a feminist manifesto of women kicking ass, but in the real life of the story the women are sexually and emotionally abused and (spoiler alert) LOBOTOMIZED!!! How is that empowering? And why not just go all the way with it if you're going to objectify the women anyway? One of the central tenants of the first dream world is that Baby Doll is so incredibly sexy at her dancing that no one can look away, and yet, THEY NEVER SHOW HER DANCE! WTF? (and I found myself saying that a lot during the movie, by the by).
For a movie that has so much right going on, it's hard to understand how it can fail so miserably. I found myself checking how much time was left in the movie via my cell phone, and that's not something I ever do. I was bored and irritated. The only real shining star and redeeming factor for me was the soundtrack, which, incidentally, is amazing. So much so that I bought it almost as soon as I got home.
So, in conclusion, skip the movie, buy the soundtrack, crank it up and spend your time more wisely.

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