Film Thursday: Sucker Punch

So this is the first ever “Film Thursday” blog post, which is gonna be along the lines of movie reviews, news or general thoughts on movies.

I’m starting it with a movie review that might be beneficial to others, even though the film’s nearly 2 weeks old now. Hopefully I’ll do better in the future (might even have to move film reviews to Saturday).

Sucker Punch

Let’s put some context into this review – I’m not unbiased.

My first brush with director Zack Snyder was the face paced remake of Dawn of the Dead through recommendation. A good debut film for an “action movie” director no doubt, but I was never gonna take note at that point.

Snyder’s name only made its way into my memory bank when a colleague convinced me that 300 was a worthwhile movie to watch purely for the beautiful visual effects – I was not disappointed by one of the most underrated and misunderstood action sequences of all time. Snyder combined panning, zooming, fast forward AND slow motion to create an adrenaline filled battle sequence mixed in with beautiful composed “paintings”. I won’t debate about the supposed racist undertone and homoerotism that everyone were banging on about.

Watchmen more or less cemented Snyder as “someone to look out for” director. With his existing reputation from 300 he has pushed himself into the marmite zone of “love him or hate him” for film fanatics. My reaction was. Meh.

Watchmen was not as great a film as the graphics novel ever was. Watchmen the movie did however deliver the essence of the story, maybe not to the full extend, but it did a damn well job without resorting to simply copying and pasting every scene by the comic’s panels, completely disregarding pacing and timing of films vs comic as a medium.

The only thing I took away from Snyder was that, this guy understands the film medium, and he’s done a pretty good job of essentially remaking 3 stories into his own versions through the medium of modern day cinema. Grand. Now what happens when you let a creative director run wild with his own story?

You get something like Sucker Punch – finally the film I’m supposed to be reviewing about.
Yes, I’ve waffled on a bit, but you get the point – I like Zack Snyder. I can spell his name without googling it up – and that’s pretty damn impressive in my books.
Here’s what I was expecting from Sucker Punch based on the one time I inevitably watched the trailer while waiting for another film to come on:

  • Someone’s gonna get their face punched in.
  • Said person wasn’t expecting it
  • The punch will most probably be delivered by the blonde pigtailed lady in the posters
  • She’s gonna also kick some arse in some crazy good visual sequences.
  • The story is probably gonna suck, sucker suck.

I could avoid spoilers by tip toeing around what grand unconventional narrative structure the film would deliver, but I won’t. Instead, I’m avoiding spoilers because there really isn’t much to spoil plot wise. You learn what happens pretty much from the trailer, and by the 30 minutes mark, you should know how it ends as well.
How you get from the start to finish, is the thing that fucks with your head – and it’s not because there’s some genius Usual Suspect level twist at the end – it’s because it just plain doesn’t make sense.

Every plot element of the entire story were made for one specific purpose – to let Snyder film a visual sequence that he wanted to shoot. I have no doubt you could pause the film at any point and with a bit of reverse engineering – you’ll learn that everything leading up to this moment in the story was purely so that you can see the scantily clad girl in whatever obscure posture she’s currently maintaining.

So what I’m trying to say is, the story was not the strength of the film. But whoopee doo. Did you really think I walked into the cinema that fateful Saturday evening to light up my brain cells? Hell no, I was treating my newly lasered eyeballs to some visual mastery.

And that, my internet (and real life) friends, is why I needed to remind you all that I am (or maybe was) a Snyder fan. I think the guy is a master of motion graphics. He’s young enough to know what looks cool, old enough to possess the technique to pull them off.

But just as the unrealistic expectation people built up for poor old M Night Shyamalan who resorted to more and more ludicrous plot twists for increasingly pointless stories – Snyder had set the bar so high that he could only plateau early on in his career, or worse, start dipping. We’ve seen it happen with the Matrix when they tried to create cooler effects in the sequels with new technology only to have them backfire as laughable cartoony fight scenes.

Sucker Punch’s outlandish premise gave us classic Anime action sequences with increasingly difficult cuts and edits – to the point that we could roll our eyes with “Yep, I can see how you blended multiple shots together with 3D graphics to string together what’s otherwise an impossible to execute fight scene, between our heroines in tights and shiny robots.

There’s nothing that hasn’t already been done before, unfortunately typically in B-movies. When you take on challenging sequences for the sake of its complexity, and forget the iconic keyframes or postcard shots in said scenes – you’ve achieved what Michael Bay had done – making explosions boring.

Don’t get me wrong, Sucker Punch is still a pretty film in its steam punk glories, and the early action sequences packed some seriously steamy action that made me gasp for more. But fuzzy eaters of the visual medium like myself might find the overall time better spent YouTubing farting kittens.



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