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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sucker Punch (2011)

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Writer/director Zack Snyder started his Hollywood film career by directing Dawn of the Dead (2004), an unnecessary remake of the original George Romero classic that lacks the fun and social commentary that the original has; 300 (2006), a slow motion riddled, overly homoerotic throwback to the tale-telling of muscular men who are outnumbered and still fight off a horde of freaks; Watchmen (2009), a slow motion riddled, glossy, and violent take on a classic graphic novel but one that fails because it’s hyper-stylized and it takes its subject matter too seriously; and The Legend of the Guardians: the Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010), a slow motion riddled, gorgeous looking, character and story lacking 3D-animated film that features Kung Fu fighting owls. In case one still can't tell, I don't like a single one of Zack Snyder's films, thus far.

Now comes Sucker Punch, a slow motion riddled, female empowerment film that does the opposite of what it sets to do because (and this is only one reason) it dresses all of its female protagonists as burlesque stars/prostitutes.

The following is not made up. This is the actual film's story:

Baby Doll (Emily Browning) and her younger sister are orphaned and are soon-after sent to live with their abusive father-in-law. She ties to protect her younger sister and accidentally ends up shooting her instead of the monstrous father-in-law that was attacking her. Baby Doll is then sent to a mental asylum and there she fantasizes that the mental asylum is part prison and burlesque house, because every 20 year old girl that is institutionalized secretly wants to dance in a burlesque house. The dances are not even shown in the film, rather when Baby Doll is about to dance the camera closes in on her eyes and she then finds herself in yet another fantasy land, one belonging to a next-gen consoled video game.

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In order to escape the facility, Baby Doll needs to find four items: a map, a lighter, a knife, and a key. In order to retrieve said item she recruits the other inmates of the asylum: Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), her younger sister Rocket (Jena Malone), raven-haired Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), and Amber (Jamie Chung). Baby Doll dances and the five of them enter a fantasy world, like WWI trench warfare; ancient Japan, where Baby Doll fights 40-foot tall samurai that are armed with bazookas; and an unspecified medieval time period where the group battles a mother dragon with a helicopter and a Mech. Upon a successful mission, the girls manage to, in the burlesque house, steal an item from the list and hopefully get the next one.

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There’s not much of a story in this film or even a good moral to tell because closing one’s eyes and wishing that one was in a fantasy land, generated by every 13 year old boy’s puberty-based fantasies is not the proper way to face reality. Also, the end product can only be enjoyed by the typical 13 year-old boy because the girls in the film, even though dressed like prostitutes, also look like beautiful young adults who are made up to look like whores; and so anyone over the age of 18 would feel rather awkward watching this film.

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The special effects in the film are, for lack of a better phrase, just a lot of special effects. Almost every scene in the film is shot with green screens, just like in 300, and the audience always feels detached from the characters and their actions; and the CGI is not very good, either. It resembles pre-rendered cut scene footage from Playstation 3 and Xbox360 games, much like James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) did.

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Lastly, there’s a whole lot of slow motion used in this film, I’d say that a good 70 percent of the film is shot that way so it could have been a 35-minute short. Zack Snyder, apparently doesn’t read criticism about his films and so he doesn’t realize that almost everyone who’d watched his films, thus far wishes for him to stop utilizing the technique of slow motion outside of its proper use. For learning how to use slow motion in films the right way, watch Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. There’s a lot to be learned from watching that film.

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Sucker Punch is one of the worst films that I’ve ever seen. Nothing in it is coherent, especially the way that the third act shifts from the second gear straight onto the fourth gear and also it shifts into someone else’s narrative, which is a big no-no when we were following one person’s narrative for nearly 100 minutes. The action sequences are entirely inconsequential and, therefore superfluous, because they mask what happens in the real world (or burlesque house level of reality) and because this film believes that it’s a drama, it should have strayed away from the fantasy world altogether. The performances in the film, also, are lacking energy and conviction and the entire time I felt like I should not have been watching the film at all. For simply watching the film I was a sucker that was repeatedly punched in the face with terrible, clich├ęd allegories and I didn’t enjoy a single minute of. But I did watch the entire film and here I am, writing to you good people in hope that no one makes the mistake that I did watching this film after the whole world told me not to. I took one for the team so that the team wouldn’t have to.

Oh, and there’s also a cheat ending if the movie wasn’t already bad enough.