Monday, July 25, 2011

Sucker Punch - DVD Review

l 1/2

Starring Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Scott Glenn and Jon Hamm.
Directed by Zack Snyder.

Imagine a movie based on a non-existent video game based on a non-existent graphic novel based on a series of music videos featuring young women in sexy clothes striking sexy poses while pretending to fight samurai and dragons, and all under the pretense of female empowerment. Actually, you don't need to imagine it, but such a movie exists and is called Sucker Punch.

I actually like Zack Snyder as a director; this "story" just indulges his worst instincts: the slo-mo speed-ups during fights, the montage of images to skim over weakness in narrative, the pulsing never-subtle soundtrack, the excuse for all the teen girls to dress like porn stars.

On the reality level, we have a Shutter Island-esque insane asylum, albeit with all beautiful young women. The protagonist, Baby Doll (Emily Browning), has been committed here by her stepfather, who murdered her sister and blamed it on her so he could get their inheritance. Baby Doll copes by escaping into fantasy, and she envisions she's really in some sort of Chicago-Moulin Rouge performance hall. Then when a mysterious man (Scott Glenn, because why not?) gives her a quest - a very Zelda-like quest - and promises freedom, she upps the fantasy again. When she goes to "dance" for clients, in her head, she's at a new battle, whether it's at a WWI front, or against those previously mentioned dragons, and in each battle, she's to find one more item that the mysterious man had rattled off for her.

The whole exercise is empty, a style-over-substance assault on the senses. It never felt like anything was genuinely at stake, and I found myself wondering if it would end with Baby Doll waking up at the beginning of the movie to say "Oh, it was ALL a dream." Spoiler alert - that's not how it ends - but I don't know if the impact would've been any worse. I just wonder why, now that Snyder had clawed his way up the Hollywood ranks by making movies out of other people's properties (Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen, Owls of Ga'Hoole) that THIS is the original story he's been wanting to tell. Really?

1 comment:

Peaks said...

i finally watched this on bluray. i went in not worrying about story and looked at it just as a fun action movie. i really liked it, using that perspective. 2 1/2 chris nelson stars...