I saw Zach Snyder‘s Sucker Punch last night, and the first review I read this morning was from Marshall Fine. His admiring assessment mainly said three things: (1) “If you’re looking for Sucker Punch to make sense, see another film,” (2) Yes, it has “some flaws” but (3) “Snyder, in the space of three films” — i.e., this + Watchmen and 300 — “has become the most distinctive visual storyteller since Brian DePalma.”
Calling the LexG’s of the world! Emily Browning as “Babydoll” in Zach Snyder’s Sucker Punch.
That last statement is true in a faintly-tragic, merrily-we-go-to-hell way. Snyder does have a DePalma-esque visual paintbrush married to a crazy-maestro attitude . But I couldn’t let that “some flaws” remark stand so I wrote Fine immediately and said this:
“‘Flaws’? ‘FLAWS’? Sucker Punch is many things, but one of its goals — and it succeeds in record time, before the first act is over — is to torture people like me. Snyder has said he meant to make “Alice in Wonderland with machine guns”…machine guns and thunderclouds and samurai swords and red-eyed, medieval Japanese soldier-giants and hot kewpie-doll babes with false eyelashes, he meant. Either way the putrid remnants of the body of Lewis J. Carroll are now reanimating and reforming and adding flesh and bone and clawing their way out of the grave in order to find Snyder and his wife Deborah and strangle them in their bed.
“Snyder is a kind of visual dynamo of the first order who has created in Sucker Punch a trite-but-fascinating, symphonic, half-psychedlic, undeniably ‘inspired’ alternate-reality world — gothic, color-desaturated, Wachowski-esque — that is nonetheless ruled by so much concrete-brain idiocy and coarsely “mythic” cliches (i.e., an evil father figure so ridiculously vile and gross beyond measure that he makes the cackling, moustache-twirling villains of the Snidely Whiplash variety seem austere if not inert) and ludicrous, charmless, bottom-of-the-pit dialogue and cheaply pandering female-revenge fantasies that you literally CAN’T STAND IT and WANT TO HOWL and THROW YOUR 24 OZ. COKE AT THE SCREEN.
“Snyder is a masterful visual maestro (loved the proscenium arch ‘theatrical’ touches at the very beginning) but also — this is crucial to the Sucker Punch experience — an Igor-like, chained-in-the-basement, genius-level moron at dumbing things down. The movie is a digital torture device for those seeking at least a hint of compelling narrative, a tendril-ish remnant of logic, a tiny smidgen of story intelligence, and dialogue with a hint of flair or some kind of tethered-to-the-world normality.
“Apart from sending people like myself into tailspins of depression, Sucker Punch is essentially about the Warner Bros. corporate uglies giving loads of money to a wild-eyed 21st Century primitive and in so doing trying to turn on the younger female ticket-buyers with fantasies of power and revenge against all the oily men in their lives who’ve sought to exploit or use or treat them with cruelty. It is putrid ComicCon swill of the lowest order.
“In fact, Sucker Punch strongly suggests that there is, in fact, a ComicCon screenwriting software that is being secretly peddled to GenX and GenY filmmakers that insures that the exact same mythical imaginings and the exact same high-flying Matrix-y sword battles and the exact same wild-action-fantasy, go-to-the-next-video-game-level story progressions are repeated ad infinitum.
“Yes, there’s a worlds-within-worlds scheme going on (i.e., a dream-world-within-a-play-being-performed blahdeeblah) but it’s basically about LexG horndog lust and notions of hotpants girly-girls with onlinehookerblowjobslut fantasy names like Babydoll (the lead blondie played by Emily Browning) and Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (as in “you’ll go off like a rocket,” played by Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung)…oop-poop-pee-doop! Sucker Punch delivers like VHS porn, and I’m not just speaking of the dialogue but the acting. And to think of these nice, attractive, presumably intelligent actresses collecting a paycheck for their willingess to be chained in Snyder’s basement…the shame of it.
“How infuriating that a guy who really knows how to direct and whip up a frenzy with all kinds of serious, high-style production-design lather, is such a prisoner of his own sub-mental “holy shit, that’s so cool!” imaginings…such atrociously labored, poisonously cliched comic-book/video-game sludge that the mind reels & the stomach turns as the vomit goes splat on the sidewalk.
“This was Snyder’s first creation that came straight from his own imaginings (and also from the head of Steve Shibuya, “the guy who wrote the original score that Sucker Punch is based upon”). The tragedy is that there are no guiding hands or creeds or mechanisms or mentors in 2011 Hollywood to rein Snyder in and urge him to refine or re-shape or otherwise up his game. His producing-partner wife Deborah has obviously goaded him in this flamboyant direction, and the WB corporate hell-hounds are basically saying ‘yeahh, Zach…go for it, whatever, video-game fantasy crap…love it!”
“No offense but Sucker Punch feels to me like a ghastly, deranged and darkly depraved thing…it’s the apocalypse, the end, the flames of hell…and yet, at the end of the day, conversely brown and gooey.”