Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gray Reviews SUCKER PUNCH!

You Will Be Unprepared…For The Disappointment That is SUCKERPUNCH

            In the past few years, Zack Snyder has vaulted up the director’s ranking with an almost break-neck speed. In two films, Snyder became a common superlative in the house of graphic novel enthusiasts. He brought the honor bound nation of Sparta to life in 300, and topped himself again with the long overdue adaptation of Watchmen. To most of us, it seemed like Zack was a dose of young blood the industry had been looking for to keep this whole, gritty-reboot-era thing going these days, and I’ll admit I was pretty pumped to finally see a film come solely from Snyder’s originality and not borrow from someone else’s material. As it turns out, however, Suckerpunch is an emotionally bland amalgamation of explosions, steel and fire, slathered with ample CG effects in hopes of distracting the viewer from noticing the bigger flaws of the film.
            From the very beginning of the movie, Snyder uses just about every trick he’s gotten accustomed to using for what he deems as visceral and heart-stopping—slow motion camera work, ghostly voiceovers, and echoing sound effects of literally anything that happens to touch the floor. I actually found myself getting tired of the constant half-speed camera shots, as I think they’re becoming a tad too commonplace in movies nowadays. While I understand it is used for dramatic effect, I think you’re abusing the privilege if it extends the movie by 15 or 20 minutes.
            In Suckerpunch, Snyder relies on the concept of changing realities from the asylum into the hyper-visual world where all the action and fighting take place. These set pieces are signaled when our protagonist, Baby Doll, starts to dance. Unfortunately, that’s about all the explanation we get. The rest of the movie unfolds not unlike most videogames, in that the characters must acquire some item from each reality before they can move on to the next. The formula remains completely stagnant through each of the three sequences and becomes less entertaining each time.
            Equally disheartening is Snyder’s attempt at screenwriting, as both the script and narrative comprehension are both messy and borderline misogynistic. I have dated a few dancers in my time, and I can guarantee that no dancer, no matter how inexperienced, would ever wear anything as skimpy or revealing as the characters do when practicing. Scenes like these, as well as when they put on their real costumes and dance, lose credibility when I’m supposed to believe that they, and not the antagonist, have the power. Emily Browning (Baby Doll) does her best to deliver her lines with some kind of passion, but by the time she finds her emotional footing in the 3rd act, the point is long lost.
            When the film reaches its conclusion, I believe most people will have stopped caring somewhere in between Samurais with mini guns and fire-breathing dragons. Amongst all the spectacle and visual imagination, I realized that I never fully cared for the fate of Baby Doll or her cohorts. Ultimately, Suckerpunch proves to be a humbling experience for both Snyder and his fans: With Snyder about to take the helm of the new Superman reboot, I hope he will use the negative criticism as a means of understanding his limits and work toward avoiding these mistakes in the future. As for us fans, I hope that we will not lower our expectations of Snyder, but instead realize that no one can be a master of all aspects of film production, and Snyder is certainly no exception.


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