Movie Review – Sucker Punch

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Sucker PunchJudging by the post viewing reactions of the “elite” press at the sneak peek of Zack Snyder‘s Sucker Punch, I’m guessing it won’t be getting the best of reviews by Washington, D.C. publications.  One reviewer went on to say “Now I know why they gave out suckers.  It fit the movie, because boy did it suck,” while another turned to me and said “I’m sure there’s somebody out there that liked this.”  None realized I’m “press” and while I was torn about it, I liked the movie.

While I proclaimed Scott Pilgrim vs. The World as “the first real movie for the Nintendo generation,” Sucker Punch takes the kinetic and frenetic feel of that movie a step further with puzzles, themed boards and each “level” ending in a boss battle.  While Pilgrim had plot to hold it together, Sucker Punch throws that out the window instead loosely tying in settings and events into a pseudo narrative.

The press hated it, but f-them, as this was a movie for a generation who grew up on video games.  A generation that’s looking forward to Halo on the big screen and cheers when they’re able to initiate bullet time in their favorite game to get in that perfect “kill.”  If you don’t celebrate a bit after getting that head shot in Call of Duty, this movie isn’t for you.  This isn’t Oscar bait, hell it might be nominated for a few Razzies.  But, should you expect it to be?  Snyder’s the man who brought us Dawn of the Dead, 300 and Watchmen.  All enjoyable movies but not the deepest or most well acted movies out there.  Snyder is about the visual, and here he brings it.

The movie’s plot is simple, a bunch of beautiful women escape into a fantasy world in order to escape their incarceration.  How does the fantasy world tie into the real world?  What’s actually going on?  That’s sort of strung together by the loosest of plot in the beginning and end, but that’s not the point of the movie.  The movie is all about watching a pretty girl dressed like Sailor Moon use bullet time to effortlessly dance around bullets and blades and go in for the kill.  It’s those moments that draw me into my favorite video games and that’s what sucked me into this movie.

The movie is escapism, plain and simple.  Snyder has put together a nonsensical plot about escapism so that you can experience it yourself by seeing visuals we don’t get enough of and strong women whipping ass.  This is a mish-mosh of movies.  Steam punk nazis, mechas, robots, 10 foot tall samurai, dragons, orcs, it’s all there.  Snyder went into the movie wanting to throw in everything he loves and the things we geeks love too.  He succeeded in that.

The movie was  a quick hour and a half, but in a time when the world is falling apart, that escapism is something I need and want, and I’ll take what I can get.  This is brainless fun for the Nintendo generation.

Direction: This movie was Snyder’s vision.  Snyder and Steve Shibuya are credited with the screenplay and Snyder directed it.  The beginning of the movie is frenetic, feeling more like a video game introduction full of cut scenes than anything else.  The movies stages and the action in each sucks you in though.  Each of these stages/levels could have been a movie unto itself (but with a plot) and I’d love to see some of those concepts fleshed out more.  You get the crazy action, and bullet time.  You’re treated to big scenes.  But the heart is left out of it all.  It feels empty, and that I leave at Snyder’s feet.  While he had a vision and executed it, he missed that important part, something to make us care and root for the characters, instead of just gaping at what’s before us.

Acting: Black Swan showed a movie that shows a spiraling and unraveling of reality can work and work quite well when you have an actress with superior acting ability.  That’s missing here.  Instead, you have the waxy, bland emoting that we’ve seen in Snyder’s previous movies.  None of it’s horrible, but none of it’s particularly good.  It reminded me of a cheesy horror movie in it’s quality.  The actresses though are beautiful.  If Snyder’s plan was to distract us from lack of plot or acting by placing beautiful women on the screen, he succeeded.  I don’t think I’ve seen a sexier cast (helps they kicked ass while looking good).

Plot: Well, there was a beginning, some levels with boss fights and an end.  It sort of made sense and was tied together rather conveniently, but to really say there was a plot is stretching it a bit.  I didn’t go in expecting Shakespeare, but most video games today have a better story than this.  What’s interesting though is each of this movies level could have been a movie unto itself with a better storyline.  Throwing women into a steampunk World War II (with mechas) would be a kick ass movie, instead we get a taste of it.  The train scene with the robots heading towards a city straight out of Final Fantasy could be a movie unto itself, but again, only a taste.  The movie is about the action scenes, not the story and it succeeds in that.  The visuals were very cool.  I like seeing strong women kicking ass on the screen, I just wished I cared more about them doing it.

Overall: The movie was a quick hour and a half.  It’s not deep, not well acted, and nonsensical at times, but you can turn your brain off and enjoy it.  The movie is about escapism.  Escaping a prison, escaping to a fantasy world, escaping reality.  It’s about finding strength in one self.  It has strong female leads, who show strength and sex appeal at the same time.  It hinted at what could have been.  But in the end, we got what we got, a movie that’s all over the place and places way to much on style instead of focusing on what it sorely lacks, which is heart.

Grade: C

The movie was viewed with a FREE sneak peek pass available to any individual who grabbed one (thanks Big Planet for the pass!)

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