Monday, March 28, 2011

Sucker Punch (2011)

I knew I had to see this movie before bad word of mouth prevented me from wanting too. It's been on my 'must see' list since last summer.

When I checked out 'Rotten Tomatoes' I discovered that while critics gave it a ranking of 20%, the audiences coming out of the theatre graded it in the high sixties. I knew then that this was the kind of movie that you either loved or hated. It either lived up to the expectations created in the trailer or it didn't. This is one film you need to see for yourself and decide afterwards what you think about it.

My buddy, Mike D over at Cultural Compulsive Disorder did a great post about why someone would or would not like this movie. It's worth your time to read. I gave me some perspective before I wrote my own review. I agreed with most everything he wrote in his post.

The film's opening sequence is brilliant. A slow motion recap of what happened to our heroine on the rainy night her mother died. It's all set to a slowed down version of 'Sweet Dreams' by the Eurythmics. I loved how director Zack Snyder created this set-up without a single line of dialogue. The images tell us everything we need to know. He hooked me immediately and created empathy for the character I would follow for the rest of the movie. Brilliant.

The movie has an epic, dreamlike quality that plays out like an elaborate nightmare - but a nightmare with a purpose. Synder's fantastic, over the top imagery would not work unless he had established a strong foundation for the story first. The nightmare of the real world horrors found in the Lennox House for the Mentally Insane would make anyone retreat into fantasy like our heroine Baby Doll (Emily Browning) does. And what a fantasy world it is - full of dragons, Nazi zombies, massive battles and giant samurai demons.

The visuals are spectacularly over the top. I loved how each challenge builds upon the one's before it as Baby Doll grows in both skill and confidence. This is the classic journey of a hero. It doesn't matter if she is in knee socks - a hero is a hero.

I also have to mention how terrific the soundtrack is. Each scene in the fantasy world in accompanied by a cover of famous songs you already know. Zak is very good at matching music and visuals.

Speaking of visuals, yes, there are many scenes in slow motion. Synder likes to slow down the action so we can actually see what is going on. It's so much more rewarding an editing technique than Michael Bay's ('Transformers') two second cuts. Snyder pulls you into the action where Bay alienates you from it. It was the kick-ass CGI from the trailer that made me interested in seeing this movie in the first place and they do not disappoint. If anything, they are so amazing that the movie can drag a bit when Baby Doll is not lost in the fantasy world.

Of all the girls kicking butt in this movie I was most impressed by Jena Malone. I remember her as a child actress but here she is a force of nature. Like her name, Rocket, she is one continuous burst of power when she gets to killing all the beasties standing in the way of her escape.

Once again I have to agree with the audience over the critics. This is a good movie that moves quickly and kept me interested from beginning to end. However, don't listen to me. Just go and experience it for yourself.



M. D. Jackson said...

Film critics are just people who think they're smarter than the rest of us because they get to see the picture first. Fuck 'em!

(And I know this because I used to be one.)

Rod Barnett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rod Barnett said...

Caught it tonight and LOVED it. I went with an 8 out of 10. Often I know while I'm watching a film in the theater that few people other than myself will like whats being presented-- this film fits that category. It really felt like a creative person was working hard to give you something he was truly invested in making. I suspect Snyder will pay a steep price for its financial failure but he has scored one for the ages.

Kal said...

This one will make a lot of money in DVD sales and will work especially overseas where they like this kind of 'girls in danger' kind of theme. I really enjoyed it too. I bumped it down to a seven because some things weren't answered for me. I assume when I think about it some more I will raise my ranking to a comfortable 8.

Budd said...

I think 7 out of 10 is pretty accurate. It could have been better, but it was still good. My review is up as well.

superharley said...

Glad to see someone else enjoyed this movie as much as I did. Great review overall, and I agree the soundtrack was just as good.

CkretsGalore said...

I'm going to be seeing it this weekend. I hope I'm going to enjoy it since it's a rarity I go to the theater. I'm way too bouncy so I would rather watch it at home.

Kal said...

I hope you like it. Let me know what you think. There is enough action to keep you in your seat I think.

Cap'n Carrot said...

To each his own. I'm glad someone enjoyed it. I disliked Sucker Punch, and more so after I had time to think about it.

For all its visual style it had very little, if anything, new to say. And, yes, Snyder's overuse of slow motion still really bothers me. The one shot of the gun shell slowly passing across the screen was just one example that made me want to punch the man repeatedly in the face.

How the girls' sexuality was used against them in order to control them, instead of liberating them, also rubbed me the wrong way. This certainly isn't about girl power as much as it is about how to keep your bitches in line. And isn't that a great lesson for a PG-13 film?

As to only critics disliking it I will say I saw this movie in a packed theater of regular moviegoers who saw it in advance for free and not a single one clapped when the credits rolled (which happens 95% of the time for big action films like this).

And a 60 on Rotten Tomatoes isn't exactly a ringing endorsement (considering it's right on the edge of rotten for even non-critics). Underworld: Evolution has an audience score of 77 (vs. critics score of 16) and although I know some who have liked it I don't know anyone who thinks of it as a "great" movie.

Kal said...

You prove my point that this movie doesn't generate any middle ground. You either like it or hate it. I certainly suffered from high expectations that were nearly impossible to live up to. I tried to forget all that and just go in fresh and maybe that is what worked for me.