After spending many years comparing notes and opinions about movies with fellow cinephiles I occasionally become despondent over just what is classified as ‘a good movie’ lately. When I hear people rattle on and on about the merits of flicks like those contained in the ‘Saw’ franchise it not only concerns me that movies such as this are being so lauded but what is most upsetting is how such a reflection of violence and the torturer as the hero reflect on our society in general. When I first saw the preview trailers for the movie ‘Sucker Punch’ I feared the studio had another hit on their hands without knowing anything about the technical merits of the film of one iota of knowledge concerning the story. This prediction, which did become realized, was based mostly on the poster art that accompanied the trailer. They consisted of a series of five highly stylized full length portraits of the main characters. The fact that they had names like ‘Baby Doll’, ‘Rocket’ and ‘Sweet Pea’ were completely inconsequential. What prompted my prediction of financial success was based on the fact that each of these five pictures depicted an exceptionally attractive girl, barely having reached the age of legal consent garbed in rather provocative attire sporting a deadly weapon of some sort. Much to my surprise and in a move that helped restore my faith in the American movie audience the film fell way short of recouping the reported $82 million budget during its theatrical release. Of course the lure of the ‘Extended edition’ on Blu-ray and DVD are bound to help replenish the studio coffers but I think we are safe from a sequel considering the difficult economic environment. Not to be entirely negative in the consideration of this film it does make the cut for a popcorn flick. Considering that the original MPAA rating was a mild PG-13 and the additions provided for the ‘extended cut’ doesn’t warrant much extra parental concern but its best to err on the side of caution and keep it away from the youngest members of your household. If nothing else it could give the wrong view of feminine empowerment. As a father of a daughter I would much rather she form her opinion of a powerful woman that does not necessitate firearms and sharp blades not to mention short skirts, bustier and garters.
This is the latest work by one of the more popular writer/directors currently on the scene; Zack Snyder. His previous films included ‘300’ and ‘Watchmen’; movies often referred to as possessing more sizzle than steak. I have enjoyed the two cited flicks although they do establish a pattern attributable to Snyder that he places more emphasis on style than the substance of the film. All of his films have excelled in being visually fascinating but at the expense of such cinematic elements as character development or story line congruity. While my personal tastes and the resulting grade I assign this film run towards a completing story, there is a place in the broad spectrum of the cinematic arts for something that can only boast an interesting look. Being visually interesting is a valid purpose to create a movie although due to the fact that there are numerous examples of blending a great story with an innovating visual style the expectation of something more than just looking good is not at all unwarranted. In some ways his can be viewed as a modern treatment of a perennial classic, ‘Alice in Wonderland’. It is not so much for any particular details but rather a look at the fantasy world of a young woman society has deemed mentally unstable. This treatment of this set of circumstances is much darker than any incarnation of ‘Wonderland’ I have ever come upon but is did have potential that unfortunately went untapped.
Babydoll" (Emily Browning is only twenty years old and id confined to s mental institution. Her confinement to the Lennox House for the Mentally Insane in Brattleboro, Vermont was not of her own volition it was forced upon Babydoll by her emotionally abusive step father (Gerard Plunkett). The excuse for the confinement was the death of her younger sister. In order to make sure Babydoll never escapes Stepfather bribes an orderly to forge the signature of the facility’s director, Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino), to have the young woman forcibly subjected to a pre-frontal lobotomy. Not only does this protect the nefarious stepfather from being uncovered for his involvement in the death of the sister but with both siblings out of the way he stands to be the sole beneficiary to sizeable fortune left by Babydoll’s mother. In the days before the scheduled operation Babydoll falls into her fantasy world keeping her relatively sane pending the annihilation of her personality. In this alternate world she has just been sold to a brothel owned by the orderly, Blue (Oscar Isaac), who betrayed her. Babydoll populates her fantasy with four other women in the same situation; Amber (Jamie Chung), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Rocket (Jena Malone), and Rocket's older sister, Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish).Babydoll discovers her virginity was auctioned off to the highest bidder, ‘The High Roller (Jon Hamm).the young women plot their escape assisted by weapons obtained in Japan from a sensei, The Wise Man (Scott Glenn). This set up the bulk of the movie for a familiar quest ploy; the plot coupon. This is ere a set number of items, in this case five, which are collect through great peril and redeemed for a dénouement.
The film does have the requisite action that is highly reminiscent of anime or manga come to life; young women in slutty outfits kicking butt through supra human expertise in weaponry and advanced martial arts acumen. There is a slick look and feel here but little that can provide support for the heavily convoluted story. In many aspects Snyder is experimenting with the visual toolbox currently available to this generation’s filmmakers. It feels like watching a painter as he develops a new school of art; the concentration is initially on methodology and a new sense of style. Once Snyder establishes that perhaps he will be ready to move on to the infusion of content.
Maximum Movie Mode: Explore the Fantasy World - Director Zack Snyder hosts
this over-two-hour expedition into Sucker Punch's real and fantasy
worlds, including director walk-ons, picture-in-picture commentary, storyboards,
interactive galleries and more