thursday, march 31, 2011
the silhouette’s art & culture magazine • D7
pulling punches Sucker Punch Directed by: Zack Snyder Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish
HH Sucker Punch, Zack Snyder’s first attempt at an original film, only calls attention to the fact that his greatest success has come from adapted screenplays. In this particular instance, the old adage that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rings shockingly true of his career habits. The film is visually dazzling, and its action sequences are really quite enticing, showcasing Snyder’s strengths. However, his weaknesses are front and center, overshadowing any barely existent potential this debacle had. Unfortunately for Snyder, Sucker Punch behaves surprisingly like its namesake: it attempts to distract you with the sex appeal of its leading ladies, and then heavy-handedly smacks you in the face with ten tonnes of action and CGI. It takes no skill or finesse to produce, and puts the audience in a confused haze. The film follows young Baby Doll, distraught after her mother’s death. Her evil stepfather takes her to an asylum to be committed. In an attempt to cover his abu-
sive tracks, her stepfather pays a hefty sum to have Baby Doll lobotomized by the High Roller (John Hamm). Upon overhearing a conversation to that effect, Baby Doll seems to dive headfirst into a fantasy world within the asylum. Therein, she and her sexpot friends have the power to hypnotize any male through dance. After being greeted in a fantasy within her fantasy by the Wise Man (played by Scott Glenn in what has to be the grossest misuse of his talents to date), Baby Doll is given moderately incoherent instructions for a quest, the purpose of which is never made clear. And that’s the catalyst for possibly the least coherent film of 2011. Sucker Punch looks like a fan boy’s wet dream from start to finish with scantily clad, vulnerable girls who can kick ass at every turn. This much can be said about the film: the entirety of the female cast is believable in their combat scenarios. However, they would do well not to open their mouths. Every word penned by Snyder and co-scribe Steven Shibuya drips with melodramatic angst and incessant clichés, which are in no way helped by the atrocious acting. Possibly the worst example of this is Wise Man’s constant barrage of clichés, not-so-cleverly disguised as profound words of wisdom.
There is gratuitous use of the writings of Sun Tzu when we first meet the Wise Man, in an attempt to emphasize the profundity of the character. Unfortunately the talents of the writing staff couldn’t quite live up to the prose of the great military commander. In his first attempt at an original screenplay, Snyder chose none other than Shibuya, a man who has been in the industry doing menial labor on sets since the mid 1980s, with only four previous titles to his name. The only recognizable movie on his IMDB resume is Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988), and that isn’t something to be proud of. Sucker Punch is Shibuya’s first attempt at writing in his 22 years in the industry and, unfortunately, his lack of experience shows. One wonders if the only reason Snyder chose him to co-write this assault on cinema is due to their film school friendship. It’s surprising to find out that this man’s gone to film school at all. Beyond the shoddy writing, attention has to be called to the soundtrack. Snyder wanted to base much of the film around a powerful selection of songs, most of them iconic. The result is infuriating at times. The use of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” as recreated by Emiliana
Torrini, during a WWI-inspired battle sequence feels strange and out of place, as opposed to inspired and creative. The heavy-handed use of a flakey, butchered version of The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind,” as covered by Yoav and featuring the film’s star, Emily Browning, played as she enters the asylum will surely send groans through the cinema. However, an interesting remix of Björk’s “Army of Me” featuring Skunk Anansie seems to fit moderately well, however painfully transparent its placement may be (Browning battles three mammoth iron Samurai warriors solo, as the music streams in the background). In the end, little could save this shoddy excuse for a profound plot from its timely critical demise. It is a clumsy, convoluted concept, with a shoddily written script, and exceptionally poor execution. According to Snyder, many key scenes needed to be cut from the film in order to get its more broadly marketable PG-13 rating. Unfortunately, no one will be going to see it, since those missing key scenes may unlock the cipher that remains of the “plot.” If you’re still set on assaulting your senses and killing your brain cells, don’t pay for it:. Sneak in. • Ariel Fisher