Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sucker Punch (Zack Snyder)

Our trippy little heroine.

A 2-hour cinematic excuse to showcase what I may call the 'Trinity Complex' (after Carrie Ann Moss' iconic role), which is prevalent among many female characters in so-called cool and kick-ass action films. But sadly, with all its kinetic visual gibberish, "Sucker Punch's" narrative took a hefty lot of beating.

Zack Synder, mostly known as a heavy-handed visual director, indulged too much on surface pageantry and partly forgot about narrative justifications. It also just shows that Mr. Synder really lacks the emotional side to really carry out the film's 'freedom' theme (that reminds me a lot of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" ) that might as well be just as potentially compelling even without any of those phantasmagorical action sequences.

And considering that this is Zack Snyder's first originally-conceptualized live-action project (with his past projects being a remake, a CGI animation and 2 graphic novel adaptations), he should have pushed for a more logically coherent direction in terms of its plot and didn't took the easy way out by means of a CGI action-fest that nonsensically takes place inside the protagonist's mind (played by Emily Browning) while dancing her brains off and supposedly putting those who witness her perform into a temporary trance.

As those scenes went on like those of "Black Swan", dragons, giant armor-clad samurai warriors and robotic henchmen pollute the screen like it's nobody's business and with complete disregard whether it may look horrendously ridiculous or not. Why can't they just film an extremely alluring dance number in plain sight? Why resort to such an intense (though very forgettable) orgy of bullets and explosions when its core tale is pretty strong enough on its own?

Another problem I have with the film is its complete neglect of character development. There's Emily Browning which I think could have pulled off a great performance. Abbie Cornish is truly assertive in her role. Carla Gugino, riding the same 'older than her age' role that she previously portrayed in "Watchmen", is quite good. What lacks is an entire characterization that is essentially needed in such a film of hard-hitting action. Compare it to, say, Tarantino's "Kill Bill", which is also a heavily stylized film. But before it completely went ape-crazy with its gutsy violence and musically-enhanced action set pieces, the chief players were fully fleshed-out first via Tarantino's wondrous writing.

"Sucker Punch's" character-fleshing deficiencies (But I should have known based on the characters' names alone) aren't about the context of 'do we care about the protagonists?' but to the extent of 'do we even bother about them at all?' As our female leads slash, bash and gun-bang (is there such a word?) their way into the film's surprisingly dramatic ending, it should have been one hell of a foxy, hard-hitting ride (and an action vehicle about 'woman empowerment').

But instead, it has embraced its ridiculous self and, armed with the typical musings about existence translated into narrations, Kamikazeed head-first into pretentious oblivion. It's just a shame that its main selling point (the history and fantasy-combining action sequences) also ironically paved way for its cinematic downfall.

If only they have retained the simple gist of the story and completely sacked the idea of a literal psychological warfare and countless cerebral gunfights, "Sucker Punch" could have been more worthy as a celluloid-occupier. Oh, and one more thing (keeping up with the Scott Glenn catchphrase), it's also an obvious letdown of leviathanic proportions, considering that it once boasted of being on par with "Inception".


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