Zack Snyder and his latest project Sucker Punch inch him closer and closer to the mark of becomming my favorite film director. His films have a fantastical and visually stunning appeal, whether it’s through his use of action sequence or attention to details many other film directors may not attempt to emphasize, for example, the falling button in the opening sequence of the film is brilliant. A button of all things, leaves a resounding visual impact, a “trademark” (if you will) of an asthetically pleasing Snyder film.
Sucker Punch, Snyder’s most recent motion picture (follow-ups to successes 300 and Watchmen) follows the story of Baby Doll (Emily Browning) after her mother dies and her sister is murdered. Committed to a mental instiution and scheduled for a labotomy in five days time(as per the direction of her evil step-father), Baby Doll enlists fellow patients (Sweet Pea, Rocket, Blondie and Amber) in her quest for freedom among the multi-layered realities.
A.O. Scott, of The New York Times, commented, “There is nothing here to enjoy, beyond the tiny satisfaction in nothing that the movie live up to its name.” Clearly Mr. Scott must have fallen asleep or perhaps it’s just that he, like most major US film critics, doesn’t find meaning, purpose or intrigue in something not slapped with indie or foreign behind its title. And somehow, the basic appreciation for the work and the art has been overlooked in order to see who can become the most credible and harshest critic – which is not the point of filmmaking nor film in general. It is about conveying a message and hoping to move even just one person in the audience. Snyder did just that and I can attest, after seeing his latest picture, I know of three people who were ready for some theme music and ass-kicking.
The heroines, while sexualized to the maximum, were strong, twenty-first century women. In the first layer of alternate reality Blue (Oscar Isaac) “owns” the women, including Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino) – which is clearly part of the collaborative fantasy as it contradicts the actual reality of the mental institution. Elizabeth Weitzman, of New York Daily News, noted in her unfavorable review, “If I were to guess how Hollywood envisions the inside of a teenage boy’s brain, it would look exactly like Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch.” To this I would question, isn’t it a good thing women envisioned by a teenage boy could be smart, sexy and strong? Comparatively speaking to the women of yesterday’s films, that is. In early film, a teenage boy’s fantasy might well be a domesticated, subordinate woman waiting to be rescued, not a woman who plots, acts and looks sexy doing both.
As is to be expected and as evident by even the slightest sneek peak, one could tell Zack Snyder collaborated with cinematographer Larry Fong to once again deliver breath-taking imagery. In fact, the button alluded to in the beginning is just that, a beginning, a precursor for what is to follow. Once you’re immersed in the hypersaturated world with glowing flesh, vivid colors and brilliant imagination, it’s hard to remove your gaze from the screen. The only detractors I see with Sucker Punch are the story itself and the acting by the Wise Man (Scott Glenn). The story’s premise is intriguing, the flow of events is acceptable and after shocking occurrences, the film becomes very intense. But the ending, no matter how perfectly fitting, leaves just a smidgen to be desired. And then there is the acting by Scott Glenn, who’s “wisdom” and voice make the film seem about as cliche as a Mortal Kombat movie. And those two detractors alone earn Sucker Punch a grade of: