Saturday, January 4, 2014
SUCKER PUNCH (2011)
Story & Directed By: Zach Snyder
Written By: Zach Snyder & Steve Shibuya
Cinematography By: Larry Fong
Editor: William Hoy
Cast: Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish, Carla Gugino, Oscar Issac, Scott Glenn, Jon Hamm
A young girl (Baby Doll) is locked away in a mental asylum by her abusive stepfather where she will undergo a lobotomy in five days' time. Faced with unimaginable odds, she retreats to a fantastical world in her imagination where she and four other female inmates at the asylum, plot to escape the facility. The lines between reality and fantasy blur as Baby Doll and her four companions, as well as a mysterious guide, fight to retrieve the five items they need that will allow them to break free from their captors before it's too late...
This film is literally style over substance.
While there is no doubt that the cast is beguiling and beautiful like the rest of the film. It seems that is what the film is trying to distract you with. Artifice and things that supposedly look cool. While not having any deepness or real story.
Now I have nothing wrong to say about it's style initially. Which is impressive for what seems to be something more experimental (by which I mean hard to understand) the art direction is beautiful as are the action sequences.
The many problems with this film are made clear almost immediately. There really is no story and what passes as a story is ridiculous and seems like something what was really struggling. Inspired by bad TV movies and fairy tales.
The worst part is that the filmmakers think it and it's metaphors are actually smart. This might be why this is the first and so far last screenplay credit for director Zach Snyder who can do wonders with others screenplays and realizes the brilliance and visuals he can create with others stories as blueprints, but ask him to do his own and it's all over the place and barely structured.
It obviously involves the interests of the director's as he seems to tie in various inspirations and tries to mix and match them so that they not only seem familiar bit also in their own way come together to make some kind of storyline fantasy. That never quite makes much sense. Even worse is that the film more or less comes across as a video game adaptation. To a game that doesn't exist. Maybe this was the planned jumping off point. That would have been a better investment than a full fledged film. With characters in cool outfits a Barely there plot line. The characters fighting nearly impossible odds and endless stream of enemies and new villains popping up. Each new battle is different and harder like it's a new level.
Even though the film is full of effects. In some scenes the effects look fake. Especially in the first battle. Even of your film is based on it good effects can at least give a bad film some hope. In this one no. Each of the lead girls had to undergo a strict physical training which involves doing dead-lifts before shooting. Vanessa Hudgens called that period "tormenting" that she broke down several times. In scenes where she's seen crying, she actually brought out moments from those sessions.
Another insulting aspect of the film is that the director has said that this is a film about feminism. Which would be fine of this was a film Made or at least written by a woman. And even if the film were about female warriors who double as strippers in costumes that seemed more designed to titillate then battle gear. Which is a fine distraction, even of the film were about the female leads being spy's or just of the Director admitted this was a big budget new wave exploitation film using the exploitation as a starting point to send a powerful pro woman message, but by making the comment and showing the results it seems feminism to him is reduced more to a male fantasy and the arguments that they use that image and make it their own by showing it's ok to dress like that and not be thought of in a certain way and used. That idea was Definitely lost along the way as the main character dressed like a little school girl sailor.
I can say the actresses give good performances. I only wish it was a better film and better characters for them to play. All of them are sexy in there won way Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung definitely are the ones who kept my attention and interest.
Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Thirlby, and Mia Wasikowska were in turn going to be cast as Babydoll, and dropped out before Emily Browning was chosen.
Evan Rachel Wood was the first choice for Rocket but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts and Jena Malone replaced her.
This comes across more as a dream project of the Director as it seems to have all of what maybe his fetishes all rolled into one.
One of the problems is that this is shot in almost the same manner as his previous film 300. Which when it came out the films style and effects were revolutionary. Now the cgi backdrops with live action actors becomes a familiar and unnecessary effect distraction.
I can see when it comes to the fantasy sequences using it, but even when it's supposed to be the real world it's used and comes off as overbearing and ridiculous. --I can understand that it seems to be Zach Snyder’s style but he should also learn how to use it subtly and effectively.
The film also has a mixed message of trying to show young women as role models and independent fighters who dress scantily to supposedly show that their own sexuality is under their control and freely used to seduce to help get them farther and whatever they want, by also in between the lines also being hookers or concubines or from the looks of the production showgirls.
To borrow a term from my fried Mike Foltz. Watching this film was almost like watching a computer animated film. The few live actors could have basically been motion captured if need be. This could have been AVATAR or BEOWULF.
It's sad as a first the film seemed full of some promise. I believe it will e an oddity on the resume of Director Snyder. This is a dream project that didn't work out. I also believe in some way this was a personal old for him. Which can lead to problems as your vision can become so personal it only makes sense to you and can lose the audience along the way completely as you can't see the forest for the trees (see ELIZABETHTOWN)
When it comes to the cast who watch a early screening of a film like this and see it there for the first time and see how bad a film is that they have worked in. I wonder what goes through their min as they are Interviewed about it and must lie about how good it is. Is that when the acting skills really pay off?
I can see this film as many people’s guilty pleasure for obvious reasons. I just wonder like SNAKES ON A PLANE was that the plan all along make a film that seems ridiculous play into it while trying to seem serious and hope the audience will dig it ironically? Or is that late term think in when the film Has been slaughtered and you hope to turn some kind of profit. So you hope that this late term hail Mary will help the film find an audience?