What’s the better cinematic result – a consummate film that achieves a higher standard such as “The Social Network” or “Inception,” or a film so horrific that it fulfills the audience on an unconscionable level of ecstasy?
Zack Snyder, director of uneven films such as the “Dawn of the Dead remake, “300” and “Watchmen,” has released his first original feature film – “Sucker Punch” and will be releasing it on DVD on June 28. It’s his worst film to date – a glossy, hyper-sexed, misogynistic yet so-called women’s empowerment film that takes the metaphoric narrative to a place so utterly laughable that it joins movies like “Troll 2” and “The Room” in that rare status of “so bad it’s good.”
“Sucker Punch” tells the tale of troubled young Baby Doll (Emily Browning), who, after accidentally killing her sister whilst trying to take out her rapist stepfather, is sent to Lennox house – an institution for trigger-happy young ladies. This bit of backstory is told through Snyder’s only true skill – the montage. The opening sequence is well shot and somewhat promising but only in the realm of mediocre cinema. Had the entire film been as good as this sequence, it still would have been just a mediocre film. It’s Snyder’s only talent, but it’s still written in his usual unintelligibly clichéd way.
Baby Doll is taken to Lennox house, and after a deal set up by her stepfather and the brutish owner Blue (Oscar Isaac), she is scheduled for a lobotomy – only to save the skin of her guilt-ridden stepfather. Baby Doll is introduced to the ward, known as the “theatre,” and from here her fantasy begins. For some reason, Baby Doll re-imagines the hospital as a brothel.
This is where Snyder’s writing must have been influenced by his own ideals of women’s empowerment that seem to be channeled through his unconscious (or maybe even conscious) misogyny. It is outrageous to comprehend that a girl of Baby Doll’s age and style would likely utilize the brothel as her fantasy as an escape from the reality of her situation. It’s this incredulous nature that keeps Snyder from the current A-list of Hollywood’s latest elite (such as J.J. Abrams or Matthew Vaughn). He writes like a half-asleep teenager watching porn while playing the latest “Grand Theft Auto.” All of his “strong” female characters in all of his films have been exceedingly perverted and masculine. Snyder has no place in writing female characters as he sets back the standard indefinitely.
Then again, there’s this payoff that Snyder always fulfills. His films are a realization of his passion and much like Tommy Wiseau’s film “The Room,” there’s pleasure in watching his failure come to life. One could view Snyder’s “Watchmen” again with this attitude and actually find some kind of closure on how it nearly ruined Alan Moore’s masterpiece.
It would be an easy shot to say that it’s ironic that “Sucker Punch” is an aptly titled movie for any cash wielding movie theater patron or DVD enthusiast, but after viewing the film – I can only recommend that this sort of film somehow deserves your money. Call me greedy, but I’d like to see what else Zack Snyder could possibly do to outdo himself. His next project is the second reboot of Superman starring unknown Henry Cavill as our favorite Kryptonian and Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Lois Lane is a strong female character, possibly one of the strongest in mainstream cinematic pop culture. Amy Adams is one of our greatest actresses and Zack Snyder is one of our worst directors. The combination should be interesting.