So once again we have survived.

Sucker Punch

tn_suckerpunchSUCKER PUNCH is such an extreme movie stylistically that I feel like I oughta have an extreme reaction to it. Something along the lines of either I want to set up a bunch of traps to torture this movie while I preach to it through a series of self-aggrandizing recordings and puppet displays or I am currently giving this movie an erotic massage and we’ll see where it goes next but spoiler alert it’s not gonna be Biblically approved. Unfortunately I am too much of a centrist. Actually I feel kinda similar about all of Zack Snyder’s movies so far: it doesn’t entirely work, but it’s kind of awesome, I enjoyed it. I guess he’s consistently inconsistent.

mp_suckerpunchLet’s start with the “awesome” part: this is just a pure, unadulterated, I-have-complete-confidence-in-what-I-want-to-do-so-give-me-millions-of-dollars-and-go-away type of vision. You could also say that about a few of the worst big budget movies of all time (specifically BATMAN AND ROBIN and TRANSFORMERS 2: REVENGE OF THE TRANSFORMERS FROM PART 1) but Snyder has a gift for filmatic language and visual storytelling, he takes his characters and stories seriously instead of lamely making fun of them every two seconds, and he seems very sincere about what he’s trying to say. His movies have an implied “Hello friend, are you on the same wavelength as me?” instead of the ol’ “Here you go assholes, you like this type of shit don’t you? Then pay up, asswipe.”

In fact I’m not sure how Snyder got so lucky. DAWN OF THE DEAD was a hit, 300 was huge, but then he got to do three uncompromised dream project movies in a row (WATCHMEN, OWLS OF G’AHOOLE, this). The first two didn’t do too hot and even if this one bites the dust he could still conceivably recover because he’s doing that Superman movie. We’ll see. For now I’ll enjoy watching what the guy does with the credit card before it’s reported stolen.

Zack Snyder Movie #5 is so highly stylized it looks less real than #4, which was animated. It’s about a girl named Baby Doll trying to lead other girls with names like Rocket and Sweet Pea in a plan to escape an asylum/brothel. It takes place in a fantasy world within a fantasy world within a play within a movie, give or take a couple levels of reality. It seems most influenced by Alice in Wonderland, MOULIN ROUGE, anime, BRAZIL, RETURN TO OZ, GIRL INTERRUPTED, samurai movies, war movies, video games and rock operas like THE WALL. It almost plays as a musical, with its four huge set pieces modeled around songs and an opening sequence (maybe others, I forget) that plays out entirely as a music video.

(proposal for new rule: nobody is allowed to complain about music videos in movies if they also complain about MTV not showing music videos)

This avalanche of stylistic conceits is gonna be way too much for some people, but what can I say? I got a sweet tooth. I can take it.

And I think Snyder is completely sincere. After his first two movies I was convinced he was a real talented filmatist but wondered if he had a brain in his head. I thought maybe all he could do was fluff (or marshmallow creme if you prefer), because he had done two movies in a row that seemed inherently political but with him clearly not meaning any of it. Now I’m thinking he’s maybe not a supergenius, but at least a thoughtful guy. I think as shiny and sculpted of plastic as these characters are he really cares about them and hates the torment that his world puts them through. I think he does have some things to say in this movie, they’re not the deepest or most original ideas in the world, but he means them. Because he also layers the movie in 22 layers of frosting I think lots of people will mistake it for having no substance at all, but that’s their problem, not his.

The most elaborate parts of the movie are the action sequences, which involve swords, guns, jetpacks, biplanes, dragons, orcs, robots, explosions, samurais, speeding trains, giant robots, etc. I don’t like the frame-skipping he does on some of it, and his visuals are starting to get so detailed they’re more chaotic than before, but he still knows how to put together an action sequence. He loves a clear, powerful hit and (especially in this movie) an awesome pose. Baby does more super heroic landing poses than Spider-man.

300 used its storytelling framing as an excuse to exaggerate, and these sequences use “it’s a fantasy” as an excuse to combine all time periods and mythologies into one big pasta primavera of things Harry uses dick metaphors to describe. But I think there’s still a logic to the story as a whole. I like the simple, repetitive structure of it. She has a list of 4 items she has to get in order to escape. In the closer-to-real-world of the asylum she and her friends have to sneak around to obtain those items. For each item one of the girls takes the lead while Baby dances to distract the men in the building. While she dances she escapes to the fantasy world, where the girls go on a parallel mission for a similar item (for example crystals cut from the chest of a baby dragon instead of a Zippo lighter with a dragon engraved on it). Each of these mission scenes is based around a modernized cover of a classic song, performed this time by a woman, representing the song that Baby is dancing to.

Although their overall feeling is glossy and cool, all of Snyder’s movies take place in horrible worlds: a world where the dead walk (well, actually run) the earth, a world where everyone is raised from birth to fight wars unless they’re ugly and then they’re thrown off a cliff, a world where if a baby owl falls out of a tree he’ll get owlnapped, zombified and forced to work in a mine digging through droppings for specks of magic metal. In Snyderworld even a fuckin bird can’t escape combat! They gotta wear helmets!

SUCKER PUNCH is no exception, it’s a world of extreme male domination. Even inmates in a mental hospital have to look like Bratz dolls, because they’re also burlesque performers. The villains are a disgusting, abusive stepfather, a disgusting, rape-enjoying overweight cook and a cruel, pencil-mustached pimp and/or asylum doctor willing to lobotomize a patient for a $2,000 bribe, then fondle her. The heroine, Baby Doll, has two outstanding skills: finding and brandishing a weapon when a girl she cares about is being attacked, and dancing so sexy it hypnotizes men.

I think Snyder’s dedication to girl power is exactly equal to his dedication to owl power, and his portrait of the female in SUCKER PUNCH to his portrait of the male in 300. Still, alot of people are making a big deal about the gender politics of the movie, writing about “is it exploitation or empowerment?” as if those are the only two choices. I think the fact that Snyder never shows Baby Doll dance signals that he really is on the girl’s side. Yeah, it’s still girls running around with stockings and school girl uniforms firing guns, it’s a nerd fetish movie. And like I always say there’s a huge difference between Ripley in ALIENS and the any-hot-girl-with-a-gun characters that have followed in her wake. But can’t a man root for a bunch of girls with no pants on to chop up a train full of killer robots without ogling their butts? Honestly guys, I don’t really got a thing for girls that young anymore, I don’t feel like a male gazer in their presence, and the gay guys in the row in front of me seemed to do all right.

I don’t know. I’ll leave it to the gender studies classes to straighten out. But I kind of see a parallel with the original I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. Whatever you think about its empowerment of women or titillation of creepos I think the director was sincerely going for the first one. In its own PG-13 way the SUCKER PUNCH men are as hatable and unglamorous as those redneck rapists. The only one that’s not a bastard is the imaginary one. If you’re not watching this movie through the girls’ eyes you’re watching it wrong.

This is one of the first movies I've seen where a girl jumps up to kick a giant Dai Majin type samurai statue that's wielding Ol' Painless from PREDATOR
This is one of the first movies I’ve seen where a girl jumps up to kick a giant Dai Majin type samurai statue that’s wielding Ol’ Painless from PREDATOR

Let’s get to the “doesn’t entirely work” part. It’s mostly the old problem of not sticking the landing. The crossing-off-the-list-of-items is supposed to lead to a fifth unknown item, that item does not turn out to be as surprising or satisfying as you’d hope. The movie plays a trick that was set up from the beginning but I’m not sure I like the trick, and after reading a couple reviews I wonder if I even understand what it was supposed to mean. Both the beginning and ending have some pretty laughably corny (but sincere, I still think) narration that I wish I could get behind more. And I’m not sure why (SPOILER) this girl doesn’t get to have a straight up triumphant victory. Doesn’t she deserve one? I think it might be a case of confusing fucked-up with grown-up. But honestly I’m not clear enough on the intent of the ending to be sure.

The action taking place in the world of imagination is not as big of a problem as you might think, but it does hold it back a little. In those scenes Baby is a super hero, it doesn’t seem like she can be hurt. In fact, by the logic of the movie I think she can. If she got her head bit off by the dragon it would mean she got stabbed by the pimp in the hospital, or something like that. But for me anyway I didn’t feel danger or gravity in those scenes the way I did back in the hospital. So they have a visual kick that hasn’t really been done like that in movies before but it’s missing some of the kick of the great action sequences, or at least the ones I like best – the feeling that they just got away by the skin of their teeth, or at least oh shit that guy’s nuts are really hurting after what Seagal just did to them.

The other thing is more a matter of taste than an actual criticism. This type of music they got in the movie is not for me, and the music is way more prevalent than in most movies. The gal I saw it with (simmer down fellas, it’s totally innocent) wasn’t bothered by the gender politics at all, but was really offended that they would cover some of these songs. That wasn’t an issue for me, I just don’t care for that particular style of warbling too much. Could be worse though if it was Baha Men or Billy Ray Cyrus.

Anyway since some of the music is a little grating to me (didn’t Nevildine/Taylor kill all covers of “Sweet Dreams” when they played the Marilyn Manson version twice in GAMER?) So at times I felt like I could respect it more than enjoy it. Kind of like when I saw that movie EVITA. It was like “Ooooh, that’s beautiful. Man, I hate this shit. Wow, gorgeous. Should I just leave?” Or I was the same with SWEENEY TODD. Pretty well executed, but not my glass of Pepsi.

So it’s an ambitious movie, I’m not sure it gets a full grip on what it’s reaching for, and some of it isn’t really my bag. But it’s trying, it’s doing its own thing, it’s pure, and it has young girls running around with machine guns and swords and a giant robot massacring a platoon of clockwork zombie Germans. Why? If you you have to ask, this is not the movie for you. This is the movie for people who would say “cute girls running around with machine guns and swords and a giant robot massacring a platoon of clockwork zombie Germans? I’m intrigued.” I’m not saying that’s all a movie needs, but I do consider it a plus.

I didn’t feel like the Cinerama crowd of 98% dudes and 42% goatees was really with this movie. But I got a hunch if it was all 12-14 year old girls they would’ve loved it. They just don’t know that’s a movie they want to see. It’s all about alienation and being locked up and bossed around and girls in-fighting but then learning to work together and have each other’s backs but dude the world is fucked up. I think it speaks to the sullen teenage girl. It’s operatic and blown out of proportion and wearing too much makeup, and it’s trying desperately to express itself. Poor little thing.

For those of you who hated the movie I offer this question: what if it had been made starring the Spice Girls? Of course Baby Spice would play Baby Doll, she even has the blonde ponytails. Like in the actual movie each of the ladies would take the lead for one fantasy mission, the only real change being that their Spice Power or whatever would be worked into the scene. For example, Sporty Spice would have to dribble a soccer ball through a WWI battlefield, and Scary Spice would turn into a werewolf to fight vikings. And obviously it would be the same cover songs except performed by the Spice Girls.

I think with that simple change SUCKER PUNCH would’ve 100% for sure been an all time classic cult movie for the ages. As it is at least it’s pretty cool.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Saturday, March 26th, 2011 at 11:53 pm and is filed under Action, Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

247 Responses to “Sucker Punch”

  1. I loved this movie

  2. brilliant review btw Vern

    all the haters can suck it! *taps cane rhythmically to Bjork’s Army Of Me*

  3. might I add that I have a goatee and I was totally with this movie

  4. …so it’s like HEAVY METAL?

  5. So here’s my detailed thoughts and I’m incredibly disappointed. Sucker Punch was indeed a crazy mess, a very ambitious one. Firstly, it is a visually and stylewise impressive movie, both in over the top and subtleties. If you really enjoyed Watchmen and 300, then you won’t have any problems at least enjoying this one.

    And then there’s the bad side of which I’m not sure the blame should all goto Zach Snyder the director who also wrote the story and most of the screenplay. I’m wondering of his producer credit, which because he isn’t an exec producer leads me to think this movie will ultimately fail because of the same reasons as Spider Man 3. Hollywood has railroaded him.

    I have no doubt there were too many hands pressuring him. He has the problem that he was allowed to do this movie, so that he can do Superman (and depending on how they do, the 300 sequel Xerxes). In doing so, they went the safe way and made this PG 13 and tried to cater to the Twilight crowd. By doing this, they robbed any chance of this being a good/great movie. Which is funny, because I suspect their expected return is going to be way less than if they let Zach go his merry way.

    Cast: This cast couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag. That said, Jamie Chung looked the best of the group. Carla Gugino looked and acted better in her bit part than any of the girls. Villain was incredibly miscast. And what’s up with the John Hamm cameo?

    It’s a movie about abuse and corruption at a mental institution doubling as a brothel, with violence thrown in. Of which, there is zero mental illness, zero nudity, zero blood, and almost zero abuse and corruption. Remind me again why this isn’t an R rated film?
    Oh yeah, and they always talk about dancing. THERE’S ZERO DANCING!

    If you hate metaphors and thinking about meaning, then you will really hate this movie. If you hate the action slo mo of which there is more than in 300, then yeah you’ll hate this too. Zach had to cut out more than a reels worth, so the Director’s Cut will eventually be another 20+ minutes worth. I’d save your time for that. This movie could have been great.

  6. I agree with you, Vern.

  7. Haven’t seen the film yet, not released in Australia yet, so I just skimmed the review to get the tone, but I love the idea of the Spice Girls being in the roles of this film. Brilliant idea. Producers really should be giving Vern a call, run their idea past him and just ask for any suggestions.

  8. Haven’t seen the film yet, but that was a great review, Vern.

  9. I will agree that the movie would be better if it was R, but it’s unlikely there would have been any nudity anyway, few actresses these days have the guts to do it, so it’s not a big deal, it works as PG-13

    there’s also the fact that nudity would have made people cry “exploitation!” even more, but I find it weird how showing the female form has now become taboo because it’s “exploitative”, it’s like the flip side to it being taboo for Religious reasons, what’s the big deal people? they don’t have that attitude in Europe, but I digress

    anyway on a side note, I can’t help but wish Snyder would do more original movies like this instead of Superman, I mean Superman has been done, a lot and it’s gonna be hard to top the Richard Donner original

    but if Hollywood insists on more Superman then I suppose Snyder is the man for the job, but I just worry of him getting trapped in the sequel net like Sam Raimi and not doing anything but Superman for almost ten years

    ….but now that I think about it if he took the Christopher Nolan route and did original flicks in between the Supermen that might not be so bad

  10. Haven’t seen the movie yet, but in my opinion WATCHMEN proved beyond reasonable doubt that Snyder in fact doesn’t have a brain in its head. He’s got a pretty good copying machine/musical editing software combo in its place, though, so parts of his movies are certainly enjoyable.

    The man has such sense of style, but zero understanding of any plot/characters/dialogue/other-narrative-shit issues involved in the making of a film.

  11. *his head, didn’t mean to call Snyder a robot.

  12. see I think there’s a problem with criticizing this movie for not being “deep” enough or having any real meaning

    for one thing, why does every movie have to be deep? what’s wrong with a movie that’s well made that’s only purpose is to entertain? I like thought provoking movies just as much as the next guy, but I also like to have a good time, I’ll list some movies that are universally liked and ask seriously if there’s any deep messages behind them

    Raiders of The Lost Ark
    Big Trouble In Little China
    Ghostbusters
    Back To The Future
    Die Hard

    so if Sucker Punch at least entertains without being an assault on your senses like Transformers, then what’s so bad about that?

    but I think Sucker Punch DOES have some meaning and a message behind it, it just also happens to work as a pure action movie as well

    I think a good comparison would be Jurassic Park, which I don’t make that comparison lightly since it’s one of my favorite movies of all time and while I wouldn’t say Sucker Punch is as good as Jurassic Park there is a similarity in that Jurassic Park works as a an excellent made thrill ride, but has a real moral to it (the also excellent Michael Crichton book on which it is based goes much deeper)

  13. “Hello friend, are you on the same wavelength as me?”

    Brilliant. Without mentioning M****** B** by name, you’ve captured the difference between Snyder and B**. Both are idiot douchebags who make dumb movies that I hate, but at least Snyder is well-meaning and has respect for his audience.

    I can totally go along with that. I’ll bump my respect for Snyder up by 1 point.

  14. Finding that key 12-14 year old girl audience might make screenings for SUCKER PUNCH into something resembling an awkward middle school dance. That could help nerdboys out, though, force the little twerps to sit close to a girl for once, maybe even talk to her. Then she’ll watch her kind kick ass onscreen for 90 minutes and rightly substantiate her post as the dominant gender over stupid boys, and the nerdboy will retreat in embarrasment and everything goes back to normal.

    Vanessa Hudgens would’ve been down for the hard R version of this one. She needs to be in front of a lot more cameras a lot more often.

  15. one guy from andromeda

    March 27th, 2011 at 5:56 am

    Imagining it was a sequel to Spice World has finally given me a mental opening to maybe watch this movie, i get what you mean Vern.
    I was totally uninterested until i read that sentence for some reason…

  16. “300 used its storytelling framing as an excuse to exaggerate, and these sequences use “it’s a fantasy” as an excuse to combine all time periods and mythologies into one big pasta primavera of things Harry uses dick metaphors to describe.”

    *laughs uncontrollably for a good while*

    Okay, now I can finish reading the review.

  17. There are seriously deep messages behind:

    Raiders Of The Lost Ark
    Ghostbusters
    Back To The Future
    Die Hard.

    Jeez…

    Anyway, Vern, I’d like to know: what specifically are the huge differences between Ripley and later hot-girl-with-a-gun-characters? (aside from the obvious one that she was written by James Cameron and they, unless we’re talking Sarah Connor or Neyteri, were not.) (And I realize Neyteri had a bow and arrow, not a gun, she’s from a pre-industrial culture, yes, y’know what I mean.)

  18. “For those of you who hated the movie I offer this question: what if it had been made starring the Spice Girls?”

    Ok ok ok I see what’s going on here. Vern, I gotta give you props for smarts.

    So you wanted to get a little revenge for me calling you a “great big nancy”, but you can’t come out and say it because I’m obviously fishing for a reaction. So instead you hatch a diabolical scheme.

    You make the kind of crazy off-beat reference – less than a day after I’ve mentioned my sneaking liking for “Spice World” – to the Spice Girls, the perfect touch to persuade me to see this film. This while knowing all the while that I hate overused slow-motion and films that insult my intelligence; and that this film, if I see it, will drive me INSANE. (Actually I think you underestimate the effect of hot girls kicking ass making me overlook a film’s flaws, but I see where you’re coming from.)

    Still, I love your creativity here. It won’t work – there’s no way I’m going to see “Sucker Punch” in the cinema, sorry – but I gotta admire the pure evil cunning on display here. Props.

  19. Sorry, but I don’t think that Snyder respects his audience. He just buys them with shiny slow motion shots and obvious geek bait like: “I took this image right out of the graphic novel!”* To me it seems like he is more trying to impress the audience. I’m sure in school he probably learned to play guitar or how to skate, just for that reason and not because he was really interested in it.

    *Of course only when he is making a movie based on a comic book.

  20. “I’ll list some movies that are universally liked and ask seriously if there’s any deep messages behind them…”

    Raiders of The Lost Ark – It’s a movie about gaining faith. Indy is an atheist when he begins his quest but comes to if not believe then at least have a healthy appreciation for spiritual matters at the climax. All three movies more or less follow this pattern.

    Big Trouble In Little China – Heh, you got me. Great movie but it’s a bunch of crazy stuff happening.

    Ghostbusters – It’s a capitalism movie. Smart guys with a good angle go into business for themselves only to get screwed over by government regulations. Despite nominally good intentions (saving the environment) the government agency inadvertently creates a massive crisis and the businessmen are the only ones that can bail them out.

    Back To The Future – Seize the day? *shrug* I dunno.

    Die Hard – Didn’t the screenwriter say it was a Vietnam allegory, with the scrappy, underequipped opposition successfully evading and defeating a seemingly superior fighting force?

  21. Also, Mouth, I love your description of schoolyard Darwinism. Props again. (Damn, I’m giving out a lot of props today.)

  22. Griff: “anyway on a side note, I can’t help but wish Snyder would do more original movies like this instead of Superman, I mean Superman has been done, a lot and it’s gonna be hard to top the Richard Donner original”
    This generation hasn’t gotten a live action Superman yet that takes full advantage of the technological advances made since then though. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Donner’s Superman was really well done for it’s time, but when special effects got to the point that we could be having the sort of epic destructive battles you’d expect someone like Superman to have, Singer instead gave us pretty looking flying, bullets bouncing off of Superman’s eyes, and him lifting increasingly larger objects, and not a single punch was thrown. Not to mention the guy was just homaging Donner and neither doing his own thing or taking any advantage of the 30 odd years of development the character has went through. If we have to have Lex Luthor as our villain, we should have the narcissistic genius who’s jealous of Superman and convinces himself he’s battling an alien interloper for the good of humanity, NOT a greedy guy who wants to pull a land grab scheme…again. Never mind all the other villains who’ve yet to be realised on the big screen because all we’ve had is Luthor and Zod so far.

    “for one thing, why does every movie have to be deep? what’s wrong with a movie that’s well made that’s only purpose is to entertain? ”
    Indeed. As an example: YES, zombies do work on the level of the represantion of our own inevitable mortality and with that things like our bodies breaking down as we get older…but you know what else makes them scary? Them being dead people who are up and walking around and want to rip your guts out. I think that’s enough for the purposes of a horror movie.

  23. Obviously Back to the Future deals a lot with destiny and fate and “The future is what we make it” kind of ideas.

  24. Yeah, but only when you have the advantage of a time machine to know what your choices will bring about and so can change your actions for the better, or warn your pal he’s going to be gunned down by Libyans.
    It’s a movie that also endorses trusting a guy who tried to rape your wife in high school with a job that requires him to hang around your house a lot.

  25. I might have to rant here. I apologize ahead of time. I said what I have to say about SUCKER PUNCH in the Nerd Shit & Potpourri 2 threads, trying my best to stay vague & spoiler-free so that Vern could review it properly without me mucking it up first, and now it appears that some of you liked or will like this movie more than I did. And our enjoyment or lack thereof pertains directly to the action and entertainment value of the thing, not our psychosexual analysis of Zach Snyder’s intended audience. If there had been actual nudity or maybe glistening blood highlighting the protagonists’ curves, maybe that would be a valid angle of approach in discussing our reactions to SUCKER PUNCH.

    I read that link, Vern, and I can’t say I’m happy with the current feminism movement on this front, the cinema watchdog front (if for no other reason than that I’ve never seen BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and I’m sick of hearing about it. Also, Uma Thurman is not sexy.). I’m multitasking right now, watching & hearing Hillary Clinton on MEET THE PRESS, and I recall that I would have voted for her after Joe Biden & Dennis Kucinich missed the nomination in 2008, and I recall that I wrote a speech on the military’s impact on women’s standards of life in certain 3rd world ‘Stans a few months back that was delivered at a major women’s rights group’s conference. And one of my favorite blogs happens to be Feministing.com. So I don’t think I qualify as The Man in terms of [even subconsciously] forwarding a continuation of a disgustingly tragically male-dominated society. Also, I subscribe to & love Cosmopolitan magazine, but that might not be the most progressive publication if you ask some people. Actually, forget I disclosed that, sorry.

    Let’s remember Zach Snyder’s 300, which I thoroughly enjoyed. How many assholes lifted their goatees (Sorry, Griff.) from the centerfold of Dr. Freud’s faux-psychology texts for a couple hours to check out the box office draw of 300 only to assail their keyboards the next minute to assert that its popularity must be due to rampant, barely suppressed homosexual tendencies among the greater male population? I don’t know about you, man, but I stayed limp down there during that movie. I’ve got my own 6-pack to ogle, thank you. Anyway, the short memory of some of these critics right now is disturbing. How much weight does auteur theory carry? Don’t most critics champion auteur theory, even calling it Auteur Theory in academic books and whathaveyou? Aren’t a director’s previous works & previous works’ themes meaningful, or is it only when we can point to slo-mo and heavy greenscreenage that makes us critical experts? Talk about turning off part of one’s brain! So we dismiss all prior supposed meanings in the guy’s movies because this most recent one happens to have a hot female cast? This is willful ignorance.

    Okay, yeah, female feminists & ladies not named JeeJa Yanin have a right to be ever-vigilant about how their kind is victimized, and they may have a right to complain about this one, but for chrissake, it’s a PG-13 movie! How exploitive can it be? This problem is purely generated by a viewer’s mentality. It must be! It’s the only logical leap to be made, and this leap relies wholly on a particular viewer’s proclivity to see what he/she wants to see. If you want to be outraged by 20 year old hotties showing some leg and being ogled by icky older guys, then you can make yourself outraged all right. It’s really not all that in-your-face in SUCKER PUNCH. In fact, my inability to be aroused by SUCKER PUNCH is better evidence than my enjoyment of 300 that I must secretly be a switch-hitter. But how can the director responsible for this film be likewise responsible for telling my ODA & me that we’re all flaming homosexuals for enjoying the success of 300’s badass soldiers? Is Zach Snyder’s sexuality polymorphous? Does he have different genitals and fluctuating hormone levels he swaps out every other day, based on which segment of the striving-to-be-politically-correct audience he wants to piss off and/or titillate on a given day?

    So that’s some of what wound me up reading some of the harsher, unfortunately politically tinged reviews – the type of reviews I usually love & embrace! – of SUCKER PUNCH. I just think that, in this case, some folks are barking up the wrong schoolgirl’s leg. Er, tree, the wrong tree.

  26. I’d love to see what people who have those views think of the SPARTACUS tv shows.

  27. After seeing three of Snyder’s films, I’ve pretty much lost all appetite for his movies. People use the “music video” moniker as an insult, but I truly believe that Snyder would probably be much more comfortable making music videos. (The few moments in his films that I truly enjoyed, the Johnny Cash opener for Dawn of the Dead and the Bob Dylan opener for Watchmen) could have easily aired on MTV circa 1990s. The man just isn’t comfortable crafting a compelling story or interesting characters. On the one hand, I wish I enjoyed his movies more because rarely do we get films that create their own world from scratch, like Sucker Punch. On the other hand, I wonder how has this guy convinced the suits to back his lackluster filmmaking when there are so many other talented directors who could do something fantastic with this guy’s budget. Proof that God does not exist: DelToro just lost the backing of Paramount to make his H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, but Snyder just keeps plugging along.

  28. So far I have only seen BLOOD & SAND, but I loved it! Yes, I totally groaned at the way too obvious 30 cash-in that it is stylistically, but a.) I was very entertained by its celebrated low brow-ness in the first few episodes and b.) they used the slowmo shots at least a little bit better than Snyder did. Not as excessive and often with good timing. I could have done and still could without it, though.
    But then later, when the story evolved and it turned into a HOLYSHITIWANNAKNOWWHATHAPPENSNEXT show, I didn’t really care anymore.

  29. Damn, I forgot an intro line, where I mentioned that I think that “300 fans are gay” argument is bullshit and only wanna point out how I like it, despite it uses the same style that I hated so much in 300.

  30. Great review Vern. After Mouth’s review/recommendation (thanks Mouth) I took my goatee and my oldest nephew (13 years old) to see this movie last night and we all enjoyed it (my goatee included). With all the hate this movie was getting I was worried it was going to more of a mess, but I thought the good by far out weighed the bad and at times the movie flirted with being something really special. However, this is going to be a very polarizing film you are either going to dig it or furiously hate it.

    I do want to discuss the end of the film but I will save that for a separate spoiler heavy post, but I do want to take a second to address all the Snyder bashing going on on this site and in a number of other places I have read. First, I think it is ridiculous if anyone tries to compare Snyder to Bay. As Vern already did an excellent job point out in his review Snyder does not show the same contempt for his audience and the language of cinema that Bay does. You can argue about what worked or did not work in SUCKER PUNCH & WATCHMEN, but at the end of the day they are both a accomplishments that few film makers could achieve. I would go as far as to say that WATCHMEN could be the BLADE RUNNER of this generation in that people with be in aw of the film making on display for decades after it’s creation even if it does not really hit it’s mark from a narrative stand point. Also, Bay makes big budget commercial’s and Snyder has rolled the dice on three straight passion projects that I am surprised that the studio would even bank role considering that none of them on paper seem that commercially viable especially considering their budgets. Not only that but I can’t think of any product placement in either SUCKER PUNCH or WATCHMEN, which is even more of a feet considering the budget of those projects. In addition I can’t see why anyone would think Snyder is dumb. In every interview or commentary I have ever heard of his he always comes across as a smart and passionate artist. That doesn’t mean that his work is not without it’s flaws, but no dummy could have crafted the films in his catalog.

  31. Attention, WATCHMEN nerds & Snyder-haters, especially if you have read the outstanding source material: You will probably appreciate the animated short film TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER, which I understand is on the WATCHMEN special features but also available separately. I was shocked at how good it is, a good way to spend 25 minutes.

    It was directed by some guy with the awesome name Daniel DelPurgatorio, so even Snyder-haters might like it, but I bring it up here b/c Snyder gets a screenplay credit and I think it’s good enough & different enough that it might soften some people’s views on him. It has a great dark tone that is nicely sustained for the duration of the narrative, and, to an even greater degree than the feature it accompanies, it is perfectly faithful to Alan Moore’s words & vision, except now it’s all presented in one continuous story instead of being teasingly delivered in chunks throughout WATCHMEN. Gerard Butler did the main guy’s voice, and it’s pretty badass. I don’t usually go for this cartoon nerd shit, but this is pretty good stuff. Very macho & dark & evocative of a spooky point in history, and it gets inside the mind of the protagonist with brilliant linguistic flourishes that I’ve never enjoyed in any other animated piece.

    *****************************************
    Alas, I have the babyface. It would probably take me 3+ months to grow out something resembling a goatee. I like to think this is b/c I’m more highly evolved than my fellow homo sapiens, but on some level I’m jealous. Now Charles & Griff will always look like Charlie Wax when I envision their likenesses, you magnificent hairyfaced bastards.

  32. SPOILERS

    Vern, I think Baby Doll did win in the end. At the beginning of the film she was unable to save her sister from her evil stepfather, who then bribes some to dude to institutionalize and lobotomize her to cover his tracks. I think Baby Doll is actually lobotomized in that first act of the film and everything else afterward including what we are meant to perceive as reality like the scenes in the mental institute actually take place in her mind. In her mind she is no longer a prisoner of her situation she is free to manufacture her reality and write her own ending. That is why in the end she sacrifices herself to save Sweet Pea. She has crafted a tale of redemption in her head where unlike in the real world where she was unable to save her sister in her mind she is the hero who does save the day and gives Sweet Pea the freedom and life she could not give her sister.

  33. Oh, that reminds me, have you all seen the animated shorts inspired by SUCKER PUNCH? Some of which have David Keith narrating:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ub2NV9oooB8

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htk54Ep83_E

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JerSu-3gTwc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGm5sRHlH_s

  34. Oh, that reminds me, have you all seen the animated shorts inspired by SUCKER PUNCH? Some of which have David Keith narrating. I posted a comment saying this and included links, but it’s awaiting moderation, but fuck that. Just youtube search “Sucker punch animated shorts” and that should bring up the four of them.

  35. So a bigass budget movie made for the Internet lost this weekend to a modest-budget kids picture sequel.

    Huh.

    Of course the reviews saying this is a mess, considering it was originally a MUSICAL before the songs got cut out….I can’t say I’m entirely shocked.

    Oh well, I hate to kick someone while they’re down so I won’t. To the Snyder fans who still defend him even while admitting he’s sloppy and got flaws…well, you have alot of work in front of ya. so get going!

    CJ Holden – 300 fans aren’t necessarily gay. But its funny when 300 fans refuse to accept the idea that maybe those badass Spartans humped and grinded each other. They are annoying.

    ~All SUCKER PUNCH’s failure in the states does is weaken Zach Snyder’s power on SUPERMAN. So you fans guess what? Nolan has more pull with the WB heads than Snyder does now. WHEEEEEE!

  36. So what you’re saying is:
    -Box Office=Quality
    -Flaws=No Other Talent At All
    -Pointing out that apparent homoeroticism doesn’t necessarilly equal homosexuality=absolute denial of homosexuality and historical fact (not to mention some of Stelios and Astinos’ dialogue could be interpreted as flirting)
    -Christopher Nolan…um…I don’t know what your point was with that. Nolan did his part with the Superman reboot already, gave his support of what he, Goyer and Snyder came up with for it, then moved on to concentrate on DARK KNIGHT RISES. I don’t forsee him influencing the movie any more than that

  37. RRA likes to crunch the #s. That’s his thing, and I’m cool with it.

    If for no other reason, I am grateful for SUCKER PUNCH’s existence because it has inspired me to spend much of the last hour google image searching Jamie Chung.

    http://www.cavemancircus.com/galleries2/2009/9/jamie_chung/jamie_chung_044.php

    I have so much work to do to reach the level where I can pull a lady at that level. Until then, she just makes me go all Posehn:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHsbJLuOdBM

  38. I have this theory that in the future the only films made for the movie theater will be those designed for kids. It almost feels like no R rated movies can ever make a money in Hollywood the way PG rated movies do these days. Enjoy any R rated release in America because pretty soon there will no longer be any R rated movies released ever again.

  39. “RRA likes to crunch the #s. That’s his thing, and I’m cool with it. ”
    Yeah, I had to go look up how well SP actually did. The site I read said a little under million at the #2 spot. LIMITLESS (btw, you going to review that, Vern? I quite enjoyed it and I didn’t know if I should wait for you to review it to talk about it) apparently did about a million less at #1 the previous week. Now, I the know the budget between films would be different, but if SUCKER PUNCH did better at #2 than a better-reviewed, more mainstream-appealing movie did at #1 just one week earlier, can you really call it a failure?

  40. Stu – Point? What point? Sometimes one can make an observation without making a point. Thats’ what observation is. Analysis is when you make a judgement of what is “going on.”

    Well I admit the Nolan bit was a snark tweak in petty hip-hop feud fashion. Some folks around here hate Nolan….no wait, that’s wrong. Let me rephrase: They hate the Internet Geek Chic overhype of Nolan. Some others champion Snyder in spite of some elements of the Internet Geek Chic despising the total shit out of Mr. Snyder.

    Snyder’s last two live-action movies have cost a fortune, and both have been box-office disapointments. (unless Europe/Asia embrace SUCKER PUNCH like a son of a bitch needing a fix while on cold turkey) Nolan’s last two movies sorta made money for the same folks at WB who gambled on Snyder.

    Thus with that logic flow chart, wouldn’t it stand that Nolan would have more power as Producer at WB on the same movie that Snyder is directing? Right?

    Really I kinda feel bad for Snyder. If SUPERMAN works is a hit, the nerds will give Nolan credit. If it fails, Snyder gets the blame since he is the “director.” Think POLTERGEIST. Who got credit: Spielberg or Hopper?

    Mouth – Well that is something. But not to poo-pah those animated shorts (they could be terrific for all I know), but they’re mere accessories to the movie itself. No more than a trailer or lobby card or Internet comic book or bubble gum pack with trading cards.

    Sternshein – Yes the R rating was what killed SUCKER PUNCH. Not the lackluster marketing, or the fact that “girls+swords+robots+CGI” doesn’t exactly attract much outside of the young male demographics. Or that the movie got sucker punched early by bad early reviews.

    (and IMO, it just looked terrible.)

    Really whether you may or may not care about PUNCH or even liked it or hated….surely you all can understand why it performed like it did over the weekend? Can we understand that at least?

    Lets not mistake the trees for the forest. Or is it forest for the trees?

  41. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    March 27th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    It just doesn’t sound like it works. All the reviews I read of Inception seemed to get the point across. But everything I’ve read about this just comes across as a mess.

    I guess I’m to old for this shit.

  42. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    March 27th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    In fact, I’ve just watched a few trailers for this and it does look like my little dickhead step brother will piss his skinny jeans over it. It looks like shit. A very pretty piece of shit, with pig tails on, filmed in slow mo, on blue screen and for a disgusting amount of money.

    I’m getting to old for this shit.

  43. Gotta chime in here to say that although four of the five movies on Griff’s list are some of my all-time favorites, I do have to agree with him that there are no “deep” messages behind them. They may touch on things like changing your destiny or gaining faith or whatever, but really they’re just nodding at those ideas as they whiz past on the way to being totally fucking entertaining. Not quite the same as having a deep message.

    As for Sucker Punch – reading this review made me ache for the Spice Girls movie that will never be.

  44. RRA-“Thus with that logic flow chart, wouldn’t it stand that Nolan would have more power as Producer at WB on the same movie that Snyder is directing? Right? ”
    I got what you meant, but I was pointing out that Nolan isn’t likely to be inclined to use that power. He’s known for being very single-minded when it comes to his projects. When doing THE PRESTIGE, he’d be asked about THE DARK KNIGHT and would keep saying he was honestly not thinking about it or working on it in any way, and was totally focused on the movie he was currently making. Same with INCEPTION and DARK KNIGHT RISES. He’s working on RISES now, so I doubt he’s going to be doing anything with regards to SUPERMAN. Didn’t he actually officially “hand over the reigns” to Snyder on that when RISES was announced, actually? So his producer credit will probably only be for the stuff he did up until that point.

    Anyway, I’d rather not think about Superman’s chances. I’m already bummed out enough by all the doomsaying there is about GREEN LANTERN.

  45. Oh praise Allah, Debbie Schlussel, our favorite worthless excuse for a film critic, has seen SUCKER PUNCH. She evidently had to correct a few things after posting a sloppy, error-filled first draft, but here it is:
    http://www.debbieschlussel.com/34851/wknd-box-office-sucker-punch-jane-eyre-diary-of-wimpy-kid-rodrick-rules/

    She gives it 3 Marxes! Those are anti-Reagans, apparently. She is a monster of a caricature of a rightwing imbecile, but at least she’s looking for the children.

    RRA, I wouldn’t dismiss that BLACK FREIGHTER movie. If you turn off the lights and give it a serious chance, I think you’ll find that it’s surprisingly immersive & provocative for an animated product, just like Jessica Rabbit.

  46. *looking out for the children

    That’s kind of an important preposition there.

  47. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    March 27th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    The Spice Girls Movie had Sir Roger Moore in it. Winning.

  48. Scary Spice was in the last episode of SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL this week, so there’s a partial connection to SP with it’s brothel, at least.

  49. Didn’t go see this yet cause I spent the weekend watching the first 3 Death Wish movies for the first time in a hot minute. I’m also gonna sit down with night Merantau cause Vern’s review got me interested. However I feel the same way about Snyder as our good ol Outlaw does. I find a lot of his work to be interesting disasters and they really tend to work best when seen on the big screen. Gonna see if I catch this tomorrow during matinee hour when I go slack off from work for a couple of hours.

  50. SIDENOTE: semi-relevant since it’s Snyder related but I’d like to see what Vern thinks of the always excellent Amy Adams being cast as Lois in Zack’s upcoming Superman. Personally I’m ecstatic to see one of my favorite actresses play opposite the guy I’ve wanted to see play Superman for almost a decade now. That movie has been impeccably cast so far down to Costner and Lane as the Kent’s. If they really get Viggo or Shannon for Lex I think I will have a heart attack. I mean it’s just too much goodness all at once.

  51. RRA, I was complaining that we’re not going to be getting any more R rated films. Either they’ll be cut to make a PG-13 or they’ll just be direct to video.

  52. I’m not an analyst but I’d actually say SUCKER PUNCH’s gross isn’t that bad considering a) the horrible reviews b) it cost $82million and sadly that’s not really a big budget for this kind of thing these days and c) it doesn’t have any obvious appeal to a mass audience and the marketing doesn’t seem to have captured the public’s imagination. Also it wasn’t R-Rated, it’s PG-13. That’s part of why I’m not keen on seeing it (one of the lesser reasons, admittedly). If you sell a movie on T&A and the other kind oif A, can you really deliver with a PG-13, even if you’re being “subversive? That’s another way this reminds me of FULL THROTTLE.

  53. RRA – I hate the geek chic overpraising of Nolan, yet I love all of Nolan’s movies that I’ve seen. Not sure what that makes me…?

  54. Didn’t see this one yet in the theatre, saw Paul instead just because I gotta support the Pegg/Frost team at any opportunity.

    Anyway I was going to stay out of this thread since I have nothing insightful to say about the movie yet but then someone started bad-mouthing Watchmen above and I just have to ask, what did Snyder do with Watchmen that was so bad? I actually saw the movie well before reading the book(and enjoyed it) and after reading the book couldn’t get why people were so upset with his version. I mean 95% of the film is straight from the book, dialogue and everything. The only change at all really was instead of teleporting in an alien creature from another dimension or whatever he faked an energy blast from Dr. Man hattan. But both achieved the same goal. And everything wraps up the same in the end anyway. So what specifically is so wrong with Snyders Watchmen?

  55. I’m right there with you Paul. I’ve watched every movie he’s made from the beginning & the only one I didn’t really enjoy too much at all was Inception though even that wasn’t too bad from a technical point of view. Since Batman Begins I’ve watched everything he’s made at the cinema because I like his flicks. Yet I never really revisit those movies past the cinema and cannot understand why so many people think he’s like the fucking second coming of the GOAT (Kubrick).

    Great filmmaker but his passionate fans really make me want to gather them all in one building and bomb them all at once.

  56. I don’t really get the Watchment hate either. I mean I was a big fan of the book for over 15 years before the movie went into production. Yet I think I’m the only fan that didn’t walk out wanting to crucify Snyder. Seriously even though I haven’t seen it since the big screen that movie was better than a Watchmen movie had any business of ever being. I was honestly quite impressed by it’s fidelity considering the denseness of a lot of the source material & hollywood’s habit of hacking up comic book adaptations to unrecognizable levels. Hands down the best adaptation of anything by Moore without a doubt.

  57. “I mean 95% of the film is straight from the book, dialogue and everything.”
    That was the problem for some people. They felt it was TOO faithfull and had wanted Snyder to do his own thing more with it, even though any major deviations would probably result in negative reaction for changing stuff (like with the squid, which was really out of place in the comic and I consider improved with the different film take). I liked it personally, though I will admit the use of music in the film as a bit intrusive.

  58. Surely someone here thinks SUCKER PUNCH sets back women’s rights and promotes a caveman-like philosophy while “suckering” the audience with a “punch” of stupidity? Seems like that’s what every other professional critic is blurbing. Are we doing the internet correctly here? Quit being so open-minded and rational, you guys.

  59. I’m sorry Mouth. I’ll try better…

    This movie seems like a “Snyde” attempt to make some money of a bunch of slack-jawed, parents’ basement dwelling SUCKERS.
    How’s that?

  60. Could you incorporate the phrase “Zack Attack” somehow?

  61. Zack Attacks his “original” endeavour with all the charm we’ve come to expect from his style-over-substance, braindead approach to what passes for a “story”, as it devolves further and further into a heartless and “Snyde” attempt to make some money of a bunch of slack-jawed, parents’ basement dwelling SUCKERS. Please euphanise any fellow “human being” who expresses (probably in neanderthal gruntings) even a passing interest in this “film”.

  62. Getting there. . . Bonus points if you can make a SAVED BY THE BELL allusion as well.

  63. The only movie I’ve seen more exploitative to women than this is Elizabeth Berkley’s SHOWGIRLS?

  64. *remembers the smash hit single FRIENDS FOREVER*

    *chokes a raccoon out of frustration*

  65. That poor raccoon. What have I wrought?

    I found a depressing article by George Russell; here’s a passage interspersed with a Snyder interview that backs up RRA’s comment earlier, Vern’s proposal for a SPICE GIRLS twist, and my hope for a much more musical-ly inclined Hollywood that might never exist b/c producers & the MPAA are idiotic prudes:

    ******While it’s not out of the ordinary for a film to change in the cutting room, or even change significantly, it’s relatively rare for entire concepts that were in the original script to be shot and then done away with. Regrettably, due to the MPAA or otherwise, this is case with Sucker Punch. The original concept called for dance routines for each character, five in all plus a group number, but in the final cut only one has survived and it has been relegated to the final credits. This results in a film with a subconscious. There is a palpable feeling of something missing and several scenes where extras are standing in the background waiting for something to happen which tragically for them, never will.

    When pre-production on the film began and Marius De Vries, music director of Moulin Rouge, was hired, in addition to choreographer Paul Becker, most journalists assumed the film would be part musical. Becker was not present at the film’s junket in Los Angeles, but during a 14 March 2011 interview he described the Sucker Punch’s dance sequences, apparently unaware that they would not be in the final film, “Each female lead in the film has a persona and objective. We meshed the objective and persona of each character to the tone and concept of each dance. Because the film takes place in a brothel it calls for these huge production numbers.”

    Those interviewed characterized the absence of the “huge production numbers” as part of the creative process, not the wasting of precious shooting time and budget dollars. Snyder explained the omissions by saying, “It undercuts the seriousness of the movie. What I wanted to do was create this sequence where you would look at this scene and go, ‘Wow, it’s fun to be in this club. I guess the girls are being prostituted, but it’s still fun!’ But then the sequence ends with the girls crying and you’re like, ‘Oh, fuck. I’m a jerk.’”

    Jena Malone, who played Rocket, said, “I did a sci-fi nurse zombie pole dance. Look for the director’s cut, I think you’ll be satisfied with that and so shall we. We all worked really hard on these dances that we got to do and they’re very fulfilling.” Carla Gugino reacted by saying, “They [the dance sequences] really were very key. I think down the road you’ll eventually see it in the body of the movie.” Carla’s counterpart, Oscar Isaac said, “At the time it [our dance] was, as scripted, in the middle of the film and uh, as we worked on it, it would start to reveal all these levels of what our relationship may have been.”******

    Somewhere, there’s footage of Jamie Chung & Vanessa Hudgens grinding & getting down in slo-mo to some trippy music. Somewhere, there’s a special edition DVD that Mouth will possess, goddammit.

  66. Add me to the list of people who do not get the WATCHMEN hate. Snyder took on some very dense and coded source material that did not lend it’s self to being condensed into a feature length film and he did a great job considering the task. There are even moments where he really nails it.

    Mouth, I have not seen the TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER I have been waiting to watch the complete cut of WATCHMEN that incorporates TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER into the film so it is presented in the context of the film in the way it is presented in the Book.

  67. I don’t understand how this film is sexist.

  68. I also don’t find it to be sexist. If anything as self aware as this film is I bet that Snyder intended to play with the male fantasy of the ideal woman and how we as men objectify women. There is so much intentional symbolism in the film I would need more viewings to digest it all. Where is Hunter D.? This conversation is right up his alley.

  69. I want Eliza or some such female type to talk shit here so I can turn all misogynist and go
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-W6cT3Tvu9g

  70. Mouth, not to derail this thread, but since you brought up ROBOCOP it gives me the chance to share a clip I have been meaning to post here.

    Enjoy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGUJYLDgR8k

  71. I haven’t seen this and have no real intention to. I’m just not convinced that this is anything more than the results of some survey conducted at Comicon that said “what would you like to see in a Zack Snyder movie?”, then took those answers and tried to build a framing device around them. It’s like that Simpsons episode where they come up with Furbee.

  72. I’ve never been to a Comic Con in my entire life but I approve of sexy outfits, samurai swords, bi-planes, giant robots, guns, and martial arts all in one movie.

  73. I went to see this based on the review, and I concur, its much better than folks make it out to be. It is kind of empty headed and the acting of the pretty girls is sometimes hollow and forced, but it is primarily taking place in the imagination of a young girl and even when its not, its dripping with comic book style, just like nearly every movie the guy does. It doesn’t nor should it need to apologize for that.

    I didn’t at all think it was a stupid movie. I think it was actually very smart. What it wasn’t was especially deep or nuanced. It deals with some fairly simple human feelings of fear and courage and self determination from the perspective of a young person and then drapes them with fantasy and imagination of various sorts. I actually think the way it deals with sexuality is very spot on considering the character that is imagining the tale. The more I mulled over the choices the more they made rock solid sense.

    While I agree that the sense of invulnerability detracts from the suspense of the dream sequences, its actually very much like my own experience with such dreams. While I always feel threatened I can’t actually be killed in my own dream. It is a place for your mind to play with its troubles, which is exactly what it is in the movie.

    I didn’t love the film but I respect it for doing what it does and how it does it. For me the missing element was character. The only one that did anything for me was the buss driver.

  74. Sternshein – My mistake, my bad. And you’re right unfortunately.

    Paul – Thankfully it only means you’re not a nerd.

    Stu – My problem with Snyder’s WATCHMEN isn’t what he changed or was faithful to. I mean come on, the book aint the Bible. But notice how too many of his/its defenders keep using words like “flawed but respectable.” That’s…a backhanded compliment?

    Broddie – Fans tend to overrate good filmmakers. Good movies tend to get overrated.

    dieselboy – How was PAUL?

    “I think you’ll find that it’s surprisingly immersive & provocative for an animated product, just like Jessica Rabbit.”

    Mouth – You mean I’ll masturbate to it?

  75. I think the one last question I might ask about SUCKER PUNCH is this: Is it worth the $8-10 that an evening screening would cost?

    Oh and the local second run theatre had UNKNOWN, checked that out for $3. Enjoyed that direvative matinee escape. People keep calling that one TAKEN 2, but its more like….

    Nah that would spoil it.

    I’ll just say that the opening is a terrific paranoid fantasy Hitchcock used to love to play with, losing every bit of your identity and now a foreigner stuck in a foreign city which you don’t speak the tongue. I’m reminded of Polanski’s FRANTIC opening, but not as classy since you know this is a Joel Silver production.

    The movie is a cheeseburger, and good at that.

    Also I an see why it did well in America and overseas. Or put it another way, will SUCKER PUNCH even come close to matching UNKNOWN’s 60 million in the states?

    (No box-office don’t matter, but apparently that concept seems to always strike a nerve. We’re capitalists living in a capitalist nation in a capitalist world. Be like the sell-outs in THEY LIVE, give into your nature.)

  76. RRA-Paul was pretty damn good, not great. As a big fan of Shaun and Hot Fuzz I would rank it third on Pegg’s list. It has alot of heart, you can tell it was written and made by geeks for geeks. It’s also got a but of that old Steven Spielberg adventure films kind of a feel to it. But I didn’t leave the theater thinking, “I cant wait to see that again”, like I did with his previous efforts. It has some pacing problems, some jokes that fell flat, an awkward dance sequence and maybe one too many anal probe jokes, but I think it’s one where the sum is greater than it’s parts.And they could have used Bill Hader’s comedic talents more effectively because that guys one of the funniest actors working right now and I can’t really think of anything he got to do in the movie that was particularly funny.

  77. dieselboy – the one criticism I heard about PAUL was supposedly it suffered from Pegg/Frost trying to appease too much to the American mainstream.

    Which I call bullshit until I see it for myself.

    (I’m sure Pegg/Frost both creamed when they got both Weaver and Spielberg to appear.)

  78. What kind of criticism is that? Is it funny or not? I don’t care what audience it was made more. I gotta say. I’ve seen both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and neither one of those have a sophisticated humor that only British people would get.

  79. Griff – good thoughts about whether or not a movie has to be “deep,” but I don’t think Snyder was making CHARLIE’S ANGELS, I think he was trying to say something here. With the BRAZIL type lobotomy business it definitely has the trappings of a movie that wants to provoke some thought. If that’s true then it’s fair to criticize it if you think what it’s saying is dumb. That’s how I feel about that movie EQUILIBRIUM, it’s copying thinking sci-fi stories like 1984 and then being stupid about it.

    Gabbo – after reading your post I read about it and it does sound like at least at some point Snyder was trying to make an R-rated movie. But I personally don’t think this story needed blood or boobs. As much as I enjoy boobs I think it would’ve detracted from Snyder’s point to have them. I’m assuming you’re not saying they should’ve added a bunch of schlong. But maybe that would work.

    CC – the difference is that Ripley and Sarah Connor are convincingly tough. We like them because we’re aware of their tenacity and intelligence, their will to survive, and then in their part 2s they also become more physically imposing. They’re fully fleshed out characters, and Weaver even got a well deserved Oscar nomination for ALIENS. Many considered these to be feminist movies because they had such capable women holding their own against men. But in movies since then (AvP, various movies starring Milla Jovovich) you put a gun in some waify model’s hand, or teach her some kung fu moves, and that’s supposed to be a “Ripley” or “Sarah Connor” character, but it’s really not. I’m not against those types of movies, sometimes it can be fun, but it’s like the difference between Charles Bronson and Tom Cruise.

    Charles – that’s how I interpreted the ending too (although I’m questioning my interpretation now – I’ll write a separate post about that). But to me it’s like the ending of BRAZIL, it’s a deliberately depressing “happy” ending. I kinda felt like she deserved one without the quotes on happy.

    RRA – I guess you’ve been over this but yeah, be careful with the box office and marketing talk in my opinion. You’re rooting against a movie you haven’t even seen, it makes a gigantic amount of money instead of the super-gigantic amount it might need, and you rub it in like your sports team defeated their sports team and you have poor sportsmanship. Whatever happened to “good game” and shaking hands? Also, what did you do to earn your Capri Sun after the game? I didn’t see you playing.

    Mouth – wow, I thought Harry was crazy for thinking the end credits meant there were musical numbers cut out. I guess that’s saying it was one dance number though? It does sound like it would’ve improved the movie although I thought the relatively quick running time was a strength. I also read about a sex scene that was cut because in order to get the PG-13 they had to remove all signs of the girl enjoying it and they thought it made the scene offensive.

  80. BIG ASS ENDING SPOILERS in this post so I can ask people who’ve seen it what they thought was going on at the end.

    I don’t like when people start interpreting movies like tea leaves and try to show off by coming up with some esoteric way to watch a movie and pretending to be surprised that other people didn’t see it that way or whatever. But I came out of the movie thinking one thing happened, and thinking it was kind of lame, and while reading and writing about the movie I came up with two other completely different interpretations that seem in retrospect to make more sense, but maybe not.

    So I’m asking you guys, what was the end supposed to mean? Here are my guesses:

    1. Watching it I took it pretty literally. Baby Doll is lobotomized, Sweet Pea escapes, for some reason the guy from Baby’s fantasy is real and helps Sweet Pea. The narrator is saying ha ha, you thought Baby was the main character but this is really the story of Sweet Pea’s escape.

    2. But while reading Mr. Beaks’s review something he said made me think that he felt Sweet Pea’s escape was Baby’s fantasy after being lobotomized. She’s a vegetable but her victory is that in her mind she gets to live through a fantasy of Sweet Pea out in the world somewhere.

    3. But then while writing the review I remembered the beginning narration talking about living through different characters, and the end bringing up some business about questioning which character this story is about, and I started wondering if what I was supposed to get out of it was a switcheroo where aha, the fantasy was actually Sweet Pea’s the whole time. We realize that Baby’s story started as a play, because Dr. Carla Gugino uses theater to help her patients work through their problems, Sweet Pea worked through her problems with this fantasy about the girl named Baby Doll, she has mixed feelings about this fantasy but ultimately it empowers her to escape.

    Is that what actually was supposed to be happening, but either it was not clearly communicated or I was too slow to understand it? I really have no idea.

    Those who have seen it help me out by selecting one of the three numbers or another one if you thought something else was going on.

  81. Remember, Sweet Pea was only in there because of Rocket, so she was in a sense the only “sane” person in this situation. The rest of girls had “issues”. Nice movie btw, I enjoyed it. There are worse things lurking in cinemas around the world.

  82. “I didn’t see you playing.”

    Vern – Of course you didn’t. I was smoking under the bleachers. Fuck that running shit.

    I may be “rooting” against a movie I didn’t see* or not, but again my broad question remains: Is SUCKER PUNCH worth the $8-10 ticket?

    Say it don’t matter or not, but tell me if I’m wrong in saying that maybe alot of people last few days….maybe thought no it wasn’t? Wait for DVD or cable. Or second run theatre. And honestly guys, when the “support” for PUNCH is of the theoretical and abstract and not exactly concrete positivity…Not a real recommendation for the rest of us who haven’t seen it.

    I’ll give Snyder this: He’s a better filmmaker than Paul W.S. Anderson.

  83. Wow,

    respect man.

    U managed to pen a review that’s as empty and vacuuos as the film that u reviewed.

  84. RRA – It’s a poorly reviewed, widely disliked movie that you think looks terrible, that you seem determined to not like, by a director who you love to hate, and that I have told you in great detail is flawed. And you’re saying you want me to tell you if you should pay full price for it or wait for video? Should I rate it on a scale of 1-5 popcorn buckets while I’m at it?

    I’m not trying to convince you of anything or trick you into thinking it’s good. I just think it’s an unusual movie with many aspects worth discussing among people who’ve seen it. You’re a smart guy, I think you can move beyond the smarmy gossip column type bullshit about box office, marketing and rooting for people to fail.

    brad – Good to hear from you, as always. Can’t remember the last time I was insulted in the style of Prince liner notes.

  85. Vern – 3.

  86. Vern- I laughed at the Prince liner notes comment, well played sir.

  87. Just a curious observation, but if every male in the flick(save an imaginary one) is an unrepentant bastard, maybe misandry is the “gender issue” we should be pondering.

  88. Misandry’s not as sexy a topic as misogyny.

    (^Try to count the many levels on which that sentence is wrong.^)

  89. RRA-“But notice how too many of his/its defenders keep using words like “flawed but respectable.” That’s…a backhanded compliment?”
    Being flawed doesn’t make something not respectable. No movie is perfect.
    Also, you could say that about JFK (the president, not the movie, actually you could say it about the movie, if you feel that way. I’ve never seen all of it, so I can’t comment.)
    “the one criticism I heard about PAUL was supposedly it suffered from Pegg/Frost trying to appease too much to the American mainstream. ”
    I don’t know about that. It’s set in america and is about two tourists’ travelling across it, so I don’t know exactly what they’re meant to have done that counts as “appeasement”. Especially in light of the story’s anti-creationist message, which is the only thing that really bothers me about the story and feels unnecessary and out of place. I’m all for mocking zealots, but this goes a bit beyond that into one-sided, Richard Dawkinsesque dickishness territory at times, especially since the only characters with a confirmed religious belief are stereotypical caricatures. I still liked the movie overall though. It IS however pretty much nerdbait of a different sort, but more with regards to older works like Spielberg’s stuff, and can be enjoyed anyway. Seth Rogen’s schtick is far more likeable coming from a CGI alien character

  90. So Sigourney Weaver was 37 when Aliens came out and Linda Hamilton was 35 when Terminator 2 came out. But Milla Jovovich was 35 when the last Resident Evil movie came out.

    I don’t know if I have a point or anything.

  91. Mouth, that doesn’t say the half of it. Did spellcheck “redline” the word when you typed it in.

  92. BIG ASS ENDING SPOILERS RESPONSE

    Vern, As I said in my previous post my initial response was that Baby Doll is lobotomized in the first act, and everything that takes place after that exists only in her head. This theory is supported by the appearance of Scott Glenn’s character at the end of the film as the bus driver. However, after having a day to ponder the film further I wonder if Baby Doll is not a figment of Sweet Pea’s mind. The reason being, that there is a lot of duality in the Baby Doll and Sweet Pea characters and it could be argued that Baby Doll represents who Sweet Pea wishes she was. They are both older sisters and guardians of their younger siblings that ultimately in the end they can not protect. They are both alpha’s, all the girls look up to Sweet Pea as their leader even when they have started to gravitate toward the ideas and leadership of Baby Doll. Also, Sweet Pea is the star of the show in the burlesque fantasy until Baby Doll’s arrival. The theory that Baby Doll is a figment of Sweet Pea’s mind is also supported by the reveal in the final act that Baby Doll is the final piece needed for freedom. Sweet Pea needed to create the Baby Doll character in her mind to help her work through her issues and in the end escape. However, I still stand by my initial reaction, because the appearance of Scott Glenn’s character at the end of the film supports the idea that we are still in the narrator’s head, and that wouldn’t make sense if Sweet Pea was the narrator.

  93. Stu, “Being flawed doesn’t make something not respectable.” Well put.

    If I may take a moment to be cliche and use a sports analogy: If Lebron James goes 3 for 15 from the field but has 16 assist and 14 rebounds and his team wins is that a bad game?

    I would say it is an impressive game despite the poor shooting, but if you wanted to focus on his 3 for 15 from the field you could argue he had a bad game.

  94. MORE SPOILERING

    I’d say 1. I don’t really buy 2 since it seems like it would completely undercut the ending narration’s message of empowerment. If you are going to tell the audience that “you have the weapons to determine your own fate” it doesn’t make sense to add an asterisk, “but really only if you retreat into a fantasy world.”

    As for 3 that makes a little more sense than 2 but I still don’t buy that one because of the opening narration referring to angels coming to help you and describing them as Baby Doll and Scott Glenn. Maybe “angels” was intended as a metaphor for “figments of my own imagination that help me work out my issues” but it seemed to be describing them as literal helpers.

    Maybe I’ll see it again when it hits video and see if 2 or 3 make more sense to me than they do now.

  95. RRA, to piggyback on Vern’s response to your comments. I enjoyed the film and thought it was well worth the price of admission. Not only that but I would say it is the type of film that demands multiple viewings to really digest what it is trying to say. However, I would recommend that you wait until DVD or when it is broadcast on television, because it sounds like you have already made up your mind about the film and Snyder. So why should you bother going out of your way to see it?

  96. Vern, have you seen The Fall, by Tarsem Singh (of The Cell and numerous music vids)?

    Another visual stunner, with a fantasy world being a metaphor for a particular struggle. I liked it, but it goes on.

  97. MORE SPOILER TALK

    Jake, I see your point about the ending but the film seems to be very much about the power of the mind and imagination. The line “you have the weapons to determine your own fate” could be interpreted as also saying “life is what you make it”. You can be limited by your physical surroundings but your mind and imagination can be your key to freedom.

  98. It’s possible Vern & I missed the same clues, if they were there, that support spoiled ending #3.  I would have preferred Snyder or the editor make it a tad more clear when we enter & leave a different plane of reality and a different character’s perspective.  Obviously they were capable of this, since we see the zoom-in on Baby Doll’s eyes each time she transitions from dance to ass-kick-shoot-em-up dream.  The shots resemble each other and give us a “Ok, here we go again” nod.  

    Parallelism in shot composition during the beginning onstage near-lobotomy and one of the final shots of either the lobotomized Baby Doll or the escaping Sweet Pea would have been helpful, and I doubt such a shot would have been received as an insult or an instance of filmmakers holding the audience’s hand.  Again, maybe these mirror shots were in there and we just missed them because of all the suckering and punching, etc..  

    The master (or most guilty party, if you’re of the tasteless can’t-please-me crowd) of visual parallelism in cinema is of course Darren Aronofsky, who used it, for example, to emphasize the nature of various addictions in the final sequence of REQUIEM FOR A DREAM and, more subtly, to indicate the timeless relationships within a timeless story in THE FOUNTAIN.  Note how the camera moves in exactly the same manner at certain seemingly less than vital moments in all 3 FOUNTAIN settings, with Tomas or Tommy or Tom Creo.  I won’t expound here b/c it’d be way better to see some clips or stills.  It’s hard to catch for some viewers because the costumes and lighting are totally different in each setting, and there’s horses sometimes and a glowing space sphere sometimes, but that’s the kind of cinematography that can be rewarding to attentive viewers and can even guide the narrative for dimmer viewers who need a little manipulation.  

    Finally, more evidence SUCKER PUNCH is (or almost is) a deeply symbolic movie, and this is a stretch of optimism for a guy who doesn’t want to believe characters can be so terribly 1-dimensional, lies in the fact that we never learn anything concrete about where even Sweet Pea or sister are from or headed. It’s frustrating, but maybe there’s a “It’s about the journey, not the destination” thing going on. That’s not cliched at all.

  99. SPOILERS

    Mouth, speaking of Parallelism (and there is a lot of it in this film), another good example is when Baby Doll confronts her stepfather at the beginning of the film she fires a shot but misses and a light bulb is broken and she is unable to stop her evil step father, and then near the end of the film when she has the altercation with Blue before stabbing him in their struggle a light bulb is broken. If you believe that the majority of the film takes place in Baby Doll’s mind then you could read the parallels as part of her redemption. In the end she is triumphant in her confrontation with Blue where she failed against her step father.

  100. My take on the ending.

    Nearly everything is a fantasy of baby doll, however everything in the fantasy has some analog to the “real” world. So something happened that is analogous to sweet peas escape, perhaps all the girls escape since the place is being shut down or audited. In the fantasy its one girl, in reality it may well be all of them.

    Baby doll’s fantasy is how she imagines or sees her world and it reflects an adolescent understanding and perspective in many respects. Its very Don-Quixote like. Its hard to say if the other girls are even exist in the “actual” asylum.

    I think the intention is that you are inspired by the heroism of a girl who managed to beat the system design to keep her down. She may have needed to sacrifice herself to do it, but she did beat her enemies in doing so.

  101. That’s a good catch, Charles. Ole Eagle-Eye Chuck, always gotta one-up the board with your unmatched attention to detail.

  102. Sigfried, it sounds like we had the same response to the film. It think most of the film except for maybe the first 15 minutes or so all exist in the mind of Baby Doll. However, even those first 15 minutes could exist in her mind. As you alluded to we never really know what is real or not because Baby Doll is an unreliable narrator.

  103. Also because the opening is literally depicted as a play, taking place on a stage. So there is no “real world,” you’re in a play within a movie from the outset.

  104. Haha! Vern went to go see a girlie play!

  105. I liked it better in the original when Sweet Pea was a 7 foot Native American guy that escaped via drinking fountain toss.

  106. Did anybody here post that there is a teaser trailer for Weapon starring Van Damme and Scott Adkins? There is also an awesome behind the scenes video too. Looks really bad ass.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FQrMQbPQ6KM

  107. Wait, is it possible to delete a post since I’m an idiot and didn’t realize this was a fan made trailer?

  108. My issue with this movie is that Snyder has such a track record with films totally devoid of subtext that I’m honestly not sure how to think about this one. It seems like there has to be some subext there, but on closer inspection it becomes so unfocused that it’s hard to really feel like you’re looking at anything concrete. Sometimes its fun to read into a movie just to sort of explore the concept, but in Snyder’s case its so unclear if there’s even anything to look for that things end up very confusing and sometimes it seems like a parody, like writing a thesis paper on the gender power dynamics of the Smurfs. I’m just not convinced its worth looking that hard for meaning, and unfortunately this film didn’t do much to change my view.

    Some people are claiming its completely brainless, almost everyone agrees that it’s pretty shallow, but a few people here have called it “smart” or said that it has “Something to say.” In order to convince myself that it’s saying anything, I have to sort of go Nordling from AICN’s route of claiming its some kind of postmodern critique of the subjegation of women through repressing male iconography, but given every single clue I’ve ever had from Snyder I just honestly can’t imagine that was his intent. Without that, I just can’t call it anything other than a shallow display of worn icons mostly lifted from other works, which confuses pessimism for depth and character torment for empathy.

    I didn’t exactly hate it, but I just feel like I can’t convince myself that it isn’t a pretty vaccuous (thanks, Prince!) hollow movie. But I would love for someone else to convice me, if you wish to take that challenge.

  109. Mr. Subtlety, there is nothing wrong with making a film that is devoid of a subtext, especially if it is entertaining. A number of people here have already pointed out some excellent examples of great films that lack any subtext. Maybe your desire to try and connect the dots and reveal some sort of deeper meaning distracted you from just enjoying the ride. I do not think the film is meant to be a vehicle for an extensive critique on gender roles, but it does have something to say about them. Also, as Mouth pointed out with the article he posted, we are not seeing Snyder’s original vision on screen, and I have heard that my have been a decision made by the studio. Because of that, you can tell something is missing, and I wonder how much what is missing helps connect some of the dots that did not come together for you.

  110. I don’t think the lack of depth is the problem. As shown most popular films aren’t deep, but most film we love share one thing, great characters that we want to see. I think Sucker Punch isn’t a good film because a lack of characters that we love and like and want to watch.

    Die Hard is great because John McClane is an awesome hero with human flaws, and Hans Gruber is a great villain, and they are supported by a great cast and has a pretty strong female role in Holly McClane. Because of this Die Hard is a great film. Not because of the action, plot or because it’s deep, because it has great character that you love to watch.

    The same with Raiders of The Lost Ark, Indy, Marion and Belloq are great characters. So Sucker Punch lacks great character. Baby Doll is not a good character, and the villain are not great three dimensional characters. Most films have a simple and unoriginal plot, but the audience like them because of the character, or the actors. The audience loved Taken because it was Liam Neeson and he kicked ass. The plot was ordinary and unoriginal, but we liked Neeson and wanted him to get his daughter back. We don’t want Baby Doll and the girls to escape.

    This wasn’t my biggest problem. The biggest problem was when the film become a music video. Every time a cover song began I hated the film. The first 5 minutes are terrible and just kills the film for me. The music was really annoying, but in the end it’s the character that is the film biggest problem, because if you don’t care about them and the danger they are in, you don’t care about the action or story, so you don’t care about the film

  111. Loved this movie. But, since everybody’s already covered the positive aspects of it, I’d like to voice two complaints:

    1. I think it would have been stronger if Baby Doll’s fantasy/dance sequences had been less repetitive. If, maybe, after the second one (the steam-powered zombie nazis) they had moved away from action scenes into something a little more character-oriented.

    2. If Blue had been a more complicated character than the standard issue, rapey exploitation bad guy that he is. (I know this is a tall order but I’m thinking of something like Frank Booth in Blue Velvet).

    Otherwise, great movie.

  112. Also, I’ve pretty much opted out of following film criticism (this is the only film-related website I read) but, it doesn’t surprise me that critics aren’t warming to the movie. Critics generally can’t determine a movie’s content if it’s expressed cinematically…they need it to be overtly spoken in the dialogue, or the movie needs to be extremely opaque. This is why critics initially had such trouble understanding Kubrick and Sergio Leone. (I think what we might be experiencing right now is a kind of fun-house mirror American version of the “cinema of quality” that the French New Wave rebelled against.)

  113. W.S. /etc. — I guess my main question is, what IS the film’s content? As a narrative, it seems pretty devoid of any kind of character arc, and the only conflict we see depicted is a really, really loose metaphor without even much metaphorical connection to the narrative (or is there one that I just haven’t been able to discern?). So what the fuck is the film about? I can totally work with a film that doesn’t have a major point except for the joy of telling a story, but there is so little story in this one that it’s kind of hard to argue its a success from that angle either. Whatever way I think about it I keep coming back to the fact that I don’t really care about Nazi zombies unless you give me a reason to care about them — either thematically or narratively. It doesn’t seem like this one can claim either.

    Again, its a kind of unique little pic so I sort of want to like it, but no one has yet really been able to give me a reason to.

  114. I liked the movie, I’m not surprised a majority didn’t and I don’t begrudge anyone who didn’t like it. What confuses me is the anger towards it. RRA even brought up Unknown.

    It seemed like Unknown was universally forgiven for being mediocre. Most reviews were “it’s just okay and that’s good enough.” I personally thought it was not okay, it was so stupid I couldn’t believe it. But how could it be okay for Unknown to be mediocre, but it’s disgusting that Sucker Punch might not have made sense or got a message wrong (if you happen to think that’s the problem)?

    I know we live in an era of hyperbole where something’s either the greatest or it’s the antichrist. And I think maybe some of the people who hyped of Snyder now feel betrayed (which will ALWAYS happen when you ego-identify with an artist). I don’t care if people enjoy Unknown or hate Sucker Punch. I guess I don’t understand why one gets the olive branch and the other is condemned.

    This is the only place I can imagine I could talk about it and get an insightful answer.

  115. I’d like to hear an answer to your question, Fred. I don’t think this is it, but sometimes I think movies sort of get punished for looking good. Because the visuals are so obviously great some people demand more than they would an ordinary bland looking movie. People like Jean-Pierre Jeunet are violently hated by some people for alleged style over substance, but if they had no style or substance they would get a pass. In fact any director with an easily recognizable visual style – Zack Snyder, Tim Burton, Wes Anderson – gets alot of shit on the internet that will rarely be hurled toward generic directors like the guy who did DATE NIGHT or the guy who did HOP or even the guy who did GHOST RIDER.

  116. Ok I’ll give you an answer.

    Pop culture can, in most instances, be divided up between the “average” and the “extreme”. And the reactions it provokes are proportionate. You take the most mediocre film on the planet and show it to a group of people and most of them will neither love nor hate it.

    Take something on the extreme edge of the spectrum, though, and people will tend to either love or hate it. And you know the most vocal group on the Internet? The haters. And so it sometimes feels as though directors with their own “style” get a lot more flak. Because seriously, who’s going to bother laying waste to a “Rush Hour” movie?**

    A corollary to that is that cinematography is the most prominent part of film-making. You can’t get away from the visuals, that’s the nature of the visual. You can choose to ignore subtext or themes, even the score to some extent, but you can’t ignore the images in front of you and still watch the movie.

    (**So if I had to choose an example of the single movie that fits the description of “average” perfectly, “MI:3” would probably be it. But I’ve harped on about that one too much lately, so I thought I’d show the Ratner some love for once.)

  117. Okay. Here we go. I’m glad you reviewed this and I really appreciate the thought you went into to try to dig for what this movie meant or is about. The discussion here has certainly been thoughtful on either end and I have definitely been able to see what people are saying from their opinions of the movie.

    For me, my first impression of it after watching was that it was a deeply flawed movie. I liked parts of it but felt that overall, the story made no narrative sense. I understand what the metaphors and the fantasy worlds were. I just felt that all of that hard work into design and into creating all of these worlds fell a little short because the story did not have anything really to say. Nothing was supporting these action sequences. To say the message is that the story is not what you expected and is someone else’s is kind of a cop out. I’ve seen movies where you went in thinking it was about something and came out realizing it was about something else altogether and it actually meant something. Unfortunately my mind is blank for an example right at the moment.

    Fuck. I hope that last paragraph can be read properly.

    So yeah, the story felt shallow to me. Like the entire point of everything that we see was simply a means to show these great action sequences. And the message was tacked on at the end as some kind of cheap “gotcha” which served no purpose. The story could have been about baby doll (rather than being about sweetpea at the end) and still have everything that we saw. Another thing that bothered me was that in the fantasy fights, there is never any tension as to whether they would succeed. Of course they will. I was pleasantly surprised at the brothel fantasy deaths of three of the chracters, and with Rocket’s death which was simply because they dropped out of the third layer fantasy world where they were unkillable and into the second layer where they were still very vulnerable. But it still bothered me a lot because we don’t even find out if their deaths were real. We know Baby and Sweetpea exist in the real world and we saw glimpses of the other three as well but we never find out their fates. Nothing is mentioned of them at the end.

    I don’t blame movies which are about action and adventure to not have a deeper meaning but this is a movie that from the outset and all the way to the end says explicitly and without subtext that it has a deeper meaning to it and in the end, you can’t help but think “that it?” to the entire exercise. It’s examplified by the pithy sayings from Scott Glenn’s mysterious character just before they go on each mission. They feel empty, like throwaway lines just to bring attention to the lines themselves for no real reason. The movie just feels empty even at the points when there is supposed to be some emotional response. And god knows, with truly disgusting antagonists and empathetic heroines here, we should be feeling more than just emptiness.

    And my read on the fantasy worlds is that the brothel fantasy exists in babydoll’s head in the moment just before she gets lobotomized and that fantasy is her version of the events that happened in the real world. The epilogue with sweetpea and the bus driver is also on the same level fantasy because it is her being happy that she succeeded after the lobotomy and that sweetpea escaped safely.

    I agree that filmatists with a very distinctive style are more overtly criticized but I feel that with them, when they do succeed, they hit it out of the park. That’s more than can be said of those with no definable style who keep working on movies that will never be identified with their names in any way.

    One thing I will say is that I will be looking forward to seeing the full uncut version of the film on dvd, just so I can watch it again and perhaps see what was left out and whether the cut sequences could have given more meaning or feeling to the story.

  118. Thinking it through again, maybe the “message” that the story is someone else’s is a lie? We just watched an entire movie focused on Babydoll and everything in it is in her mind. Perhaps the “message” that the story is Sweetpea’s is Babydoll’s rationalization of why she had to stay to allow Sweetpea to escape. And therefore she created this elaborate fantasy to explain all the things she did and that is why she had to have the “bad ending” rather than the “good” one she should have gotten.

    If that’s the case, I might feel a little better about what the movie is trying to say, nihilistic as it is. That shit happens to good people and there is no getting around it even if you create a fantasy world to escape it.

  119. I wonder if this’ll illuminate where I’m coming from, and all respect to people who enjoyed Unknown. They’re as entitled to that as any of us are to enjoy Sucker Punch.

    As someone who loves action movies, I felt Unknown was so stupid about every genre staple I love, that it’s horrible. To people who don’t love action movies, it just looks like another action movie. If I watched a bad Jane Austen movie, I probably wouldn’t know the difference from a good one, but this is my obsession, so if Joel Silver of all people thinks this is acceptable, that bothers me.

    I wonder if Vern would agree. I seem to be the only one taking a hard stance on Unknown.

  120. My opinion of UNKNOWN is unknown ’cause I haven’t seen it yet. But I gotta see it ’cause it’s the director of ORPHAN.

    I wanted to ask a question. Alot of people here and that I’ve talked to have complained about it being a fantasy world, why can’t it be just about the girls fighting the robots and dragons and shit. My question is why is this so upsetting to people but I’m pretty sure they’re not pissed off that the lion and the tin man and everybody turn out not to be real in THE WIZARD OF OZ, a famous movie I once saw.

    I’m not saying it’s not legitimate, I understand it somewhat because knowing it’s “not real” within the movie does change your feelings during the action scenes, makes it feel like less is at stake (even though that’s not true within the world of the movie). But I wonder why one version of “it was all a dream” is completely okay and another is patently offensive.

    He doesn’t seem to mention it anymore but when I first read about him doing this movie they kept saying it was an update of Alice in Wonderland, another “it was just a dream” movie where the fantasy world is supposed to comment on the “real” world.

  121. Vern, I’ll go you one level deeper. Why is the fantasy of Pan’s Labyrinth okay but the fantasy of Sucker Punch is some kind of violation? I’m not saying they’re equally good films, that’s a matter of opinion. But if THAT’s the issue, it seems hypocritical. Basically, we’re asking the same question. Even if you don’t like it, why is one movie beyond offensive?

    I know you haven’t seen Unknown. I just meant I wonder what you’ll think when you do see it. You may think I’m overreacting. You reviewed Orphan, though? I should go check the archives, I don’t remember that. I did like Orphan.

  122. hey Vern, I can’t believe I forgot to mention this before, but I’m the kinda guy who goes easy on a movie if it has really creative and cool visuals (and I mean art style, not just fancy special effects) so it’s for that reason Blade Runner and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s City of Lost Children are some of my favorite movies (man, I’d kill for a blu ray of City of Lost Children) and my favorite directors are guys that have a unique visual style

    hell it’s even why I thought that Will Ferrel Land of The Lost movie was slightly ok because it had some pretty creative visuals

    so I should have mentioned that my opinion on Sucker Punch would also be biased because I just love movies that are fun to just look at

  123. billydeethrilliams

    March 29th, 2011 at 7:54 am

    FTopel: Unknown was absolute garbage and I opened the theater door with my head very hard right after I sat through it.

    Vern: Do you you plan on seeing Rango? I thought it was the best movie I’ve seen this year ( in theaters), but it is getting a very split reaction. So I’d like to hear (read) your opinion.

  124. I actually didn’t think Unknown was that bad except for January Jones’s wooden performance. Everything else was adapted from stock cliches but done in a way that I thought was notthat bad at all. I was involved in Liam Neeson’s characters quest through the movie and that’s the important thing.

    I have no issue with the fantasy world of Sucker Punch at all. I don’t even know why that is an issue. I understood it for what it was and perhaps the underlying premise being found lacking is why I didn’t fully enjoy it. And if Zach Snyder held off on the slow motion a bit, I would not complain either. As it is, it felt like every tiny bit of action was too important to leave playing at a normal speed.

  125. I don’t know why people are complaining about it being a fantasy world, but I can think of a few possible reasons.

    1. They are really complaining about the execution of the fantasy world rather than the fact it is a fantasy world. If it was less CGI-y, had more sense of danger and maybe better defined goals than, “Quick, fight these samurai!” maybe people would find the fantasy segments more enjoyable and wouldn’t need them to be “real.” I sort of doubt the same people would complain about the flippy room fight in INCEPTION being just a dream.

    2. On the other hand maybe they are really just complaining about the brothel parts being boring. Compared to the fights the brothel stuff is not as interesting. So maybe they are just saying that they would rather the entire runtime be spent doing the cool stuff. Both WIZARD OF OZ and ALICE IN WONDERLAND wisely spend the vast majority of their time in the fantasy world.

    3. Maybe they just think it is inherently less cool that these things are figments of her imagination. Nerds want to see real steam-powered Nazis, not this made up crap.

    4. And finally, what is probably the most likely reason: they are racist against metaphors. And, who knows? Maybe they have a good reason to hate them. Perhaps they were passed over for a promotion at work that ended up going to a younger, less-deserving figurative comparison. Or maybe as a kid they were bullied by a simile, before they were old enough to tell the difference. I’m not trying to cast judgment here, I’m just making observations.

  126. Vern, I want to discuss your question about why people have responded in they way they have to the fantasy sequences in SUCKER PUNCH, but first I have to acknowledge that your title in this thread changed from “Vern” to “Outlaw Vern”. Does this mean you have undergone some form of transformation? Maybe it is like Bruce Banner and the Hulk. You go about your regular day as Vern, but when it is time for some badass film analysis you transform into Outlaw Vern. OK, now that I am done being silly I can address your question.

    You bring up an interesting question about the fantasy/dream elements of the film especially considering that when INCEPTION came out not to long ago I know one of the biggest gripes the internet community had was “why if they were in a dream the action could not be more over the top or fantastical”. Yet fast forward to the release of SUCKER PUNCH and it seems that everyone is mad because SUCKER PUNCH is to fantastical and over the top. I call bullshit on the idea that the action was somehow less enjoyable because the audience knew it was all a fantasy and therefor never bought into the idea that any of the characters were in danger. For example, I love the early works of Steven Seagal and (as I am sure you know) if you look at most of them Seagal’s characters are rarely if ever in any real danger. We as fans of his work know that he is not going to die, and we also know that not only will he not die but he is going beat the shit of everyone he encounters without getting much of a scratch on him. However, We as the audience are not watching the film to see if Seagal’s character will survive or achieve his goal, because we know he will. We are watching to witness how brutal the beat downs are on the way to achieving his goal. In SUCKER PUNCH during the action fantasy sequences it is actually much less clear who will survive and whether or not they will achieve their goals, but I guess because they are so fantastical some people have trouble getting invested in the outcome. However, I think the real issue with SUCKER PUNCH is not the fantasy action sequences themselves, but that the film never takes the time to clearly define the rules of the fantasy worlds they operating in, so we don’t have any real sense of danger. For example, if you compare it to a film like INCEPTION, which is very similar in a number of ways, INCEPTION goes to great lengths to explain the rules and consequences of the dream/fantasy worlds they are operating in. That way we as the viewer are very aware of the stakes, nothing is left to question, and we know how actions in the dream/fantasy world can effect what we will call the “real” world. In contrast SUCKER PUNCH is intentionally less clear about it’s rules and consequences. For better or for worse we as the viewer are not supposed to have a clear cut idea of what exactly is going on, the consequences, or whether it is real or not. This could understandably effect some peoples ability to get more emotionally invested in the film.

  127. Ftopel — My complaint about the fantasy world is that it’s so arbitrary. Each fantasy world has almost nothing to do with the plot, they’re just big chunks of surprisingly joyless action almost completely unrelated to the narrative or to each other. It would actually sort of work better if it was JUST fantasy, rather than dropping fantasy sequences into a (sort of) real-world narrative which just doesn’t really have much to do with them and hence drains them of most of their suspense or significance.

    They’re pretty clumsy metaphors as it is, and as much as I appreciate their detail, it just feels so arbitrary and derivative that there’s not much to connect with. Sure, a giant Samurai is cool, but its so straight out of BRAZIL it’s kind of hard to ignore that fact, especially since it has so little bearing on the story that it feels like it might as well be anything. Replace the samurai with a boxer or a monster or a robot and the movie’s meaning is not at all affected. If you’re gonna spend so much time in this fantasy metaphor, I feel like the specifics of the fantasy ought to have some meaning, and I just don’t see that in the film. It’s only mildly important that they’re violence-empowerment fantasies, and what specifically the violence concerns seems to be completely unimportant.

    Which makes the whole thing feel sort of… unimportant. In a “why are you showing me this?” kind of way. Why tell this story if there’s so little plot and the details also don’t matter?

    I should note, it might work better if it felt more fun. That would be plenty of reason to string together a bunch of action around a thin framing story. But the whole movie is so grim and takes its nightmare world so seriously that it doesn’t feel like much fun either. To me, it just felt like a lot of filler, which is weird to say about so much sound and fury, but I guess the whole significance thing ended up being kind of a catch. I mean, scant narrative, little character work, elaborate but bummer action… and (unless, again, someone wants to tell me what I missed) not a whole lot to really say.

    Makes it kinda hard to not feel a little frustrated by it, at least to me. I didn’t see UNKNOWN, but if something pretty alright like TAKEN can be compared to it, I’d say that while it isn’t a home run, it makes the most of a narrative structure that’s simple but works to incorporate action, character, and narrative. SUCKER PUNCH shoots higher but fails to connect on most of the fundamentals of cinematic storytelling, and hence feels kind of interesting but noticably unsatisfying.

  128. Mr. Subtlety, I can understand your frustrations with the film. I agree that elements of the film are half baked and don’t seem to be fully realized, but you do admit it is interesting. Aslo, I can understand if you don’t like the films creative choices, I personally thought most of the music was completely uninspired. But, how does it fail to connect on most of the fundamentals of cinematic storytelling? The structure of the film is simple enough and like it or not we all seem to understand what was going on in the film, and it is not until the final act that they really throw the audience a curve ball. Please understand I am not trying to change your opinion, but I do not see how the film fails to connect on the most of the fundamentals of cinematic storytelling. You may not have liked the story or how it was told, but that does not make it a failure of cinematic storytelling. It is just a movie that understandably did not work for you and others.

  129. Mr. Subtlety, also comparing TAKEN to SUCKER PUNCH is like comparing apples to oranges. I think TAKEN is an extremely simple yet adequate action film that is ultimately forgettable. It is a well done paint by the numbers action picture, and nothing more. Actually, it feels like a generic Seagal film minus Seagal with Neeson in his place. How are any of the character’s in TAKEN more developed or better realized then the characters in SUCKER PUNCH? In comparison SUCKER PUNCH is a much more ambitious film with a lot more going on in it then TAKEN, and despite it’s flaws it deserves discussion and analysis and multiple viewings. Once you have watched TAKEN once there really is not much of a reason to return to it again. There is also a much higher degree of filmatism on display in SUCKER PUNCH. For example, Snyder or any number of directors could have directed TAKEN and it would have most likely been just as good if not a better film then it is but Pierre Morel lacks the skills that Snyder has, and is not capable of making a film like SUCKER PUNCH. Again, I appreciate your opinion, and it is not my goal to change your mind about SUCKER PUNCH, but I guess I just have a problem with your comparison.

  130. I’ve heard that “UNKNOWN is to TAKEN as a fart is to an aria”. Not from any real critic, just one person’s opinion I learned.

  131. Subtlety, your explanation is fine as it analyzes the movie’s effect on you. I will be interested in an Unknown thread in the future. I feel it took the surface level beats of an action script in the most idiotic way that’s insulting to scholars of action. Yet it worked for most people, they just saw it as another Taken.

    So I guess I shouldn’t take Unknown so seriously because it’s not supposd to be Hamlet, right? :)

  132. Charles — I mean to say that the narrative is a significant problem area for SUCKER PUNCH. There’s so little story in there, the characters are pretty broadly painted and don’t really have very well-defined arcs. I don’t mean its not visually communicative, more that its narratively unsatisfying on a kind of fundamental level. TAKEN, while less ambitious, uses it’s super basic formula narrative fairly effectively and feels more satisfying for it.

  133. ftopel — Yeah, but I’m genuinely interested in the way it impacted you guys who liked it. Are you seeing something that I’m not, or is it just a matter of taste?

  134. Mr. Subtlety, point taken. I don’t know you personally, but from your posts I can only assume you are a smart dude. I don’t think you are missing anything, or I am picking up on something you are not. I think it is just a matter of taste.

  135. Matter of taste I think. It’s designed to not be for everybody. That’s why I’m surprised the haters won’t even consider that maybe there’s something in there for a limited audience. It’s just no, this is horrible.

    And again, my Unknown example, the case seems to be “there’s nothing in this for anyone but that’s okay, at least it’s not trying.”

  136. Hey y’all–I found this review on Quint’s twitter and I love all the discussion that’s going on. I have a review up on my blog, but i’ll copy and paste it here for another opinion:

    http://www.barkingherald.com/index.php/2011/03/29/sucker-punch-my-review/

    “The most polarizing film this year (so far) has left quite a scar on me. It is loud, intense, dark, vaudevillian, and dare I say to a certain degree, intelligent. Zack Snyder’s latest topic of feverish discussion, Sucker Punch, has been pissing off people who accuse the movie of being sexist, exploitative, fucking stupid, and even more fucking stupid. And I can even see where they’re coming from—if you just look at the movie stills, you see girls dressed up in fetishized military/warrior (whatever) gear killing a lot of monsters. I already knew what to expect in terms of story, so I didn’t think they were going to be exploited, and after watching the movie I still feel that way.

    If I may back my ass up a bit, Sucker Punch starts with our main character, Baby Doll (Emily Browning), trying to stop her evil stepfather from raping her younger sister. Also, this is after her mother just died. However, she ends up accidentally killing her sister instead. Thus, she’s sent to a hospital for the mentally ill, where she’ll be lobotomized. In order for her to cope and possibly escape, Baby Doll retreats into a different reality where instead of a hospital, she’s imprisoned as a prostitute/burlesque dancer at a brothel. In this reality, she and some other girls (who also exist at the mental institute) learn to escape by entering fantasy worlds and fighting many different types of motherfuckers in order to obtain certain items that are collectively the key to their freedom.

    If that is really confusing, I can understand. Basically, on each realm of reality that the movie shows—the mental hospital (which, I think, is the real world), the brothel, and the fantasy worlds–all the main and supporting characters are still the same person they are in real life; they are just given different representations in these different realms. For example, Blue Jones (played wonderfully by Oscar Issac) is the evil orderly at the asylum and the evil head of the brothel. The other mental patients played by Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, and Abbie Cornish are also the burlesque dancers/prostitutes in the brothel world. See what I mean? It wasn’t confusing for me to grasp (and I’m a fucking dunce), and while I’ve heard many people saying that it makes NO sense and there’s nothing at stake, there is one scene (which I won’t spoil) that to me, links everything together.

    I want to make one thing especially clear: when we enter these ultra stylized worlds where the girls fight robots and dragons, you either go with it or you think it’s just completely inane. I believe Snyder even made it clear in interviews (it’s known that he is a huge Heavy Metal fan) he wanted this movie to have certain pop-art influences in Sucker Punch just because he thought they look cool. So, when you see Jamie Chung piloting a mech in World War I and fighting off steam-powered zombie soldiers and battle planes…I mean, it’s up to you if you accept it or think it’s just Snyder poo. I dug it and in turn, I was blasted with pure awesomeness and grandeur.

    When Baby Doll fights her first enemies, which are these gargantuan samurai fuckers with huge swords and gattling guns, I don’t know if I even blinked. This scene just has astounding blocking, framing and composition, and fantastical special effects. And an incredibly empowering remix of Bjork’s “Army of Me” plays the entire time. I mean, just how cool this scene is explodes all…over…your face. It’s also a great way to introduce you to just how crazy this movie gets. Don’t even get me started on when they fight the robots.

    I already talked a little bit of the Bjork song used in Sucker Punch, but the soundtrack also includes covers and remixes of songs by The Smiths, Queen, Jefferson Airplane, and some more. Emily Browning even sings on a handful of them, and she does an awesome job. The soundtrack really, really amps you up—I’m listening to it nonstop here in my abode. The music really does add a great sense of cool to the movie and, while they aren’t the always subtlest, underline some of the movie’s themes. Thankfully, none of the songs feel awkward in their placement (see Watchmen).

    The one thing that I was dying to see, maybe even more than the action sequences and other crazy stuff Snyder put in this movie, is if he can direct actors well. Don’t get me wrong—I don’t think he’s terrible, but it’s a quality that I thought was a bit lacking in him. Watchmen, a movie with material that demands convincing drama from its actors, had some pretty good performances. Unfortunately, most of the time we got some flat acting whenever Billy Crudup or Jackie Earle Haley wasn’t talking. With 300…I think Snyder did all right with this one, but most of the fucking characters were just yelling 90% of the movie. Dawn of the Dead had some ok acting. Didn’t see his owl cartoon yet (sorry, low blow…Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole). Anyways, to me Sucker Punch was going to be the final litmus test to see if Snyder could pull off getting his actors to emote with credible drama. So, you can imagine my enthused reaction when I discovered that he can.

    I really, really can’t jump on board with people saying the acting was flat. I just don’t see it. Carla Gugino, who I thought was pretty awful in Watchmen (I don’t blame her though—they needed an actual elderly woman to play Silk Spectre I), gives a really great maternal presence as Madam Gorski. She pulls of her character’s Polish accent, and exercises great restraint in her acting. Oscar Issac was actually very menacing, and felt like an actual threat to the girls. He has the showiest role in the whole movie, and he owns up to the task and delivers. Emily Browning had an incredibly empathetic and grounded performance—she showed vulnerability and strength without wavering between the two. Scott Glenn, who plays the Wise Man that shows up in each fantasy world, had gravitas and weight to his mentor role. I thought his character looked kinda dumb from the trailers, but when I watched the film I was wrong. Jon Hamm, in his small role (which I know was a little excised), was a relatable figure, and does much with his fleeting screen time. Malone, Chung, Hudgens, and Cornish were all fantastic in their supporting roles as well. Basically, I felt none of the performances were contrived (save for some minor parts), which is something I feel is a huge flaw in Snyder’s past movies. Since everyone’s great acting pulled me into the story and world even more, I can confidently say that this is easily Zack’s most engrossing film.

    The movie definitely has its flaws. There should have been some more insight into some of the characters, like Blondie (Hudgens) and Amber (Chung). Ultimately, what is there works, and it helps that their performances were really good, so there is enough shown to get a feel of who these people are. However, a little more meat would be neat (see what I did there?). Also, while the WWI and dragon sequences were still action-packed and cool, they aren’t nearly as exciting as the awesome samurai or robot fights. Lastly, the movie ends with a bit of narration that is a bit contrived and cheesy, which is a real shame because it kinda deadens the impact of its message. But, we are getting the director’s cut in a couple months that is mostly what Snyder wanted us to see (but couldn’t because of rating reasons), so I’m hoping it fixes some of these problems (unfortunately, it won’t have Zack’s intended ending…I’ll talk more about that in another article. I’ll just say, having read what it’s supposed to be, I’m very, very sad that I’ll never see this ending).

    Now, I have to talk a little bit about how I feel on the “female exploitation” issue that is currently a dark cloud surrounding Sucker Punch. I never once felt like these characters were being exploited. This isn’t Megan Fox’s ass being stuck in your face like in Transformers. These characters dress in these provocative ways in the fantasy sequences because, as they’re destroying these enemies, they throw back that titillation men get from objectifying women into people’s faces. To me, Snyder took that very standard notion of raising the audience’s, shall I say, “proverbial erection” in a movie, and spun it around. In the brothel reality, women are dressed this way in order to get men off. They are victims. In the action scenes, they are still dressed skimpily, but now…they’re killing machines. They aren’t victims anymore. I thought the action is a metaphor for these females taking that objectifying perception of them and mutilating it. Now, if these fantasy sequences made up the ENTIRE movie, without the scenes set in the brothel or asylum, then you would definitely have a point in saying the movie is sexist or chauvinist. But, since we have these characters actually bring up the very subject of titillation, and say and do things that develop them into more realistic and complex people, Snyder isn’t just treating us to ass and tits on a plate.

    Also, they have names like “Sweet Pea” or “Baby Doll” because hey—these broken souls pick up these kinds of nicknames in a brothel or something. I’ve never lived in one, but I can believe that, you know? Maybe some douchebag pimp called Sweet Pea “Sweet Pea” and it just stuck because she didn’t really have a name. They might not have wanted or asked to be called that, but what could they do? I didn’t think these names were “whoring up” these women.

    Don’t get me wrong–Sucker Punch isn’t as deep as a fuckin’ Kubrick or Cronenberg movie, and it’s not as emotional as something like Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (sorry for the name dropping, but I saw this recently and watching it was transcendental), but it’s still a great action fantasy that ultimately tells a genuinely compelling story. And if you do want to delve deeper into semiotics and whatnot, then the movie does raise some interesting questions about women and sexuality. Hell, when I go on message boards and film sites, there are tons of discussions about the narrative and themes of the movie, and they’re all incredibly fun to read and insightful. I think if a movie does that—raise discussion—it’s doing something right. I read a comment on some website, and it was by a girl who said she was a foster child. She said that this movie, while not perfect, was at the same time very powerful and moving for her, because she had a broken childhood like Baby Doll. Sucker Punch takes the definition and function of fantasy and, in it’s own unbelievable way, shows the power and necessity of dreams.”

  137. I do agree with Mr Subtlety about the fantasy world being aribtrary in a way in that it could be replaced by anything else and thus has no weight. It’s the reason why I felt not as involved as I should be into the characters since they were basically invulnerable and acting out these action sequences. I did appreciate them for what they were and don’t have a problem with the fantasy itself, just the underlying story and the weight of the characters we are supposed to be invested in.

    Oh, and I liked the soundtrack too. Those were actually my kind of songs, Vern. lol

  138. Looks like Scott Mendelson, of Huffington Post, is on the short list of critics, along with Mr. Topel (who I already shouted out in Nerd Shit, I think) & Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir, who share most of Vern’s & this comment board’s sensibilities. His review is thoughtful, his defenses of his review are sharp & eloquent, and his account, especially regarding Emily Browning’s anecdote about a sex scene, of the history of the MPAA’s disgusting involvement in the neutering of SUCKER PUNCH is infuriating.

    It’s only a C+ or B- movie to me, but the reaction has made me respect & defend it way more than I would have planned while also giving me a new reason to be disappointed in the majority of American moviegoers, talkbackers, & critics.

    On the plus side, I have now developed an intellectual argument in favor of my renting the uncut SUCKER PUNCH to go along with my primal hetero-desire to see more Jamie Chung & Vanessa Hudgens and my unquenchable twink yearning for more high-budget movie musicals.

  139. Mouth, have you ever seen you seen the documentary THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED about the MPAA?

    I also feel like I have become a defender of SUCKER PUNCH, and not because I think it is a great film, but because I don’t understand the overwhelming negative reaction to it.

  140. Mouth — I guess my question is, do you really think Zack Snyder made a film which is intended as a postmodern breakdown of mysogynist themes encoded in pop culture iconography?

    Its certainly possible to see that in the film. I just cant…fucking…imagine…. that Snyder intended that, based on everything I’ve ever seen from the man (including his other films, interviews, commentaries, etc.)

    It’s possible that the giant samurai is a symbol for a historically patriarchial culture (with his giant spitting phallus added for extra measure) paired against an exaggerated schoolgirl fetish who APPEARS to be empowered but is, in actuality, spectacularly disempowered.

    But I just think its waaaaaay more likely Snyder just thinks that shit looks cool.

  141. Mouth, you are one Taylor Swift T-shirt away from pushing badass juxtaposition as far as it can go. Chow Yun Fat is gonna have to start walking around with his pockets full of baby duckies to top the bombs you’ve been dropping lately.

  142. Mr. Subtlety – I’ve seen some strong arguments supporting that reading of the movie, but I honestly don’t know if I agree until I know how the end was intended to be interpreted. It’s too up in the air for me to decide what he means when I don’t even understand what happened.

  143. Charles, that MPAA movie would surely just enrage me.  Ah, fuck it, I have really low blood pressure. Top of the queue.

    Mr. Subtlety, I’m considering an interpretation in which the samurai (?) things = Japan, the German gas mask things = Germany, the small dragon = Tibet/Taiwan, the big dragon = China, the train thing = Zach Snyder’s mom’s marital life? Or the hi-speed rail represents the rapid advancement of BRIC nations encroaching American economic dominance. Okay, I haven’t thought this through yet, but I’ll find a political allegory that supports my patriotism somegoddamnhow in this thing.

    Point taken, Mr. Majestyk.  I need to stop giving so many BJs in my posts.  

  144. We should all probably avoid abbreviating Badass Juxtaposition.

  145. Mr. Subtlety – It’s funny you bring that up about Snyder, because I have that similar conflicting feeling about Watchmen. I really love his adaptation of Watchmen, it has problems, but overall I think it’s pretty fantastic (and similar to Sucker Punch it’s one of those “the chances of any production company throwing this much money on something so unique and odd is pretty rare so well done for getting that Snyder” situations) and I genuinely think it brings new ideas and concepts and analysis to the story that work specifically within the film environment that Moore could not/did not do with the original comic.

    Did Snyder actually intend any of the analysis I draw out of it? Was my conflicted reaction to the action sequences and violence what he wanted? Or did he just think the violence and gore was awesome? Somewhere in between I think/hope.

    I think Vern said it best. He’s probably not a genius, but he’s definitely a thoughtful guy. Maybe he didn’t analyse it to the extent some have in these comments, but he left it open enough to allow that kind of commentary.

  146. Vern / Catch 42 (didnt you used to have a different name? Or is that just a common avatar?) — Even without knowing exactly what was intended by the end (I’ll save my interpretation to stick to the point) I think there’s enough evidence to mount a case for the film being a breakdown of pop representations of women and empowerment. I just don’t buy that it was intended that way. But I feel somewhat uncomfortable with that reaction, since I grant it is based completely on my read of Snyder as a person and a filmmaker, which I don’t think is very fair.

    Its a tricky thing, some times, to try and determine what analysis is worth it and what is simply spinning meaning our of vagueness. It certainly means SOMETHING that SUCKER PUNCH, however it was intended, does work well as a strong statement about mysogeny and false empowerment in geek iconography. But is that like saying that you can also draw strong allegories to Reagan-era economic pigheadnedness in FERRIS BEULLER’S DAY OFF? You can make a case for it, even a strong case, and have the movie read in a avery different and possibly richer way.

    But are you just deluding yourself if you put that meaning on it, rather than legitimately drawing that meaning out? Does that have value? And even if that thinking has value, does that mean the work has value?

  147. I love the movie, but I don’t buy for a moment that it’s supposed to be some kind of post modern deconstruction of pop culture fantasy imagery…I think it’s more about fantasy as a coping mechanism and survival strategy – how imagination translates into action; how imagination subverts oppression. The owl movie Snyder made before this touched on some of the same themes.

  148. Mouth and Vern, Zack Snyder does indeed say the film is intended to make viewers uncomfortable and question why they’re enjoying watching scantily clad women. That’s the sucker punch. It turns out people are taking it literally and accusing Snyder of the very thing he’s commenting on. You can say he failed or succeeded, but it wasn’t an accident.

    He explains it much better in the interview I did with him. Mouth, thanks for the shoutout!

  149. If he was trying to make me question why I enjoy seeing scantily clad women, I’d say he definitely failed. I already know why I enjoy seeing scantily clad women. I don’t want to give away my reason since that is personal, but I will say there is a very big clue in the phrase “scantily clad women.”

  150. For some reason my post didn’t actually post but the gist of it was that it wasn’t made for men. It was made for 15 year old girls. It was the type of movie that reminded me of the films I saw when I was 15 and got excited about that were manly films. This one was all about how no matter what life throws at you, you have all the necessary skills to survive as a female.

  151. I’m a big fan of 300 and Watchman but didn’t like Sucker Punch. It was not bad but the asylum/cabaret scene bored me so much that I wasn’t there when the action started.

    My main problem now is that I watch most movie on fast forward. I don’t want to waste my time with the blah, blah, blah and the cliche pseudo-caracter development and mostly skip to the action. That’s why I thought Kick-Ass and From Paris With Love were okay (well the 30-60 minutes of both I saw).

    I’m pretty sure I would not hate Battle: LA so much if I’d download it and just watch the fighting instead of paying 12$ for a 2+ hours shitfest.

  152. Ftopel — well, if we’s really serious (and not just Wicker-Manning it) then I guess I have to say good job, thats insanely ballsy to make a film which so specifically targets one demographic, gives them what they want in spades, and then points out the darker aspects of enjoying what its giving them.

  153. So I saw it last night, and there was one little thing about it that I don’t think anyone has brought up yet. Did any of you notice while you were watching it that this movie is FUCKING AWESOME? With the massive, beautiful action sequences where you can see everything that’s happening and everything that’s happening is crazy and amazing? Did anybody else notice that?

    I know we’re supposed to be the smart guys of this genre. We are not satisfied when shit just blows up real good. We like some striving for excellence. But good God, I do not want to get so sophisticated that I can watch a movie with a scene like the one with the chick in the robot suit blowing biplanes out of the air while zeppelins explode into pyrotechnical poinsettias in the background and all I want to talk about is whether the director is aware of subtext or not.

    For the record, I think it’s condescending to imply that an obviously smart and talented man could work on a movie day in and day out for a couple years and just ACCIDENTALLY pack it full of intriguing themes and twists that promote hundreds of comments worth of discussion. There’s clearly something going on in there, something about the power of imagination, about female commoditization, about self-actualization. I’m glad that stuff’s there. But then there are the terra cotta samurai gigantors with gatling guns who bleed blinding white light when they get cut in half. Personally, I think that’s more important in a picture like this.

    Because let’s face it: If we really liked movies about drama and symbolism and meaningful statements about life and society, we probably wouldn’t watch movies about hot chicks with jetpacks who fight dragons in the first place. We like our substance, but it’s the sugar-coating that gets our asses in the seats.

    It’s time to get our priorities straight. I’m all for taking shit seriously and unpacking the baggage and all that. But sometimes you just gotta shut up and watch the fireworks.

  154. I’m going to probably sneak off tomorrow to do a double feature (which I haven’t done in a long time) while my fiancee does her taxes. I’m trying to decide which two to chose from SUCKER PUNCH, INSIDIOUS, and SOURCE CODE. The conversations here on SUCKER PUNCH have really intrigued me, and I think Snyder is a talented (if frustrating) filmmaker who has been slowly improving over time. On the other hand, I’ve heard some of these inklings that SUCKER PUNCH might be a little compromised, which makes me wonder if I should wait for the inevitable unrated or director’s cut blu ray in 6 months. What does everyone else think?

    INSIDIOUS is probably a shoo-in, even though I’m not a big haunted house fan, horror movies are kinda my thing so I feel an obligation. SOURCE CODE sounds cool and is getting great reviews, but then it’s by the guy who did MOON, which I enjoyed but not nearly to the extent that everyone else seemed to.

    C’mon guys, help me plan my weekend.

  155. Right on, Mr. Majestyk, and I hate to ruin your buzz, but did it bother you that Baby Doll & Co. were invincible in the first 3-4 action dream pieces? Griff’s “yeah that happens in anime all the time” explanation didn’t work for me.

    I acknowledge the awesomeness & the excellent visuals of SUCKER PUNCH, as I’ve said, but, you know, McClane’s kickassery would never have been as awesome if he didn’t have to operate with bare feet, broken glass, & a nicotine craving. Playing RIVER CITY RANSOM with an infinite health Game Genie cheat isn’t as fun or rewarding as playing it without cheat-frills as Allah intended.

    Dan, you should stay home & calculate taxes with the woman.

    ………

    April Fools, lulzOMGhahaha! I’d be curious if a PG-13 movie, INSIDIOUS, can be scary. Personally, this weekend I’ll only be watching & commenting on movies that I think will somehow anger Paul.

  156. Mouth, I think there are two different strategies to action:

    1. THE DIE HARD PRINCIPLE: The hero is endearingly human and vulnerable to the threats around him, increasing suspense and audience identification.

    2. THE RAMBO COEFFICIENT: The hero is possessed of superhuman strength, endurance, and/or skills, allowing him to lay waste to his/her enemies in entertaining ways without concerns for personal safety, physics, or common sense getting in the way.

    I think either strategy is perfectly viable, provided its consistent. And I think that SUCKER PUNCH is. Why would she imagine herself as vulnerable in her power fantasies? That wouldn’t make any sense. It’s only when things go wrong in the real(ish) world that any of her enemies prove to be a real threat to her.

  157. Yeah, but I doubt she could eat things that would make a Billy goat puke.

  158. From the looks of those girls, I don’t think eating is one of their superpowers.

  159. Living in Sweden, I feel SOOO left ut of this debate. Why? ´Cause Sweden is the last place on earth where movies premier. I expect this movie to have a release date next year. As a movie-geek, living in this sad pathetic shithole they call a country is nothing short of frustrating. Why can´t you americans come up with a good excuse for invading our country? I FUCKIN´mean it. I´ll be the first standing there waving the U.S flag.

  160. Mr. M – – if I may confess something, the reason I have been talking so much about subtext is that the action actually left me kind of cold. They are well-directed, clearly orchestrated sequences, which sometimes rise to the level of great beauty. But the problem for me is that they’re all so derivative. If it is indeed Snyder’s intent to sort of turn geek iconography against the audience, it makes sense that literally every single image in the film has been mined from pretty commonly available fantasy imagery. But, it doesn’t really make it all that much fun to watch. Given how heavily they rely on spectacle, and how stunning the scale is, it had a surprising been-there-done-that vibe to me, and as such didn’t hit as hard as it should have. And its a bit awkward that Snyder clearly thinks this shit is awesome, too. If he’s trying to tell us that we’re involved in the same process of dehumanization as the loathesome male characters, spending so much time making the best possible geek porn seems like a strange way to spend his time and energy.

    That’s why I’m skeptical that this movie has anything specific to say, or at least that it has anything interesting to say. Like 300 and WATCHMEN, there’s clearly a lot of stuff you can think about in there; it just seems like the film itself is almost entirely unaware of that fact, and as a result doesn’t really “say” anything.

    Glad you liked it, though. I’ve been hard on it, but of course I only do that to film that I like but want to love. I am always glad when something this crazy comes along, and there are absolutely moments in it which are so thoroughly winning its impossible not to acknowledge them.

  161. I’m sick & fucking tired of agreeing with both those who articulate exactly how I feel about stuff and those who articulate a nuanced variation of how another part of me feels, especially when these agreeable assholes get all eloquent like the above duo of Mr.’s. You need to make my world more black & white, not muck it up with all this gray area consideration. You’re what’s wrong with America.

    Jamie Chung & Vanessa Hudgens are thoroughly winning. Whatever they *are* eating, it’s correct. Their nutritionists are doing something right, even if their small intestines aren’t yet up to the rugged standards of John Rambo.

    Shoot, all you have to do is renounce NATO obligations and “discover” some oil under your homeland, and we’ll be there. Also, I demand a [2nd generation] apology for Erick Erickson.

  162. Shoot McKay — why not liven up your dreary socialist paradise with a little invasion of your own? I reccomend Finland to start, and then maybe Italy (they may not even notice having their government replaced). Give it a try — it’s fun, and surprisingly lucrative for specific parts of the private sector!

  163. RE: Griff

    It’s not that Raiders, Die Hard, et al are “deep” movies per se. It’s more that they have deeply human characters with expertly drawn arcs, multiple, sometimes conflicting, motivations, and recognizable human emotions. Say what you will of Sucker Punch, but I think you’d have a hard time convincing anyone that any of the character arcs (or hell, even ALL of the character arcs put together) are as well drawn or even in the same league as John McClains.

  164. Mouth:

    I would maintain that the bodies in 300 were certainly sexualized. The film is like a latter day sequel to Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia. (And I don’t mean that as a slur, Olympia is one of the most visually sumptuous films ever made. It is also filled with eroticisized male bodies). The popularity of that film is certainly tied to the sexual potency and virility of its cinematography. To claim that the there is not extreme eroticism within that film is insane to me.

    It’s like a mosh pit, part of the appeal is that it is a socially acceptable form of homo-eroticism, thinly veiled in machismo.

    I’m straight, but I’ve done a great number of fairly gay things. I mean, I feel like it’s fairly common for young men to sleep with a girl in order to impress male friends. I know that I’ve felt good about women I slept with, not just because I got laid, but also because I know that other male friends desired the girl in question but could not have her. The social status afforded there is…well…it’s kinda gay, even though it’s coming from pussy (pun!)

  165. Mr. Majestyk

    I disagree. I think that B-movies have a privileged place in discussing current social issues years, if not decades, before a straight drama is permitted to do so.

    We’ve had about a dozen highly successful horror films dealing fairly directly with the Iraqi and Afghani wars. How many influential dramas have there been? Fuckin’ Turistas out-grossed Hurt Locker, if memory serves. As such, the political potential of a movie featuring robots and mecha and dragons and steampunk Germans would seem to be off the charts. It don’t get much more B-movie than that. It’s like every Roger Corman movie and every Russ Meyers movie jammed together into one unholy mess. Except, that sounds a lot cooler than I think this movie actually was.

  166. Did I get a shout out like 40 messages ago in a topic I hadn’t even posted in? Sweet.

    I think this film is clearly not sexist in that 300 featured extremely sexualized male bodies, while here, other than a few up-skirt shots (wide shots, never close ups), the women were not oogled. That said, the movie does make very liberal use of rape as a plot device

    1) Stepdad on Babydoll
    2) Stepdad on younger sister
    3) The impending “High Roller”
    4) The Cook
    5) The Cook…again
    6) Blue on the russian teacher women
    7) Blue in the real world
    8) Blue’s 3 friends in the real world

    The movie is 2 hours long…that’s almost one attempted rape ever 10 minutes. In my book, that’s pretty uncool.

    Also of note, there were like 14 scenes of women crying. And this might reflect more on me than it does on the film itself, (I think running eyeliner can be excruciatingly sexy when it seems wanton), but the plethora of crying scenes DID seem fetishized and sexual. There are certainly elements of S&M in this film, but one can easily see that Snyder isn’t actually *into* S&M. He just likes the aesthetics of it.

    I really liked the first act of this movie (the reveal of the brothel is damn near genius) and I think things picked up in the third act, but the middle hour was a real slog for me. I checked my watch, a lot. This film reminded me a lot of Scott Pilgrim, actually, what with the tensionless action scenes that don’t actually effect one another. It also reminded me of the old silent Aeon Flux shorts and made me really wish that Snyder was making an Aeon Flux movie. You know damn well that she’d die at the end.

    ——

    As for Watchmen, I LOATHED that movie. I knew it was gonna be bad about 5 minutes in when we saw that horrible Nixon makeup job. I know it was supposed to be stylized, but it just looked forced and pointless.

    There are 2 major problems with Watchmen:

    1: The comic book is a deconstruction of comic books, by following the narrative of the original so closely, the film becomes muddled because it too is a deconstruction of comic books. This is disconcerting and a perfect example of Marshall McLuhan’s theory that “The Medium is the Message/Massage.” In order to work as an adaptation of the comic, Watchmen should have been stripped down, reworked, and turned into a deconstruction of comic book movies. I think that a great adaptation of Watchmen is possible…it would just have to be absolutely NOTHING like Watchmen. Keep the spirit and the themes and extrapolate them in a way befitting of the different medium.

    2: Snyder has no idea what Watchmen is about. I was at comic-con last year when Snyder was doing a live commentary on the Watchmen director’s cut streamed out to Blu-Ray owners, or something. I sat in on the last 20 minutes so that I could get a cool, free Sucker Punch tee. During the end of the movie, Snyder said something like, “And that’s really the question of Watchmen. If you were in Ozymandias’ shoes and you could create a device like this, knowing that it would bring world peace, but kill millions to do it, would you?

    Except, THAT’S NOT THE POINT AT ALL.

    The point of Watchmen is that Ozymandias is the enlightened, liberal-minded humanist trying to better mankind, but he’s actual an evil monster of a person. What’s more, his plan clearly will not work because after 6 months without a giant squid attack (a concept that is tied directly to the medium of comic books as they are deconstructed through the pirate comics in a world with real super heroes, which was not adequately replaced by putting a symbolism free bomb there) humans will go back to infighting. So he would need a false flag squid every so often to keep the population in check.

    Meanwhile, Rorschach is a fascist leaning bastard and a cold-blooded murderer, and he is completely right about everything. He is unlikeable and clearly villainous, but he’s also undeniably correct in the end.

    Unfortunately, in the film, Snyder has all of the heroes acting just like Rorschach, committing murder simply because it is visually pleasing. When all of the clean cut heroes also kill people in cold blood, Rorschach stops being a Travis Bickle style anti-hero and becomes just a hero, thus undercutting the entire moral of the story.

    By Snyder’s own admission he didn’t understand ANY of this. So, that’s what’s wrong with the film. Oh, and it was boring as shit too.

  167. I think that there is an implication that not all of the girls are real. Either Sweet Pea and Rocket are variations on Baby Doll/nameless sister or that’s some truly awful writing. Plus, isn’t Sweet Pea playing the part of Baby Doll in the brothel reveal sequence?

    I kinda think that there is some “Identity” type tomfoolery going on here (*Spoiler for a 10 year old movie*) with each of the different girls representing a different part of Baby Doll/Sweet Pea’s psyche.

    Of course, in an extra-textual basis the ending doesn’t quite make sense for a very simple reason; they reworked the entire third act about three times and test screened wildly varying cuts of the picture. I know a guy who is friendly with Zach (who, by the by, was a really nice guy when we met briefly) and I can ask him about what happened here since I remember him telling me a bit about this stuff months ago.

    I really don’t like the idea that Baby Doll is imagining the last scene, since that’s lame and boring. I also don’t like the idea that she was lobotomized during act one, because that’s even more lame and boring. I’m pretty sure there is some multiple personality disorder stuff going on here, especially since all of the girls show up in Baby Doll’s fantasies and no Jr. Development Executive would ever allow something that obvious to go un-noted-to-death. Dude has to validate his 6 figure salary, ya’know?

  168. SUCKER PUNCH interpretations are not Highlanders; there can be more than one.

    So, Hunter, Snyder went to the “comic convention,” did a live 3 hour commentary for an audience, and fucked up the main message of the most beloved funny paper of all time?  That’s either the ultimate nerd faux pas or it’s a pretty hilarious Andy Kaufmanesque fuck you to the audience.  

    On 300 & the “eroticization” of the muscular male form: I’m taking back this argument for the people who don’t want to acquiesce to amateur psychologists.  (I can’t pull an ANNIE HALL here and have a Marshall McLuhan-like figure personally reinforce my points, unfortunately.)  I can agree with a lot of what I read about the thing, but it’s now apparent that most people who develop an opinion on the gay content factor in 300 are developing said opinion with a mind toward compliance with what they perceive as a modern breakthrough in interpretation.  They’re like, “It’s so edgy to call out homoeroticism, plus everyone else is doing it, so I better come up with a way to say that 300 is thinly veiled ubergayness.”  Slightly similar to my problem with today’s skateboarders — it’s not edgy if everyone is doing it, and just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right.  

    I have a strong, agile mind.  I can handle multiple issues on multiple levels simultaneously.  I can admire my teammate’s physique at the bench press, then avoid making so much as incidental eye contact with him in the locker room, then share a tent with him in a cave west of FATA, and never once have a homosexual impulse.  It’s neither a skill we’ve honed nor a desire we’ve suppressed.  It’s just the way it is.  (Yes, we sometimes make gay jokes to defuse tense situations & find humor, but I’d argue that we do so more because of an understanding of the expectations related to society’s post-Brokeback Mountain mentality than because we think it helps defuse our own mutual, supposed “sexual confusion” on cave missions or while exercising shirtless.)  

    But if I describe any of this, especially now merely by putting the matter into words, then those who claim an understanding of the conflicted modern male psyche or whatever will of course express their doubts.  Some of them will smugly ascribe a touch of homosexuality in there somewhere while identifying the subject’s denial of it as all the more evidence for its pervasive existence.  
    Yes, it is a good sign that this problem is more likely to draw my attention today than, say, the prejudices of those who would scream violent slurs and run to their fellow church congregants to spread hate speech.  But this current, growingly liberal view of muscular men is not a happy middle ground that pleases me, and, frankly, it’s affecting how I watch movies at *my* church of BADASS CINEMA.  Also, I have always hated mosh pits.  

    My interpretation of 300 is as follows: it’s exactly, EXACTLY like the book (which, unlike the movie, was not published at the height of the American surge in Iraq), with a coupla little additions to make it feature length film producer-approved.  The macho parts are indeed macho, and they wouldn’t sound & look so cool if they were anything less.  It’s a David & Goliath story in which David is more than just a little guy who made a lucky shot with his sling & pebble.  The 300 are David. . . with attitude!  

  169. So, if I understand you correctly Mouth, I should listen to my penis to determine what I find erotic and not pop psychology? I don’t know, man. It seems a little too simple. Are you sure we don’t need to complicate it?

  170. Hunter D — I also felt let down by WATCHMEN, but actually I think Snyder’s explanation is more in line with my reading of the book than yours (although obviously it misses a great deal of subtlety). Weirdly, though, watching the actual film he made it seems like his interpretation has to be closer to yours. I thought it unforgivable that they turned Ozy into this lisping whiny villain, because it makes it completely impossible to sympathize with him and to articulate the very conflict Snyder told you guys was the crux of the film.

    As to the issue of eroticism… well, I would argue that its possible to fetishize/sexualize the body without it necessarily being explicitly erotic. I don’t think either 300 or SUCKER PUNCH is intended to actually cause the viewer to become sexually aroused, but at the same time they’re both deeply aware of the significance of a well-honed human body outfitted with fetishized trappings. Snyder knows putting these little pixies into skimpy schoolgirl outfits and later some S & M leather hews towards specific sexual fantasies, and even if he’s not trying to get you off he at least knows its going to be read and responded to on that level. His depictions of hyper-masculinity in 300 are the same deal. Its not porn, but come on, he knows what a bunch of shirtless, glistening guys wrestling looks like. To claim that there’s no erotic undertone at all is to go to a mudwrestling match and argue that there’s nothing sexual about it because after all, they’re fighting.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean its secretly gay. It’s just aquainted with the concept of human sexuality, and aware that the heightened emotional state of the film benefits from stirring the part of the brain that thinks about sexuality and the body. Lots of things are sexual without explicitly being arousing. Same thing with SUCKER PUNCH (in fact, Sweet Pea even comments on that –‘I get the school girl thing, it turns people on, but what’s the deal with this lobotomy chair?’ — the dialogue either cleverly or idiotically fails to note the obvious sexual implications of lobotomy, with its association of penetration, submission, and pacification.)

  171. Mudwrestling is different. That’s two women. Of course it’s erotic.

  172. Hunter: Obviously I’m not saying there should be no discussion of the deeper meaning of action/spectacle films like SUCKER PUNCH. And I am well aware that horror films get a pass on dealing with certain “too soon” issues that dramas do not. What I’m saying is that these kinds of movies still have to be awesome on a completely surface level for any of that shit to matter. DAWN OF THE DEAD (The Not-Snyder Version) isn’t beloved for its anti-consumerism message; it’s beloved because it’s the best fucking zombie movie of all time. If you come out of that movie and the first thing you want to talk about is the subtext and not the exploding heads, you missed the point and you may possibly be kind of a joyless fuck. The subtext comes later. Give the exploding heads their due.

    I’m not saying don’t discuss the “meaning” of SUCKER PUNCH. I’m saying that for a crowd who bitches constantly about the lack of good action in theatrical films (myself definitely included) there are a lot of people here who are willing to throw the amazingly well orchestrated action scenes of SUCKER PUNCH under the bus because they’d rather talk about whether Snyder is a misogynist or what the studio did to the ending or a bunch of other stuff that had little impact on the reason I enjoyed the movie. I never want to get to the point where I can’t enjoy surface pleasures for what they are. There is a lot to talk about with this movie, to its credit. But mostly what I remember and want to revisit are the visually stunning and kinetic action sequences. They’re the most important part of the movie and the thing on which it should primarily be judged.

    Then again, I guess if the action scenes don’t work for you then you’re stuck talking about all that other shit. I just don’t see how anyone who claims to be a pure action fan couldn’t get swept up in at least one of them.

  173. Mr Mr — what’d you think of the train sequence, where they just fucking kill the shit out of the i-robots for what feels like five whole minutes or more (is it one long shot? I think it may be, I honestly didn’t notice at the time). That scene for me summed up my feelings on the movie — stunning and kinetic but also stale and numbing. Its just mindless chopping completely divorced from any context or consequence (even by the most basic narrative standards one could imagine). But as far as chopping goes, its gotta be among the best there is, and its engrossing and almost hypnotic.

  174. Can we leave aside the discussion about subtext and the joy of action scenes for a moment and answer the question that has been bothering me? Not the question of whether the last scene is in the mind of Baby Doll. Rather, what is the title of the movie in reference to? What is the Sucker Punch?

    Is it the moment we find out the movie is not supposedly about Baby Doll and SweetPea is the heroine that escapes? (Although I contend that is a false message that is a product of a mind trying to reationalize evil happening to good people.)

    Is it in refence to the actual punch of the movie where Baby Doll gets the lobotomy? (Which is supported by the lobotomy needle being a part of the title design)

    Is it just the horrible ends that happen to these innocent girls (who we don’t really know are all that innocent except for Baby Doll) in this horrible soul-crushing place that is metaphorically raping them?

    Is it the fact that no amount of fantasy is going to erase the horror of reality?

    Or is it the gut punch we feel that we wasted time trying to find some meaning from the movie itself when maybe there really there isn’t any?

  175. Cassidy — it depends on how meta you think Zack Snyder is. If you believe that it’s actually all one big meta-critique of feminine images in pop culture icons, the sucker punch is on the audience, and it’s driven home by the final line of the film. Sweet Pea goes on and on about, “who wants us to succeed, who gives us demons to fight but believes we’ll overcome them” blah blah blah “–its you!”

    The you could mean “yourself” but it could also easily refer to the audience, who subjected them to this crap because they wanna see the story and because they like watching this sort of conflict in this particular stylized way. So, like DANCER IN THE DARK, only with slightly less Bjork, you have only yourself to blame for the awful plight of these poor nameless waifs. SUCKER!

  176. Mr. S., I loved the train sequence. It found a different way to give me the context-free chopping of the previous three action sequences. And since I’d already gotten my fix of wide-angle, let-me-fucking-see-it-for-chrissake chopping in the other scenes, I didn’t mind that this one got a little artsy and discombobulated me a bit.

    And yes, it was all one “shot.”

  177. I guess I raped and dehumanized them like the villains in the movie simply by watching. Our fantasy was their nightmare.

    I feel dirty now.

  178. Mr Majestyk, was it really all one shot? I could have sworn they took the individual takes of each fighting move and glued them together seemlessly since everything else was green screened.

  179. The fight was clearly not REALLY one shot as we enter and leave the train, repeatedly, and jump frames here and there. But it is made to LOOK like one shot.

    Also, I’m fairly certain that the titular Sucker Punch is the lobotomy. That sure felt like a sucker punch to me. In fact, pretty much the whole third act worked pretty well for me emotionally. I really liked this movie from the opening frame through the end of the samurai fight, then I was pretty much bored stupid through till the moment when Jenna Malone bites it. Then I liked it again.

    As for Snyder’s meta-commentary perspective, that’s fucking retarded. What? Is this supposed to be his Funny Games? Maybe it’ll be better when he remakes it, shot-for-shot in German.

  180. Beeteedubs, showed that wrestling clip to Miner (dude who cowrote Robocop). He’d never seen it and It blew his mind.

  181. Hunter, I already know we disagree about WATCHMEN, but I gave you the shout out earlier becuase whether you and I agree or not I know you have a lot to say about sex and gender in film, and this film would give you a lot to discuss.

  182. Hunter, are you talking about the Robocop clip I posted the other day where Robocop saves Sting from The Four Horsemen? It is one of the most ridiculous moments in prowrestling history (and there are a lot so that is an achievement). I think the only other more ridiculous tie in I can think of is when the Chucky doll from the CHUCKY films had a short feud with Rick Steiner. I will have to find a clip, and post it.

  183. Mr. M, I am glad you liked this one after being so disappointed in THE MACANIC. The action is this film really is amazing in its level of detail and how well executed it is. I think my favorite action sequences are the first 2, but they are all good. Watching the film I was thinking that Snyder was really showcasing his skills because the film allowed him to construct 4 different action set pieces that under any other circumstances would be the big action set pieces of 4 different genre films.

  184. Glad to hear I wasn’t the only one who thought the Watchmen movie version of Nixon’s face was bizarre. Was he a burn victim in that alternate universe? Did the Joker throw acid on him? And they kept showing him like they thought he looked human.

  185. heimp, it is supposed to look like Dave Gibbons Nixon from the book, not the actual Nixon.

  186. For those interested here is the “Rick Steiner meets Chucky” clip I mentioned in my previous post. WARNING it is completely ridiculous. You have been warned.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jNqmvdx3V4

  187. Charles is correct about them designing Nixon to look like the comic, heimp. Sadly, due to the runtime of the film they had to leave out the subplot from the comic where the Joker throws acid in Nixon’s face and then sets him on fire.

  188. Hunter D – I admit I’m very skeptical about this, but there seems to be a good bit of evidence that Syder’s intent was a meta-critique… Mouth posted an interview above with him saying,

    …“ What I wanted to do was create this sequence where you would look at this scene and go, ‘Wow, it’s fun to be in this club. I guess the girls are being prostituted, but it’s still fun!’ But then the sequence ends with the girls crying and you’re like, ‘Oh, fuck. I’m a jerk.’”

    so who knows. Its also possible someone took a look at the finished product and told him to sell it as a meta-critique instead of a hypocritical exploitation-fest. Who knows. But if the movie works at all, it works on that level IMHO. Otherwise, there’s basically no narrative at all…

  189. Based on my experience as a horny young male, if I were a chick, I’d want to be a prostitute. Or a slutty lesbian. If I were a hot chick, I’d do a lot of brushing my hair naked in front of a mirror.

  190. Mr. Subtlety, I will have to reread Mouth’s post to make sure I am right, but what you are referencing is Snyder’s explanation for removing the musical numbers. He felt they gave the impression “”Wow, it’s fun to be in this club. I guess the girls are being prostituted, but it’s still fun!’ But then the sequence ends with the girls crying and you’re like, ‘Oh, fuck. I’m a jerk.’ “

  191. Most hardcore PG-13 movie ever? How about MINORITY REPORT, in which a virtual orgy fantasy is clearly depicted and a fantasy of what it’s like to be a chick getting railed is described in so many naughty frames between discussions of murder fantasies?

  192. Charles — yes, he’s talking about the musical sequences, but I think you can extrapolate that philosophy to the rest of it. It makes sense, anyway; I’m not saying its definative but to me without that aspect the movie is completely worthless, so here’s hoping that’s how he meant it.

  193. RE: WATCHMEN/Nixon; do they explain anywhere within the variety of WATCHMEN paraphernalia how Nixon exceeded the two-term limit, or can we assume it didn’t exist in their world? Runour has it there WERE groups who wanted to reppeal the 22nd ammendment for Nixon, so it’s pretty cool if Moore picked up on that. I guess the superhero stuff was kind of cool, but the 22nd ammendment is much more interesting, don’t you think.

  194. On Watchmen Wiki it says; “Richard Milhous Nixon (1913-1994), 37th President of the United States. Nixon was in Dallas, Texas earlier on November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It is implied that The Comedian, who was minding Nixon that day, committed the crime. Elected President in 1968, Nixon asks Dr. Manhattan to intervene in Vietnam, thereby ensuring a U.S. victory in the war. With the repeal of the 22nd Amendment and the suspicious murders of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (also thought to have committed by The Comedian), who would otherwise have exposed the Watergate Scandal, Nixon is reelected repeatedly, and still serves as President in 1985. After the disaster, serious new candidates for the Presidency are mentioned (Robert Redford in the novel, Ronald Reagan in the film), which may suggest that Nixon will not run for a sixth term. Nixon is advised by Dr. Henry Kissinger. Gerald R. Ford, actually his Vice President from 1973-1974, still holds the office in 1985.”

  195. Damn, you guys were right. Movie Nixon looks almost identical to the comic one. Still looked like a cheap Halloween mask to me, though. They probably should’ve kept him in the shadows or out of focus or something. Or got the guy from Black Dynamite.

    Also, a weird little detail that I missed on the first couple reads: the “football” (nuclear launch briefcase) is an actual football…

  196. So, I saw SUCKER PUNCH yesterday, and I’m on the “flawed, but really enjoyable anyway” side. Gorgeous visuals and great use of music(I liked the covers), really cool action scenes, and I quite liked all the girls in it, though I’d have liked more on their backgrounds, as only Baby Doll, Sweet Pea and Rocket have their pasts touched on, and the latter two’s was actually only in one of the fantasy worlds, so I’m not sure how that translates to the Asylum setting with them. In fact, I would have liked them to show more of how events were happening in the real world parts, as those merely bookend the story, but as a result, we only get to know the alternate versions of the other girls. And as fun as the action sequences are, quite a lot of the movie is bleak, although it is kinda meant to be, but I DID get the impression there were some cuts of stuff that would have mitigated that, and which make the progressions between some scenes a bit abrupt. Also some cuts of stuff that would have made it more bleak though. I also could have used one more fantasy action sequence at the end. It is actually set up like they’re going to have one, but then they don’t, so I think it’s lacking a more climactic feel. About the action sequences lacking the feel of consequences, I felt that the first one was the worst example with how Baby Doll’s getting tossed across rooms and into walls, but the subsequent ones actually made more of a point of making sure the girls were avoiding things like that and bullets, and fire and anything really lethal, which they were shown as taking seriously, and the stuff that DOES affect them is more reasonable action-girl fights with robots and such and not as over the top in the effect it has on them. It could have improved with them getting cuts and bruises of course though.
    “Most hardcore PG-13 movie ever? How about MINORITY REPORT, in which a virtual orgy fantasy is clearly depicted and a fantasy of what it’s like to be a chick getting railed is described in so many naughty frames between discussions of murder fantasies?”
    How about TEMPLE OF DOOM, with heart removal/combustion, a guy getting pulled into a stone crushing machine and turned into a blood smear, crocodiles eating a guy, exposed ape brain and an overall dark horror movie tone to things? That emaciated kid showing up at the village and collapsing is a bit heavy for an adventure movie.

  197. How about “Rapiest PG-13 Movie Ever”? Can we all agree on that?

  198. I’ll certainly second the motion to award it the “Rapiest PG-13 Movie Ever” award.

    Stu — to me the “lack of consequences” problem comes less from the scenes themselves (where they seem to be reasonably avoiding harm) and more from the knowledge that the scenes are themselves fantasy and as such have basically no bearing at all on the real world. The way the movie “rules” work, it seems like yes, getting hurt in the fantasy would translate to getting hurt in real life, but it’s not like the MATRIX where the fantasy affects reality. Its that the real world affects the fantasy you’re seeing. The danger is in the real world, the fantasy doesn’t really matter much except its more interesting to watch, visually. So that deflated things a bit for me.

  199. “Its that the real world affects the fantasy you’re seeing. The danger is in the real world, the fantasy doesn’t really matter much except its more interesting to watch, visually.”
    I guess I don’t really see much point in doing otherwise. Why would Baby Doll imagine bad things happening to the girls if she had no reason to? At least when it mattered, her fantasy reflected that. Maybe the film should have cut more between the fantasy worlds and the brothel stuff to show events in one causing the other to shift, like for instance the mother dragon waking up could have been because Amber accidentally attracted the Mayor’s attention and she had to improvise to make it not seem like she was stealing his lighter, which could tie in naturally to how in the fantasy she’s trying to outmanuever the dragon in her plane.

  200. Stu – yeah, to me that works way better. Basically, my issue was that the action sequences were almost completely divorced from what was actually happening; they’re not even really metaphors. Its just a bunch of shit she’s thinking about while she’s dancing, but it has veeeeerrry little to do with what actually happens. If you see someone get hurt in the fantasy, it probably means she got hurt in reality, but it doesn’t tell you much about how that happened or why.

  201. pegsman- Cheers

  202. WAIT A MINUTE, STOP THE PRESSES! This just occurred to me.

    Why does the conventional internet wisdom (CIW) say that SUCKER PUNCH is sexist for having a young woman in a schoolgirl uniform fighting dragons, but that KICK-ASS is the greatest thing ever for having an actual little girl in a schoolgirl uniform murdering people?

    What is the difference that makes one bad and one good? Is Baby Doll sexualized because she’s old enough to be, or because she’s fighting dragons? Is the outfit too slutty for an adult but completely legit for a kid? Is KICK-ASS okay because it’s in “the real world” and not a fantasy world? Is it better because she’s obviously supposed to be going too far while in SUCKER PUNCH it’s not even “real” so it’s not going far enough?

    Or am I wrong and the people who hate the one are not the same individuals who love the other?

  203. The internet is a fickle beast, Vern. I blame the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

    I like to believe I’m above comparing & speculating on the sexuality of a 10 year old’s costumes, though it can be hard to segregate such riffraffery from more conservative discussions online.

    I am glad that this topic of underage girls baffles me, because I honestly don’t feel whatever arousal or confusion it is that a lot internet nerds evidently feel when they watch some of these movies. Surely no one has ever before prescribed such a solution, but I, trailblazing sex therapist Mouth Ph.D, have just arrived at the historic, brilliant, & original conclusion that many of the nerd population would do well for themselves to get laid. They have that in common with various religious fundamentalists worldwide.

  204. “What is the difference that makes one bad and one good? Is Baby Doll sexualized because she’s old enough to be, or because she’s fighting dragons? Is the outfit too slutty for an adult but completely legit for a kid?”
    Vaughn talks about Hitgirl in the school uniform in the director’s commentary for KICK-ASS, refuting the idea that it was done as some form of titillation(which apparently some people accused him of), and the point was really more as a disguise to make her seem even more non-threatening to the gangsters(who yeah, are kinda fucking stupid to fall for it since I’m sure they knew by then a little girl was coming after them).
    And I don’t mean to be a smartass, but I would say that a schoolgirl outfit is completely legit for an actual schoolgirl to wear, beause that’s primarilly who they’re made for. But if we’re going to analyse this stuff, I’d start more with High School Cheerleader uniforms, which are typically made with skirts, despite the fact it’s obvious underage girls will be flipping and going upside down while wearing them, and flashing their short-shorts underneath in the process.

  205. Vern — I don’t think its too unreasonable to say that the gals in SUCKER PUNCH are significantly more sexualized than Hit Girl was, with their glamorous makeup, revealing outfits, etc. Seen in that context, it’s much easier to see the schoolgirl-outfit-on-older-adolescent as a fairly recognizable fetish than it is on an actual little girl who is not presented with similar sexualization. Of course, I’ve sort of come around to the idea that the whole point of the film IS that they’re being sexualized — by the audience, by the culture.

  206. I haven’t really commented on the whole issue of the SUCKER PUNCH girls being oversexualised or exploited in their depiction myself because as a man, regardless of what I think, I don’t know if it’s for ME to judge. For the record I don’t think it’s that bad, because I think they look just as COOL as they do SEXY, and that leads me to the other issue of how I’m pretty confident that there will be a fair number of girl geeks(and they do actually exist, contrary to popular belief), who’ll be recreating these looks for themselves, be it for Halloween, Cosplay etc. type fun. That’s a whole other niche female audience this film will appeal to, one that’s embraced far racier outfits in its time(just google “Cammy Cosplay” for once example).

  207. Of course girl geeks exist. Hell, I dated a girl for most of college who won an Avatar: The Last Air Bender costume contest at Comic-Con the year before we met.

  208. She also made super elaborate steampunk costumes for us to wear on Halloween one year.

  209. That actually reminds me of something relevant to the KICK-ASS question there…the screenplay for that was co-written by Jane Goldman, and since the schoolgirl outfit thing wasn’t in the actual comic, it’s possible that she contributed that idea herself. Maybe the fact she was involved worked in the movie’s favour in people not really accusing it of being sexist so much, due to a double standard. Though actually, there’s a couple of things the comic does better in that regard, such as Hitgirl actually being the one to kill Frank Damico and Kick-Ass’ girl reacting in a more believable (and in my opinion, funny) way when he admits he’s not gay.

  210. hey Stu, it’s 100% true that geek girls like to show off with racy cosplay outfits, Cammy is the most popular choice, but there’s also Mai from King of Fighters

  211. So maybe Snyder has a vision. And his vision sucks. It’s childish, stupid and derivative like hell. How do i know Snyder’s vision for Sucker Punch is derivative? I have seen japanese movies. This crazy wild over-the-top action/SF/horror movies from Japan, which are deliberatly made for a teen or young adult market and yet makes most R rated movies made in Holywood look like over-sensitive sissies.

    I have seen movies like “Tokyo Gore Police” or “Azumi”, which are the spiritual parents/inspiration type movies that informs the style of “Sucker Punch”. And they have something that Snyder’s doesn’t: heart and honesty. Those extreme do manange sometimes to be quite thoughful. And if they look weird, mostly is due to culture dissonance. What is an obvious cultural reference for a japanese might be mystifying for us in the West.

    Snyder suckered me into liking his first movie. He doesn’t sucker me again. And i dread his next movie, “Superman”. Many thing the movie is still Nolan’s gig, but it isn’t, since Nolan has his own Batman movie to worry about. I trust Nolan, but i don’t trust Snyder. Snyder is a kid playing with the instruments of men.

  212. I saw Suckerpunch in India and suspect that certain scenes were censored, so what`s this stuff with blue trying to rape the dramateatcher? In the version I saw, Blue is crying (and we don`t know why), the dramateatcher comforts her and and a threatening shadow enters the room. The next we see of Blue is the Cassevettes-inspired “look, I can also direct actors” scene, where she gets shot in the head. Did I miss something?

    Also, the ending makes totally sense to me, as in Baby Doll actually helping Sweet Peas to escape, but only imagining Sweet Pea in the real world, thus redeeming herself of killing the younger sister or forgiving herself or something something clever, but the lame voice-over made me loose any interest in giving it a second thought.

  213. The Blondie/Blue/Gorski scene’s like that in the west too. There’s nothing to miss. They make it pretty clear Blue got her to spill the beans on the plan.

  214. I’m dangerously close to buying this month’s SHAPE magazine b/c Vanessa graces its cover. {blows kiss to avatar girl}

  215. Vern – I haven’t seen “Sucker Punch”, so I don’t know what the fuss is about. But the thing about “Kick-Ass” (which you may remember I dismissed as being better than your review, but a lot worse than what it was hyped up to be, thereby damning it as being “all right” overall) is that to me, the most disturbing parts aren’t the bits with Hit Girl. They’re the bits with the guy and his girlfriend. To me the hot girl played by Lindsey Fonseca who suddenly notices him is such obvious wish-fulfillment and such a fantasy, and in many ways the guy comes off as something of a creep. Yet he’s the guy we’re supposed to empathise with. That did not sit comfortably with me. At least with the “Hit Girl” scenes, I KNOW I’m supposed to feel awkward.

  216. Or to put that rather long-winded point another way: I have nothing against films that portray rape / stalking for the sake of rape / stalking. I DO have something against films in which the female being raped / stalked (and in the vast majority of cases it is a female) falls in love with her rapist / stalker afterwards. To me that’s more disturbing than the act itself.

  217. Paul, I think you’ll be interested in SUPER when you get the chance to see it. It has a rape. . . with a twist! And it also has some more traditional rape, which is sad, but you’ll know what I’m referring to eventually.

    Now I’m going to try to rid my memory of horrid STROKER ACE flashbacks.

  218. Paul; Since Kick-Ass was written by a woman (Jane Goldman), who by the look of her knows a LOT about the lengths young men will go to meet beautiful girls, don’t you think that the scenes you talk about are meant satirical? A piss take on all those Patrick Dempsey movies from the 80′?

  219. pegsman – That’s an interesting angle to it. That aspect of Kick-Ass is one that I’ve always struggled to get past. I find loads of interesting thing to read into the other scenes, but that plot aspect just feels “teen boy wish fulfilment that I can’t really defend as satire because their relationship is played so straight and ‘genuine’ in the rest of the film”.

  220. I just saw The Tree of Life and while I’ve never liked a Terrence Malick film, I actually enjoyed this one in a pretentious art film kind of way. But the way I’m hearing the film community talk about it, people are saying they need to think about it for several days to process it all. One critic saw it twice in the same day (taking 2 of the 3 screening options) in order to digest it, because he says Malick deserves that commitment.

    That’s fine if it’s your thing, but it made me think of Sucker Punch. Why does Malick “deserve” or “need” to be interpreted because he specifically makes abstract films with loose narratives? Nobody suggested giving Sucker Punch that time or thought. On the contrary, it was vitriolic against Snyder for even attempting such themes. I’ll give you if you thought he didn’t bring it home, although I’m totally on board with Snyder’s proposed interpretation. At least it should deserve the same respect.

    I don’t need time with Malick’s films. The one pass on their impressionistic approach does it all, usually leaves me cold. Even though I liked this one, I have no desire to delve further into it for more meaning. I think about the themes of Toy Story 2, Back to the Future and Neverending Story to this day, and can probably throw in The Dark Knight and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox story (yeah, start a new thread to discuss that one with me).

    Even my interpretation of the end of 2001 is “and now we see some crazy arthouse shit” and I love it for that. We should see crazy arthouse shit. So yeah, I’ll go read the Police Story review now.

  221. Fred,

    “Why does Malick “deserve” or “need” to be interpreted because he specifically makes abstract films with loose narratives? Nobody suggested giving Sucker Punch that time or thought.”

    I haven’t seen Snyder’s film, so for all I know it’s totally deserving of 30 personal viewings, a frame by frame analysis, and a 1,000 page dissertation. But, I’m thinking it’s unlikely this critic saw the film twice just because Malick makes abstract films with loose narratives. I’m thinking it’s probably more because this particular critic deeply admires Malick and has found his previous films to be complex and worth mulling over.

    I mean, movies don’t exist in a vacuum. We analyze them not just on their own terms, but within a context. Malick happens to be a filmmaker with a passionate following of cinephiles. His reputation, deserved or not, is peerless. Snyder is not on that level, in terms of reputation. Is it really surprising that a man who had, pre-SUCKER PUNCH, only been known for mainstream, commercial films that received a mixed reception by critics not be treated as seriously as one of America’s most beloved arthouse directors?

    I mean, not to be too much of an elitist here, but in my esteem some films do deserve more thought and analysis than others. We don’t have to be egalitarian when debating film; it’s okay to admire certain filmmakers and take their works more seriously than others’. I’m not really a huge Malick fan myself (I find his films visually entrancing, but also gratingly ponderous) but I can dig why someone would want more time to collect their thoughts than they would other new releases.

  222. Not surprising at all, in fact totally expected. I just sort of marvel at how a filmmaker like Malick can actually cultivate a following that requires multiple viewings and extra thought. I guess David Lynch would be another one. I have no idea what Lost Highway or Mulholland Drive are about, but at least Blue Velvet makes sense and Wild at Heart has Nic Cage in it. If Malick made an art film with Nicolas Cage I’d be all over that!

    I, on the other hand, do believe every movie deserves equal amount of thought. I guess I’m egalitarian, and kind of generous with my time and thought come to think of it. I will defend the artistic merits and messages of the Jackass movies, and those filmmakers don’t even want me to! Even the films I hate I think about. I hate I Melt With You, Unknown and Yogi Bear on their own merits and for specific reasons.

  223. I think it a little pointless to argue about whether a film “deserves” serious thought. The only thing that matters is whether there’s something that catches your interest enough to make it worthwhile to put some mental effort into it. Some films, like most of Malick’s filmography, will be a little unsatisfying unless you meet them halfway and do a lot of the work yourself. Someone who enjoyed the film might encourage you to mull it over, saying that the rewards of doing so make the effort worthwhile and therefore the reward “deserves” the effort. But ultimately all that matters is what you think you will get out of putting in the effort.

    There are, of course, some films which you can reasonably bet will have a lot of densely layered subtext and artistic elements, which are probably safer bets than, say, the new PIRATES sequel. But you never know. I once spent hours thinking and writing about the meta-commentary on filmatic images of death and life WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S. I consider that time well-spent, though I doubt the subtext was intentional there. I’m not at all sure SUCKER PUNCH is a very intentionally deep movie, but it is such a fucking brazenly nutty film that I had a blast trying to think of possible explanations for it.

    But, I couldn’t honestly care less what Kubrick is trying to say in BARRY LYNDON. I’m sure there’s something. Probably something interesting, but fuck, what a slog. Not worth it for me.

  224. Sucker Punch comes out on blu ray a little over a month from now and it will be an R rated extended cut

  225. Well said too, Subtlety. I honestly wouldn’t watch Malick films if I weren’t paid to do so. Just not for me. And Tree of Life amused me ironically so that’s what I got out of it!

    I guess I’m saying if some viewers want that experience, they could find it in more places if they’re willing to look. Also Tron: Legacy. The haters just wouldn’t forgive a single thing. Why not look at that as an impressionistic, Malick-esque metphysical piece? It’s in there.

  226. Friends, you’re talking to a guy who wrote his senior thesis in college on FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER. Believe, I am all about analyzing the shit out of movies that don’t seem like high art. And I’m all with Fred’s comment about bad movies (or movies that you dislike) being worth contemplation and analysis.

    But I’m also saying that, particularly with a filmmaker like Malick, it’s understandable why some critics or cinephiles might be willing to give them more of the benefit of the doubt. Malick’s films, to a lot of movie lovers, are difficult but with effort are ultimately rewarding. I’m not a big Malick fan, but not only are his films a little hard to take in on one viewing, for a lot of us his films have a proven history of improving on repeated views.

    Snyder doesn’t have that yet. A critic who deems one viewing of SUCKER PUNCH to be sufficient may with them some knowledge of his previous films. I very much enjoyed WATCHMEN, but outside of maybe some further appreciation of its technical merits, I don’t think my second viewing of the film opened up any new layers or anything like that. Ditto his DAWN OF THE DEAD REMAKE. Now, maybe some day I’ll see 300 again and suddenly realize that it’s a masterpiece, and then maybe I’ll decide he’s the kind of filmmaker that earns some extra consideration. But he has to earn that first.

  227. FTopel, if you want, I would be willing to take whatever you get paid to watch Malick’s movies and watch them for you. I’m willing to fall on that grenade. Also, Mr. Subtlety, if you need BARRY LYNDON or any other Kubrick masterpieces watched I’d be willing to do that for a small fee as well. That offer goes out to anyone else too. One of my superpowers is the ability to watch goddamn excellent films and I feel like it is my duty to share my abilities with other people. Other people who are willing to pay me. I hesitate to call myself a hero for doing this but if any of you are so inclined who am I to stop you.

  228. Jake, pure awesome.

  229. First time I saw THIN RED LINE I thought Jim Jesus and the other guy were the same dude, probably because they look kind of similar and they were both overdoing the same accent, and it was before Jim Jesus had played Jesus so I wouldn’t have recognised him as Jesus. Second time I though I’d give it a chance knowing they were two different people but I just disliked it more. It may have been the use of birds or something, like a really tedious man’s John Woo.

  230. I never said I didn’t want the job. I just represent the perspective of “This doesn’t do much for me” and I enjoy the shit out of articulating that.

    Dan, I think you’re helping me express my question. Why does a filmmaker get to say, “Take this ambiguous collection of images and interpret it?” Or rather, why doesn’t EVERY filmmaker get to say that? This is Malick’s fifth film, so okay, there’s history there. Woody Allen’s done 40+ so there’s lots of history there and you don’t always know what you’re going to get with each one. I guess you can have a history of repeat viewings. That would also explain the bunk of filmmakers who say, “Oh, you didn’t like Matrix Revolutions? Well, watch it again. Still doesn’t make sense? Keep watching it, you’ll get there.”

    It’s just funny I guess. For the Malick fans, I realize this is only the fifth time in 30 years you’ve gotten to have this experience, so make the most out of it. See it twice, think about it for days. I relish my favorites too. I just saw something new in Back to the Future, a film I’ve known for 25 years.

    FWIW: My high school thesis was Arnold Schwarzenegger as an American hero via film and real life success. I think they gave me an A because no one could argue my Arnold knowledge. (This was pre-politics, and right between Last Action Hero and True Lies, so pre comeback too.)

  231. “Why does a filmmaker get to say, “Take this ambiguous collection of images and interpret it?” Or rather, why doesn’t EVERY filmmaker get to say that? ”

    Who says they don’t? We just don’t have to respect their wishes.

  232. FTopel, yeah, I realize you weren’t complaining about your job. And I wouldn’t want it anyway since I don’t really enjoy writing about movies. I just want the part where you watch Malick movies and then receive in return genuine hard currency exchangeable for goods and services. That is a business model I can get behind.

  233. Right, I’d agree with Dan and say that the power to decide who gets serious mental attention lies entirely with the viewer, and like I said, that’s based on what you think you can get out of it.

    That having been said, I don’t begruge anyone arguing that some films are more intriniscally rewarding than others. It’s also fair, I think, to link that to their artistry. I mean, as I’ve pointed out before, the STAR WARS prequels have plenty of things to think about in them, but they’re so poorly made at the fundamental level its hard to ask anyone to really investigate deeper. Malick, whatever you thinks of him, makes dense, unique, and gorgeously shot films ‘with pretty much the stated purpose of creating something you have to delve into a little to really fully appreciate. You don’t have to DO it, but that’s kind of the deal he’s offering, and to his credit I think he usually backs up his request with substance for you to discover if you do engage with him. On the other hand, even if we think SUCKER PUNCH does have some subtext to it, it’s pretty hard to argue that it’s not a very awkward, not entirely successful means of converying that subtext, even if a viewer meets Snyder halfway.

  234. Paul- “They’re the bits with the guy and his girlfriend. To me the hot girl played by Lindsey Fonseca who suddenly notices him is such obvious wish-fulfillment and such a fantasy, and in many ways the guy comes off as something of a creep. Yet he’s the guy we’re supposed to empathise with. That did not sit comfortably with me.”
    You’re forgetting she only really notices him once its rumoured he’s gay, because she’s always wanted a gay friend, so it’d be a bit of a fucked up kind of wish fulfillment on his end. But the fact they get together and she’s not that annoyed about everything is one of the major things I dislike about the movie, because in the comic, it goes completely differently and a lot funnier. At the end of that, he tells her he’s not gay, and he loves her. He doesn’t reveal he’s Kick-Ass. Her reaction IS to call him a fucking creep, get a jock to beat the crap out of him, then later (we’re told), text him a photo of herself blowing said jock as payback. Which also goes to how the character was rewritten to be more likeable for the film, I guess so Hit-Girl wouldn’t be the sole example of a female character with positive traits(and dubious ones at that). In the comic she’s a lot more of a stereotypical stuck up high school girl, who actually overreacts at Dave trying to strike up a conversation with her outside of school by asking him if he’s a stalker or something. She doesn’t volunteer at some free clinic and that whole trip to the apartment where he meets Hit-Girl for the first time has nothing to do with her. Plus the “gay friend” thing is more humiliating for him as she asks him if he can get a boner from just looking at his reflection(and for some reason he says yes).
    I’ve wondered if things like that, the whole Big Daddy origin basically being he’s an even more deluded, irresponsible fanboy than Dave, NOT a cop who got set up, and the ending being Hit-Girl killing all the mobsters while Kick-Ass just fights Red Mist would have made Vern like the movie more for being a wee bit more plausible/less wish fulfillment.

  235. Stu – I don’t know if it would have made Vern like it more. Would probably have made ME like it more though.

  236. So one more question for the Malickphiles. I get that his shots look good. They’re nice to look at, more so than other filmmakers. Pleasing to the eyes. But what is the deal with pointing the camera up at trees? He is always aiming the camera up at trees! How does that make trees more meaningful than the straight ahead angle, and if he does it in every movie, doesn’t it get old? I guess that’s his version of the doves flying in slow motion :)

  237. FTopel, I will ask the cinematographer that on tuesday. Just got confirmed for the press day!

  238. Tawdry, that’s great. I’d love to hear an aesthetic answer to that. Maybe I’ll learn something.

  239. Tawdry, did you ever get an answer to the tree shot question?

  240. Sadly I did not. I didn’t get to do a one-on-one with the cinematographer. I did end up doing roundtables with the producers and the lead actress, however. And those went pretty well.

  241. So, I saw LA PIEL QUE HABITO (THE SKIN I LIVE IN) today. It’s the first Almodovar flick I’ve seen that I think I, um, como se dice?… oh yeah, fucking hate. After an intriguing opening, it gets worse & worse and more & more disgusting and painful and nonsensical, without any of the payoff of other such painful movie experiences, like, say, MARTYRS.

    I actively despised THE SKIN I LIVE IN.

    It sucks to say that since I was hoping to recommend Vern venture into AlmodovarWorld for what I heard was something of a horror film, something Vern’s speed, but instead I saw a shite film.

    Maybe one of you weirdos who like Michael Bay’s “2” sequels would enjoy it, just b/c it’s got so much fucked up stuff going on that has no explanation (fantasy incest, rape, and Paul’s favorite, according to his April 13 comment above — rape victims who go Stockholm on the perpetrator). It’s almost an anarchical character experiment within the usual Almodovar framework (beautiful colorful set design, impeccable unintrusive cinematography, lengthy flashback interludes), except it’s lousy because the audience doesn’t have the comfort of transmogrifying the characters into symbols.

    The reason I post these thoughts here is because we’ve read bad reviews & heard bad comments all over the place about SUCKER PUNCH being not only a bad movie but the rapeyest movie of the year.

    Well that’s bullshit because THE SKIN I LIVE IN is much rapeyer. And it’s nasty R-rated rapey, not PG-13 implied rapey like SP. I will be one pissed off guy when I figure out who the critics are who lambasted or acted queasy toward SUCKER PUNCH and then, a couple months later, praised THE SKIN I LIVE IN.

    Also, I rewatched SUCKER PUNCH recently and discovered that it’s really fucking good. The voiceover bullshit that bothered me when I saw it in the theatre is actually not bullshit at all. It’s well done, employing clever symmetrical diction to enhance the narrative and to make a point that I didn’t realize the first time. And I totally dig the action scenes better now that I let go of the notion that the girls should be vulnerable to pain or injury. I was wrong about that. Griff was right.

    And these revelations, this newfound respect for SP is all the more impressive considering what I know about Snyder having to re-cut the movie and move parts of the script around, per studio/MPAA demands.

    I regret failing to fully appreciate SUCKER PUNCH the first time, though I recall I always defended its ambition. Now I’ve grown to fully enjoy it as an entertainment.

  242. I’m still thinking about this one too, mainly because it’s still brought up as one of those movies that everyone else hated except I loved.

    I think Snyder was playing with narrative conventions we take for granted, but not paying them off. It wax a sucker punch. It’s not A) movie pays off expectations or B) movie subverts expectations. It’s Z) this is all just light on a screen anywy so seeing a girl get super powers in no way reflects on what she’s going to do with her life situation. Stop imposing a pattern on stories.

  243. Too hot.

    http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m1511ecpX01qfvzyf.gif

    Vanessa Hudgens handling automatic firearms (“Take that, you ugly motherfucker!”) is nice to behold, sure, but there’s nothing in this world more attractive than Vanessa pretending to read Jane Austen.

    I can’t stop staring at Vanessa Hudgens gifs. The internet is full of them. Too many and not enough. I’m getting no work done at all. I may have a serious problem here.

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