Saturday, 9 April 2011

Sucker Punch...

I feel I'm going out on a limb here...but I liked Sucker Punch. Only I'm not sure I'm supposed to.

I'll try to keep spoilers at a minimum.

There's been a lot of bad reviews regarding this film and to be honest I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to get from it. I'd seen the trailers and really liked the visual style of genre mash up in the action. Samurai with Machine guns? Can you really go wrong with that?

So I made an effort to get out of Worthing, something that nearly defeated me, and went to see Sucker Punch.



I'll start with hmmm. I started off not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. The opening was cool, minimum dialogue, just depressing visuals with a depressing cover version of Sweet Dreams playing over it. Then the plot begins, with Baby Doll taken to a mental home and is put in line to be lobotomised. This is the drive of the character, to escape before literally losing her mind.

However, in the institute, as part of their therapy, the girls have to act out their problems on stage, in order to work through them. Baby Doll reacts to this by escaping into her own head, thinking that they are dancers locked inside a club unable to escape and having to put on a show each night for the seedy clientele.

Ok so far it's a bit messy, the transition from the institute to the club could have been smoother, but a few jerky movements and we're there. So now we're escaping from a club.

Another reason for the messy transition comes from some of the set design. It seems to jump between the Club and Institute. So for example, one minute Baby Doll is in the dressing room, all lit up, and the next she's running through the dingy corridors of the institute, but still in dance club costumes.

Anyway, along the way she enlists the help of fellow inmates/dancers and together they try to gather the 5 items required to escape. This is when it all goes very video gamey. I've read that Zach Snyder didn't think he was making a video game style but it can't be helped when characters are given mission objectives.

So rather than 90 minutes of sneaking around the club, which would have been a completely different film, Baby Doll has to use the weapon of dance. A dance so completely mesmerising, it can hypnotise those watching, enabling her cohorts to steal the required items.

This is where we get the action, Zach could've just shown a dance, but no dance would've been enough to convince the audience, so when dancing, he has Baby Doll escape further inside her head to some other world where she has to fight samurai with machine guns, zombie Nazis, knights, orcs, dragons and robots.

So to keep you up to speed the action is as follows:

You have fighting Baby Doll...



...inside the head of the dancing Baby Doll...



...inside the head of therapy performance Baby Doll.




So she fights/dances/performs to steal what she needs. Therefore the film is pretty straightforward, in a round about way.

The film is pure escapism, rather than facing the truth, you escape to somewhere more exciting. I've done it before, especially in times of distress. Dentist's chairs come to mind.

As you can see the more I thought about this film the more I found I did enjoy it. I was a little disappointed when I started, but during the film, gave up trying to work out how it was wrong, why it was bad, whether the female leads are anything but eye candy and came to a realisation that the girls on film are locked in a mental institute, so why should this make any sense. You have WWII bombers fighting Dragons for example. I'm not going to try to work this out, just enjoy it as is. This idea of the film being purely insane, is also backed up by the video on the end credits, the main villain of the film (Oscar Isaac - awesome by the way) sings Love is the Drug, cabaret style with the Institute's therapist (Carla Gugino). This film is meant to continually come at you with surprise attacks. Hence the Sucker Punch.

I was going to hide this in a spoiler box, but you may want to hear my other thoughts as to what it could be. I have been thinking that maybe all the girls are just personalities of Baby Doll. For example, she is taken to the mental institute because she accidentally killed her sister. Once there she meets two fellow inmates who are sisters, the older Sweetpea looking out for the younger Rocket. Surely an extension of BabyDoll;s character that she tried to look after her own sister. So now she has become bother older and younger sister.

THIS IS A SPOILER:
This is also present in the ending when Baby Doll is lobotomised, but we see Sweet Pea escape. Although she doesn't escape, She is the only personality to survive in the lobotomised Baby Dolls mind. This is why Scott Glenn, the mysterious advisor in all the action dreams, is present at the end. Sweetpea is still inside Baby Dolls head because she doesn't exist.


Baby Doll is content to live out the remainder of her days, in her own mind, as the protective Sister Sweetpea.

END OF SPOILER

There's an obvious omission from this review. The portrayal of the female leads. This is not a black and white thing to answer. On the one hand you have the strong, fighting women, albeit wearing festishied costumes. One the other hand, when not fighting they are all a bit weepy and seem to accept their roles as objectified dancers.

However, I think, this is far to easy a judgement to make. The girls are the same characters. You can't simply split them up into their different emotions. They are strong to fight back, but also vulnerable. You also have to take into account the subject matter of the film. It's set in a Mental Institution. I think it's pretty safe to say that they aren't the strongest of minds if they're in their in the first place. You can't have a group of Warrior Women in the mental home, otherwise surely you;d have to question why they were they if they were so strong in the first place.

I'm not getting into this on here. I enjoyed the film. I also enjoyed 300 and didn't think it wrong that there were no fat men in pants on their team. As with many other films, the male heroes are usually Adonis types. I should really be on side with Seth Rogan as he is a heavier build and was recently the lead as the Green Hornet, but he's not very good.

So back on track with Sucker punch, a quick mention to the soundtrack which includes some cool covers and is actually awesome. There's a great cover of Search and Destroy by Skunk Anansie played over the dragon sequence.

Overall I think the reviews have been unfair to Zach Snyder. There's a lot of great ideas in Sucker Punch. The fights are exciting, using some insane camera techniques that I have no idea how Snyder kept track of. I think the main problem was the way the film is put together, which I admit, is a little confusing, resulting in a lot of bad reviews. Who knows if the studios had a hand in messing it about.

But who says that every film has to be the greatest film ever made. Sometimes you just want to escape from day to day life. Sometimes you just want to have something else to think about. Sometimes you just want to watch an anime school girl fight a samurai with a machine gun!

Too much?

5 comments:

Chris Regan said...

I was listening to the soundtrack whilst reading your blog and you're right, it's awesome.

hels said...

I might try to get Ant to watch it today; I've been deriding it along with him cos it's the thing to do, and cos there's every evidence I won't like it as much as Watchmen, and even that had it's problems. But I've got a sneaky feeling I'm gonna like it too. Then again, I'm fine with that, I defend Showgirls, so...

Ross said...

The soundtrack is amazing and I enjoyed the opening. I really have a problem with how the women are portrayed and fetishized (if that's even a word), especially in a 12 rated film. Ultimately no matter how good the action and effects were, I just wish the story, characters etc had been better to support the genre elements of the film.

gerdarcy said...

The fetishizing of the women is a problem under many ayers of problems for me. A whole long list of faults with that film which individually do not seem huge in themselves. But it's like DIY plumbing, suddenly you've spent ninety quid on five joins and a bit of pipe. I wish they had just made a film about five women who have to stop a bomb/ dragon/ robot samurai/ steam punk zombie huns; instead they buried a bad script beneath layers of misanthropy (the men don't come off well either) bad voice over, clumsy acting and GCSE drama plot ideas.
I loved the soundtrack, because I found it distracting and could watch the stupid action bits simultaneously and listen to Scott Glenn's beautiful, beautiful voice.
I thought it was a horrid mess that made me go "meh" and shrug. Jen had to shower after and blames her current illness, and the credit crunch on it.

gerdarcy said...
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