Hola all. Massawyrm here.
Every once in a while a visionary director comes along who not only blows the collective skirts up of audiences around the world, but also manages to make someone, somewhere, a lot of money. And once that director has secured enough karma and leverage to make their dream project, they are handed the keys to the kingdom by people who simply don’t get it, but hope that it will make sense to everyone else. Sometimes that project is INCEPTION, TITANIC or KILL BILL. Other times it is SHOWGIRLS, SOUTHLAND TALES and SUCKER PUNCH.
Zack Snyder’s SUCKER PUNCH is a movie so terrible that it retroactively makes his entire body of work worse. It is a soulless automaton of a movie, lumbering loudly from scene to scene, knowing where it has been told to go, but never giving a shit about where it’s ending up. It’s like spending two hours in the mind of a chronically masturbating thirteen year old boy who can’t keep his hands off his thing long enough to hold a halfway decent conversation. It is a movie that demands an endless stream of metaphors describing it, because simple phrases like “sucks shit through a straw” don’t quite do its awfulness justice.
Comparisons to INCEPTION are unavoidable. Both films tackle the idea of entering a dream and involve layers of metaphor that go several levels deep. Here there are three basic realities. The first is the cold brutal reality which we see only for five minutes in the beginning and five minutes at the end. The second is a ridiculously fetishized explanation in the head of our protagonist - who somehow magically believes that envisioning herself as a captive dancer in a strip club whorehouse is somehow a more palatable reality than being wrongfully confined to a mental institution. And the third are her escapist fantasies to explain the shockingly simple reality of what is going on two levels back in the “real world.” But the differences between the two films are night and day. To Snyder’s credit, he paints incredible dreamscapes filled with lush, destructive environments and ignores the laws of physics in all the ways a dream does; to his folly, we don’t give a single squatting shit about any of it.
You see, we *know* that the dreamscapes are escapist fantasies. We know they have no bearing on the real world. We know that nothing that happens in them is even remotely real. And since they exist solely in the mind of a single individual, we know that no one is in any sort of danger at all. So we don’t care. At all. Every beautiful, painstakingly rendered action scene you’ve seen shots of in trailers and on posters? It means nothing. Bubkiss. Incredibly detailed fever dreams meant to be ooh-ed and ahhhh-ed over but that carry all the emotional weight of a Thermasilk ad.
Is the film complicated? Only up until its startlingly simple-minded explanation for those that might have been confused. It may try to duck and weave and seem somewhat lofty, but much like Scott Glenn’s painfully contrived platitudes, it all rings hollow. The film has nothing to say and jerks off to bad anime for 100 minutes trying to say it. There is nothing deep here, nothing that people are missing. It is a mess – weak attempts at esoteric metaphor that are actually nothing but a jumble of pop culture images thrown into the Snyder 3000 – a cinematic blender with 3 speeds: meandering, slow and for-fuck’s-sake-get-on-with-it.
Is there anything worthwhile here at all? It’s pretty. Every bit of set design, wardrobe, action choreography and cinematography is fucking fantastic. The people that worked on this film did an unbelievable job dreaming up the worlds that we spend so much wasted time in. If we cared at all about what was happening, these images would go down in history among some of the greatest works of cinematic speculative fiction ever. Instead, it will be relegated to the rallying cry of those precious few who end up enjoying it. Meanwhile, every actor and actress in this film is giving their all. Not a person sleepwalks through this – even those people are looking to cheap-shot like onetime Disney princess Vanessa Hudgens. Sadly, they are acting their hearts out for wafer thin characters so underdeveloped that they don’t even qualify as stereotypes; they are lines of dialog, not people, despite best efforts all around.
This movie is career suicide. Zack Snyder is still one of the most visually arresting filmmakers out there, but no one in a million years is ever going to give him carte blanche again. The film is an embarrassment, a black eye on entertainment that will become the unwilling example of what happens when geeks are allowed to do whatever they want without supervision. It is a film I wish I had seen at home, if only so I could yell at the screen all the obscenities that sprung to mind as I endured minute after ridiculous minute. I’ve never walked out of a movie – but this one really tried my patience. I beat it, but I don’t feel that I in any way won.
Until next time friends,