Hey folks, Ambush Bug here. I got to see Zach Snyder’s SUCKER PUNCH this week. Who wants to touch me?
Have you ever wondered what goes on in the mind of a stripper as she sashays her tight little booty up on stage in front of leering old men and rowdy frat boys?
But Zach Snyder obviously does. He is so interested that he has centered an entire film on the quandary. Much like the main characters of SUCKER PUNCH who use disassociation to take them to a place much more exciting than their oppressed existence, sitting in the theater and watching the film, I felt the urge to be someplace else as well. SUCKER PUNCH is a loud, gaudy, fetishistic, bombastic piece of cinema. It’s also hollow, remedial, and bereft of substance. As the scenes flew by with Michael Bay-ian abandon, as much as I wanted to become invested in the film, as the minutes passed bringing me closer to the time for the credits to roll, all I could think of was how wrong of a choice this director is for a SUPERMAN film.
Let me start with the good stuff. SUCKER PUNCH looks cool. The hotties are hot. Their tight fitting Sailor Moon garb looks sassy on their tighter young forms. There is a lot of action for the girls to do and the ‘splosion crowd to drool over with numerous expansive set pieces filmed against a green screen. The film has everything that should make for a movie all of us fanboys and girls should swoon over: big guns, hot chicks, zombie clockwork soldiers, flying flaming dragons, giant samurais, Scott Glenn, ‘sploding automations that look like extras from I, ROBOT, silver swords, Carla Gugino’s pooper (though unfortunately covered by a toight skirt), mecha robot armor, ‘sploding blimps, swooping airplanes, kung fu, and did I mention ‘splosions? The effects are pretty outstanding and though the fact that 88% this film was probably filmed on a sound stage is pretty evident, Snyder has some fantastic backdrops to plop some action into.
Another good thing? Well, I thought Blondie (played by raven haired cutie and HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL star Vanessa Hudgens…see she’s a brunette named Blondie—I-RON-EEEEEEEE!!!) was pretty damn smokin’. Then again I always was kinda partial to brunettes.
The other good thing in this film is that Snyder doesn’t make Carla Gugino wear old age make-up in SUCKER PUNCH as he did in WATCHMEN, though he does make her use a horrible accent. Gugino as always is pants-stiffeningly good though, so there’s that.
The Gugino factor aside, everything else in this film is as vacant as the set of TWO AND A HALF MEN (too soon?). Cool without substance just sucks, and that’s what this film is. After a dialog-less montage set to nu rock music opening the film (something Snyder did much more effectively in WATCHMEN), Snyder decides to hang the feather-weight plot on the scavenger hunt motif where our heroine has to gather a number of weapons and items in order to escape the mental hospital she has been put in by her abusive father. How is she supposed to do this? Well, our little heroine Baby Doll (played by the hollow eyed Emily Browning) has the seductive power of dance! Turns out, Baby Doll can shake her tiny little pa-toot and it makes everyone go gaga. The audience is told this, but Snyder never really shows us Baby Doll’s smooth moves. All she does is shimmy slowly from side to side, the crappy remake tune of the minute volumes up and then we are transported to another fantasy world disassociation. We never see this dance at all. Maybe Snyder filmed it and realized how ridiculous it is that in her mind she’s fighting giant samurais and robot train conductors, but in reality she’s making like Shakira on roofie juice. To add insult to injury, Snyder doesn’t even try to make these fantastic scenarios match metaphorically with the real life actions going on in the scavenger hunt. It’s just the fantasy world sequence where the chicks are in some kind of faux danger, then somehow, the item is attained through Baby Doll’s distracting moves off screen. The audience never gets to make up their own minds whether this dance ignites the loin-fire as every character boasts in the film, but I’ll bet there’s a cut somewhere with the moves interspersed in between the fantasy scenes that looks as idiotic as it sounds.
Snyder has a tendency to pick very annoying music for his films. It was somewhat annoying in 300 with the out of place guitar growling. He amped it up in WATCHMEN with the uncomfortably long love scene set to Leonard Cohen in the OwlMobile. In SUCKER PUNCH he just reaches deep into his trousers and goes full-on balls-out making probably 55% of this film into a music video. If that wasn’t annoying enough, the music is remake nu metal versions of classic songs like the Pixies “Where is My Mind” and the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams” (boy, that hasn’t been remade enough…). When a song is used to amp up the mood of the scene, I can dig it. When it’s crammed into numerous scenes over and over with the finesse of a proctologist with elephantitis of the index finger, it’s…kinda noticeable and definitely uncomfortable to experience.
SUCKER PUNCH really falls apart when it tries to wrap things up in a glittery moralistic bow at the end. And though I won’t ruin the ending here, it’s a groaner that is telegraphed pretty much from the beginning. Anyone who has seen any movie in the last ten to twenty years will be able to figure out the “wicked sick” twist at the end. OK, one hint: the film is about disassociation.
Guys, if you go see this film this weekend, the terrorists win. All you are doing is confirming the “brain trust” powers that be at WB that Snyder is the man for SUPERMAN. Maybe with Nolan on his ass, there may be a sliver of hope for something halfway decent for Snyder’s Man of Steel, but from what I saw in the ride on the short bus that was SUCKER PUNCH, the guy can make a scene pretty and cool looking, but couldn’t add substance to a film if he were armed with a shovel, a syringe, and a bucket of KY.
I’m like you. I saw the commercials to this one filled with “Awww, cool!” moments and thought I was in for a fun ride. Apart from one scene where Snyder pretty effectively uses the tried and true “slo mo/speed up” fight technique he’s used in every film since 300, the film laid there dead on the theater floor like a stripper’s soul. SUCKER PUNCH is full of glam and glitz and fetishes galore and I know some folks will love the film just for that. Much like strippers themselves, SUCKER PUNCH wants your money this weekend (SPOILER: they’re not into you, all they see are dollar signs), but as it bumps and grinds up there on the screen, if you look closely into its eyes you’ll see that any semblance of substance has gone far, far away.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the names to buy)!
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