Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sucker Punch

Dear Zack Synder,

I write this with the utmost respect, but you're oeuvre is positively nutty, and it's difficult to truly get a sense of what kind of filmmaker you really are, or what kind you seem to want to be.  With your ballsy remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004), I was readily on board, and with that film, you exhibited a great sense of play, and a charitable spirit-- casting indie queen Sarah Polley may have been one of the best moves in horror film logic in the last two decades.  There was style, and menace, and fear, attentively executed for maximum frights that felt both old and new school.  With 300 (2007), you're first, and thus far, only blockbuster, it was apparent that style was more your forte than substance, and while I may be in the minority in which felt the film was flat as pancake, I enjoyed the fact that such a decadently homoerotic film is fancied by so many straight men.  Watchmen (2009) was next, and while perhaps expectantly greeted with muted praise, there was something there-- style again preceded substance, but a few performances popped, and more than few set pieces, while perhaps derivative of Kubrick, made one appreciate the ambition and scope of such an undertaking-- I liked, if not loved, the densely crafted subversion of superhero lore.  I missed Legends of the Guardians (2010), you're first endeavor in the world of animation (and 3-D), but I feel the need to request penance for the atrociously and aggressively inanity of your latest, and first original work-- Sucker Punch.

Styled as either a music video, videogame, or bad drug trip-- yes you have a knack, and\or fetish for over the top production values, slow-motion shots, fast-motion shots and pop music variants.  But, you must remember, that some sort of story, or emotion, or gravitation force must be there to make your audience want to take this journey.  You, perhaps, were going for a cheesy fun ride, and that's all well and good-- I'll take cheese anytime, as long as it's not quite as insipid, or boring as the latest you've provided.  Here, there's the barest inking of a premise, performed by cast who appears not to know at all that the hell their supposed to doing; all of which choreographed by a director who should know better at this point-- this isn't you're first film, nor is it even you're most expensive.  Never forget story-- this one, set in a mental institution\brothel focusing on a screwed up lass named Babydoll (Emily Browning: previously film credit: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events) and her fight to save herself and her crazy, and barely dressed friends from the evils inside.  For randomness, or maybe just something far and away too sophisticated for me, she drifts into fantasy dimensions where she's fighting dragons and ghoulish baddies, and in WWII.  It sadly gets to a point where it's not even funny in a bad way, but merely embarrassing and boring.

Mr. Synder, as important as story is, also please never characters, and on this end, you really deserve a lashing.  The gals that partake in Babydoll's ridiculous plan-- all of which are given equally misogynistic stripper names like Sweet Pea and Blondie-- are all as interchangeable and vacant as the lead gal herself.  Sad considering that at least two of the girls-- Abbie Cornish and Jena Malone-- have proven themselves far superior actresses in the past.  Either bogged down by your relentless (and kinda ugly) effects, or severely lacking in the notes department, these two previously marvelous actresses are as vacant and dead eyes as the far more unproven Browning.  Surrounding them is Carla Gugino, an actress who typically delights in cheesy epics (Sin City and your very own Watchmen), one who always appears canny and knowing in just the type of project she's in, is lost, likely because nobody can know what to do with material like this, that seemingly comes from the mind of an autistic methamphetamine addict.  Mr. Synder, you at least had a few actors with the capacity to feel something-- yet like the crazies\whores inside your grimly lit institution, they come across sad and depraved.

What depresses me most is that it appears, even in lavishly god-awful experiences like one-- which by the way appears stolen by Kill Bill, Inception, The Last Airbender, and nearly ever other tripping, mind bending, action adventure of the last ten years-- what distresses most is that you, Mr. Synder, obviously have that joie de vivre spirit that's so lacking in mainstream Hollywood, and while this blunder is major, and indeed it is major, I continue to be on the fence on whether your a future auetuerial wunderkund or hack.  I suppose Superman will settle the argument once and for all.  Good luck, and let's all try to get the unpleasant aftertaste of Sucker Punch out of our system.

Disgruntled Cinephile 

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...