Mar 24, 2011

I Guess... "Sucker Punch"


Welcome to I Guess. In an attempt to write more frequently on this blog, I will take a look every week at one of the more interesting looking movies coming out and personally critique it based on marketing, trailers, and my personal history with actors, directors, and sometimes script writers. My goal is that in doing this, I can better understand if I think the movie will be any good and determine it's longevity.

I doubt I will see every movie I will do in this, but I hope to make myself more aware and document hopefully movies that will enter the zeitgeist. I will also try to judge them before the social decision becomes official (remember when Speed Racer was supposed to be serious box office?) and Rotten Tomatoes calls it fresh or rotten.

So, let's begin with Sucker Punch, the latest from director Zack Snyder. For those that do not know, he is the mind behind 300, The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, and my favorite of his, Watchmen. The big draw of this movie is that this is his first go around at original source material.
In the right hands, the concept of original could be refreshing in a year where we'll see Captain America: The First Avenger or The Smurfs stink up cinemas worldwide. We have plenty of fresh, original films, but few come close to capturing box office acclaim as well as majority of the big budget action flicks that plague us with lazy script writing and damage Sam Worthington's career.
However, it can be argued that Snyder is the guy that you do not want making original material.
To put it forward, I have not seen all of Snyder's work (Dawn of the Dead being the major one), but have seen enough to understand his style: dark, somber lighting and colors mixed with sets that look like the bathrooms in Trainspotting. Since his characters are never original, I can only judge that they are those rebels who want to make a difference in society.
I first heard of Snyder with 300 through an aggressive MySpace campaign. I couldn't log onto the website without seeing Gerard Butler go over a cliff. Not being a fan of muscle-bound warriors, I waiting until HBO to see the movie, and even then, I wasn't impressed. Sure, "Tonight, we dine in hell!" and "This! Is! Spartaaa!" were clever lines, but I couldn't see myself really watching this ever again. It was well made, but the substance didn't do much for me.
The next big movie was Watchmen, which I initially admitted my normal cliche of "The book was better." At 2 hrs and 45 minutes, it was also a daunting movie that if the story didn't bug me, the length did. However, this movie grew on me and while I won't pull it out just for fun, it's one I can reference fondly. He did a great job on it, as daunting as the length is for me.
Then, the Owls of Ga'Hoole. I roll my eyes at this one. Watching owls fight officially made me loathe any of Snyder's upcoming work. The characters weren't exactly interesting, and while the a
nimation was beautiful, the trademark slow motion started to really bug me. I noticed it in Watchmen, but here, I managed to ask myself the necessity of each effect, which ended up feeling like an insult to the bullet time revolution sparked by the Matrix.

Which takes us to Sucker Punch.
Like every other nerd out there, I first heard about it through Comic Con. There were numerous banners displayed online of the characters in retro steam punk attire and holding guns. Even though I wasn't a fan of video games, I felt like I was looking at advertisements for the classiest strip club in San Diego.
Eventually, trailers emerged and I was kind of blown away with the rest of the world. Like Inception the summer before, I kept wondering what the hell I was watching and contemplated if I was judging it based on quality, the director, or the fact that it was sexy chicks jumping through the air with the greatest of ease.
As time passed, the footage kept emerging. Somehow, the novelty of it being this great, bizarre concept kept getting less and less appealing. The chicks were still sexy, but with each new second, I saw the Snyder trademarks fly out.
Since I am not yet at the point to believe Snyder is a genius, there became no draw for me to see this movie other than the unique look and the gimmick that it was an original story.

In truth, the latest trailer keeps the same what the hell vibe, but the creepy, dark look not to be mistaken for a Marilyn Manson video, wasn't enough to sell me. The concept of fighting a war in their head while they were stuck in an institution only reminded me of Green Day's "Castaway," and the fact of the matter is, as much as I love abstract concepts, fighting a war in your head to get out of a mental institution sounds pretty fucking stupid.
However, the chicks look sexy and the first original Snyder film gimmick does hold my interest to see just how well he can pull this off.
I don't know how, as even the concept of controlling the universe in their head feels illogical. Why do they need to fight warheads and kids with guns when they can go all Magneto on them and just save us the plot? I suppose it could be that there is no story and no fun in that.

The best I can hope for is that it will be an entertaining, female empowering tale with sexy chicks. I am not one to think Snyder is a big martial arts fan, but the trailers give me hope that he pulls off some sweet stylized violence a'la Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol. 1. He may not, as the movie is PG-13, but for the love of God, if this movie is to have any action, please make it more stylized than Watchmen. I feel this is the only thing the movie has going for it.
I would also like to think it has witty dialog. At least wittier than "If you'll stand for anything, you'll fall for anything." However, I don't feel witty dialog is Snyder's strong suit and the women will get some nice lines, but nothing memorable. In fact, I think the women are just used to live out Snyder's masturbatory fantasy of sexy chicks destroying metal.
As for the actresses? I have no real complaints. It is not that big of an issue, but I am still able to remember Vanessa Hudgens from High School Musical series and seeing her in some steam punk S&M creates a naughty feeling that I'm checking out Disney porn. Also, I assume this is Hudgens trying to break away from the cutesy Disney roles. I have no judgement on her, but let's hope it's more Anne Hathaway than Lindsay Lohan.
And Carla Gugino? The name probably doesn't ring a bell... yet. However, as a devout Apatowian, I remember her from Undeclared. Lately, she has appeared in a handful of work, including Elektra Luxx (which looks to be a better take on the Girl Next Door). I am not able to tell you about her post-Undeclared acting career, but I am intrigued to see what she can do. If anything, I hope she's not just there to be eye candy.
Jon Hamm as high roller? Ok, now I'm assuming this is Snyder's remake of the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and that this will be two hours of girls stripping. Now, that may be good for awhile, but if Burlesque taught us anything, it's that we also need plot. I doubt this will get by on looks alone.

Overall, I don't think this movie has much that I will remember about it. True, the twists that are in the trailer will give me some discussion, but I don't feel that they will be profound enough to make this more than another mediocre March release. I doubt this will even come close to being regarded as one of Snyder's best (I doubt he'll ever top Watchmen). And besides, I find him to be a stylized, mediocre director whose good for a view, but not a thought.
As this looks really stupid, I don't feel this will get stellar reviews and will be more feuded by nerds vs. general public. I think nerds for the most part will dislike it for it's pandering, while the general public will eat it up...
Or at least those who do see it. Snyder hasn't had a solid track history since 300. Even Owls of Ga'Hoole, his widest audience rated, hasn't turned much of a profit. While Watchmen was number one for awhile, the ridiculous budget made for hard to recover profits, as I doubt anyone remembered 300 for the director. I doubt the general public will go to Sucker Punch because of Snyder, too. My general consensus is, they'll go because the S&M steam punk sexy chicks kicking ass... not even plot will intrigue them.

The box office? I think it will be middling. While it's PG-13 and offers room for a wider audience, it may break budget, but it won't turn a profit. I feel this will be an example of rental success, even if no one will really talk about it other than to say "Oh yeah, I saw Sucker Punch. Came from Netflix yesterday."
It's only benefit is that at times, I felt I was watching another stupid Resident Evil trailer, which was a hit. I'm assuming that's what marketers are hoping as well. Of course, the only thing I'll admit is that the cast is hotter than Milla Jovovich.

As for awards? I assume the pithy awards like Teen Choice Awards (because of Vanessa Hudgens), People's Choice Awards, will at least respect it with nominations in ensemble and blockbuster categories. It'll get no recognition for script, but more it's stylized look, which is sure to also be the one girl's replacement of the five year running sexy nurse. However, at that party, only the drunk nerd there for no reason will get the costume.
And maybe, some Razzies recognition. Watchmen was considered for awards a few years ago, and since this isn't even on par with Watchmen, it stands a chance that if it is bad enough, it will get some hate spewed on the message board for being too cookie cutter and commercial, or something.

However, I would love to be proven wrong. This is just what I guess.

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