Friday, March 25, 2011

Sucker Punch

There was a time when good storytellers were considered the best filmmakers. Afterall, filmmaking combines many art forms to produce a story interpreted by the brain through the eyes and ears. At the core of good storytelling is a story worth telling, a story clearly and concisely told. Accomplishing that requires great discipline and a large, steaming cauldron of intuition.

Then along came pseudo-directors like Zach Snyder. Canonized for being some sort of filmmaking genius, Snyder made Dawn of the Dead (his best film), 300 (unwatchable!) and Watchmen (I liked it). Two of them made money. He was lauded -- and still is -- for his "incredible visual style", so Warner Bros., caught up in this commercial cocksucking of the ADD-ridden "auteur", tossed him piles of money to come up with something "original". Well, Sucker Punch, a soup of a hundred influences, is that beast. Trouble is, it's about as original as fornication.

Its growing dung heap of bad reviews have compared it to Kill Bill. To be fair, Kill Bill is also a beast of many fathers, but Tarantino's strength is that he can take his influences, chew them up, and spit them out as something much closer to an orginal synthesis. Snyder can't do that. Snyder has difficulty doing anything beyond creating pretty pictures.

Sucker Punch is a dreadful, multi-layered mess. Every image is processed to the point of banality. Every sound is reprocessed, sweetened, and hammered to pancake flatness. If this guy were presented with a real vagina, I reckon he'd cut away the clit, remove the lips, and create a perfect Barbie crotch.

Sucker Punch is the Barbie crotch of action movies. It has no taste. It doesn't kick or moan when you stroke it. It doesn't get wet. It doesn't get nasty. And when you suck it, it tastes like plastic.

Once again, here is proof that video game action doesn't work in a feature length movie. When you're a passive observer, you need more than endless, mindless motion that signifies nothing, but thinks it's the second fucking coming. Movies require involving stories with interesting characters. Movies are not and will never be giant versions of video games. Video games are played and interacted with. Movies are watched. There's a difference. A big fucking difference. Why is that so hard to understand?

For mine, the film's only saving grace is the fetishistic representation of the film's young and fresh fighting femmes. They're a very sexy lot and they acquit themselves well under the circumstances. For a film rated PG-13 by the MPAA, the eroticization of the ladies goes about as far as studio influence will allow.

Snyder, interviewed yesterday by the LA Times, was keen to point out that the fetishization of his actresses was an "empowerment" statement, not "exploitation" disguised. I'm keen to respond to that with: "Save your bullshit for the suits, sunshine. Liars buy the bullshit of other liars, but I dont."

Why do we continue to pretend that nothing is actually about sex when almost everything is about sex? Especially anything that influenced this rotten marriage of a thousand superior influences.

Why are depictions of anybody's sexual bits automatically assumed to be exploitation? Exploitation of whom? The adult actress who was forced to perform at gunpoint? Give me a break! Humans are sexual creatures. We're all here because of sex. Sex is fun. Sex is natural. If you have a problem with that, then let's look at your upbringing... or your religion. Just get your hang-ups out of my face.

At least real porn is honest.


  1. Fuck yeah. This movie looks like eye-rape. Everything's just tossed into the mix. "Empowerment" my ass. Last night's "30 Rock" got it right on a satiric movie poster: TRANSFORMERS 5: PLANET OF THE EARTH. "Written by no one!"

  2. Will -- "written by no-one" is right!

  3. The first time I saw the trailer for this, I thought, "This thing looks absolutely awful." As the hype around it expanded, I thought maybe it would be so bad it was awesome.

    Obviously I was wrong. Or right the first time. Whatever. All I know is I'm not seeing it!

  4. Hilarious. Thank you for this.
    Reviewing The Beasts as I speak


  5. Chris -- you were right the first time. I was also hoping that it would be very different to my first impression.


    Soiled -- I look forward to your BEASTS review.

  6. Deep insight into a womans nether regions....

  7. jervaise brooke hamsterMarch 25, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    Phantom, the last 3 paragraphs of your reveiw once again proves that we are indeed living in "THE TIME OF SEXUAL REPRESSION" as instigated by that ocean of lies and hypocrisy known as Hollywood. By the way, i want to bugger Baby Doll (and i know you do as well)...Oh...Emily...Emily...what an incredible bird...WOW...COR...WEY-HEY.

  8. jervaise brooke hamsterMarch 26, 2011 at 2:20 AM

    Phantom, although Emily Browning is a gorgeous chick i actually think that when she appeared in the ludicrously under-rated horror movie "Ghost Ship" at the age of 12 she was even more stunning and desirable than she is now at the age of 22.

  9. It's supposedly a movie that features hot chicks firing machine guns while wearing stockings, yet I'm not interested. Weird.

    They should use your wicked Barbie crotch bit in the film's ad campaign. Sure, it has slightly negative overtones, but it's probably funnier than anything in the actual movie.

  10. You have a way with words! I will never think of a doll crotch the same way again :P

  11. jervaise brooke hamsterMarch 27, 2011 at 2:31 AM

    Phantom, i liked the last line of your reveiw, "at least real porn is honest", that suggests that you are starting to finally agree with what i`m always saying about the fact that we are all living in "THE TIME OF SEXUAL REPRESSION" because by saying "at least real porn is honest" you are admitting perhaps that pornography is the ONLY thing in our society that is truly honest and that everything else is a hideous lie and deception (which it is by the way, believe me).

  12. Porn is honest? Where does porn mention the addiction, the drug use, the underground dregs & sleaze merchants that make/distribute the stuff, AIDS, prostitution, broken relationships,etc. That's sort of idiotic...

  13. Anonymous -- porn doesn't mention the consequences, but doesn't pretend to even care. That's why it's honest. The mainstream pretends it cares about the "family" and not sexualizing children, etc., but it doesn't. That's why it's dishonest. There are no more instances of sleaze merchants/drugs/addiction in porn than in the mainstream. In fact, the mainstream is much worse. Porn is essentially about turning people on with sexual images. That's it. Perhaps you should consider the hypocrisy of international corporations who sell "dreams", yet exploit third world labor.

  14. jervaise brooke hamsterMarch 28, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    Phantom i couldn`t have explained it better to that Anonymous idiot myself, well done geezer. By the way, i think its also important to girl-tion (once again) that the only reason all that pain and misery (that the Anonymous com-girl-ter was talking about) exists in our society to begin with is because we are all living in "THE TIME OF LIES, HYPOCRISY AND SEXUAL REPRESSION", one of the most vile and horrifying times in history to have been born into. Sexual repression destroys people and nations just like Religion and Communism, if you edit all the sexual repression out of a society all the pain and suffering in that society will disapear very quickly as well, of that there is no question.

  15. I squirmed in my seat when the movie opened to a long no-dialogue sequence where the only sound is "Sweet Dreams". It reminded me of watching a music video where your teenage friends try desperately to convince you that "It means something!"

    At some point I did wonder if this movie would have been enjoyable if they cut out the asylum and the whorehouse and just stuck to a Sailor Moon commando story in a freaky combat world. It just seemed weird that the most visually interesting part of the movie was also the most plot inconsequential due to just being dream sequences.

    My wife said that her favorite part of the movie was the Captain America trailer.

  16. I want to bake you a cake just for writing, "the Barbie Crotch of movies." Fantastic work and nailed all of my fears about this movie. I loved THE WATCHMEN but will take a pass on this.

  17. Yum-yum -- It was my first thought. Everything interesting had been sanded off it.


    Toxaemia -- just telling it like I see it. Thanks.


    Shon -- the "Sweet Dreams" sequence made me very irritable. I didn't mind the back story, but hated the way it was "sweetened" with the song.

    Sailor Moon would have been a better focus.

    Your wife has some taste (so to speak).


    MondoHeather -- I'm up for cakes any day! I liked WATCHMEN, too, but I credit Mr. Moore with most of my happy feelings for that. But it's as good an adaptation as I'd expected. SUCKER PUNCH was worse than I expected, even though I was hoping against intuition that it would prove me wrong.

  18. Nice scathing write-up. I can't handle many CGI spectacles these days. I've just had enough. The experience is like having your soul sucked out, while your senses and mind are being beaten into a state of catatonic numbness. I'm not exaggerating when I say that seeing these movies in a cinema makes me feel anxious and depressed.

    And I don't mean anxious and depressed about the state of mainstream cinema or anything. I mean there is literally something about the behind the scenes cynicism; the market-driven shallowness; the slick, homogenised perfection (where even dirt and grime look "over-produced") - that sucks the life out of the room and makes me feel low.

    It's amazing to me that what amounts to the ultimate visual tool (and opportunity) to express human imagination is producing this shit that's so TRITE.

    I'm very grateful for a lot of what computers have given us, but I've been giving it some thought recently and I'm starting to think that they are dangerously ruinous for many of the visual arts. For all the freedom that Photoshop has given us, it's made graphic design bland, predictable and THE SAME - be it produced in Sydney or Timbuktu.

    Case in point: movie posters. They used to be creative and beautiful. Now they're all the same. Obviously the dreadful Photoshop montages... but even this new trend of retro-styled, minimalist posters all look like they were done in Adobe Illustrator (or whatever the current equivalent is)... BECAUSE THEY ALL WERE!

    Ditto for CGI. You used to have FX houses that produced distinctive work. Now all of them use the same software... that has the same "smoke" or "texture" or "fire" filter... which looks the same in every movie.

    Product placement is more important than telling a story for these fucks.

    It's the WALMART-isation of our imaginations.

    Sorry to rant at you, as I said I've been giving this some thought recently.

  19. Nobody can concoct a pussy metaphor like you, Mark. Brilliant review as usual.

    @jervais brooke hamster--You're starting to freak me the fuck out and that's no small feat.

  20. Aylmer -- I'm totally with you. All this overpolished nonsense is depressing but it lacks something we're all very comfortable with -- reality!

    "Trite", your shrewdly chosen word, is the result.

    I, too, hate the contemporary movie posters. I love the old painted and illustrated posters. I loved their impressionistic splendor. The way they conveyed a mood without revealing anything important. Trailers are the same now. They are summaries of the movie. Major plot points are revealed in these trailers. When you watch the movie, everything but the last twenty minutes is already known and expected. There are no surprises.

    Who the fuck started this awful trend?

    To these "fucks", product placement is more important. The movie is merely a thing to hang product from. Ugh!

    Don't apologize for ranting. That's why we're here. YOu're free to do that any time.

  21. A honest review. Some folks might call it vulgar but it is sucker punch that is the true vulgarity.

    Lazarus Lupin
    art and review

  22. I couldn't believe various friends of mine got excited about this on Facebook. And *I'm* the schmuck because I like to post trailers and scenes from NIGHT MOVES, THE LONG GOODBYE, EMMANUELLE, THE LAST DETAIL or vintage Woody Allen when I get drunk?!