Iâ€™ve got beef with Zack Snyder. Out of feverish anticipation for his 2009 movie â€œWatchmen,â€ I picked up a copy of the brilliant Alan Moore graphic novel that itâ€™s based on, and was instantly won over by its compelling story and weighty ideas.
After 400 pages and a giant squid later, my hype for the â€œWatchmenâ€ movie was through the roof, and was just as easily taken away after I saw Snyderâ€™s hollow butchery of the excellent source material.
As difficult as it is to believe, Snyderâ€™s latest release, â€œSucker Punchâ€, actually reaches deeper depths of monotony than â€œWatchmenâ€ did.
Set in 1960s Vermont, â€œSucker Punchâ€ follows the tale of Baby Doll, (Emily Browning) a pale 20-year-old who is sent to a nondescript mental institution after she strikes her abusive stepfather in self-defense.
In order to survive the drudgery of the asylum, Baby Doll retreats into a fantasy world where the girls at the institution work gloriously at a brothel rather than die off in a loony bin.
In this dream world, she meets a busty Russian (with mole and all) who, of course, teaches the patients to â€œdanceâ€ in order to enter their â€œparadise.â€ Why not?
As Baby Doll first sways back and forth, she is transported to Feudal Japan where an indistinct wise man (Glenn Scott) instructs her that in order to escape, she must obtain five items; a map, fire, a knife, a key, and a mysterious fifth item that will reveal itself later on.
Baby Doll collaborates with the other girls at the asylum to enter various multi depth dream worlds and fight the enemies within to obtain each of the items.
Unfortunately, these paradise world sequences are essentially the only draw for the movie. They allow Snyder to utilize his patented slow motion and comic book visual style to his heartâ€™s content, something that he is very adept at.
On a purely aesthetic level, â€œSucker Punchâ€ knocks it out of the park. But regarding the script and story elements, the movie is hollow and brutally mundane.
Snyderâ€™s script (which he co-wrote) drags on at a seemingly third-grade reading level, speaking in bizarre abstract aphorisms such as â€œif you donâ€™t stand for something, youâ€™ll fall for anything.â€ I feel smarter.
Because of the weak script, the characters in â€œSucker Punchâ€ are forgettable and hard to care about. Snyder tries to mask this by putting in as little dialogue as possible, which ultimately makes the film feel awkwardly unbalanced.
When the characters enter the paradise fighting sequences, it feels like watching someone else play a video game. They have all the fun while the audience sits there feeling uninvolved.
Surprisingly, given Snyderâ€™s â€œ300â€ roots, â€œSucker Punchâ€ goes for a less mature audience; no blood, no nudity even though the girls are wearing stripper clothes the entire time. This decision was ill advised—just imagine if â€œ300â€ depicted a bloodless, impeccably clean tale.
â€œSucker Punchâ€ validates Zack Snyderâ€™s fall as a director. He can sure make things look pretty, but when push comes to shove, thatâ€™s just not enough.
Movie reviewer Jason Berlinberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonberlinberg.