Mar 28, 2011

"Sucker Punch", Indeed.

I'm not the person people turn to to ask for opinions on movies. I don't watch a whole bunch of movies, and I'll pretty much watch any movie regardless of they look nice or not. So, if you want to stop reading now, it's fine by me, because I am going to write about what I saw in "Sucker Punch", and it might spoil your appetite to watch it. Why am I writing this? I think its probably because I watched it twice and I still can't love it.

What the hell is wrong with it?

One, there are five huge elements of eye-candy up there in the screen. Two, the action is over the top. Three, its visually stunning. Four, the weapons and ass-kicking are nice. Finally, there's a happy ending (kinda), plus there's a twist in the story (kinda). So what's wrong?

Oh yeah, the story.

Encik Snyder has already made a few movies before this, and one of them I love the most is "300". (It was something new for me... plus 300 half-naked men with rippling muscles? What's not to like? Ahahaha!) If you've been reading movie reviews, you won't be surprised to hear that Encik Snyder makes beautiful-looking movies that are weak at the storytelling department.

Now, I love a good story. It doesn't matter if it has a trick ending, or if it's complicated. A good story is a good story no matter how it is told. What makes a good story for me? There's a purpose or a goal (it doesn't matter if the hero manages to achieve it or not) that I can sympathize with. I can feel sorry for the hero or root for him. What makes a great story? For the story to have a heart. You know what I mean; it's when you can feel the movie inside out. (And maybe you do feel that way for this movie, who knows.)

Make no mistake, "Sucker Punch" has a story. A haphazard one, but a story is nonetheless there. I feel that if they cut up the movie into small, bite-sized pieces, this is what you'd get:

The first story would be a Cerekarama-like story of a little a girl and her sister, trying to survive a lecherous step dad. One night after their mother passed away, the Big Mean Stepdad wanted to do something nasty to the little sister, but big sister took the Stepdad's gun to kill him. Something happens and she accidentally killed lil sis instead. Big sis got the blame and Stepdad throws her into an insane asylum. The End.

The second story would be about a girl convicted of a crime she accidentally committed, trying to find a way to escape the high security asylum while picking up some comrades along the way and dodging crazy wardens. The End.

The third story is set in an action packed future/past fantasy world where steam powered Nazi zombies, dragons and Tengu samurais exist, and it's up to five extraordinary girls to stop the raging war to find peace and harmony in the land. The End.

The fourth story would be a Hallmark TV movie about an old man who is really an angel trying to save the soul of one delusional girl named Sweet Pea with quirky advices like "if you don't believe in something you'd fall for anything", and in the end she rode into the sunset in a bus after finally getting freedom. The End.

See? With stories like these, how can Encik Snyder go wrong?

Boleh. Bolehhhh. By not knowing how to stitch these four separate stories all together and create something you can connect with. Maybe, he took different scripts and put it in a shredder and then pieced them together. The question here is: what is Sucker Punch about really?

Female empowerment? Then why give the characters slutty clothes, heavy make-up, and cheap names like 'Baby Doll', 'Sweet Pea' and 'Blondie'? Why are all the women treated badly by the men in the movie and then die when they fight them? Okay, so the women kick ass, use heavy artillery, katanas, guns, even a cute mecha. But when I think about it, do women need tools (dangerous ones at that) to feel empowered? Don't give me shit like "Oh, its to be ironic." The only thing this movie got right was not showing 'the pleasure of fighting and killing on the girls faces.

Anti-establishment? Not really, they never truly win over the 'system'. They got her in the end.

Women's point of view/voices? Nope. Sorry. It didn't show or feel anything like that. What it did show was how a man might think a woman might think. Degrading to women adalah.

PG-rated porn? Have we stooped so low? Pushing the boundaries of what's okay and what's not in movies? Showing titillating scenes but not actually showing the whole package? Has Zack Snyder found a niche? Will there be a deluge of movies like that in the future? Like "porn for tweens"?

What? What is it about? Maybe I'm not that experienced in watching movies, but I know what I like and what I don't like. I felt cheated for a number of things: no actual dancing done by Baby Doll, no more scenes that gave me goosebumps after the title sequence, the poor choice of casting Vanessa Hudgens, the feeling of repetitiveness until I can guess what's coming up come next, the distracting songs after the samurai fight, Baby Doll's ending (really? a kick in the groin is her last action sequence and then she turns into a vegetable? I was expecting a Molotov cocktail at least. Why didn't they use the lighter till the end?). So many things...

If I watch a movie, I want to cheer for my hero, even if he's an anti-hero. I want to get the feeling deep in my heart that he's going to be fine in the end, that nothing can stop him, or that he'd need to make a sacrifice but its okay because it''s for the good of others. I want to laugh and cry and boo and hiss when I watch movies. But "Sucker Punch" was only like that till the temple fight with the Tengu samurais, which gave me a lot of hope. But the ending, even with the "twist", was nowhere near as good as the beginning. Sure it was pretty, it was also easy to understand (its color coded for convenience between reality and fantasy), but lord I was hoping for so much more.

I told my brother my opinion on this movie and he said "What makes a human different from an animal? What makes God choose us over his angels? The ability to make a choice. Free will."
This movie is all about choices, both good and bad. You keep on making them if it kills you. You may have the tools to go through life (in this movie: the map, the fire, the knife, the key) but you are still the decisive element in your life.You make that choice of how your life is going to be.

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