Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sucker Punch

Undead zombie Nazis.  Giant red-eyed samurai.  Hot chicks. Fire-breathing dragons.  Evil robots on a train.  Big Guns.  Huge Bombs.  Fancy Swords.  Yes, it's fair to say that Sucker Punch managed to put a little bit of everything that a Geek loves onto the big screen this weekend.  After looking forward to this feast of over the top goodness for months, I finally went to see it on Sunday afternoon.  I went all out and sprang for the IMAX experience, including the extra $3 for online order processing.  (Why does it cost me more to buy tickets online than it does from an actual human?)  On Friday I couldn't wait to see it, despite critics giving it less than stellar reviews, but by Sunday, after hearing the opinions of "normal" folks I was bracing myself for disappointment.  Did I waste my money on this movie?  No, it was worth every penny.  Did I love this movie? Well.....

I saw Sucker Punch with four guys who I'd classify as hardcore Geeks.  They include an avid sci-fi and fantasy reader, a writer of a weekly newspaper column on all things Geek, a gamer with a LAN and custom built arcade cabinets in his basement and a guy who has a wardrobe consisting primarily of Geek t-shirts.  We are talking serious Geek Cred.  I've been going to movies with guys like this bunch for years, and when we see a Geek movie, typically we all leave the theater quoting lines, reliving scenes and generally oohing and aahing our way to our cars.  That didn't quite happen.  We all left liking the movie and happy with the experience.  Mr. LAN left loving it and wanting to see it again, mostly due to the hot chicks mentioned earlier.  We all thought it was visually amazing with battles scenes that made you cheer out loud.  I mean, there was a mech painted with a giant pink bunny, what's not to like?  But a movie isn't all about the pretty.  It has to have a story that connects with the audience.

This isn't an Oscar worthy film with a story so touching Oprah will be singing it's praises and hiding it under people's seats when it debuts on DVD, and that's okay.  The problem?  It felt like Sucker Punch desperately wanted to be that kind of movie.  The intense action was mixed with a story that tried to make me look deeper and figure out what was really happening, to see the women for who they were in the real world.  Unfortunately, the shoot 'em up glory just didn't mesh with the story in a way that made me feel for the characters.  Though the images are memorable, the characters are forgettable.  Finally, it all ends with a message you're left trying to piece together.  Everyone has an opinion on what the movie "means", what it was "trying to say" but no one has an answer.  In trying to make us all think, it failed to connect on that gut level where you go beyond just thinking that the zombie Nazis hanging from zeppelins are cool and move on to loving the characters and their story.  Without that connection even a beautiful movie falters.  If you haven't seen this, it's definitely worth checking out in theaters as long as you go for the eye-candy.  It's a feast for the eyes, but a sucker punch to the head.

12 comments:

  1. I went to see it with my daughter (17), and we both really liked it. The fact that it is a totally unique idea in movies is so refreshing, it is nothing like I expected and I really enjoyed the idea of it. The action scenes were amazing, and come on...Nazi Zombies! Whats not to love. :-)

    thanks

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  2. I don't know TFG.. I too went with a group of gamers and we had a totally different outlook. We loved it as the movie reminded us of our old RPG days where we had games whose story arcs were very similar in terms of action and the darkside factor.

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  3. @LordAlchemy I'm not surprised you all loved it! The action/darkside vibe was definitely well done and very much fell in line with the kinds of stories created while playing RPGs. I just didn't feel it connected on as many levels as it should have, or in as many ways as it tried.

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  4. @Nicole Waklin I guess I went in not expecting much like I did with 300 and the first Transformers movie and came away pleasantly surprised. I see your point about trying to connect to the characters though, I wish there was a back story for all 5 main characters but then we would be talking about a 4 hour movie which I wouldn't mind.. Maybe Zak will grace us with more history on the blueray

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  5. I felt the extensive use of slow motion ruined most of the action scenes. The story itself felt to convoluted and contrived to really hold my attention. Despite all the eyecandy I was pretty bored by most of this flick. Still, it was a fun night out with friends.

    BTW people. Nazi zombies? really? I hate to come off as a nitpicker but they're steam/ clockwork powered WW1 germans. I'd think the zeppelins, bi-planes and spiky helmets would be a dead giveaway.

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  6. @Roy The slow motion didn't bother me at all, in fact, a few times I felt that it really enhanced the moment. But that's just a matter of taste. You are absolutely right, though, I turned them into WWI Nazis. I think perhaps they were just so Evil (with a capital E) they seemed like they should have been Nazis. And despite the bi-planes and spiky helmets, they were, you know, undead zombies, so reality was in all sorts of suspension during that sequence anyway.

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  7. @Nicole Wakelin

    I agree there were moments in Sucker Punch where the use of some slow motion felt spot on. But other scenes were ALL slo-mo which destroyed the pacing and the sence of urgency for me.

    A lot of reviews refer to 'Nazi zombies'. I can somewhat imagine people get WW1 and WW2 mixed up, but I really didn't get a zombie vibe during the trenchscenes. It felt like a war movie to me. There were no shambling and moaning hordes of anything, just brutal combat in trenches.

    Maybe moviegoers were expecting zombies since they would've fit more in with the dragon and the killer robot themes.

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  8. @Roy There's a moment where someone says.. "they found away to bring their dead soldiers back" or something along those lines. I think that's where the zombie part comes from, once you have died and come back you're a zombie. Or a vampire. Oh, heck now I've confused myself!

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  9. @ Nicole Wakelin

    Ah yes, I forgot about that line. Point taken.
    Still, they didn't behave like zombies, having fine motorskills and all. Maybe they were revenant? ;)

    What did your husband think of the WW1 sceneby the way? I was reminded of the Dystopian Wars miniature game which I know Russ plays. Courtesy of the D6 Generation podcast.

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  10. @Roy Russ, Craig and the other guys really liked that scene. I can't remember who, but one of them did say it reminded them of their games come to life, and it really did have a Dystopian wars feel.

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  11. Just got back from watching it with a couple of guys. Our Verdict: well, I won't write it down here, but it wasn't good. The action scenes were terrible, the characters where as flat as my homecountry (the Netherlands), there was no connection, no sense of danger or urgency, and really, it was just one cliché after another. And that includes the steampowered zombies (definitely WW I, so they're not Nazi's ;o)).

    I've seen this film described as 'Brazil for teenage videogamers', and I can definitely agree with that. It did rather feel like I was watching a big videogame, and the Brazil link would be the surreal story itself, and the fact that it's all happening in the protagonists head.

    So, as much as I enjoyed watching the pretty girls wearing not very many clothes, and tought the first set piece (the giant samurai robots/things/whatever) was hilarious, I didn't think it was money or time well spent.

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  12. You really have to watch the direktor's cut to experience the full effect of this movie, the theatrical version cut stuff out that provides backstory and plot, just to fit the ratings...I for one loved this movie.

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