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Thursday, March 31, 2011 04:45 pm

Suckerpunch an empty visual exercise

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With an effective remake of a horror classic (Dawn of the Dead), a highly stylized historical epic (300), and a vibrant but botched comic book film (Watchmen) under his belt, director Zack Snyder has emerged as one of the most imaginative visual stylists in Hollywood today. His skill at painting with pixels is on full display with Suckerpunch, a film with so much eye candy, viewers may go into diabetic shock. Taking place in a gothic insane asylum as well as the over-stimulated mind of one of its characters, all bets are off as Snyder’s imagination runs wild. He creates a divine detailed drabness with the gray palette he paints the madhouse with, while zombie soldiers, fire-breathing dragons and gigantic samurais stride mightily across his articulated fantasy worlds. And let’s not forget that his heroines are dressed to thrill as well.

Too bad Snyder’s script is as immature and underdeveloped as his images are overwrought. The story, such as it is, is nonsensical as it involves Baby Doll (Emily Browning), a young woman who needs to flee the madhouse she’s been sent to in five days before her scheduled lobotomy takes place. However, she’s able to escape into her dream world where she and her fellow inmates participate in adventures, which mirror their real life efforts to get the instruments they need to set themselves free. It’s far more complicated than it needs to be and is, frankly, quite silly.

The six women at the film’s center sport names like “Sweet Pea” and “Rocket” and don’t believe Snyder’s assertion that this is a film about female empowerment; they wouldn’t be dispatching their enemies in short skirts and high heels if this was about smart strong women. No, this is an adolescent boy’s fever dream come to life where every woman is a sex object/warrior populating a gamer’s universe who looks great whether wielding a machine gun or her cleavage. Snyder tips his misogynistic hand when the film’s final act takes a cruel, sadistic turn. While he may think his pictures are worth a thousand words, they mean nothing without logic to back them up.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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