Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The "Sucker Punch" Syndrome

I’m probably going to get burned at the stake for this one, but here goes…

Last night we went to see Sucker Punch at the theatre. Truth be told, I’ve been looking forward to this movie ever since I laid eyes on the initial trailer, so I was disappointed to see that it had garnered a whopping 11% on rotten tomatoes, and many scathing reviews. Still, we plunged onward with our plan to watch and enjoy the latest and greatest from visual-ultra-stylist Zack Snyder.

I loved it.

Here’s the thing. When I went to the theatre to watch Repo Men or The Losers I expected loud explosions, plenty of hero shots and a few dialogue zingers. Car chases, muscled men in tight black t-shirts, and a possible damsel in distress all fall within the realm of acceptable and expected elements.

When my girlfriends decided that “He’s Just Not That Into You” was next up for girls night, I expected love scenes, game playing, fashionable shoes and the break-it-right-before-you-make-it relational climax. Witty banter, misguided sex, and self exploration are all on the menu.

What I did not expect from any of these movies was depth of character, intricate plot twists or details, multi-layered story arcs, or anything else worthy of an academy award. This is why it astounds me when people slap Sucker Punch with a sour review claiming “I expected so much more.” Really? Because, you saw the same trailer I did, right? The one where a blonde girl named “Babydoll” wears a two piece Sailor suit and kicks Nazi-Zombies to the curb in an imaginary dream world? And you expected that to be what…Inception?

I feel like this one was all about expectation. People saw 300 and said “Zack Snyder is a visionary director with groundbreaking new visual techniques” then they saw The Watchmen and said “Snyder did the impossible, and made the movie that ‘could not be made’ and people LIKED it” (granted many also hated it, but that’s a whole different sack of hammers). Then Sucker Punch was announced, and it seemed like there was a whole stream of people who decided that this would be the next link in the evolutionary chain of Zac Snyder films.

Sometimes, a movie is just a movie. Cotton candy. Buttery Popcorn. When you go to McDonald’s, you don’t expect a steak. When you go to the Keg, you don’t order a Salisbury steak. It’s all about reading the menu and knowing what’s being served. I guess what I’m getting at is that Sucker Punch earned a bad rap because people chose to write their own future for it, before they saw it for what it was.

Yes, the movie had problems. Yes there were a few shoddy connections, and more than a few moments that left me wanting. But you know what? By the end I didn’t care, because I was fully engaged in a no holds barred, action-packed thrill ride…with girls….and burlesque…and awesome music. I went to Sucker Punch to be entertained. That was it. It achieved that, and I’d watch it again tonight. Just because it doesn’t fall under the genre-tastic über classifiers like Action or Chick Flick, doesn’t mean it can’t just be fun, outrageous, and awesome.

For what it was, and what it was meant to be, I give Sucker Punch both my thumbs up. Just don’t go in with your box of tissues expecting the Kings Speech. That one is probably still playing just down the hall, where Oscar lives.

--HUGE props for this go to Derek Langer for Inceptioning this post’s idea into my head (Somebody better be adding that word to Urban Dictionary right now) and talking this whole post out with me. Twice. --


  1. I loved this movie to, will see it again. The best movie since inception. I love Zack Snyders point of view.

  2. Impressive! I must admit that this is one of the most well written reviews of Sucker Punch I have read to date. It may even trump my own. Fantastic insight and use of comparative cinema- expectation always leads to resentment.

  3. Thanks for the kind words. I would love to read your review - is it posted?

  4. Cheering work. Many will like it. Thanks.

  5. Pertinent post. Needs to be available. Thanks.

  6. Significant article. Keep going for another. Thanks.

  7. Important work. I appreciate it. Thanks.

  8. Such work is demanding. Very good. Thanks.

  9. Eligible work. Worthy of applause. Thanks.