(USA 2011, director: Zack Snyder)
A new movie from a director whose other productions you like is always a tricky business. If the director only did a remake and some comic adaptations and now comes up with his own story, eyebrows are certainly raised (and after the Avatar disappointment ready to be stapled to the skin). But it’s Zack Snyder we’re talking about here, his newest action spectacle “Sucker Punch”. I didn’t know anything about it except for some trailer scenes. The only thing I read/heard was that it was another “violent nonsense” movie, so I was looking forward to that ;)… as his other movies (except for the excellent Watchmen) were nothing more than pure eye candy with lots of people dying. Nothing bad about that.
Unfortunately what made his movies so great was totally lacking in this one: The action scenes were boring, no blood whatsoever, and the style was nothing special either. In two scenes it was pretty clear that Snyder borrowed his “ideas” (if you can even call them that) from Japanese swordfighting games (like Ninja Blade, Bayonetta, Devil May Cry or any other where the protagonist wields a weapon/handgun and does acrobatics) or even more annoyingly the Killzone games (taking the same outfits/masks of the troops, only putting zombies in the trenches).
But all that aside the action scenes never offer any excitement which, I think, really has to do with the PG 13 rating. I recently read from a German critic (who called this movie a “violence porn” which it clearly wasn’t due to the lack of ANY bloody violence) that 18 minutes had to be cut. If those 18 minutes even remotely resemble the carnage Snyder showed in his other movies, that could have been an explanation. It’s also pretty weird that the toning down of bloody effects didn’t work in Germany, as it still got a 16+ age restriction… which is in no way comparable to other comic adaptations like Kick-Ass or Snyder’s own 300.
Still another major problem was the story and presentation itself: Even though the content is different, the storytelling reminded me a bit of Pan’s Labyrinth as the main protagonist escapes into different layers of reality/dreams. It’s an interesting idea, but the simple story and flat characters don’t work with this technique. There’s no real sense of danger, you never feel any real compassion for the characters, and in the end it’s just the different realities which keep you interested. But then again those sequences are so derivative of any originality and visual competence that there’s not much to hold the movie together. Only the soundtrack works quite well, as the first sequence with the “Sweet Dreams” cover song clearly shows.
All in all, it’s a highly disappointing and simply boring movie which might find some of its entertainment value when released as a longer Director’s Cut. Maybe then we’ll also get some deleted scenes which make the characters more likeable and the action sequences more suitable for the Snyder-fans.