Sucker Punch – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn

Synopsis: A young woman is attacked by her stepfather following her mother’s death, as he is in a rage over the daughters inheriting and not himself.   During this attack, the woman accidentally kills her younger sister, and the stepfather takes this as an opportunity to have her committed to a mental asylum.   He bribes a staff member to have her assigned for a lobotomy, which is to occur in five days time.   The girl retreats into a fantasy world wher she is trapped in a bordello.   She adopts the persona Baby Doll, and attempts an escape with her fellow inmates.

A review by Film Nerd.

Finally, I am really starting to eat into my list of genre films I wished to see this year, with my third from that list being seen in as many weeks.   Sucker Punch has been in cinemas for many weeks, and I have had the chance to read a few reviews myself before seeing it.   Many were scathing, portraying the film as little more than a teenage boy’s fantasy.   This accusation was levelled due to the fetishistic costumes worn by the five lead actresses, as well as an almost video game style of action to the proceedings.

Both of these accusations are far from invalid, but in my experience of the film, I thought that labelling the films quality on these points alone over-simplified what Snyder was trying to portray with this film.   This is his first film that is not either a remake (Dawn of the Dead), or based on a graphic novel (300, Watchmen).   He has succeeded in his first attempt at doing something original to achieve just that, a truly unique piece of cinema.   I make no claims that this originality opens it to a wide audience, but it deserves a wider audience than just teenage boys.

To go into more detail, the majority of the film is set in the fantasy realm of the bordello, yet it then descends into further fantasy scenarios that are fantasies within the fantasy.   So far, so Inception.   At each level of fantasy, yes the outfits worn do correlate with recognisable fetishistic stereotypes, such as the french maid, the nurse, and the too short sailor outfit.   However, the costumes as designed are no worse than costumes routinely seen on-screen in modern cinema.   Also, to accuse Snyder of doing this out of chauvinistic elements should recall that he had his largely male cast wear a lot less in 300.   This costuming is also not ENTIRELY gratuitous.   The bordello is not a setting of titillation, yet it is a representation of their prison the girls are inhabiting in the asylum.   In a way, the outfits are a symbol of the bondage they are seeking to break free from.   They do look cool, and they do show flesh, but as i said, to leave comments left at that alone is a little incomplete.

As for the film playing like a video game, the fact is the style is well within keeping with Snyder’s style as represented by 300 and Watchmen.   This style is most represented on the second level of fantasy, with the girls fighting steam-punk nazis, dragons and robots.    The action is over the top, mind-blowing, and visually stunning.   They do advance the plot, sometimes just barely, yet later in the film this technique is turned on its own head in a fascinating way, that actually ends up being a stunning way to advance the plot.   Speaking of which, the plot itself unravels to be quite clever and emotional, and I am inclined to agree with the starlets that this film can be viewed as quite empowering, and perhaps not just in a girl power sence, but it may just prove empowering for those teenage boys that come for the visuals, especially if they are victims of bullies or of generally being ostracised from their peers.

As for performances, they are uniformly brilliant.   Emily Browning I found somewhat wooden at times, but as the film progresses that is actually quite appropriate for the character, and when she is required to play anguish or strength, she does so successfully.   Abbie Cornish, the other Aussie, does even better, and perhaps is just as much of a lynchpin in the film as Browning.   Malone steps up to the plate with these two, and carves a strong identity of her own.   Hudgens and Chung are left a little wanting as a result, but still manage to show singular moments of individual talent.   The external characters all play their roles, but only two more are really worth special mention,   Carla Gugino brings a quite but subjugated power to her role as Doctor to the patients/Mistress of Bordello.   Hardly a surprise as she is always brilliant.   Jon Hamm gets little screen time, but he makes it count, especially in his final scene.   He certainly reminded me to get off my butt and start watching Mad Med season 2.

The setting and the filming techniques make this film very easy to label from a superficial point of view.   While the critics were not wowed, I am getting the impression that audiences are.   As always I link the trailer below.   If the visuals are immediately off-putting and deter you, avoid the film.   But if it sparks a curiosity, give it a look.   I am inclined to think you will have an enjoyable two hours

4 stars out of 5

Sucker Punch on IMDB

Sucker Punch on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=]

Upcoming Genre Films for 2011 Part Deux – A Preview by Film Nerd

First of all thanks to Urban Fantasist for that awesome post.   Consider my appetite whetted.   As you referred to yourself though, there are certain tastes of mine that were not catered to, so here is a preview of 2011 from the perspective of someone who collected comics in high school.

I will be using the same list as Urban Fantasist from io9, but I will extend from there a little bit from a post by blastr featuring the top 55 trailers for films coming out in 2011.   I will of course avoid overlap between these lists.

The Green Hornet (io9, blastr)     January 14

A remake of the series that first captured hearts on radio serials then on television, featuring a rich guy turned vigilante.   The character was created by the guy who brought us The Lone Ranger, and at one point in the radio series it was indicated that the Hornet is descendant of the Ranger.   Directed by Michael Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame, it could prove interesting.

I Am Number Four (io9, blastr)     February 18

A group of nine aliens hiding out as teenagers on Earth are hunted down for extermination by the government.   With three down, this film follows the story of the fourth to be targeted.    Based on a novel of the same name.

The Adjustment Bureau (io9, blastr)     March 4

Matt Damon plays a congressman destined for big things, before he meets and falls for Emily Blunt’s ballerina.   He was supposed to never meet her again, but somehow does, and falls in love with her.   The mysterious agency of the title steps in to prevent the relationship, and put our heroes life back on the set path.   Escaping, running, and hiding ensues….

Battle: Los Angeles (io9, blastr)     March 11

Gritty war film with hand-held camera work with visceral closeups, etc.   Oh yeah, and humans are fighting aliens.   Sounds like a great big B-movie, but with a cast headlined by Aaron Eckhart, may prove a hidden gem.

Red Riding Hood (io9, blastr)     March 11

Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman star in this retelling of the classic tale, with the wolf recast as a werewolf connected the past of she with the hood.   Don’t know how Urban Fantasist missed that one, sounds like her cup of tea!!

Paul (io9, blastr)     March 18

Comedy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, as two mates on an American road trip that meet foul mouth alien Paul, voiced by Seth Rogen.   Some of the gags on the trailer are foul, but delightfully so!!

Sucker Punch (io9, blastr)     March 25

A film by Zack Snyder, who previously brought us 300 and Watchmen.   He does have a talent for absolute visual splendour on-screen, and the trailers indicate this will be no different.   It is hard to get a grasp on what it is about, but seems to be the story of five girls attempting to escape the clutches of evil authority in a mental asylum…or is it a war zone???   Or a bordello??

Super (io9, blastr)     April 1

Okay, so the concept of this sounds very similar to Kick-Ass… average bloke dons a costume to fight crime.   So lacking in originality on that count perhaps.   Just watch the clip posted on blastr though and I dare you not to show some interest!!

Hanna (blastr only) April 8

Eric Bana’s ex-CIA agent trains daughter Saoirse Ronin to be the perfect assassin, with the goal to target Cate Blanchett.    A lot of talent there in that sentence, and a pretty cool concept to boot.    The trailer also kicks butt!!

Your Highness (io9, blastr) April 8

Danny McBride and James Franco reteam with the director of Pineapple Express to star as royal brothers on a rescue mission… a comedy that drags Natalie Portman and my favourite Zooey Deschanel along for the ride.   I am still giggling at the trailer… “What a coincidence, I was just about to finish thinking of you!!”   Hehe.

Thor (io9, blastr)     May 6

The Norse god is exiled to Earth, as reimagined by Marvel Comics.   Mjolnir was spotted after the credits to Iron Man 2, resulting in my second Nerdgasm for that film.   Those that don’t know that this is part of building towards Joss Whedon’s The Avengers should be stripped of their geek badge immediately!!

X-Men: First Class (io9 only)     June 3

The second Marvel movie for 2011.   With James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and January Jones on board, and Kick-Ass’ Michael Vaughn directing, can we put the travesty of X-Men: The Last Stand behind us???

Green Lantern (io9, bkastr)     June 17

A film based on a DC universe second tier hero.   Ryan Reynolds is good casting, but the CGI costume is still a little off-putting for me.   However, has the potential to be the next Iron Man, whom was one of Marvel’s second tier heroes.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two (io9, blastr)     July 15

You really want a synopsis for this one?

Captain America: The First Avenger (io9 only)     July 22

The source of my first Nerdgasm in Iron Man 2 was spotting Captain America’s shield partially constructed in Tony Stark’s work room.   Like Thor, this is building to Whedon’s The Avengers, and has Chris Evans donning the tights in what can only be called great casting!

Cowboys and Aliens (io9, blastr)     July 29

James Bond and Indiana Jones!!   The old west!!   Aliens!!    Daniel Craig waits from unconsciousness with a strange device on his arm.   Harrison Ford plays the villain of the piece, that teams with Craig when the bigger threat arrives.   Why didn’t they think of this earlier???

The Thing (io9 only)     October 14

Prequel to John Carpenter’s iconic original.   Stars Joel Edgerton, and personal favourite Mary Elizabeth Winstead, last seen in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Sherlock Holmes 2 (io9, blastr)     December 16

Downey Jr. and Law return to 221B Baker Street, this time to face the infamous Professor Moriarty.   Be warned, blastr screwed up, the trailer from the first film, not the first trailer for the second!!

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (io9 only) December 23

Steven Spielberg directs his first fully motion capture film.   Peter Jackson produces.   They will be swapping roles for the sequel!!   Stars Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.   Some writing was even done by Doctor Who‘s Steven Moffatt!! Add that element of retro charm and I am sold!

Man, that is a lot of movies…. I hope Bride of Film Nerd doesn’t kill me when we need a second mortgage!!


Yes Man (2008) – A review by Film Nerd

Director: Peyton Reed

Cast: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Darby, Sasha Alexander, Rocky Carroll, Terence Stamp

Synopsis: Carl Allen (Carrey) never recovered from a broken romance and lives a life of apathy, and as a result seclusion, given that he never accepts any invitations from his friends.   After bitterly disappointing his best friend (Cooper), he attends a seminar on saying yes, conducted by an out of control inspirational speaker (Stamp).   Carl then starts saying yes to everything, finding he only has bad luck when he refuses an offer.   Of course, this leads to many outlandish events in his life.

A review by Film Nerd.

Jim Carrey has a life intervention by( his son/old colleague) giving him absolutely no option but to (tell the truth/say yes to everything) until (the end of the day/forever…?).   Yes, in many ways this film is a repackaged Liar Liar, with the most significant difference being the fact Carrey has clearly aged.   If you liked Liar Liar, there is plenty of entertainment in this film, even if there is an occasional sense of repetition.   Suffice it to say though, if Liar Liar was not your thing, there is little fresh here to keep you in front of the screen

This film is based on a book by Danny Wallace, who did take up the challenge of saying yes to every offer put in front of him.   It is a loose adaptation though, given the opportunity for comedy that this scenario presents.   Overall, I would say this is to the benefit of the film, as any good comedy is about escapism.   What does let it down though is that the sheer level to which the saying yes challenge was accepted does feel at times unrealistic, particularly when ordered by love interest Deschanel to get away.    How could this not be to the deficit of our lead character??   So while there are many good laughs here, the film is a bit uneven.

A major improvement of this film over its predecessor is the fantastic supporting characters.   Rhys Darby’s Norm is a special one, a little nerdy bundle of energy who throws Harry Potter and 300 parties.   Maybe I like him given I see some of myself in the character, throwing an annual James Bond party myself.   But despite his ineptness as a boss, he is just a really likeable guy.   Bradley Cooper I would have loved to have seen on-screen more, having been a fan since Alias, but this was before The Hangover and his name at this time was not enough to get bums on seats.   Stamp gets just the right amount of screen time though, being a great impact player for his scenes.   The final cast member worth mention is a personal favourite actress of mine, Zooey Deschanel.   She plays cute as a button yet slightly odd characters with great skill, and the film feels like it steps up a notch when she is involved.

So how to rate this one??   It is a tough call, but I will be putting it in the mid-range.   While watching, I found if quite enjoyable, and had many chuckles and even a belly laugh or two.   The criticisms already listed come more from reflection getting ready to write this review.   But to decide to rent it or not, it is simple.   If you want more of Liar Liar, jump on in and see this one.

3 stars (out of a possible 5)

Yes Man on IMDB

Yes Man on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=]