Critical Mass: 'Sucker Punch'
Sometimes a movie gets bad reviews. And sometimes it gets such bad reviews that the articles themselves become a source of entertainment.
Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch" is shaping up as a prime example of the latter. Although a select few critics liked the dreamscape story of butt-kicking women -- Betsy Sharkey in The Times called it a "wonderfully wild provocation" -- most found it lacking and had some great fun in telling us how. Rebecca Black got better notices.
The New York Times' A.O. Scott had perhaps the most memorable paragraph of the Snyder negative reviews with this arts-and-crafts conceit:
"You could go to see 'Sucker Punch' this weekend — a lot of people probably will, and a few may even admit as much back at the office on Monday — or you could try to make it yourself, which might be more fun, though not necessarily cheaper. Here’s what you will need: a bunch of video-game platforms; DVDs of 'Shutter Island,' 'Kill Bill,' 'Burlesque' and 'Shrek'; some back issues of Maxim; a large bag of crystal meth; and around $100 million. Your imagination will take care of the rest."
Todd McCarthy in the Hollywood Reporter lays out the problems flatly. "Sucker Punch is a largely grim and unpleasant display of technical wizardry wrapped around a story that purports to be inspirational."
And in the Chicago Tribune, Michael Phillips dances through the plot to come up with: "The film abdicates so many basic responsibilities of coherent storytelling, even coherent stupid-action-movie storytelling, director/co-writer/co-producer Zack Snyder must have known in preproduction that his greasy collection of near-rape fantasies and violent revenge scenarios disguised as a female-empowerment fairy tale wasn't going to satisfy anyone but himself."
Phillips summarizes: "It's like Roxie Hart of 'Chicago' ran off for the weekend with some pimply adolescent Xbox fiend." Then he gives the film zero stars.
Snyder hasn't exactly been a critics' filmmaker (his "300" got a so-so 60% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and went on to become a box-office sensation), but he's never before been pilloried like this. Still, however his movie winds up performing, "Sucker Punch" has already offered some new pleasures in writing (and reading) reviews. And it sort of makes us feel like we can't wait for "Superman: Man of Steel."
Photo: "Sucker Punch." Credit: Warner Bros.