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Critical Mass: 'Sucker Punch'

March 25, 2011 | 11:49 am


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."

In jumping on the skeptics' train, the Wall Street Journal's John Anderson went with the video-game theme too. "The action sequences are interminable, the acting is a joke, but 'Sucker Punch' is a movie for people who prefer video games and who may be playing them during the movie."

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."

--Steven Zeitchik



Movie review: 'Sucker Punch'

'Sucker Punch': Zack Snyder gets in the trenches

Photo: "Sucker Punch." Credit: Warner Bros.

Comments () | Archives (22)

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Sit back, relax and watch as fanboi garbage fills the capacity of culture's storage devices to overflowing.

The movie has hot chicks with guns and swords fighting dragons and stone samurai. It's a geeky wet-dream, what were these people expecting?

So, if I reviewed this article in the "Comments" section, I would be reviewing a reviewers review of reviewers reviews of a movie?

Very meta.

just give one chance to this movie,

I think Sucker Punch (which I haven't yet seen) will most likely, more than any other legacy, continue to show how out-of-touch and irrelevant the "film critic" has become.

For example the author of this piece points to the mediocre reviews the film 300 received, before going on to bring in over $200 million at the box office.

It could be argued that this comment alone is evidence that someone is reading these articles. But obviously the box office is making it quite clear that people may be reading them, but they aren't being influenced by them - and there is nothing as irrelevant as an opinion writer without influence.

Sucker Punch could be a terrible movie, but articles like this do more to illustrate how useless professional critics are than how terrible a film is.

How could anyone possibly bother criticizing the story of this movie? What does the story have anything to do with the enjoyment people will get out of seeing hot girls with swords, guns, and skirts whizzing around on the screen?

Kudos to the director for keeping that in mind and making sure that the story wouldn't interfere with the film.

I plan to see it, and I hope it's good. I hope it's good not so much cause I want my $10 to be worth it, but because Zack Snyder is working on SUPERMAN. And I hope he doesn't dare mess that up.

Why is it always a fanboy's wet dream? I'm a girl that's also into video games and "geek" culture as some call it. I had some qualms with the movie, it wasn't my fav, but I did enjoy seeing ladies kick ass and not cry about it later, dragons, Nazi zombies, and robots, etc. I don't think it was "disguised" as female empowerment, as the one reviewer put it, I felt that it was in many ways enjoyable to see female leads do the ass-kicking and unabashedly. If you couldn't tell that it was going to be a mish-mash of these things from the trailer, then of course you'll dislike it. I agree with Drew, the critic's reviews are irrelevant, because I'm going to take away from it what I want.

In re the success of "300" (which I mostly enjoyed) and the possible success or failure of Sucker Punch: merely because something makes money does not make it good or worthwhile. I remember one year when three of the titles on the NY Times top ten non-fiction bestseller list were "Tasteless Jokes", "Truly Tasteless Jokes", and "More Truly Tasteless Jokes"...crowding out worthy biographies, histories, and books on science, among others.

Saw this this morning, at a press screening here in Dublin, and it is indeed Showgirls for the videogame generation. It's incredibly bad, Snyder aiming for Tarantino and hitting Shyamalan instead. It's Burlesque with balls, only not half as good as that sounds. It seems to have been written by a 12-year old boy, exclusively for other 12-year old boys, and the novelty of really hot, scantily-clad young girls with great big machine guns - battling CGI monsters, male fantasies, and a ridiculously weak script - wears very thin very quickly. Welcome to Zac Snyder's Unfortunate Series of Events. This one makes The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole look like a little gem...

Whenever a bad movie comes out, I immediately want to read two reviewers: A.O. Scott and Duncan Shepherd (of the San Diego Reader). Mahnola Dargis (whose name I may have just butchered) is also always a good read.

Film critics are out of touch dweebs who cater to each other rather then the viewing public. The term "clueless egotistic" comes to mind. Sucker Punch is a fun, sexy, butt kicking movie that us mere mortals have found entertaining. And since we, the afore mentioned mere mortals, pay the bills, then it's safe to say that the critics have become worse then irrelevant. They've become a bore.

Well I think it was a really good movie. I think it taught a few lessons. And it was interesting... it never got boring. It had action, sexuality,comedy.. alot of things. And it had very good quotes in it too. Some funny, some people should use as advice. I also think it was kinda showing how women are used... considered worthless..sometimes... only meant for cooking and cleaning and sex. But by them fighting.. proves how strong women really are and that we are better than that. Women are portrayed to be weaker. This is just some of my veiws, but the movie was very touching to me.. and it helps me know that I can stand up for something.. and succeed.

Had a great two hours. Sad that when next I see it it will be on the small screen. More importantly, my 8 and 10 year old daughters liked it. The younger one especially, who is working out her next Halloween costume. Last year she was Hit Girl, but doesn't go around hitting things with sticks. She recognizes the characters as Halloween material; another myth and fantasy inspiration, not as encouragement to be overly sexualized or violent in everyday life. And she prefers vetrinarian video games and her Rubik's cube to violent games. They can process and handle it and get a boost out of seeing strong female characters in all types of rolls, not just strong Mom's overcoming abusive relationships or doctors in an ER. They enjoyed 300 too, and why should we only be offered scantily clad, well built men engaged in epic battle. These kids can differentiate entertainment from real life and we have a great time deconstructing over dinner afterward. We also all agreed Vanessa Hudgens' acting took us out of the moment.

If this is Hit Girl times 3, I'm in.

Went to see the movie last night at an Imax theater nearby. I didn't love it, or absolutely hate it. It reminded me of the 1981 animated film Heavy Metal at a lot of points. It biggest flaw is that the acting is absolutely horrendous. However, some of its good points are some really great action and CGI scenes(except for the train scene that one got a little long and drawn out) and the sound track was out of this world. Its just too bad the studio made him make it PG-13. Whole movie felt like something was missing. Oh thats right actual swearing, gore, and a few sex scenes. My suggestion, wait for a video release, where it should have gone in the first place.

oh man i loved this movie. i kept thinking of so many video game references. such a fun movie!!! (and depressing....but still fun)

People, please don't listen to any of the fools dismissing the movie or story. There are movies where the cinematography is amazing, and those where the narrative is riveting, but there are also many sci-fi movies where the parts may not add up to a great movie, but the story within is so damn important. This movie has a pressing message, and for that, everyone in society must go see the film.

The message is clear, although I fully expected almost everyone to miss it in the mass of action / scantily clad women / punctuated scenography. The asylum is the insane world we've constructed, the oppressors are the oligarchs / financiers, the map is a of action, the fire is passion / spirit, the knife is willingness to fight, the key is the goal / steps, and the mystery element is selflessness. In a world full of selfish self-interest, the movie specifically focuses on selflessness as the guiding principle. That wasn't chance, the only way to defeat selfishness is through selflessness.

Even if the imbeciles who choose to spend their days criticizing everyone else think the film sucks badly, I urge you to go get inspired. The fight is just beginning, and we need everyone to prepare to kick some ass. See you at the protests.

I take exception to these comments comparing Sucker-Punch fans to video game geeks. My son it the world's biggest video game geek and he said Sucker Punch was awful. He called it the world's longest music video. He said, "any short clip would have made a good music video, but there was no cohesion."
I think he has a future as a movie reviewer.

If you don't like fantasy and artsy movies, this is definitely not for you, so don't go see it and then say it is incredibly ridiculous. You have to admire the movie for what it is. And I have to give it 5 stars. Do not try to connect this movie with reality, only a fool would.

Kudos to Snyder for his incredible imagination. Within the genre of the movie, the plot makes perfect sense and it is very emotional if you give it a chance.

Still, one of my favorite Snyder movies. Keep going !!!!!!

little to no plot. pure eye candy. huge waste of time.

what do inception and sucker punch have in common? a dream within a dream..... nice


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