by Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman
Every Monday, two Reverse Shotters wipe the weekend from their bleary eyes and engage in a postmortem on the multiplex trash (good or bad) they took in.
As I settled in for Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, I realized that, thus far, I hadn’t had the pleasure of experiencing any of the action auteur’s previous films. His latest comes from a story of his own invention—what better introduction to one of the allegedly visionary cinematic talents of our time (at least if one occasionally trolls Entertainment Weekly or fanboy message boards) than his debut as a true writer/director?
Oh, would that we never devised this column so that I could have those two hours back. This lugubrious spectacle, in which Snyder sets five fetish objects to run amok in a computer-manufactured video game playland (did I spy the bridge from the penultimate level of Ninja Gaiden?), represents an offensive nadir of large-budgeted studio action filmmaking. It exists at the intersection of overwhelming poor taste (lobotomized versions of classic pop songs “Where Is My Mind” “Sweet Dreams [Are Made of This]”), retrograde sexual politics (has there ever been a film so simultaneously titillated and terrified by female sexuality?) and a disinterest in the fundamentals of storytelling and character (try following this puppy’s Xbox demo logic, extra credit for caring to distinguish between the female leads). Snyder’s visual palette and style are coherent, his filmmaking tics (regular camera motion slowed down then slammed into shock cuts, the placement of the lens either as far away or as close as possible to its subject suggesting he’s elevated his disinclination towards narrative clarity to the level of an aesthetic tactic) are repeated enough to suggest that nothing here happened by accident. I’m sure nothing happens by chance in the painted worlds of Thomas Kinkade, either. Continue reading