Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sucker Punch Directors Cut

Now I like Zack Snyder just as much as the next guy… Actually given all available evidence I like Zack Snyder a great deal more then the next guy.

But I was still somewhat nervous about The Sucker Punch Directors Cut. See Zack Snyder has this thing about directors cuts where he’s not very good at them. The Dawn Of The Dead one was pretty inoffensive, but the Watchmen Directors Cut is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. It’s baffling, aside from the addition of the Hollis Mason death scene (which given the character’s scaled back presence in the film is no longer such a big deal) all of the additional material dilutes the movie. It’s all filler, awkwardly added in action sequences, and additions that in a few cases actually botch perfectly translated moments. It's such a strange cut that it almost feels like the directors cut was the studio cut and vica versa.

So despite the fact that I was one of the film’s few apologists I couldn’t help but wonder if going back to the cut was against Snyder’s better instincts. Sure enough The Sucker Punch Directors Cut takes a problematic film and makes it more problematic. It’s not as bad as the Watchmen cut, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it botched. But it's uncanny the way this cut of the film manages to take what annoyed people about the theatrical cut of the film and amplify it. Thought that Snyder’s sexual objectification bordered on serial killer level deranged? Well wait until you his “Love Is A Drug” sequence which plays like the ultimate nineties Madonna Video, conceived of and shot while on PCP. Thought that the film’s message and sexual politics were naive at best, incomprehensible at worst? Well then wait until you see Jon Hamm’s big scene which turns the heroine’s final actions from “Heroic Sacrifice made on her own terms.” To "Talked into it by a fine pair of bedroom eyes." 

Still the lunatic vision of Snyder’s dare of a film still manages to shine through. Despite all these new flaws, which have been added to a film that was admittedly already flawed just plenty the stubborn fact is that I still like Sucker Punch a whole lot. I like the total commitment that Snyder has to his go for baroque vision. I like the fact that the question “Will people want to see this?” Never once seemed to enter his head. I like the look of the film, and I like the feel of it. I like its strange assaultive imagery and most of all I like the fact that Snyder took the darkest film a mainstream studio has had to offer in sometime and wrapped it away in this candy colored shell, with all the warning of a razor blade tucked in a Snickers bar. What can I say, I love filmmaking that is genuinely off the rez.

"Well, there's something you don't see everyday, Chauncey." "What's that, Edgar?" "An art deco bullet train traveling towards the rings of Saturn populated by faceless robots." "Oh, I don't know, Edgar; mass transit has taken some amazing strides."

Which is a place that Snyder may never go again. He must be thanking his lucky stars that he had Superman lined up before this, or else it could have been a potential career ender. The Snyder we will see post Superman will most likely be a more cautious filmmaker, which will frankly probably result in some much better films. Still I can’t help but find it endearing that he had it in him to go by this crazy.

Like Southland Tales a similar case of auteurist mania, Sucker Punch may not qualify as a good film but it is a mesmerizing one. Sucker Punch may not be a good movie by any conventional objective standard but I maintain that it is sort of a magnificent one.


J.D. said...

I have to disagree with ya re: the WATCHMEN Director's Cut. With the exception of a tacked on bit with Rorschach investigating the Comedian's apt. early on in the film, the added footage makes the film that much more faithful to the source material, which is why the Ultimate Cut is best of all as Snyder integrates THE TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER material in including more with the newstand vender and the kid which was a pretty important part of the comic book. The problems I have with that film is Snyder's boneheaded musical choices ("Ride of the Valkyries"?! Really?!) and the casting of Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) and Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) who were so bad and so far removed from the original characters that it borders on heresy.

That being said, I am curious to see SUCKER PUNCH only because it looks like such a fascinating unholy trainwreck of a film.

Erich Kuersten said...

Yeah, I'm curious to see this train wreck too. I was all excited when I saw the early artwork, but once I knew it was 'all in their minds' and involved finding magic keys, it would seem yet another Res Evil style video game... and that weird amped up misogyny/anti-misogyny thing Snyder has. As Varla said in Faster Pussycat, "He has a 'thing' with women."

le0pard13 said...

I let my teen son see SUCKER PUNCH (shhh... don't tell his mother) while I took in something else. He loved it and now wants to see this cut. I am curious, though, and will watch this soon. Thanks for your look at this one, Bryce.

thevoid99 said...

I kinda liked the director's cut of Watchmen since it was more faithful to the original source material though I'm wary about the director's cut of Sucker Punch. Yes, it's not a great film or a good one but it's not the worst film I had seen. Besides, anything with Jena Malone (unless she does a Michael Bay film, oh the horror) will put my ass in the seat.

Andy said...

A funny thing about your comment re: Jon Hamm's big scene. I really didn't like it at all; it felt almost dirty to the point of being uncomfortable. My wife, however, really felt that the scene helped to enhance Baby Doll's sacrifice, and she also appreciated the fact that it fleshed out why Hamm said "it looked like she wanted it."

Bryce Wilson said...

@ JD: Maybe I have to go back and watch it. But I remember it as inserting more stuff that wasn't in the book that was. I dunno there are shots in the DC that really bother me. Like the one of The Comedian sweeping in on the helicopter that's intercut with Doctor Manhattan blowing up the VC. It's just a pointless action beat added into what was a perfect moment.

@ Erich: I think you have to stretch a little to call Snyder a misogynist. Say what you will about him but his female characters tend to at least be well rounded (Take Sarah Polley in Dawn Of The Dead, or even Lena Headly in 300. It's a pretty strong role for such a testosterone driven film.)

I think your comparison to Meyer is actually pretty apt. It's more exaggeration, or even idolization then exploitation.

@ Le0: My lips are sealed. I'll be curious to see what you make of the film.

@ thevoid: Yeah see above for The Watchmen DC. Thanks to you and JD I probably will give it a second look. We are in complete agreement on Jena Malone though. Rowr.

@ Andy: ... That is actually an excellent point. I still think the film plays stronger with her making the decision (or maybe its just that it sounds a bit better coming out of Scott Glenn's mouth) but that's definitely something to consider.

Tom Clift said...

The WATCHMEN Director's Cut is pretty disastrous IMO. As for SUCKER-PUNCH, it's got some ambition which is admirable, but it fails pretty colossally (and the dialogue is atrocious!!!) I love Snyder's style though, loved the original cut of WATCHMEN, and remain very excited to see what he does with THE MAN OF STEEL

Bryce Wilson said...

Yeah I can't really argue with that. But I'd still rather watch Snyder's film any day of the week instead of the bland market tested pap we've gotten this summer.