Recently I was unfortunate enough to witness the incoherent mess that is Sucker Punch which is directed and outlined (I’ll explain why I will not use ‘written’ a bit later) by ‘the visionary’ Zack Snyder, the man who gave us 300 and Watchmen with their tight, tight spandex underpants and hyper-usage of slow motion.
Now, previously I had no particular problem with Zack Snyder’s approach to directing although I have to say that his ‘vision’ was always limited to the same checklist of ‘things to do to make my films cool’ which included overbearing music, loud colour schemes and a finger firmly pressed on the slow motion button (as mentioned before).
Beyond this narrow approach to directing there was also a couple of underlying issues that got in the way of his ‘vision’: script and character understanding. The two converge into one massive problem: He doesn’t seem to grasp the importance, or even concept, of either elements. Armed with brilliant source material from Frank Miller (300) and Alan Moore (Watchmen) he sacrifices any engagement or depth in favour of mad camera angles and frantic visuals. I did not really mind because I was quite content to slot both films into the ‘enjoyable mindless action flick’ category as I did not have much contact with either text before seeing the films.
One would think that after a handful of directorial adventures he would understand his limitations and possibly accept them in order to focus on what he does best: tight man-trousers and loud music (each is fine). One would be incredibly wrong. Because in the instance of Sucker Punch he decided to unleash his vision on all fronts by writing, producing and directing it himself. Big mistake.
I dream of seeing an actual copy of this particular script because in all likelihood it will be considerably shorter than average as he isn’t a great fan of dialogue (and can’t write it anyway) or the text will be incredibly, incredibly extensive. The second possibility could happen if he had decided to write up all the stage directions and music notations in extreme detail. He just can’t write, he can only outline the action. Hence the usage of outline rather than write earlier on.
Lets leave aside all comment on the gender politics of Sucker Punch as that would simply take too long and has been covered brilliantly by various others. Just google it. All that needs to be said is that all the female characters have been given a variety of film-stripperesque names such as Baby Doll, Sweet Pea and Amber without any sense of irony and they spend most of the film scantily clad wielding big guns.
The problem is that the film, like Mark Kermode pointed out, is just so mind-numbingly boring and stupid I couldn’t even be bothered to get angry at its misogyny. I simply could not care less. That is until right at the beginning of the third, and thankfully final, act of the movie when this particular line cropped up:
“The bond of the theatre.” – Blue Jones.
And all of a sudden I was instantly enraged. Let me explain why. This line is spat at the rebel group of strippers by their ‘master’/’owner’ just when their magnificently planned escape plot begins to unravel. Note to future escapees: Do not write extensive plan of escape in note form on the back of a black board which is in plain sight of everyone and can be discovered by simply turning said board around. Apparently this is supposed to be some sort of commentary on the relationships that can develop between people who practice and/or participate in stage work.
No! Zack Snyder. Simply: No! You are not allowed to reference the theatre in any way, shape or form when you do not have the slightest inkling of an idea about what you are referring to. It might have escaped your notice but a strip club (masquerading as a burlesque club, I don’t think he understands the difference there either) is not a theatre establishment. It might have theatrical elements but that does not a theatre make my friend. These unfortunate women (and by that I not only mean the characters but also the actresses in the film) might be performing but there is nothing artistic about a woman forced to gyrate in front of her captor in order for her, and her friends, to escape their clutches. You have not earned the right to even use the word ‘theatre’ as any type of metaphor, analogy or springboard for your infantile musings on the state of human existence.
ps. Beyond the misappropriation of the world ‘theatre’ in terms of human relationships he is also not equipped to use it when he has proven himself incapable of using the concept of silence. He never trusts either the script or the performers to supply the emotional groundwork for any scene but feels the need to underscore everything with hyper sound editing and overbearing (not to mention manipulative) use of music.
pps. As for the use of music I am also quite irritated that ‘the visionary’ Zack Snyder has forever tainted Björk’s Army of Me.