Category: Movie Reviews

Movie Review – Suckerpunch

This review comes to us from author Tee Morris (more on Tee after the review):

Director and Writer Zack Snyder can really make a beautiful movie. Snyder set his own style with films like 300 and Watchmen, but has also come under fire for making movies that lack depth or are very \\comic book\\ in their almost balletic approach to graphic violence. When you consider his last two films were pulling from (wait for it!) graphic novels, it makes you want to bitch slap critics. Perhaps this is why critics (and perhaps, some moviegoers) have been overly critical of Snyder’s latest film, Sucker Punch.

On reading some of these reviews, though, I have to ask \\Did you see the same film as I did?\\ I not only loved Sucker Punch, I am here to tell you that missing this on the big screen would be a crime. It is original. It is surprising. It is intelligent.

What is isn\\™t is what the critics are making it out to be: Geekboy Titillation.

Now there\\™s no denying it: Snyder covers all of the bases in this flick. Sucker Punch offers up zombies, steampunk, dragons, WWII bombers, and katana swordfights. And yes, all of the gunfire and swordplay is happening with women who all just happen to be hot.

Quite hot.

Smoking hot, as a matter of fact.

But the titillation critics rant on and on about just isn\\™t there. I didn\\™t find anything really \\stimulating\\ about Sucker Punch unless you count the alternate realities where our femme fatales are kicking surrealistic asses in a variety of ways. Snyder\\™s signature \\artistic action\\ sequences could hardly be described as \\erotic\\ in their video game brutality. (And the more I think about that, the more I come to understand why Snyder’s fantasy sequences are so epic. You have to see the movie to catch it.) An episode of Sailor Moon or Bubblegum Crisis has more titillation than Sucker Punch. What should be titillating \\” Baby Doll\\™s hypnotic dance that segues into her own imagination \\” we never see. All we see is the reaction to it, and that is really intriguing.

Before any of my female readers comment with \\If this isn\\™t geekboy pr0n, why then are Sucker Punch\\™s insanely attractive women so scantily clad in the action sequences? I mean, where’s the realism? What\\™s with the high heels in the giant samurai sequence?\\ I would like to present a few visual aids to end this debate.

History tell us that this is Sparta:Frank Miller and Zack Snyder, on the other hand, tells us that THIS \\” IS \\” SPARTA:

This just in from Zack Snyder: \\You\\™re welcome, ladies.\\

Critics have also been making references that the principle players as \\happy hookers\\ and \\sensitive strippers.\\ Both of these assessments are completely and utterly wrong, and ruin the subtext running through this film. While these girls are carrying stripper names like \\Rocket,\\ \\Sweet Pea,\\ and \\Baby Doll\\ (the lead), and while they are exotic dancers performing extravagant burlesque productions, they are not hookers nor are they strippers. And they’re not “happy” by a longshot. They\\™re sex slaves.

Let me say that again: These girls are sex slaves.

When you accept that uncomfortable fact, the whole mood of Sucker Punch changes; but from the opening \\” a very bleak, powerful opening telling the backstory of Baby Doll\\™s arrival to the insane asylum \\” this movie makes it clear that this is not a fun ride we are undertaking. This is the kind of darkness that makes Synder\\™s Watchmen look like an episode of Super Friends (the first season with Marv and Wendy\\¦who were those kids anyway?!), and adds a sense of desperation for the girls daring to escape. Calling them \\hookers/strippers with hearts of gold\\ really could not be farther from these characters\\™ dismal collected truth.

And when you consider the reality that Baby Doll is truly escaping, this tale takes an even darker spin.

That\\™s where I nurture a growing respect for Sucker Punch: it\\™s amazing layer-like quality and intelligence. Sucker Punch keeps you guessing as to where the lines of reality reside. Perhaps this is another reason why critics are coming out hard against this movie: Snyder made a geeky action movie that you have to pay attention to when watching it. This is a tale of redemption, and the lines of what is real and what isn\\™t are blurred just enough that when you walk out of the film, you are trying to piece together what was real and what wasn\\™t. Giving away any details right now would be spoilerific so I will simply say the ending completely caught me off-guard. How things play in the finale, which you discover isn\\™t the finale you were expecting, are a complete and utter surprise.

Perhaps this is why critics are so \\angry\\ about Sucker Punch: They didn\\™t see this coming. But isn\\™t that the title right there? I was waiting for this movie to jump the rails. Pip was, too. It\\™s the morning after and I\\™m still waiting! Sucker Punch was not even close to what I was expecting, and I loved experiencing it on the IMAX big screen.

And concerning Sucker Punch\\™s soundtrack, I rank it right up there with the music from Scott Pilgrim Versus The World. Sweet crapbuckets, did this soundtrack ever rock! Props to Snyder, Tyler Bates, and producers for coming up with some fantastic covers and a Queen mash-up that gave me goosebumps!

In the age of reboots, remakes, and comic book movies, Sucker Punch is a breath of fresh air and originality, along the same lines as Inception and Black Swan. Dismiss the critics on this one, and go see it. If you can catch it on IMAX, do so as the bigger screen just makes Snyder\\™s composition \\” even the ones based in reality \\” breathtaking. You may be pleasantly surprised. You might walk out wondering what the hell you\\™ve seen, but you will be talking about it. Consider the tagline: \\You will be unprepared.\\

I was. Delightfully so.


Tee Morris is the author of such novels as Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword and Legend of Morevi, and is one half of the team (with Philippa Ballantine) that is set to bring us the steampunk thriller Phoenix Rising, Book 1 of the The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, from Harper Voyager.


Movie Review – Battle: Los Angeles

This post is from the wonderful “The Secret Lair” blog/podcast website. Visit them for more.

This review, or “Post-Date Correspondence” was written by Dr. John Cmar.

Dear Battle: LA,

Thanks for showing me an interesting time last weekend! I did enjoy myself, but I\\™m afraid that most of what you tried to do on our date didn\\™t work out quite like you intended it to. I appreciate the effort, I really do\\¦ but I don\\™t think we can see each other again.

Now, I get what you were going for, and like I said, I did end up having fun. Kicking back to enjoy a movie with plenty of combat and lots of explosions is cool, and something I certainly like to do. I must say that there was plenty of both, and it all looked quite pretty. I loved how you used the shaky cam during the fight scenes to add tension, and to the chaos of the battlefield. Even better, it did a great job of helping to keep the alien invaders mysterious for the first part of the flick, which was a nice touch. That, I liked!

What I did not like was that you used the shaky cam throughout the rest of the film too. Seriously, why did you think it was necessary to have a jerky hand-camera in a scene where two men are calmly talking to each other in an office? I know, I know \\“ you were trying to pull me into the action with a sense of immediacy, but it ended up being a bit weird. There wasn\\™t a character holding the camera, so maybe you meant to evoke a documentary-style feeling? Whatever your goal, it was a bit too much, sort of like the lens flares in that Star Trek movie I went out with a few times recently. Oh, and I should tell you that one of the other people that was on our group date last weekend was getting over a massive migraine, and your damn shaky cam brought it right back for her. Yeah, she was the one who stopped watching after the first few minutes. I know you didn\\™t do it on purpose, but that was not cool at all.

Listen, I know you tried really hard, and you had a great idea: an alien invasion told from the perspective of a team of marines on the ground should be awesome. You even scored the always excellent Aaron Eckhart as the main protagonist Nantz, and he did a great job with what he was given. Sadly, you didn\\™t give him much, and most of the dialogue was just uninspired. Yes, you tried to get me to care about all the other marines too by introducing snippets of their personal stories in the opening sequence. But here\\™s the thing \\“ ignoring the fact that it felt like you were running through a roster of classic soldier-movie cliches (the married one with a pregnant wife, the about-to-be-wed one, the one who\\™s brother was just killed, the one who\\™s about to retire, and the rookie, to name a few), you killed several of them too early in the story for it to matter. Between not being able to keep track of most of the individual marines in the shaky-cam combat, and that many of the personal stories set up in the beginning are never revisited later, I ended up not really caring about most of them. In fact, apart from Nantz and one other solider, the other focal protagonists of the flick aren\\™t even among the marines that you took such care to establish in the beginning, which was just bad storytelling.

Speaking of storytelling, there were a couple of spots where you botched the science in a way that was so wrong, it broke me out of my pleasant suspension of disbelief. The worst was when you said that the Hubble space telescope was able to take thermal images of multiple objects that had suddenly appeared in earth\\™s atmosphere. That\\™s just not possible. Hubble doesn\\™t do that. Period. I know most people don\\™t have a great understanding of what Hubble\\™s capabilities are, but since you put the scope in your script, you had damn well better know yourself. The sad part is that you had any number of other satellites that could have done the same thing for your story, that you either didn\\™t bother to research, or chose not to use. Thor above, you could have even said it was an astronaut with a thermal camera on the International Space Station. The other painful science bit was when several scientists used the phrase \\liquid water\\ to distinguish it from water in other states. While the point you were making was that it was not ice or water vapor they were talking about, \\liquid water\\ as a turn of phrase wasn\\™t the right bit of dialogue to stick in the scientists\\™ mouths, and it was odd enough to throw me off. These may seem to be small things to you, but you know that I am a man of science, and so to wine and dine me, it matters.

Now, like I said, I did enjoy your movie, despite it\\™s faults. The combat and the explodey bits were intense and very well done. The design of the aliens and their tech was detailed and cohesive, and I enjoyed how new extraterrestrial weapons were rolled out at regular intervals during the course of the film. And, naturally, it had a happy ending\\¦ well, for the story I mean, not the other kind of on-a-date happy ending. Battle: LA, my dear, you won\\™t be getting another chance at one of those from me. It was a pleasant enough time, but I\\™ve moved on. Good luck with your future endeavors!


The Bad Doctor (who kind of regrets this blind date)

John Cmar is a practicing physician in Baltimore, where he specializes in all aspects of infectious diseases, as well as training the next generation of Johns Hopkins doctors. He is also a practicing geek, which manifests itself primarily as a love of electronic, board, and roleplaying games, such as the gloriously involved Arkham Horror. Professional experiences that he is pleased to no longer be practicing in include minionhood in computer sales and service, as well as industrial lamppost forging machinist. In addition to giving progress reports on his nefarious medical endeavors for The Secret Lair, he has donated his vocal talents to numerous podcasts and audio fiction, including Mur Lafferty\\˜s The Takeover, and Escape Pod. He resides in the \\suburban hell\\ of Columbia, Maryland, with his Moon Ranger wife, five cats, and a constantly depreciating number of fish. As the chief physician and sole proprietor of Saint Nickanuck of the Tundra Online Memorial Hospital, he rants about odd geek and medical sundries in it\\™s hallowed halls.