Being ahead of the curve is everything...
so I'm going to do you a favor and put you there.
Get ready for a big, big movie in March that has the potential to be hugely controversial.
It's Zack Snyder's newest. And it's called "Sucker Punch!"
For those of you who don't know, Snyder is the director behind the film adaptations of "300" and "Watchmen." Let's start there.
"300" and "Watchmen" are both graphic novels. The latter is arguably the best graphic novel made so far. The former was a ground breaker in terms of art design and style.
I've never read "300" but I've read "Watchmen" several times. And, Allan Moore (the author of Watchmen) was right: Watchmen CAN'T be made into a movie. It's just not possible (for reasons that are too many to go into right now). How do I know? I saw the film version. And it was a failure. It did not even remotely scratch the surface of everything that happens in the graphic novel.
But here's the thing: The movie does at least honestly try. It's beautiful. It's sincere. It's just totally mis-guided. Listen: when the author of the comic book tells you flat out that he created something that isn't supposed to (and truly truly can't) translate to any other medium, you should believe him. Unfortunately, Snyder didn't.
But that doesn't mean that Snyder can't make a film. Because, at least visually, he CAN.
When it comes to visuals, Zack Snyder is one of the best. He is a master of IMAGE. Every frame of "300" is a great tribute to the comic book art on which it is based. The guy knows how to translate a painting.
So...how does all this relate to "Sucker Punch!"?
Well, we all know Snyder can do visuals. But "Sucker Punch!" is his chance to show he can do story.
Because Sucker Punch is an original work. It's not based on anything. It is the brain-child of Snyder and his writing partner. They spent five years tinkering with and writing the script. In fact, Snyder says that he signed on to do Watchmen just so he could have the Hollywood credit and financial success to get Sucker Punch made.
Which means Sucker Punch is a passion project. And, passion projects usually turn out to be one of two things.....1.)masterpieces....or.....2.)not.
And, in my opinion, Sucker Punch will sink or swim based on this one issue: Its treatment of its female characters.
Because the deal with Sucker Punch is...it's an all female cast. Literally. Sure there are a few supporting characters who are men, but it's a movie about girls. And I mean "girls" in the most literal sense of the word.
Here's the premise: Sucker Punch is about a teenage girl living in the 1950's who is sent by her step-father to rot in a mental institution. After being admitted to the mental institution, her resistance to treatment lands her in trouble. Her punishment is to be labotomized.
So far, so good. I'm on board for personal reasons alone.
As she encounters the real life horrors of the institution, she and her fellow inmates deal with the problems they face by projecting them via. several levels of metaphorical/dream-like/altered states of consciousness.
Again, so far so good.
BUT....I also have a HUGE concern. These girls are being sexualized. BIG TIME. I mean, 10 seconds into the trailer, and you are dealing with the fetishization of the histrionic female. And this is normally NOT GOOD.
But, I do wonder.
I wonder if I'm not giving Zack Snyder enough credit. Because you have to know that he KNOWS what it looks like to have a bunch of barely pubescent girls running around in mid-drifts shooting things. Not to mention (SPOILER ALERT!) one of the aforementioned "levels of consciousness" that the girls "visit" is a brothel where they are all prisoners.
I know, I know. It could be really bad. But, then again, maybe it IS a sucker punch of a movie. I mean, the tag-line for the film is "You Will Be Un-Prepared."
I hope so. I hope this film is a pleasant surprise in favor of fifth wave feminism discourse. I hope that male audiences are sucker punched into re-evaluating their relationship to female heroines. Please Zack Snyder. Let it be so.
As a final note, I would like to add that my optimism is the result of four additional factors: 1.) His wife is the producer for this movie 2.) Snyder has not and will not tell anyone anything about the ending except he "doesn't know how he convinced the movie studio to make it." and 3.) he had to FIGHT to get a movie made that only features women and 4.) the star is Emily Browning....you don't know her by name for a reason. She's a smart smart actress who only does good projects. And the other marquee names are equally respectable: Abbie Cornish, Jenna Malone, and Carla Gugino
While I'm in no way confident, I am hopeful that Sucker Punch will be a fun, visually great movie that is also solid in it's story and it's politics. It's a long shot, but here's to hoping.
Watch the trailer and let me know what you think.
While we're talking about psychological dramas.....
we might as well talk about Darren Aronofsky's new film "Black Swan."
If you know Aronofsky, you know that Black Swan will not end well. Aronofsky only does dark and depressing (he's the man behind "The Wrestler" and the absolutely devastating drug-noir film "Requiem For A Dream").
But now he's trying his hand at sci-fi/horror with Natalie Portman at the helm.
My opinion? It has the potential to be great. But more likely, based on the last 30 seconds of the trailer, it has the potential to be terribly predictable and trite. Here's hoping for the former.