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A Review of Sucker Punch
March 28, 2011 2:52 PM   Subscribe

This Movie Made Me Feel Bad To Be Alive: A Review of Sucker Punch
posted by 235w103 (443 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think the reviewer didn't really get the movie. At all.
posted by ged at 2:57 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


There must be about three or four dozen critical movie reviews of Sucker Punch out there. I think they all say about the exact same thing. I think a positive review might be a more interesting read.

That said, there should be a SPOILER tag or something up there.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:58 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sady Doyle on 'Sucker Punch' and the Decline of Strong Woman Action Heroines.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:59 PM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, this isn't totally positive, but it's interested me in a way that the stampede of critical eviscerations hasn't.

I still haven't seen the film, but I probably will. I've enjoyed Snyder's work, so I'm willing to give him a chance.
posted by brundlefly at 3:00 PM on March 28, 2011


It shows her stepfather filling out her admission form (because what makes for better cinema than hospital forms) and he says, loudly, as he writes, “Age? Twenty-years old!”

Wow, a film that actually uses the Usenet Porn Excuse.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:00 PM on March 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


My wife and I went Friday night, essentially clueless. She left rather unhappy, until I reminded her that this movie had (SPOILER HERE) Steampunk Death Nazis. At which point we spent the next five minutes laughing and all was good again.

They're good Steampunk Death Nazis too (I loved the jet of steam when they were shot... sheer brilliance).

Plus it had Scott Glenn, who just about stole it.
posted by emmet at 3:01 PM on March 28, 2011


though i found the watching of SUCKER PUNCH to be an execrable experience, (at it's best it's a music video director's sizzle reel interspersed with a high-school production of BLACK SWAN - either that or it feels like a trust fund baby has made WIZARD OF OZ), the film itself is fascinating from a 'hey let's talk about movies point of view' = lots of stuff going on there from an unconscious desire to forget about the horrors inflicted by the US in the Iraq war to a fantastic example of the influence of video games on Hollywood product, (when the film gets really, really bad it's like watching somebody you don't know play a video game you've never played).
posted by jettloe at 3:02 PM on March 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think a positive review might be a more interesting read.

The Escapist has a rather positive video review. I'm on the fence - the film seems to be almost universally panned at this point, but MovieBob's preferences often dovetail with mine, so I think I'll probably go see it on the off-chance. Snyder's always good for a spectacle, anyway.
posted by AdamCSnider at 3:05 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not prepared to mount an intellectual defense of Sucker Punch, but this is not a very well-done review. The reviewer seems to have misunderstood the basic premise, such as it is. (And also didn't copyedit the post before it went up, which doesn't weaken its position, exactly, but also doesn't make me more sympathetic to it.) I think the review brundlefly quotes is probably more accurate.

I enjoyed the hell out of the movie, with the caveat that the last movie I saw in the theater (and quite enjoyed) was Resident Evil 3D. Even with my low standards, though, I think there were some interesting things going on. I have been thinking about writing my own review - maybe I will.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:06 PM on March 28, 2011


I'm looking for insightful positive reviews too. Despite the atrocious 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a few people I trust are saying the movie was a blast. I don't know, I haven't seen it - maybe you have to approach it as big, intentionally dumb, ludicrous movie spectacle?
posted by naju at 3:07 PM on March 28, 2011


I don’t know that pretty young women in panties kicking robots in the face so as to escape a life of sexual violence in a dream is enough to sustain my interest so as to create a successful narrative.
Yeah it doesn't sound very compelling.
The reviewer seems to have misunderstood the basic premise, such as it is.
Well, what is the premise then?
posted by delmoi at 3:09 PM on March 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Whenever I see something written with so many errors in it, I can't help but visualize some frustrated intarwebz dweller so full of self-righteous anger and vitriol that they can't be arsed to proofread their screed before hitting enter.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:10 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sad it looks like Ebert passed on reviewing this one. I was looking forward to an evisceration along the lines of The Last Airbender or Transformers 2.

io9 had a pretty good writeup though.
posted by kmz at 3:10 PM on March 28, 2011


The reviewer didn't get Sucker Punch at all. Babydoll wasn't lobotomized until the end of the movie. She did help another patient escape before the operation. So it's hard to take a review seriously when it's clear the reviewer didn't even understand the basic chronology of events.
posted by clockworkjoe at 3:10 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was just reading this when it popped up on the front page. I haven't seen the movie, but it's certainly a well written review:
If when asked, “Tell me about your character,” all that can be said is, “She is abused,” you have not told me anything about who she is.
That line said a lot about the problem with female characters in hollywood action movies to me.
posted by auto-correct at 3:11 PM on March 28, 2011 [46 favorites]


This review did get a few fundamental facts wrong. Baby Doll isn't lobotomized in the first few minutes of the film and the entire thing plays out as a strange Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge between the moment of her being lobotomized and the moment the film ends. I can see why the critic thought that, but its wrong, and this is made explicit in the text of the film.

It doesn't make the film any better. But if you're going to pan a film, make sure you've got your facts right. A simply look at the Wikipedia entry would have clarified this critic's confusion about the narrative.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:12 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's the big issue - it's pretty clear that the varying levels of reality were metaphors, not fantasies (and I think that if it's not clear that the brothel level is a not-well-disguised metaphor for what's going on in the asylum, then much of the impact of the movie is lost.)
posted by restless_nomad at 3:13 PM on March 28, 2011


It's getting to the point where I wonder if taking such excessive joy in bad reviews of Zack Synder's SUCKER PUNCH (AKA Zack Synder's SPANK BANK) makes me a bad gloaty person... but it feels so good that I don;t care.
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think that this review probably deserved an FPP of its own...but it might just be because I think that Alyssa Rosenberg is beyond awesome.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 3:14 PM on March 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


This review gets bonus points for the phrase 'Zack Snyder's spank bank'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:16 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I want to see it in hopes that it's Zack Snyder's Showgirls, because I love Showgirls.
posted by MegoSteve at 3:16 PM on March 28, 2011


The fuzzy bass and booming techno drums were supposed to signify “badassness” but rather only signified “This weekend only: 30% off at Spencer’s Gifts.”

Fucking priceless. Back to reading.
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:19 PM on March 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I walked out of the theater commenting that he took the least interesting parts of a bunch of recent highly-hyped movies (Black Swan, Inception), and crammed them all into a Showgirls package.

On preview, MegoSteve, you'll be thrilled.
posted by amelioration at 3:19 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to see it in hopes that it's Zack Snyder's Showgirls, because I love Showgirls.

It's never going to have the same depth and sophistication as Showgirls.
posted by Artw at 3:20 PM on March 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


I think that this review probably deserved an FPP of its own.

OK, yeah, that's pretty much the review I wanted to write. Now my evening is free!

(And... dude, the music was arguably the best part. I mean, tweaked-out versions of Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) sort of are aimed directly at my soul, but it's the first movie soundtrack in a long time that I actually want to own.)
posted by restless_nomad at 3:21 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


TRANSFORMERS 5 - Planet of the Earth

WRITTEN BY NO ONE
posted by Artw at 3:21 PM on March 28, 2011 [41 favorites]


he gets a pass on his lousy spelling and grammar?
posted by kitchenrat at 3:22 PM on March 28, 2011


It's never going to have the same depth and sophistication as Showgirls.

Or tits.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:22 PM on March 28, 2011


I feel like I should do a side by side comparison of Babydoll to Beatrix Kiddo.

What does the character want?

Beatrix: Revenge on her former lover and teacher and anyone involved in her attempted murder/planned destruction her her life.

Baby: To not be in a mental institution.

Do they get what they want?

Beatrix: Oh yeah.

Babydoll: Only in dreams.

What makes the character special?

Beatrix: Member of an elite assignation squad, possibly the best swordsman on Earth, the only person to learn Pei Mei's Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, single-minded laser focus on goal.

Babydoll: Is, like, an amazing lapdancer.
posted by The Whelk at 3:24 PM on March 28, 2011 [82 favorites]


I do kind of like the idea that Rosemary Kennedy spent all those decades in the institution in a fabulous dream world, kicking Steampunk Nazi ass, instead of in a hellish delirium.
posted by Pants McCracky at 3:26 PM on March 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


re: the Alyssa Rosenberg review and "The only major credible female action star in Hollywood today is Angelina Jolie" - it seems bizarre and outrageous to me that any reasonable human being would think of Jolie before the glorious and magnificent Milla Jovovich.
posted by elizardbits at 3:27 PM on March 28, 2011 [25 favorites]


I'm going to call this kind of ending "The Brazilian".
posted by Artw at 3:28 PM on March 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


I've seen a number of geeks refer to it as "awesome" and state that the people reviewing it negatively "didn't get it".

That's pretty much two clear signs it's utter crap.
posted by Legomancer at 3:30 PM on March 28, 2011 [31 favorites]


Maybe it's a terrible film, but I'm tired of being told over and over again by critics and sundry others that a film has to make me care about a character, and that if it doesn't make the character a completely three-dimensional, lengthily (tediously) fleshed-out personality then it's physically impossible for the film to have any merit or for it to be engaging. I've never really found that, at all, I think that's just some kind of snobbery. I'm fine with shorthand being used to get me to engage with a character, and a female who's a victim of male violence is plenty enough for me to root for them. To be honest, I don't even need that, I'll identify with anyone who's the protagonist of a film, automatically. I guess all the critics out there must be some flinty-hearted sonsabitches, wearily cynical after teeth-gnashing years of enduring films they despise. I don't really find I need to be made to care about characters in films, because they are usually human beings, and I care about human beings already. It's enough that they are people facing some kind of difficulty for me to identify with them. Films can be fine with simplistic characters. I'm not saying that no film should have more in-depth characters, I'm just saying all this formulaic "you have to be made to care" doesn't seem that valid to me.
posted by rubber duck at 3:31 PM on March 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


"The only major credible female action star in Hollywood today is Angelina Jolie"

*ahemMichelleYeohaherm*
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:33 PM on March 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


I feel like I should do a side by side comparison of Babydoll to Beatrix Kiddo.

For those of you who are a) in accord with our Whelk, b) here in LA, and c) not looking to give your money to Zack Snyder, the New Beverly is screening Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair something like 13 times in the next two weeks (until April 5th).
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:34 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who wants to read a good review? I always skip good movie reviews- they're boring! I'd much rather read a bad review of a movie that already looks really bad. Like this one. And this review delivered. Thanks.
posted by Liquidwolf at 3:34 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


the New Beverly is screening Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair something like 13 times in the next two weeks (until April 5th).

Sold out, though. I think next weekend might have a couple shows where tickets haven't been presold, so camp out now!
posted by incessant at 3:35 PM on March 28, 2011


I think a positive review might be a more interesting read.

Well, it seems that every single person who liked the movie has already shown up in this thread, so there's that. Me, I thought that the trailer made the movie look like the bits of Watchmen that I didn't like (which were the bits that Snyder didn't directly take from the graphic novel) crossed with Bayonetta, but having read a few reviews between having posted that on another blog and now, I kind of regret saying that because I really like Bayonetta. But I'm sure it'll get the Showgirls revisionist treatment before too long; I just wonder if this will give the producers of the next Superman reboot second thoughts about hiring Snyder.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:36 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


You don't have to care - but you have to engage - at least if you want to call it storytelling. Zack Synder would make a great creative director of an effects house but he can't get you to care about the characters. I appreciate that you care about human beings already - but do you care about the woman on a Palmolive bottle as walk down the market - stop and think, hey I hope she's ok? Because that woman has more 'character' than whatever you want to call the people we see in SUCKER PUNCH - i appreciate the director was going for 'mythic' with names like Babyface, Sweetpea, Priest, Some Dude, etc. but it just comes across as thin.
posted by jettloe at 3:36 PM on March 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


At least if theres some boring-ass pretentious emo videogame with zero depth they've found the perfect director to make a movie of it... Gears of War, I'm looking at you.
posted by Artw at 3:37 PM on March 28, 2011


Despite the atrocious 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a few people I trust are saying the movie was a blast.

Are you sure that's not supposed to be a pun?
posted by The World Famous at 3:37 PM on March 28, 2011


Yeah, in the comparison between Baby Doll and Beatrix I find that Baby Doll is far more realistic. Beatrix comes off as a far more satisfying character (who, if male would be described as "male adolescent fantasy" in the vein of John Ringo's characters, the Stony Man series, etc). The whole "Better than everyone else, kill them all, win" archetype, while satisfying, is far more fantastical.

The movie's not about stopping bad things from happening. It's about dealing with them.

The visuals were great, soundtrack wonderful. Writing could have used some work, and the acting was sketchy in places. Worst was the philosophical message - utterly unsatisfying and potentially highly offensive. Still worth seeing.
posted by Neuffy at 3:38 PM on March 28, 2011


I'll say this: It's different - if you like that sort of thing.
posted by mygoditsbob at 3:38 PM on March 28, 2011


I'll probably end up seeing this pile at some point, and maybe even enjoying it.

That being said, there's a strange theme running through Snyder's big name, recent films (I'm going to pass on the Owl one, not having seen it, nor ever intending to), but they all have a strange conflicted sexuality to them. 300 is basically porn about straight men for straight men. I don't have a problem with that, but it is sort of unnerving, and runs just below the surface of the movie without ever being addressed at all. Watchmen takes a really strange view and turns a casual visual reference about the villain into a definite statement that he's gay and evil. And now Sucker Punch, with its glossed over violence against women ("but they're the protagonist! obviously you can't be misogynistic if your protagonist is a woman!" the counter protest runs).

Snyder makes these big manly movies for manly men, but there's a weird undercurrent to it. I'm not trying to suggest that homosexual aspects of a film are instantly weird, but I'm saying that having homosexual undercurrents in films that are ostensibly supposed to be very straight and very macho raises my eyebrows a little. If I thought Snyder was a better film maker I'd even wonder if he was doing it on purpose.
posted by codacorolla at 3:39 PM on March 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


I think a positive review might be a more interesting read.

Outlaw Vern liked it, and he's my go-to guy for action movies.

I was waiting for the first negative review to be posted here. I'm not sure how I feel about the movie, but thats because i haven't seen it. I'm waiting to see it before judging it. I didn't mind Watchmen, though sexual exploitation of women in movies makes me a bit squicky.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:40 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


So it's hard to take a review seriously when it's clear the reviewer didn't even understand the basic chronology of events.

It's worked for Rex Reed for almost fifty years, now.
posted by steambadger at 3:41 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yet, at approximately thirty or forty minutes into the movie, she starts talking about tracking snow into Scott Glenn’s temple.

If this was the temple on the side of his head, I would go to this movie. Because that would be something to see.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:41 PM on March 28, 2011


The visuals were great, soundtrack wonderful. Writing could have used some work, and the acting was sketchy in places.

If you're going to describe it that way, it better be at least as good as TRON.
posted by The World Famous at 3:42 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


grrr someone accidentally spoiled me on the ending. grrr
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:42 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


>: " I'm not trying to suggest that homosexual aspects of a film are instantly weird, but I'm saying that having homosexual undercurrents in films that are ostensibly supposed to be very straight and very macho raises my eyebrows a little."

Well, that's fairly common. It's still hard to top Commando. So to speak.
posted by Drastic at 3:42 PM on March 28, 2011


Me, I thought that the trailer made the movie look like the bits of Watchmen that I didn't like (which were the bits that Snyder didn't directly take from the graphic novel) crossed with Bayonetta, but having read a few reviews between having posted that on another blog and now, I kind of regret saying that because I really like Bayonetta.

Bayonetta? I'm sold.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:43 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this reviewer joking about 90s triphop covers of 60s songs? Please tell me yes.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 3:44 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dunno, everyone I know hates 300, and some of them no longer trust my judgement because I stubbornly refuse to retract my opinion that it is "awesome". To me it is like a survival mode or gauntlet level crossed with a descent into madness, they start out fighting normal men, proceed through ninjas, elephants, wizards, giant axemen and then finally the giant boss himself. I even like Watchmen even though people seem to think I am only liking it ironically. So maybe I would like this movie. I'm not going to tell anybody though.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:44 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Escapist has a rather positive video review.

It's impossible to take seriously the opinions of a guy who honestly believes that Watchmen was "one truly great movie...one HELL of a movie."

I'm tired of being told over and over again by critics and sundry others that a film has to make me care about a character, and that if it doesn't make the character a completely three-dimensional, lengthily (tediously) fleshed-out personality then it's physically impossible for the film to have any merit or for it to be engaging.

Luke Skywalker - Farmboy, hopes one day to see the galaxy. Knows only a little about his father.

John McClane - Down on his luck New York City Cop hoping to reconcile with his estranged wife.

Rooster Cogburn - Misanthropic alcoholic of questionable morals hired by Mattie Ross to find her father's murderer.

These are just quick outlines that give us plenty to root for. Some polished writing and establishing can take place very quickly and give way to a movie that's full of action where the characters are our surrogates - we care about them because we identify with them. With characters that are to poorly developed, the filmmakers lose the audience. See the plinket review of The Phantom Menace for more info.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 3:45 PM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


TBH I'm not sure I could really trust the opinion of any reviewer who has liked any Zack Snyder film ever, and technology should exist for me to filter them out.
posted by Artw at 3:45 PM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


"in this terrible, but glitzy, sex-slave den"

That description basically sums up my issue with the Zack Snyder movies I've seen.
posted by frenetic at 3:47 PM on March 28, 2011


Wow, if even Armond White doesn't really like your mindless spectacle you really are in trouble...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:48 PM on March 28, 2011


So, Snyder's Superman is probably gonna go off without a hitch, right?
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:49 PM on March 28, 2011


It's still hard to top Commando. So to speak.

Top Gun.

And more on topic, 300 really was quite OTT in its homophobic homoeroticism.
posted by kmz at 3:49 PM on March 28, 2011


300 is an incredibly homoerotic movie in which a villain is portrayed as slightly more explicitly homoerotic in order to make him even more villainous. It would be brilliant if I thought for a moment Snyder were doing it on purpose. I mean I hated the movie for other reasons as well but that was the tipping point for me.

I haven't seen Sucker Punch and I can't say I really intend to - it just doesn't look interesting to me. I'd already figured that one out before I noticed the protagonists are four white girls and an Asian; even my friends who liked the movie admitted that the Asian character - the sole non-white protagonist - doesn't really do much of anything.

In at least one other place I've seen people trying to defend that fact with the movie's setting in 1950s Vermont and, you know, fuck that.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:49 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, if even Armond White doesn't really like your mindless spectacle you really are in trouble...

WHA-?
posted by Artw at 3:50 PM on March 28, 2011


Ironically there's only ever been one utterly stone cold awesome bit in any Snyder film.... and of course he wasn't responsible
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:52 PM on March 28, 2011


It would be brilliant if I thought for a moment Snyder were doing it on purpose.

If Zack Snyder ever put a subtext in a movie deliberately it would be a large cube in the center of the action with "I AM A SUBTEXT" engraved on each face. The guys career exists primarily due to his ability to strip subtexts from existing works to make them palatable for imagination free Hollywood types.
posted by Artw at 3:52 PM on March 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Watchmen wasn't bad. I thought i'd hate it, but it felt enough like the comic and got alot of the good story beats in it. it wasn't the great movie the comic deserved but it wasn't a travesty
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:53 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something positive about this movie? Hmmm...oh! It passes the Bechdel Test.
posted by First Post at 3:53 PM on March 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


So, Snyder's Superman is probably gonna go off without a hitch, right?

Faster than a speeding bullet!
And then slowed down to near-immobility...
...and then sped up to be five times faster than a speeding bullet right as his fist hits Metallo's face!

Seriously, what could go wrong?
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:54 PM on March 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Watchmen wasn't bad.

No, it's not bad, but it's not great either. And in your heart you kind of know that although it sounds all right, it's actually just shite.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:55 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


This weekend, I went to a movie theater, intending to see Paul.

I got there early, and snuck into an early 15 minutes of Sucker Punch. "This is awful," I thought, but I was admittedly transfixed by the visuals. "This isn't a movie, this is an art project."

I went into Paul. Lasted about 30 minutes before I went, "This movie sucks. I'm going back to Sucker Punch, because fuck plot. Who needs plot when you have ninja chicks?"

Caught the last segments of Sucker Punch, which did offer me the aforementioned ninja chicks. I walked out thinking, "You know, I need more movie." So I walked into Battle: L.A., and caught the last 20 minutes of that, because again, fuck plot. Guns and aliens. All you need to know.

It was a fun afternoon at the parts-of-movies.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:55 PM on March 28, 2011 [31 favorites]


Watchmen wasn't bad.

Watchmen was the worst movie in the history of film, hands down. The last six hours of it were even worse than the first 8.
posted by The World Famous at 3:58 PM on March 28, 2011 [15 favorites]



Watchmen was the worst movie in the history of film, hands down. The last six hours of it were even worse than the first 8.


c'mon. i watched it because Id had 2 hours to kill between other movies and it was... i don't want to say 'enjoyable', because lots of it were grimy and messed up and ugly. which I liked. or not liked. i felt they fit the story, if that makes sense.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:59 PM on March 28, 2011


Watchmen wasn't bad. I thought i'd hate it, but it felt enough like the comic and got alot of the good story beats in it. it wasn't the great movie the comic deserved but it wasn't a travesty

I felt like Watchmen the movie was like a reading a negative where someone had changed the palette. It had all of the plot elements (save the monster at the end, of course) yet somehow everything just felt...off. The movie had a distinct visual understanding of its source material, but no an atmospheric or emotional connection to it to speak of.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 4:00 PM on March 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


It was a fun afternoon at the parts-of-movies.

I think it's a pretty funny statement about the current state of the movies that one has to mash 3 of them together to get any enjoyment out of your 12 dollar ticket.
posted by codacorolla at 4:00 PM on March 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


Watchmen was the worst movie in the history of film, hands down. The last six hours of it were even worse than the first 8.

Okay, granted, but the opening credits were kind of alright.
posted by dephlogisticated at 4:02 PM on March 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Why Watchman Didn't Work (self link)
posted by The Whelk at 4:02 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


of course the lesson that will be learned from this is that movies should be less original.
posted by Artw at 4:02 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought this review was hilarious. And pretty explain-y!
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:03 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe I broke my brain, but being an ironic fan of Troll 2, The Room, and Birdemic, there's something I find cute about people making fun of movies that aren't objectively terrible and broken in every area. Hollywood tends to make sure at least something works.

Yes, that was a troll re: movies being objectively bad.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:03 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Something positive about this movie? Hmmm...oh! It passes the Bechdel Test.

Sadly, the Bechdel test is easy to game...
posted by verb at 4:04 PM on March 28, 2011


Watchmen wasn't bad.

In the run up to Watchmen's release, I vigorously defended it from teh haterz on this very site. Right now seems as good a time as any to apologize and retract that entire comment. Teh haterz were teh rightxorz. Watchmen was horrendous. Rorschach doesn't know kung-fu.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:05 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


And then slowed down to near-immobility...

The super slow-mo in 300 was great it really underscored the sort of dissociative effect caused by the fact that in every scene the looked like they were in front of a crudely painted mural. If you look carefully they only had one fake rock that they moved to a different spot for each scene. I feel like I am on a mix of peyote and muscle relaxers every time I watch it.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:06 PM on March 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think a positive review might be a more interesting read.

Here's my positive review. I'll paraphrase Roger Ebert's review of Spawn, because it fits with Sucker Punch, too, because it ...

... is best seen as an experimental art film. It walks and talks like a big budget horror film, heavy on special effects and pitched at the teenage audience, and maybe that's how it will be received. But it's more impressive if you ignore the genre and just look at what's on the screen. What we have here are creators in several different areas doing their best to push the envelope. The subject is simply an excuse for their art--just as it always is with serious artists.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:08 PM on March 28, 2011


I haven't seen the positive-ish review on Tor linked yet. I liked Watchmen (it was about nasty people doing nasty shit, but that was the point, and honestly, kind of true to the 80s) but you couldn't pay me to spend two hours of my life on Sucker Punch.
posted by immlass at 4:10 PM on March 28, 2011


there's this thing that happens with big budget sci-fi movies where I read so much about them from MeFi and geek sites that i never get around to seeing the movie. happened with Transformers and Avatar. i already know the plot to Sucker Punch in detail, and i haven't seen it.
so glad i saw Inception and Scott Pilgrim on the first night last year

so maybe i should stop reading reviews and see this

man, i enjoyed Spawn
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:10 PM on March 28, 2011


Scott Pilgrim... Tron... Sucker Punch.... The ComiCon crowd spaffing themselves into a frenzy over your film is really starting to look like the kiss of death now
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:11 PM on March 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was probably always going to dislike this, since I don't really 'get' Snyder (300 almost put me to sleep), but the reviews have put me off completely. If I want mindless action, I'll go watch a movie that does it without objectified all of its female characters in the process.
posted by anaximander at 4:11 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Snyder makes these big manly movies for manly men, but there's a weird undercurrent to it.

Don't blame Snyder for this. 300 and Watchmen were both extremely accurate representations of their comic-book source material. I mean, we're talking shot-for-shot accurate. That weird undercurrent you're noticing is his choice of source material.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:12 PM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


From Whelk's review of Watchmen:
PP.S: Man, Zack Snyder really knows how to make male asses look good on screen.

Hmmm, indeed.
posted by codacorolla at 4:14 PM on March 28, 2011


Watchmen may have been "shot for shot" accurate, but is it really an accurate representation if it gets tone wrong?

And isn't it kind of a problem if a movie has trouble standing on its own? I watched Watchmen without reading the graphic novel, and I found myself reading the wikipedia article after watching and then getting eureka moments about why things actually happened. Watching it, a lot of the events just felt like they were randomly unfolding by movie logic rather than for reasons.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:15 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Watchmen as a film has many wonderful visuals, but cannot and will not carry the water as the best and canonical work. The comic will stand the test of time. It's so part of its cold-war setting and era it must be understood in that context.

300, interestingly was the subject of a defense by no less than Neal Stephenson.

I couldn't finish 300, and saw Watchmen twice (I love the graphic novel, and loved being immersed in the world, but I don't see a need to see it again). I'm exactly the target demographic for this film (well, I think I am, 40something nerd male on again off again comics fan) but could not be moved to support it in its first weekend.

Speaking of Beatrix Kiddo, the Kill Bill films I didn't initially think much of (splatter! silliness! references!), but have grown on me to a great extent since then.

I have not seen Sucker Punch but will say that calling back to Brazil is interesting. I'm really curious as to what the young female demographic, which ostensibly this film targets, actually thinks of it.
posted by artlung at 4:15 PM on March 28, 2011


Snyder is remarkable in that he makes genuinely camp movies in modern times. Not intentionally campy, but unintentionally, which in its own way makes them much more campy than even the films of, say, John Waters.
posted by mikeh at 4:16 PM on March 28, 2011


I have not seen Sucker Punch but will say that calling back to Brazil is interesting. I'm really curious as to what the young female demographic, which ostensibly this film targets, actually thinks of it.

...is it going for a young female demographic? Because everything about it, including all of the pre-release marketing, just screams 'male teenage fantasy' to me.
posted by anaximander at 4:18 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm really curious as to what the young female demographic, which ostensibly this film targets, actually thinks of it.

I really, really doubt this targets the young female demographic. From what I've read, the main character might be more forward-thinking than, say, the protagonist of Twilight, but not by much. If this is meant for women, then so is Resident Evil.
posted by mikeh at 4:19 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't like this film not because I saw it, but because all my friends saw it and none of them were like "hey hellojed, come see this movie with us" but they blabed about it on facebook/twitter. It's been a particularly bleak and lonely last 2 weeks and this movie just seemed to enforce that.

Also: I associate Sucker Punch with the game studio that made Sly Cooper, so when I see previews I'm like "damn, they went off the deep end for sure"
posted by hellojed at 4:22 PM on March 28, 2011


I think the problem with Watchmen the movie is that the plot just isn't that interesting once you strip away the medium. There are things you can do with a comic… narrative devices that you just can't capture very well with film. And when they do it looks like a gimmick (300's u-l-t-r-a-s-l-o-w-m-o and the Sin City effect, for example). I'd love to see a good comic storyline given the time to develop. Like the Harry Potter movies, or the Lord of the Rings.

Personally, I want Peter Jackson to direct The Sandman in a four-movie deal, and I want Gaiman to get points off gross on the deal to pen the screenplay. I also want a pony.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:24 PM on March 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


From Popbitch:

Tank girls - Why action women flop

Every few years, film studios commission research to see if they're missing out on any important niches in the cinema market. Invariably one of the things that people suggest they'd like to see more of is a feisty heroine in a female-led action movie.

However, in practice action heroines very rarely do anything but flop - and flop badly. The reason? Girls don't go to see films with action heroines and boys don't want to but merchandise with girls on it. So they make no money. Does Hollywood ever seem to learn?

In short, no - so brace yourself for a new Tomb Raider film.

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:25 PM on March 28, 2011


Skipping to the bottom (and thankful that the MeFi PTBs use a large footer), I'm guessing this entire thread is filled with bald-faced spoilers.
posted by rhizome at 4:27 PM on March 28, 2011


Luke Skywalker - Farmboy, hopes one day to see the galaxy. Knows only a little about his father.

John McClane - Down on his luck New York City Cop hoping to reconcile with his estranged wife.

Rooster Cogburn - Misanthropic alcoholic of questionable morals hired by Mattie Ross to find her father's murderer.


Nomi Malone - Hot-tempered dancer with a mysterious past who dreams of becoming a Las Vegas dancer. The great heroes! :)

Yeah, emotional investment is really important. All it really takes to buy into a character is to know that she/he has a powerful goal and wants it bad enough to fight. Here it sounds like this Baby Doll person is just reacting to events instead of making them happen.

The Brazil rip-off elements also sound a little dramatically inert. When Sam Lowry gets lobotomized in the Terry Gilliam movie, it's something he made happen by fighting the system in Act II. He's not just a passive victim of Central Services.
posted by Victorvacendak at 4:27 PM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is an awful review.
posted by secondtolastresort at 4:27 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Personally, I want Peter Jackson to direct The Sandman in a four-movie deal, and I want Gaiman to get points off gross on the deal to pen the screenplay. I also want a pony.

Sandman is largely about the power of stories, the stories people tell, the things they make up to be able to survive while playing with the conventions of different types of storytelling - you'd have to translate all of that into film language and I don't see it surviving.

That and the fun was really going around the edges of this universe, the central character is a bit of placeholder and a bit too dull. He goes from being a jerk deity to realizing he needs to change but has to set it up in a way that makes it inevitable and conforms is to his own (unspoken, interior, and assumed) sense of ethics.

And the big one, nothing is solved by violence.
posted by The Whelk at 4:28 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


In my world there are two kinds of enjoyable movies: those that are good, and those that are awesome. Some films mentioned previously in this thread, such as 300 and Showgirls, are not good but boy are they awesome. Somehow Sucker Punch managed to make hot girls, big guns, robots, ninjas, and dragons not awesome at all.

SPOILERS IN THIS BIT! The part that irritated me the most was the whole whorehouse dream world. It's revealed in the end that everything major that happened to the girls in the nightclub also happened in the "real" asylum -- there really was a fire, really was an escape, the map really was stolen, and so on. So why bother to set it all in some boring middle layer dream? There's no good reason for it aside from putting the girls in lingerie, and it hurts the characterization (what little there is). It's like someone saw Inception halfway through the production and needed to shoehorn in some more dream layers.

Also, a note to Baby Doll's makeup team: piling on the blush doesn't make you look younger, it just makes you look pinker.
posted by jess at 4:30 PM on March 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


We'll see how Snyder does adapting Vaughn Bode's Cobalt 60 comic into a movie.
posted by Liquidwolf at 4:30 PM on March 28, 2011


man, i enjoyed Spawn

The future of movie theaters will be the group viewing experience. Keep the big screen, super surround, and all that, but change the seating. Turn row after row of seats into pods where groups of viewers sit with the understanding that it is okay to talk amongst the group.

Because that way movie goers can see movies like Spawn as intended, by turning to the person next to them and saying, "Is the Devil really just some endlessly looped figure from a Hot Wheels slot car set?" or "Man, I never thought I'd say this, but John Leguizamo is too good for this shit."

Throw in waitstaff and booze and you have an evening out that's actually worth the nigh on 15 buck seat price.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:31 PM on March 28, 2011 [17 favorites]


Snyder is remarkable in that he makes genuinely camp movies in modern times.

What's remarkable is that he gets away with it. But given how personal Metafilterland is taking this one review, maybe Snyder has business smarts, making shitty nerd flicks with scantily clad women.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:35 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess I never saw what was wrong with Watchmen that would be fixed by being a film instead of a book.

I kind of felt like the filming of it was the ultimate expression of the idea that a thing is not really real until someone makes a movie out of it. Which I don't get. The lack of motion and sound are a feature, not a bug, and can be employed to tremendous effect if the writer cares to do so.

At no point while reading Watchmen did I think, "Okay fine, but I can't wait for the movie!" I loved it as it was. It was a comic book about comic books (among other things) which employed a lot of techniques which only really work in that format.

I had a friend who suggested it'd be a better thing if made into an HBO miniseries. Here's an idea: They're books. Let 'em be books. They're neither inferior nor superior to movies. They don't necessarily need to be turned into a movie or a tee-shirt you can wear to the movie or action figures you can buy of the characters in the movie.

To clarify, I'm not saying nothing should be adapted to film but at this point it's just kind of an automatic thing which is done, regardless of the source material, and it seemed to me that Watchmen as a movie was the most egregious example of that.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:35 PM on March 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


So, Suckerpunch:

Kill Bill without self-awareness, or Brazil for people with major head trauma?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:36 PM on March 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


anyone seen the Watchmen motion comics? those are horrible
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:36 PM on March 28, 2011


"I died of Dumb."

Ha! How do you really feel?!
posted by garnetgirl at 4:37 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I LOVED the Watchmen motion comics. Watched them more than once. So much better than the movie.
posted by empath at 4:37 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess I never saw what was wrong with Watchmen that would be fixed by being a film instead of a book.

Some people won't read books.
posted by empath at 4:37 PM on March 28, 2011


I saw it at the midnight show. Wasn't impressed with the story, underwear-ology, and the "escapes "Home for the Mentally Insane" (physically insane, emotionally insane, WHA-??) to a bordello, which she escapes to action sequences". Then it hit me

This is a live action ANIME movie. That explains the wack story, the fan service and most of all the EDO-era Chaingun.

as well as Sensei Scott (steve jobs) Glenn. Who is the Awesome Sauce.
posted by djrock3k at 4:38 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Escapist has a rather positive video review.

@AdamCSnyder: great link.

Interesting that the reviewer contrasts SuckerPunch with Inception and compares it to Brazil as a "fanciful digressions in which characters process, contextualize, and even escape from harsh realities." Wonder if he gave thought to comparing it to Pan's Labyrinth? Femail protagonist, personal horrors, escapism, Nazis and the lot.

Based on this review and the merit of Snyder's adaptation of The Watchmen I'm actually willing to give SuckerPunch a shot.
posted by En0rm0 at 4:39 PM on March 28, 2011


I'm really curious as to what the young female demographic, which ostensibly this film targets, actually thinks of it.

I really, really doubt this targets the young female demographic. From what I've read, the main character might be more forward-thinking than, say, the protagonist of Twilight, but not by much. If this is meant for women, then so is Resident Evil.


Of the three or four people I know who have expressed a desire to see this movie, all have been young, geeky females; the same subset that gets inordinately worked up over The Nightmare Before Christmas and Invader Zim, who shopped at Hot Topic before it was uncool, and who are openly bisexual/kinky. This movie contains violence, mental institutions, sexy schoolgirls, swords, steampunk nazis, dragons... I mean, Christ, it was practically focus-grouped for their demographic.
posted by dephlogisticated at 4:39 PM on March 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


I guess I never saw what was wrong with Watchmen that would be fixed by being a film instead of a book.

A lack of dollars in the bank (although that didn't quite work out for them)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:40 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sat through maybe 4 hours of the Watchmen motion comics. Then I realized I could read the book over again quicker.

I've been thinking of giving up on comics altogether. I feel that Watchmen, Sandman, Swamp Thing, and a handful of others are the real stand outs and I probably shouldn't torture myself any longer. It is as if there were 5 Citizen Kanes and every other movie ranged between "well... That wasn't bad" and "that was total fucking crap".
posted by Ad hominem at 4:43 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Generally, when I find that I am jealous of a character in a movie, it is because that character is handsome or eating a decent looking sandwich or maybe best friends with a penguin.

Best opening sentence ever.
posted by farishta at 4:44 PM on March 28, 2011


nah, there are gems everywhere

and i've been trying to resist this all thread, but

IT AIN'T NO SIN TO FEEL BAD TO BE ALIVE

done
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:45 PM on March 28, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, there was an AskMe wondering who directed the trailer to Battle for Los Angeles, which looked promising even though the movie itself was terrible. On the strength of that discussion, I decided not to watch Sucker Punch, even though the geek in-jokey set pieces (Hueys? Zepplins? Dragons? in the same world?) had me grinning like a madman in the theater when I saw the trailer before Black Swan. I didn't imagine a particularly good movie, but at least a relatively harmless and amusing one. Given all the reviews I've read, it seems like the movie I imagined from the trailer is infinitely more awesome than what was actually produced.

If memory serves, the trailer didn't show that: 1) There are two levels of this dream-world, one of which is a degrading brothel; 2) the entire movie, outside the framing bit, takes place inside both dreamworlds (during a lobotomy!?!?), and there's no tie to the movie's "surface reality" to any of it, so really only one character is real and she's out of luck, anyway. 3) Yes, apparently the world is as ridiculous as it looked, with nothing redeeming in there.

Maybe I'm wrong, but if those assumptions are true, I have zero desire to see the movie. I'll just remember the fun-looking action set pieces from the trailer and not give them any of my money.
posted by Alterscape at 4:48 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really enjoyed the film.

Then again, I saw it as essentially live-action manga.

I bet most manga would come off ludicrous when shown live-action. case in point.

I see no need to defend it, any more than I would defend martial arts films, slasher flicks, or T&A movies, all of which make everything else second-fiddle to their genre setups.

Like I thought about 300, Zack Snyder has made some inroads to making actors comfortable and effects creators comfortable working with greenscreen. I think that will have some great payoffs down the line.
posted by jscott at 4:50 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's a lot happening in a fast-moving thread; now you see me moving in slow motion, reading over the comments, trying to decide which one to address, and then OHHH SHINY! nowI'mgoingsuperfastandthey'replayingadeathmetalversionofsomeDefLeppardsongandBOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!! this chick falls ~ out of the sky

~ in like a hot ~

~ pink ~

boostier (it's clearly been drawn there on a dude's spunk-screened Mac; you can see aerolae like flattened blood oranges peeking out), digital platinum hair whipping in the wind, and she opens her

improbably

cotton-candy-colored mouth full of exquisitely rendered braces (this is a popular fashion statement amongst twenty-somethings in Thailand who do not require actual dental work, he added quickly) to say:

...is it going for a young female demographic? Because everything about it, including all of the pre-release marketing, just screams 'male teenage fantasy' to me.

I think it's neither fish nor fowl -- even the average teenage boy can do better than a PG-13 as long as he has an internet connection, and the average young woman would look at this and realize it's every bit as intended for her as the latest issue of Maxim. Which, okay, does still sell to someone, so I guess it's not impossible to imagine an audience for a movie like this exists, but I have no idea who they are. It looks too tame to appeal to pervs and too pervy to appeal to people who want to see a real movie.

And I really think that's the lesson here -- the failure of this movie does not mean that action heroines can never sell, or that films not based on a pre-existing property cannot sell, although Hollywood would love to believe either one (or both) because that would mean they'd have to stretch themselves even less than they are right now. This movie is failing because this movie apparently just sucks some ass. That's that.

PS: Resident Evil: Afterlife is a piece of shit, and I say that as someone who loved the original Resident Evil and has seen it like fifteen times. Don't listen to that guy.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:54 PM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


There's a gigantic billboard for Sucker-Punch I can see from my bedroom window.

It's a well lit up fantasmagorical image with about a thousand subtle shades of green and the witchy-esque teen girl walking confidently through it all and the font, imagery and the softness and lightening of the images makes me think of the Harry Potter movies and thought it was pretty cool all these fantasy spell and enchantment type films these days, plenty of room in the genre for mythology and symbolism and psychological and emotional complexity and this one looked to have a strong teenage girl as the protagonist who was pretty smokin' at that.

The billboard Sucker-Punch replaced had been of a sexually confident woman, with massive eyelashes and luscious black hair and sparkling shiny red lips pouting suggestively for LARRY FLYNT'S HUSTLER CLUB. It was tacky, obvious. It was manipulative. and It cheapened everything around and everyone around it, and after having read that review I wish they would bring it back.
posted by Skygazer at 4:55 PM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


of course the lesson that will be learned from this is that movies should be less original.

http://www.daveexmachina.com/gfx/2009/nonconformity.jpg
posted by Legomancer at 4:59 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Watchmen may have been "shot for shot" accurate, but is it really an accurate representation if it gets tone wrong?
The problem with saying that he got the tone 'wrong' is that you're adding your own interpretation of what the tone of the comic was. Maybe it was a little different for me because I read the comic just a few months before I saw the movie, and it was still fresh in my head. I just enjoyed it as a visual interpretation of the comic. It was fun to watch. I agree that it wasn't as apocalyptic as the comic, though.
posted by delmoi at 5:01 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Delmoi, that movie is pretty much an epic exercise in point-missing. It's okay to miss the point if your point is better -- I'm talking like Starship Troopers, The Shining -- but Snyder's point was like, duuuuuuuuuuuude they just sawed off his arms braaaaahhhhhhh sweeeeeet
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:06 PM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


i dunno. it felt pretty mournful to me
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:07 PM on March 28, 2011


[A couple comments removed. If some innocuous detail in a link pushes your buttons, it's okay to just not comment in the thread after not reading the article.]
posted by cortex at 5:14 PM on March 28, 2011


of course the lesson that will be learned from this is that movies should be less original.

If there is one single original thing about this movie, I will eat my shoes, live via webcam.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:19 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rotten Tomatoes' audience is 3 times more likely to recommend the film than critics. IMdb's rating is even higher.
posted by Brian B. at 5:27 PM on March 28, 2011


To be honest, I don't even need that, I'll identify with anyone who's the protagonist of a film, automatically

Such as Downfall?
posted by njohnson23 at 5:29 PM on March 28, 2011


I haven't seen this yet. At some point, I will, and I'll be disappointed in it to a greater degree than the film deserves. Here's why:

About ten years ago I wrote a feature script (unproduced) with a hell of a lot of similarities to this. Of all the scripts I've written, this was the one I was closest to, most proud of. In many ways it is of course nothing like what Sucker Punch appears to be at all, but in the ways I care about it is similar.
Meredith, our lead, is a somewhat rebellious Long Island goth-girl who one night towards the end of the school year is brought out clubbing in the city with her college-aged brother and his friends. While at the club, she ends up in a K-hole and the brother's friends gang-rape her while she is immobile. Abandoned there, she finds her way back to LI and finds herself in a screaming match with her mother before Meredith snaps, barges into her mothers room, takes her valium and money, and heads back into the city, impulsively intent on drinking and dosing herself to death.

As she collapses in the ladies' room, a man named Charlie (who I really should have thought of a better name for) accidentally barges in, thinking it's the mens' room, and helps her up, before Charlie murders up the bar, and takes Meredith with him to the hospital to get her stomach pumped. While there, Charlie the serial killer asks her about why she tried to kill herself, and why, if she were taking that action, she wouldn't rather just act as if she had nothing to lose.

So Meredith assumes the identity of Ashley, a popular girl she hated at her high school, and along with Charlie goes out to target her brother and his friends, one by one, in a series of grisly murders. After the final one, Charlie and Meredith hole up in a library, where she finally lets herself sleep with him, after which he turns on her and she fights him off, just as the cops are surrounding the building. She walks out onto the front steps as the dawn is breaking, refusing to put her hands up and forcing the cops into shooting her down-

-at which point we return to the floor of the ladies' room, and no rescue is coming. Meredith is just dying on the floor, imagining what she wished she had done.
It's not a fantastic story, I'll be the first to admit. But it came from a lot of things I knew well. In college, I'd had a friend who was sexually assaulted while on ketamine, a friend-of-a-friend (and story-collaborator) who was the primary hostage in a stand-off in an east-village bar, and a friend who impetually pulled the most half-assed suicide-by-pills attempt imaginable, but whom I spent the night with at the hospital talking her through it all. In high school I had a friend who survived being shot by gang members, and another who- along with her younger siblings -was kidnapped by her criminal birth-father and taken back to Germany, where she escaped, found her way the the U.S. Embassy and got them all returned.

In short, I found myself flooded with stories of violence done to women, sometimes by others, sometimes by themselves, sometimes sexual and sometimes not, but all at route because of a perception of vulnerability which went so deep that it took heroics for the women involved to overcome it. And I wanted to write a story about that. My story collaborator was one of many women with whom I discussed everything thoroughly. I was going into tricky waters with a tricky subject and wanted to make sure I wasn't making any stupid or offensive mistakes in crafting the psychology of my lead - a girl who is temporarily so damaged and traumatized that while she might want her revenge, she would still take it out on herself instead.

I knew the story would have to involve sexuality to be honest, but wanted to avoid anything being "titillating," at least not until the end scene. I wrote the rape scene as entirely close-up on Meredith's face and narrated with her running inner monologue as comes to grips with her inability to do anything, taking care to remove anything which could even be accidentally "sexy" about it. I kept her sexually guarded throughout the body of the script, as someone trying to re-assert her own control over that aspect of her life.

I had a scene near the end where, searching down her brother, Meredith comes across the real Ashley, who doesn't really know Meredith but is kind to her, and who it turns out is seeing the brother, who is not good to her, and at the end of it Meredith is renewed in her mission, feeling that is no longer just about her. This was always singled out as the best-written scene by readers.

Anyway, my script might still have been crap, and I probably wouldn't write it today. No matter what I say the premise was still pretty damn exploitative and very, very easy to get horribly wrong. The idea that Zack Snyder would have the money to make a huge original movie with so many of the same beats (sexual violence, extended revenge fantasy, "Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge" ending) dredged up everything inside me that made me write my script in the first place. Hell, I even imagined it with tons of trip-hop.

But I've seen Watchmen, unfortunately, and know that while Snyder is very capable at creating images in post he is absolutely incapable of making them mean anything. He is absolutely peerless at turning substance into pure surface.

For all the shit aimed at this film, which did look right in my wheelhouse based on the trailer, worse than the troubling sexual politics or the emptiness of the characters, for me, is that the people who liked it are saying that those flaws aside, the film is a "blast." Given the subject matter, the film being fun (or I should say, fun and nothing else) seems like the most offensive element of all.

Anyway, I'll leave this rambling with my Director-of-Photography friend's review of 300. "If it weren't for the camerawork, that would have been the worst movie I have ever seen."
posted by Navelgazer at 5:34 PM on March 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


So after reading all the comments and reviews in this thread... I kinda want to go see it again.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:37 PM on March 28, 2011


but Snyder's point was like, duuuuuuuuuuuude they just sawed off his arms braaaaahhhhhhh sweeeeeet

Yes and no. It's a studio film. The starting point is that it will be sexied up somewhat to sell tickets. Assuming anything else is naive.

That said, I feel that Snyder took the ideas behind the story quite seriously and executed them effectively. I could care less that there was exagerated ass-kickery or that Rorschach erroneously knew kung fu. What I cared about was that the sex scene between Night Owl and Silk Spectre had emotional resonance and punctuated the inhumanity of nation-building at the price of individual human lives.

Snyder got it. He just got it in the context of a big budget studio movie.
posted by En0rm0 at 5:41 PM on March 28, 2011


I love this line from the Outlaw Vern review posted by Lovecraft in Brooklyn:

His movies have an implied “Hello friend, are you on the same wavelength as me?” instead of the ol’ “Here you go assholes, you like this type of shit don’t you? Then pay up, asswipe.”
posted by MegoSteve at 5:41 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


FWIW, a friend of mine saw Sucker Punch and stated that it's the perfect metaphor for the process of escaping an abusive relationship. So maybe the reviewers needed to be abuse survivors in order to get the film? Then again, Americans just don't do metaphor, so even that might not help.

Also, it's not like reviewers have much meaning to me in telling me what films to go to; Star Wars largely got panned in the local papers, as did Buckaroo Banzai, Big Trouble in Little China , Blade Runner, Dark City, The Dark Cristal, The Silent Earth, and well, pretty much anything else I went to in the 80s and 90s. Sure they were right Transformers and the like, but that was going to obviously be awful. So I can't trust reviewers.
posted by happyroach at 5:41 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Americans just don't do metaphor

Seriously. Americans are the, um, something of metaphors.
posted by The World Famous at 5:44 PM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Seriously. Americans are the, um, something of metaphors.

Think the word you're looking for is not-getters, brah.
posted by codacorolla at 5:46 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Aw snap.
posted by The World Famous at 5:47 PM on March 28, 2011


Babydoll wasn't lobotomized until the end of the movie. She did help another patient escape before the operation.

So it's like if Jack Nicholson was a stripper who helped Chief escape before he was lobotomized, right?
posted by octobersurprise at 5:52 PM on March 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yes and no. It's a studio film. The starting point is that it will be sexied up somewhat to sell tickets. Assuming anything else is naive.

That said, I feel that Snyder took the ideas behind the story quite seriously and executed them effectively. I could care less that there was exagerated ass-kickery or that Rorschach erroneously knew kung fu. What I cared about was that the sex scene between Night Owl and Silk Spectre had emotional resonance and punctuated the inhumanity of nation-building at the price of individual human lives.

Snyder got it. He just got it in the context of a big budget studio movie.


There actually isn't a single part of this I agree with, which is a little bit remarkable when two people have seen the same work. I'm not convinced that Snyder even understood that there were ideas behind the story; his films have no subtext whatsoever, and what I'm saying is that I am not sure he even understands that subtext is an option for storytellers. He did not "get it." He staged the afore-mentioned sex scene so poorly that the theater I was in burst into laughter, and anecdotally I understand this experience wasn't unique. The characters' superhuman fighting abilities were ridiculous and made no sense. This is only me addressing your points; I could go on, but I won't. It's a bad adaptation, and on its own merits, it's a hot mess of a film...the stuff that works (Haley's performance, the Doctor Manhattan origin sequence) just makes the stuff that doesn't look that much worse. But most of all, my naivete in saying that, I don't know, maybe this movie shouldn't have totally sucked? If the opposing argument is that that's what sells tickets, then it's perhaps worth noting that this movie was an enormous financial failure. I know this'll sound naive, but if filmmaking is always a crapshoot, then at least if you make a good movie and it bombs, you've...made a good movie. I feel like it's something to shoot for, y'know.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:57 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


He is absolutely peerless at turning substance into pure surface.

People have been saying this about Synder's movies since 300. From the very first trailer, I've felt like Sucker Punch is, at least in part, Snyder saying, "Oh yeah, motherfuckers? I've got your All Surface and No Substance right here."
posted by Zozo at 6:00 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I discussed it briefly last night with a rather stoned 16 year old who'd seen it the night before with his girlfriend. She hated it but he described it as " ... not bad if you don't mind movies that aren't about anything except explosions and stuff." And then he wandered off to the basement where he and his buddies (also rather stoned) were about to watch Clockwork Orange.
posted by philip-random at 6:00 PM on March 28, 2011


of course the lesson that will be learned from this is that movies should be less original.

If there is one single original thing about this movie, I will eat my shoes, live via webcam.


Hey, I didn't say it was a good lesson or one even vaguely connected with reality.
posted by Artw at 6:06 PM on March 28, 2011


300 is an incredibly homoerotic movie in which a villain is portrayed as slightly more explicitly homoerotic in order to make him even more villainous.

No. He's portrayed as effeminate, even soft, which is not the same thing as being gay. There are different forms of homoeroticism.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:07 PM on March 28, 2011


You would have to bribe me with substantial sums of hard cash to see this movie. No, I'm not anybody, but picking good movies is one of the Eight Things That I Do Well, for whatever that's worth. Everything about this movie just looks soooo bad.
posted by Leta at 6:09 PM on March 28, 2011


The writer (whoever it is) of this laundry list of "wrong things about 'Sucker Punch'" has not seen very many movies, or very many good ones, if he really thinks that "essential to the success of any narrative is that there be something, or someone, that audience cares about." A movie can succeed on its own terms without having any identifiable narrative or any "relatable" characters at all.
posted by blucevalo at 6:09 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


The dude pretty straight-up macks on Leonidas at one point - that is what I'm referring to.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:10 PM on March 28, 2011


So I walked into Battle: L.A., and caught the last 20 minutes of that, because again, fuck plot. Guns and aliens. All you need to know.

I saw that too, because after all sometimes you just wanna see things explode, but I didn't expect it to be a love letter to the USMC.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:10 PM on March 28, 2011


The dude pretty straight-up macks on Leonidas at one point - that is what I'm referring to.

Sure, but he could have had his way with Leonidas had he just beat him at wrestling, which is what I'm referring to.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:11 PM on March 28, 2011


Watchmen was the worst movie in the history of film, hands down.

Oh, hi, The World Famous!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:14 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, I don't think I'm following you here. When I said he was portrayed as slightly more explicitly homoerotic I'm talking about when he's coming on to the main character.

He is also portrayed as feminine, which is another thing entirely, but not what I was talking about.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:14 PM on March 28, 2011


Or effeminate, not feminine, sorry.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:18 PM on March 28, 2011


isn't there an indie-action platformer coming out with a similar plot? and no, i'm not thinking of American McGee's Alice
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:21 PM on March 28, 2011


I have a theory that the more trailers/exclusive clips/superbowl ads a movie has on Apple's trailer site, the worse that movie is. Sucker Punch has seven.
posted by Corduroy at 6:25 PM on March 28, 2011


So maybe the reviewers needed to be abuse survivors in order to get the film? Then again, Americans just don't do metaphor, so even that might not help.

So the target audience is rape victims? What?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:27 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


With Watchmen, yeah they did feel a bit super human, especially in the first scene where they are smashing marble with their fists, but that is extrapolated from the book. They are costumed vigilantes, they are going to know how to fight. I am looking at page 14 of issue 12 where Ozymandias catches a bullet. Even thought he is supposed to be the fastest , I am willing to bet his buddies are pretty badass as well.

As for the sex scene, it happens the same way, with the same flame thrower gag. I found the movie version goofy mostly because of Hallelujah playing, in the book dan Mentions that Billie Holliday is playing. I don't know if Snyder missed the point that Dan could only "perform" when he was in costume.

As for feel, yeah I think a comic about comics that has a comic in it is a different beast than a movie. The book seems to be more self referential and self aware, but that is mainly because I am projecting my own interpretation of Alan Moore's intent. I could hand it to somebody who knew nothing about it and they could come away thinking it was just as goofy as the movie. All in all I think the movie is just not as good of a movie as the comic is as a comic.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:28 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, hi, The World Famous!

Hi!
posted by The World Famous at 6:35 PM on March 28, 2011


Zack Snyder made the best imaginable adaptation of Rob Liefeld's Watchmen.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:37 PM on March 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Some of the comments on io9's review are priceless:
Some guy says: "I think the criticisms you have of the movie are completely petty and unfair. If you walk into the movie expecting a fun action film with characters and plots that pass for decent, then yeah, you're going to be dissapointed."
But on the other hand, whores with swords!
posted by octobersurprise at 6:39 PM on March 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't know if Snyder missed the point that Dan could only "perform" when he was in costume.

He didn't. There's a scene where Dan's out of costume, and he can't "perform". Then later, in costume, he can. I don't know how more blatant a director could get with that.
posted by mrgoat at 6:40 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


He staged the afore-mentioned sex scene so poorly that the theater I was in burst into laughter, and anecdotally I understand this experience wasn't unique.

Did they also burst into laughter when they saw Dr. Manhattan's penis? Because that might mean something other than Snyder staging the scene poorly.
posted by En0rm0 at 6:48 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Snyder's biggest sin was breaking the dizzy, crazy spell with a fumbled ending. Had he merely used the same sort of efficient wordless montage from the film's opening, I wouldn't have heard all the snickering and WTFs at the closing voiceover. Bye bye, fanboy buzz; bye bye, box office.

His second-biggest sin was treating the fight sequences as mere visual overload. Yes, they were all videogame boss battles (notice I did not say "just"), which in 2011 means there's a wealth of available tropes. E.g. the undead steam robot battle could have played like Left 4 Dead: Rocket gets overwhelmed, Baby Doll and Sweet Pea peel off the monsters and help her back up. FFS, Scott Glenn *said* they had to work as a team!

This movie frustrated me because it almost succeeded on its own (juvenile and ridiculous) terms.
posted by whuppy at 6:53 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It must have been written by some very terrible and troubled frogs.
posted by Peach at 6:55 PM on March 28, 2011


Look, I think we can agree that 300 is pretty homoerotic.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:58 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Did they also burst into laughter when they saw Dr. Manhattan's penis? Because that might mean something other than Snyder staging the scene poorly.

Actually, for all the "blue dong" jokes I've seen on the internet, no. I don't remember even hearing any giggling, which I kind of expected.

I think that if you compare the sequence in the comic to the sequence in the film, you'll see that it was just executed a whole lot better in its original format. The flamethrower bit was maybe never something that would work on film, but even that works better in the comic...though in large part the sex scene works on the page because of the lighting and the layouts and the pacing, which is all stuff that's very difficult to move over into film. I think the main reason it works on the page is that, perhaps ironically, you have a stronger sense of these people as people, and seeing them fuck in their kind of silly costumes just makes it all kind of poignant and desperate. Snyder just makes it over into softcore, and it seems silly in spite of itself -- and part of why is probably that they never feel like actual humans to us to start with. The best-executed characters in the film are the ones who are most out there -- Rorschach and Doctor Manhattan, and to a lesser degree the Comedian. More or less normal people just come off cardboard.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:01 PM on March 28, 2011


300 just annoyed me as a student of Classical history cause no, the Spartans where WAAAAAY more weird and interesting and fucked up then that.

Helen of Troy, most Beautiful Girl In The World, she was Queen of Sparta.

Which meant she was a hard-drinking shaved-bald woman who spent her entire life in an all female world of wrestling and viciously beating serfs.
posted by The Whelk at 7:01 PM on March 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


Which meant she was a hard-drinking shaved-bald woman who spent her entire life in an all female world of wrestling and viciously beating serfs.

I'll be in my bunk.
posted by mrgoat at 7:02 PM on March 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was kind of perturbed that they specifically say that the mental institution is in Brattleboro. Why do that? The Brattleboro Retreat is one of the premier mental health institutions in the country and has a long history of progressive medicine, all the way back to the 1800s when they advanced the idea that mental illness could be treated by peaceful living and kindness rather than prison and torture. Brattleboro doesn't deserve the lobotomoy/rape insinuations and I think it is a dick move by the writers/director.
posted by ChrisHartley at 7:06 PM on March 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


This movie is failing because this movie apparently just sucks some ass.

One of the frustrating things about movies these days is the opening weekend box office becomes a kind of shorthand for whether the movie is good. I don't think that's so. Not that that means the poor opening means Sucker Punch bad or good.

I wonder how initial weekend success correlates to the eventual (post-DVD release?) Rotten Tomatoes rating. That might be interesting to see.
posted by artlung at 7:08 PM on March 28, 2011


Dude Helen is awesome. "The Women Of Troy" is basically a huge rant on "No, Helen didn't cause the war, it was you fucking men and your flimsy excuses trying to settle old scores that will never get settled cause you keep massacring people. When does vengeance end?"

And the canon of Helen walking the walls of Tory. Aphrodite comes to her as she's trying to leave saying "Okay Bitch you're basically an ant to me and you have a role to play and if you don't do wha I say I'll make sure no one looks at you again."

I mean, the greek gods are terrifying, the use people like toys, and I like seeing that pushed to the front cause while they may look human (sometimes) they're totally and completely alien and cruel and your best bet is to hope they never ever notice you.
posted by The Whelk at 7:08 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think we can agree that 300 is pretty homoerotic.

Oh, it's even more homoerotic that that.

Helen is awesome.

Paging Gorgias. Gorgias to thread.

posted by octobersurprise at 7:13 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I understand what Cool Papa Bell is saying about Watchmen. I read it last year for the first time, and was really struck by the weird homophobic subtext of much of it. I asked my fanboy friend if this was there to make a point about comics and gender and sex, or if the anti-gay feeling (and specifically, the anti-lesbian stance) really reflected the author's worldview. He wasn't sure. Neither was I.
posted by Malla at 7:18 PM on March 28, 2011


I despised Watchmen and was incredibly bored by 300. I thought Sucker Punch was better than that, although I guess that's not saying much. I was definitely bored at a couple points. However, consider watching it a second time, which is more than I can say for the other two movies. This review is on the positive side, and reasonably fair, I think.
posted by yeolcoatl at 7:19 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the frustrating things about movies these days is the opening weekend box office becomes a kind of shorthand for whether the movie is good.

I was extrapolating from the reviews -- I don't think box office is a great metric for quality, because obviously the notion that people not seeing a movie means it's bad is kinda paradoxical, right? You can't say with certainty that something you haven't experienced yourself is, like, unworthy of being experienced at all. I'm not sure whether anyone has trotted this example out yet, but I think Scott Pilgrim is terrific, possibly my favorite movie from last year, and it seems to me there's two groups: People who love it and people who haven't seen it. It's just that a lot of people haven't seen it, and tend to have a movie in their heads that they've kinda intuited from ads and trailers and their own loathing of hipsters, and man, they hate the fuck outta that movie. That movie doesn't exist in the real world, but that doesn't seem to matter all that much.

In the case of Sucker Punch (and Scott Pilgrim, for that matter), a weak first weekend is a little scary for the studios because nerdcentric films tend to do their biggest business then. These aren't movies that they expect to build an audience over time.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:21 PM on March 28, 2011


I guess I should also point out that Sucker Punch is one of the few movies in Hollywood that easily passes the Bechdel Test, which either means that the movie is more feminist that people are giving it credit for, or that the test is horribly flawed.
posted by yeolcoatl at 7:27 PM on March 28, 2011


I can;t talk about Scott Pilgrim objectively cause Kirean Culkin was doing a stellar impersonation of me and they used Legend Of Zelda music so I cannot be impersonal about it.
posted by The Whelk at 7:28 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Brechdel test has it's uses as a metric, but in the end, is just a little guideline for getting people to notice how underdeveloped female characters tend to be.

my current script passes it in spades!
posted by The Whelk at 7:29 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


and seeing them fuck in their kind of silly costumes just makes it all kind of poignant and desperate

Yeah the movie version was a bit Red Shoe diaries, the comic version was frenetic, chopped into multiple small panels in a way that was a bit unusual for Watchmen,it was a release in more ways than one seeing as they were also back in action as costumed Heros. There is no doubt that as a comic Watchmen is genius, whereas the movie was a ok way to spend a couple hours.

Dammit now I'm going to have to read it again.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:31 PM on March 28, 2011


I asked my fanboy friend if this was there to make a point about comics and gender and sex, or if the anti-gay feeling (and specifically, the anti-lesbian stance) really reflected the author's worldview. He wasn't sure. Neither was I.

Alan Moore is a member of Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia (or AARGH for short!) and authored an incredibly moving piece about same-sex love so I doubt it reflects his worldview.

Watchmen has among its themes the fucked-up sexual hang-ups of the superhero genre. Other than that I could not say for sure.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:32 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man, I guess this means my question about 'what book does this [parallel|rip off]' isn't going to get much traction.

I was interested in this movie simply because it appeared to be a movie take on this book I read in 1996 in a class about utopian ideas. It's about a middle-aged woman in an institution. A doctor with all kinds of ideas, and plenty of mental patients that he doesn't care about. She fights back in both the "real" and ?imagined? worlds, and eventually starts a big fire. The utopia included 3-parent families (which makes FAR more sense after bringing home my own kids). I could swear one man's name was Bee.

It was a terrific book, but one move too many means I haven't seen it in 15 years.

Well, if anyone has ideas on what that book might be, I'd love to hear them.
posted by ES Mom at 7:36 PM on March 28, 2011


Yeah Watchman is more about, in the sexual sense, how screwed up the capes are when it comes to sex. The costumes are totally a thing. It's highlighted a bunch of times The guy who kept robbing banks so the capes would "Punish" him. The fact that the most "out" lesbian got killed by a deranged man. The fact that they're all 50s-era sexual paranoids and within that context, being gay was a Bad Thing. Captain Metropolis' lover, Hooded Justice, ends up in front of House Of UnAmerican Activities - cause being gay was a security risk. You could be blackmailed.

This feeling of paranoia and dread is so important to the book, as is the idea of secret identities. Captain Metropolis is the most gung-ho 50s Chamber-Of-Commerce dude ever but he still had to work around the witchhunts and repression. "Who will save the world?" indeed.
posted by The Whelk at 7:40 PM on March 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


AND, while I thought the movie was deeply deeply wierd and tone-deaf, the opening titles where kind of brilliant.

It's sums up how I feel about the movie in general, a very slick run through a deep mythology that only ever touches the surfaces and never gets to what made that mythology interesting and engaging in the first place.

But damn, that's slick. That's pretty.
posted by The Whelk at 7:45 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


if anyone has ideas on what that book might be, I'd love to hear them.

Woman On The Edge Of Time?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:46 PM on March 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


And the way it set up to turn comic panels into kinda of Tabealu Vivants. You couldn't do a whole movie like that, but a music video?

Oh it so works.

Which again sums up how I feel about the movie as a whole. It was like a music video with a Watchman theme on it.
posted by The Whelk at 7:47 PM on March 28, 2011


Watchmen isn't a great adaptation. But aside from getting a better actress to play Laurie, I'm not sure what *would* make a better adaptation. So much of what makes it great (to me) is inherent to the media.

also, that 300/Vogue mashup is brilliant.

I haven't decided if I'll go see Sucker Punch. I may go for the pretty visuals.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:50 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I got that with the superheroes, but even the regular folk lesbians are self-loathing and end up dead. I also have to keep in mind the 1980s were such a strange transitional time, I guess.
posted by Malla at 7:51 PM on March 28, 2011


And yes, the Opening titles of Watchman are the only hint in the movie of one of the book's major and most compelling themes:

Superheroes would be the crutch of the establishment and used to keep order and it makes America even more imperial and crazy, crushing any opposition and using law-and-order as a weapon around the world.
posted by The Whelk at 7:53 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Alan Moore has lesbian characters in many, maybe most, of his works. Watchmen, From Hell, Top 10, Balad of Halo Jones, Promethea, Mina from League of Extrordinary Gentlemen is bi.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:58 PM on March 28, 2011


Octobersurprise, you're my hero. That's been bugging me for years.
posted by ES Mom at 7:59 PM on March 28, 2011


There is actually a direct line from Watchman to "The Man Who Has Everything", the Superman story where he gets a vision of the world where Kyrpton doesn't have the huge push to save their culture and race from a disaster.

Hint, it leads to Fascism and purges.

So I always think of Watchmen as a What If story along the lines of "Well What If America totally won Vietnam and killed hippies outright and got away with it? "
posted by The Whelk at 8:00 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Alan Moore also has some very good gay male characters, as well as bisexual and transexual ones.
posted by The Whelk at 8:00 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, gotcha. Yeah, the 80s were kind of a thing. The book is specifically aimed at, as Moore said, "The Reagans, Thatchers and other 'watchmen' of the world." That two lesbians in that society could not be happy or even find a healthy way to express their love was almost certainly intentional and represents the precise opposite of anti-lesbian subtext.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:00 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


ES Mom - that sounds like Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy.

(Though I kind of doubt Snyder has read it or any other book)
posted by Artw at 8:01 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


It was the era of the Dead Yet Noble Queer.
posted by The Whelk at 8:01 PM on March 28, 2011


And through Scott Pilgrim we've moved on to the Alive And Amazingly Fun Queer.

If you must have stereotypes, i prefer that one over nobly suffering.
posted by The Whelk at 8:02 PM on March 28, 2011


Alan Moore has lesbian characters in many, maybe most, of his works. Watchmen, From Hell, Top 10, Balad of Halo Jones, Promethea, Mina from League of Extrordinary Gentlemen is bi.

Valerie's account of her life as a lesbian is kind of the heart of V for Vendetta, with a parallel in Daddy Deitrich's inability to be "out" as who he truly is.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:04 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


OH CAN WE TALK ABOUT V FOR VENDETTA ADAPTATION? CAUSE THAT IS LITERALLY THE ONLY TIME I LEFT A MOVIE CURSING AND YELLING.

For one thing, it looked like a Honda Commercial. It looked cheap.

Also, in the book we never know V's indenity, V could be old, young, male or female. The movie puts a nail in that. UGH. ARGH. I AM GETTING ANGRY AGAIN.
posted by The Whelk at 8:06 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I the only person who finds Zack Snyder movies boring? Same slow-mo/fast-mo shots over and over again, same over-used color palette. He's like the inverse of Michael Bay. Whereas Bay throws so much stupid shit at the screen so fast that you can't tell what the fuck is going on, Snyder throws it at the screen, pauses it for a second, then hits play again. All the terrible racism and self-loathing homophobia in 300 would have at least made it interesting to talk about if it didn't feel like a 10 fucking hour movie. I really don't need to see the same scene replayed 10 billion times from different angles. But, at least he got the movie pretty true to the book: Miller's 300 is just as desperately racist as Snyder's. Watchmen he fucked up not because he was or wasn't true to the source material; honestly, I could care less if changed every detail or did it shot for shot. What he fucked up was the tone. After the opening sequence, the movie progressively forgot that the story is not about glorifying super-heroes. The sex scene between Nite Owl & Silk Spectre and the jailbreak scene were totally wrong: he tried to make the former passionate and sexy (instead of pathetic and crude) and it ended up ludicrous; the latter was all "Whoa look at these BADASS SLOW MO KARATE KICKS TO THE FUCKING FACE YEAH!" Again, not the friggin point.

The casting of Watchmen didn't help either. Oh my god, the acting, so terrible. And Ozymandias was born in 19-fucking-39. He is FORTY SIX. Matthew Goode was 31 going on 15. Ozymandias is good-looking, in tremendous shape, but not a damn twink.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:07 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


OH GOD, yes Ozy is supposed to be Batman via Charles Atlas, the strongest, bestest man in the world who is now a big businessman. He is not a slip of a boy.


ARGH
posted by The Whelk at 8:08 PM on March 28, 2011


In the book we know V is male ("You're the man in Room Five," etc) but beyond that we're given no information.

I'm almost completely certain the movie gives no information besides that, as well. Like in the book we never see his face or learn who he was before he was put in the camp. Am I remembering this wrong? Because that happens sometimes.

Or a lot.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:09 PM on March 28, 2011


This really is turning into a Watchmen thread. It's a very deep mine: of writing, adaptation, criticism.

it's not just the folk lesbians/queers that die tragically/nobly in Watchmen. Nearly every ancillary character we meet in New York ends up killed in the alien materialization. Their humanity, banality, make their deaths all the more tragic. I remember buying issue 12 and oh my gosh was that was a hell of an ending. Horrifying. So much of its time too. I was convinced I'd be killed in a nuclear war eventually. I had a bet with a friend that a nuclear weapon would be used in anger before the year 2000. I lost.
posted by artlung at 8:12 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was trying to forget the movie, but I thought there was a big tell on V's indenity.


I forgot about the line about "man in room five" bit. harumph, I should re-read it cause I only secretly suspected V was a girl.
posted by The Whelk at 8:12 PM on March 28, 2011


some people just don't get it....
posted by tomswift at 8:13 PM on March 28, 2011


Yes artlung, the 80s-cold-war-nuclear horror is so much a part of that book and none of that got through.
posted by The Whelk at 8:13 PM on March 28, 2011


It's kind of unfashionable to say nice things about Miller's later works around here, but i'll say this about 300 - it was a snappy read. Not like the movie at all, which draaaaaaged.
posted by Artw at 8:13 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sure, The Whelk, we can talk about that.

I've never read the book, simply because it has never come up, though I'd like to. As far as the movie is concerned: I adore it.

It is one of the only movies I can think of that, no matter the time of day or my mood, I can wrap myself in. Without reference to the book and how the movie "put a nail" into your issue with it, well, what does the movie reveal in terms of V's identity except that he's male (and, presumably, based on his voice, white)?

Frankly, it just blew me away with how determined it was to be an action movie through and through, but without the political baggage of previous generations of action movies. Its hero is a terrorist, though one with greater regard for life and freedom than the government. Its heroine tries to do the sensible things that any of us would do, rather than just kicking doors down and firing. Its most notable (if not most fearsome) antagonist is a "party man" who is curious about the truth as much as anything, and is willing to stand for something.

And through all of this is was successful and entertaining. I know a lot of people hate it. Probably more than love it or even like it. I just don't understand the beef with it, myself.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:14 PM on March 28, 2011


And through Scott Pilgrim we've moved on to the Alive And Amazingly Fun Queer.

If you must have stereotypes, i prefer that one over nobly suffering.


Though I love both books, and would be unhappy to part with either of them, that Watchmen hit the zeitgeist of its day just as dead-on as Scott Pilgrim does that of the last few years just really hit me and has me realizing exactly how much better off we all are now than we were when I was in, like, junior high. Man. The '80s kind of...sucked.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:14 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Naw, the film keeps his identity unsaid.

Truth be told, I only remember this because it was one of the very few things I liked about the movie.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:14 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


God I hated that V movie.
posted by Artw at 8:16 PM on March 28, 2011


I've never read the book, simply because it has never come up, though I'd like to. As far as the movie is concerned: I adore it.

You should read it, cause the Chapter: The Vicious Cabaret, which isn't in the movie at all.

I think you'll like it.
posted by The Whelk at 8:16 PM on March 28, 2011


I am really enjoying everyone's insights here re: Alan Moore. When I've tried to discuss these books with my friends I mostly get the blank look.
posted by Malla at 8:19 PM on March 28, 2011


I can't tell who the fuck is who in the book, all the panels are so small and muddy looking I kept getting everyone confused, I kept thinking "who is that, why is she in bed with the chief of police, what is going on"
posted by Ad hominem at 8:22 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


We can talk about TOP TEN, the only Alan Moore book that totally lends itself to a movie/tv adaptation but is left in the dust.

Thou lots of TOP TEN-esque projects are in development. Ron Moore (but BSG) in all up in one.
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 PM on March 28, 2011


The biggest of many problems with the V for Vendetta film (which is, I think, the "best" adapted work of Moore's): took a complex, interesting story about anarchism and the necessity of destruction before creation and turned it into a story promoting some kind of lame Western liberalism. Also: made it more into a story about V's personal vengeance against those who hurt him. No, no, NO. He only goes after those people so that he can truly "die" and become anonymous; that's the only way that he can destroy the system. Also: Evey has no character arc in the movie: goes from naive, but basically predisposed to a more liberal point of view because of her parents to being a community organizer.

I haven't seen Sucker Punch, so I can't make any judgments about it directly, but I want to say something about the video game aspect. Some people criticize it for being too much like a video game, other say that if you don't appreciate the art of games, you won't "get" the movie. I don't think that being like or unlike a game is necessarily good or bad. But if a movie is going to be like a game, it has to be like a game that I want to watch.

I loved Scott Pilgrim. It was like a video game. It was like a video game that I could not only see playing, but a game that I would enjoy watching if my friend were playing it. There are many games I could enjoy watching -- Grand Theft Auto, Legend of Zelda, LittleBigPlanet. There are games that I could not enjoy watching, at least for very long, but could maybe enjoy playing. Transformers was like watching someone shittily play a shitty game: it was all around horrible. Sucker Punch looks like it would be fun to play for a bit, but probably pretty fucking boring to watch. Especially because of the slow-mo, which is as overused in games as it is in movies.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:22 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


(and yes I'd love for V For Vendetta to get a re-lease with a re-color and clean up cause, dang it is muddy)
posted by The Whelk at 8:23 PM on March 28, 2011


And through all of this is was successful and entertaining. I know a lot of people hate it. Probably more than love it or even like it. I just don't understand the beef with it, myself.

My above thing about "one of the very few things I liked" is probably unneccesarily harsh, to be honest.

In a vacuum it's a pretty good movie. If there had never been a book, it'd be a wonderfully daring and challenging film, especially for the time it was released.

But there was a book and as a result the movie is kind of faintly puzzling in a lot of places and slightly irritating in others. Not because of its failure to convey the source material but because of how much it cherry-picks specific imagery out of context, changes characters to make them less challenging to an American audience and - this part kind of baffled me - took a furious work about life in Thatcher's England and made it an metaphor for GW Bush's America and that involved a lot of contortions.

So would you like the book? I don't know, but I can tell you this: It is extraordinarily emblematic - in art style, in coloring and inking and lettering - of British comics of the time, which is pretty different aesthetically from American comics of the time (and incredibly different from the ones now). So if you read a lot of comics it can take some getting used to.

That said, I think it's worth it. It's a very rewarding book.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:26 PM on March 28, 2011


No, the worst thing about V is not even knowing it was based on a comic or anything and wondering why people look at this prancing masked weirdo as some kind of hero saviour and listen to his pretentious alliteration-laden screeds without LOLing.
posted by Hoopo at 8:28 PM on March 28, 2011


God trying to make poetic terribly clever speeches that work when you read them work er ON STAGE is so hard.

And they failed.

Also a character who's face never changes? Great in comics! Utterly awful for life action!
posted by The Whelk at 8:31 PM on March 28, 2011


Whelk: What's the "tell" in the V film? I don't recall...

And I'd rather the film industry just stay away from Top Ten. I think Hollywood does better with character-oriented comic book adaptations (Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-Men) than story- or situation-oriented ones. In the former, you can center the story around a particular person or group, throw in some elements from the stories, change it around to suit the medium. The latter just seem not to work, I'm not sure why. Sure, some of the former go way wrong (X-Men 3, Wolverine) and some of the latter go way right (Ghost World, Scott Pilgrim), but I think generally, it's easier to take a character and put him/her in a situation and shape the world around them rather than try to craft a strong world like the ones Moore creates and then show complex characters living within it.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:32 PM on March 28, 2011


so tl;dr V is a wonderful comics character cause it uses the nature of the form and you can't translate that into a completely different medium.
posted by The Whelk at 8:33 PM on March 28, 2011


I wouldn't mind Top Ten as a tv show, Hill Street Blues or the Wire where everyone has a power or cybernetic boots or is a dog in a robot body.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:36 PM on March 28, 2011


..except that Sky One and Syfy are doing that with CSI: Ankh Morpork and Ron Moore's magic Police, respectfully.
posted by The Whelk at 8:38 PM on March 28, 2011


OH and FX's POWERS, which is about being a police in a world where there are superheroes.
posted by The Whelk at 8:39 PM on March 28, 2011


We can talk about TOP TEN, the only Alan Moore book that totally lends itself to a movie/tv adaptation but is left in the dust.

Thou lots of TOP TEN-esque projects are in development. Ron Moore (but BSG) in all up in one.


I really love Top Ten. (The Ron Moore show I feel like is either gonna be amazing or totally fucking awful, and I'm not sure which way its casting looking increasingly like BSG in wizard robes is tilting the balance...) I get the feeling that Moore loved it, too, and was probably heartbroken to have to leave it behind when DC muscled in; it sure seemed as though he had future stories in mind. I can't help but read Neonomicon as the ugly bizarro world version of Top Ten, with Toybox recast as a depressed sex addict and Lovecraftian slime where superheroes used to be, but I'm not sure how much of that is really intentional and how much of it is Moore's slightly odd (for an anarchist!) love of American cop shows simply reasserting itself in another genre.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:40 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always thought The Magicians would be good for a kind of True-Blood-esque adaptation. The books are source material and follow them lightly. I'd focus more on the school aspect and little of that Adventure To Filroy stuff. You could squeeze three good seasons out of the school alone.
posted by The Whelk at 8:40 PM on March 28, 2011


Also with a few exceptions, The Magicians doesn't really tell what the main characters look like, so you have more casting options.
posted by The Whelk at 8:43 PM on March 28, 2011


One of the things that's interesting about SuckerPunch and the back-and-forth about it is the underlying question of intent and meaning. If Snyder had simply created SuckerPunch and said, "Voila! An action movie!" I think the reaction to it would have been far less complex. But he hasn't: for better or worse he and his fans have put forth the idea that the movie is about Empowered Women™. In Sucker Punch: The Art Of The Film, Snyder writes that "what begins as a fearful retreat becomes an empowering coping mechanism."

Now, this isn't inherently wrong. Several friends of mine went through really similar traumas very early on -- raped by close confidants and relatives, abused, and generally shat on in environments where escaping wasn't a real option for many years. The coping mechanisms that they developed during those periods of time and the ripple effects they had for decades were very different. From over-the-top-promiscuity that screamed "I Have Not Been Beaten" to crippling social paranoia to intense religious fervor trauma and isolation bear very different fruit in each victim's life.

In that sense, yeah, it's totally legitimate to say that an abused girl trapped in an asylum develops an elaborate fantasy world and we witness it via a film. The question of whether it is empowering or not is a non-trivial one, though. I don't think any of my friends would say that the coping mechanisms they worked with were empowering. They were coping mechanisms that kept them alive during inhumanly difficult times, and the really empowering decisions and choices where what let them transcend "coping" and begin to actually overcome the damaging experiences they'd had. That's what I'm not seeing a lot of in the story of Sucker Punch, and it's one of the reasons that the "Girls with guns! Empowerment!" summary doesn't pass the sniff test, at least for me.

Now, that doesn't mean that stories about trauma have to end with The Protagonist Being All Better. But when the plot boils down to "She's sexually abused, escapes into a fantasy world, and then she's lobotomized," it's called tragic, not empowering. While it's possible to make a case that Snyder is going for something much more complex and nuanced -- that he's trying to communicate the crushing futility of escape from patriarchy via sexuality, or something like that -- he offers no reason to suspect that his goal is that subtle. Ockham's Razor suggests that he just really likes making hyper-kinetic action movies soaked with the frisson of sexuality and combat-violence.

It also raises the issue of a creator's choices. I mentioned that those friends of mine had taken a lot of different paths in coping with their trauma, and that it's not somehow wrong to suggest that a sexualized fantasy world full of violence and intrigue is fundamentally unrealistic as a coping mechanism. But a director who wants to talk about complex coping mechanisms as an escape from trauma, and fantasy as a tool for empowering escape, has a lot of potential paths to choose from. Snyder chose "Hot girls in assless chaps and corsets lap-dancing and shooting things."

It is very easy to start with "hot lap-dancers with machine guns" and work backwards to "It's a coping mechanism to deal with trauma," but it takes a much better storyteller than Snyder to make me believe the claim. If he had never advanced that idea that "empowerment" was a central theme in the film, it could have lived and died by its visuals and its sound track. But now, he's put the toughest aspect of the film to defend in the forefront and it deserves to be addressed.
posted by verb at 8:54 PM on March 28, 2011 [17 favorites]


If we're talking Alan Moore dream projects, Ballad of Halo Jones should be made into a mini-series.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:54 PM on March 28, 2011


If we're talking Alan Moore dream projects, Ballad of Halo Jones should be made into a mini-series.

I'd be happy if Moore and Ian Gibson just finished the comic!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:55 PM on March 28, 2011


I'll say that in my experience, the greatest adaptation of Great Book to Great Film was Wonder Boys, which remains remarkably faithful to the themes, emotions, and details of the text while also extracting the central hundred pages of the novel, where Grady and Lear sit down at an awkward Seder with Grady's in-laws. The scenario, which takes up a full fifth of the book, is awesome in text, but would have killed the movie, and so Klowes killed it for the adaptation.

I feel like a similar extraction would be necessary in any adaptation of Watchmen, in that we shouldn't spend time with Dr. Manhattan on Mars. In fact, I don't think it helps the story for us to spend any time with Manhattan unless it's through another character's point of view. We can't comprehend him. He is almost completely alienated from humanity. The trip to Mars has the opposite of its intended effect, because it brings us along with him and tries to let us into his mind. Dr. Manhattan is remote and incomprehensibly capable of anything. Mars should have been completely cut out.

But Zack Snyder, as a director, as a person in his place in Hollywood, would not be capable in any way of making that choice. There is simply not a universe where that could have happened. If Fincher or Gilliam or, fuck, Tarantino had been helming the project, sure. But Snyder was directing purely on the surety that he would give the fanboys images that they already knew from the comics. No more, and no less.

And he gave them those images, and nothing more.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:56 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


...What's kinda messed up, Navelgazer, is that I both agree with you and think that this was the only part of the book that Snyder really did justice to.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:00 PM on March 28, 2011


We can talk about TOP TEN, the only Alan Moore book that totally lends itself to a movie/tv adaptation but is left in the dust.

I agree that it'd make a great TV show, partly because it was written that way. Alan Moore himself referred to the first 12 issues as season 1. And had started season 2 when America's Best Comics went off the rails.
posted by jaybeans at 9:09 PM on March 28, 2011


But Snyder was directing purely on the surety that he would give the fanboys images that they already knew from the comics. No more, and no less.

False, false, false. There are many choices made in the adaptation that are not on the page from Watchmen. Standouts: complete re-architecting of the final Monster vs detonations; much more grisly treatment of violence in Rorshach's origin; much more superhuman combat for all the characters; no mention of psychics in the film, but they are integral to causing terror in the world. I think the Mars sequence in the film works - and I think the characterization of Dr. Manhattan in the film does work - he's utterly inhuman, that worked. I feel like the adaptation was made in good faith, though the decisions made I feel mostly did not serve the story well.

Perversely, this is all making me more curious to see Sucker Punch. My stepson (22) told my wife to absolutely see it, so my wife and I may have to take a look.
posted by artlung at 9:10 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Top Ten needs all the incidental parodies of other superheroes in the background, and they wouldn't be able to do them in a TV show.
posted by painquale at 9:19 PM on March 28, 2011


kittens for breakfast / artlung:

I agree that the Mars section was the most successful sequence in Snyder's adaptation. This isn't surprising, as it's really nothing but a blank character and astounding visuals. It wouldn't shock me if this sequence was the entire reason Snyder wanted to make the film. It still has zero purpose.

Dr. Manhattan, and this is the key, is not inhuman, but he is almost inhuman. There is absolutely nothing to be gained from the Mars sequence which isn't better portrayed in the scene where he is fucking Sally and yet elsewhere doing more "important" work at the same time. That is chillingly telling of his character, and Snyder almost even makes it work, despite himself and how clear it is through his direction that he doesn't give a damn about any of the characters in his shot except in terms of how they may be involved in cool visuals. Snyder still fucks it up, of course, because he doesn't understand human emotion, but even on screen it still works better for the greater arc of the overall story than the masterfully re-created Mars sequence, which is completely redundant and, to put it bluntly, boring.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:34 PM on March 28, 2011


Put another way, I believe that Snyder made Watchmen while identifying more with Dr. Manhattan than any other character.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:37 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


...And then went on to make a movie about trauma victims who fantasize about being great lapdancers.
posted by verb at 9:41 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Transformers was like watching someone shittily play a shitty game: it was all around horrible.

Yes! So many recent action movies fit this description. I've never been able to put my finger on it but this is it. The problem isn't that this movie is nothing but a video game, the problem is that it's a BAD video game.

The game play elements (action scenes) are on rails and the cut scenes seem like they were rushed to get the game out in time for Christmas.

Loved Scott Pilgrim the movie, never read the book.
posted by Bonzai at 9:48 PM on March 28, 2011


Next up, a movie adaptation of Michael Swanwick's The Iron Dragon's Daughter directed by James Cameron.
posted by wobh at 9:53 PM on March 28, 2011


It's a cross between a music video and a live-action anime, and if you keep in mind that that's the genre (and that 99% of the movie takes place in multiple levels of mental fantasies and thus the plot should not be held the same standards for coherency as other movies), it does a good job as entertainment.

I think Babydoll was purposefully kept a bit "blank" as a character to broaden the number of abused/oppressed young women who could identify with the character. (Kind of like Bella in Twilight.)

Escapist fantasy in the face of utter hopelessness is an unfortunate reality for many young women. Not every movie has a completely happy ending. This one was still relatively happy compared to reality -- Babydoll couldn't save herself, but she could save Sweet Pea, and the girls who came after her.

I think the people writing it off as spank bank material for men just don't know very many men (or only know really scummy men). As a woman who also tried very hard to just "not be there" during hopeless and abusive periods of my young life, I appreciated this movie very much. My husband, on the other hand, who went to see action and hot chicks, was too squicked out by the boner-killing premise: "They put really hot chicks in it and I couldn't even enjoy it because what was happening to them was so icky!"
posted by Jacqueline at 1:17 AM on March 29, 2011


Babydoll couldn't save herself, but she could save Sweet Pea, and the girls who came after her.

Sure, but we never actually got to meet Sweet Pea, so for me the closing scene lacked any emotional punch. I mean honestly, for all we know the real Sweet Pea is a pyromaniac or murdered her parents. That's unlikely given the context, but the point is that the character is a complete stranger to the audience.

I don't think people who disliked the movie object to the fact that it didn't have a happy ending, but if anything that the poor writing stripped away any deeper meaning and left a two hour cosmetics ad.
posted by jess at 1:33 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's too far of a stretch to assume that the fantasy characters were based on the real girls in the asylum.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:16 AM on March 29, 2011


Read the whole thread. Procrastination is a beautiful thing. Everyone's said everything, so that's OK.
  1. The thing about reading Watchmen when it came out - don't know if this is particularly relevant, but... - you had to wait a month between chapters, which left a lot of space for conjecture. Same thing with Dark Knight Returns, which came out at the same time. And pre-bonkers Sim was doing High Society and Church and State. And Los Bros Hernandez were working to a mysterious but not especially hurried schedule on Love and Rockets. And there was a break of years between the first and second halves of V for Vendetta and Miracle/Marvelman. If there's one thing I remember the 80s for, it's delayed gratification.
  2. The only Alan Moore adaptation I'd like to see is if a renegade animator from Studio Ghibli did The Bojeffries Saga. I'd like that a lot.
  3. Or if Steven Moffat or someone took Moore's notes on the rest of Big Numbers* and made a TV series. The team that made the TV series Ultraviolet were looking into it, I think, but it didn't happen.
  4. It sounds like the seriously literal-minded Mr Snyder has decided he wants to be David Lynch all of a sudden.
*Reputedly all on one very, very big piece of paper.
posted by Grangousier at 2:57 AM on March 29, 2011


Oh, and if anyone's interested, here's Moore on AARGH! from this interview:
[Y]ou did something called AARGH, Artists Against -

- Rampant Government Homophobia. Yeah this was - what year was this? About '88? The Clause 28.

Oh, I remember that.

Well, you would remember it then, I don't think they have got rid of it still, have they? I mean, they're still having these fucking huge debates. I thought it had just dropped out of existence completely but then I see that they're having these huge debates up in Scotland because everyone's upset because the government want to get rid of Clause 28 and they see Clause 28 as being the only fragile bulwark between their precious children and this army of homosexuals who out to corrupt them, you know? Yeah but when Thatcher brought that in, in '88, at the time I was part of - there was kind of - there was me, there was my wife and there was our girlfriend and we were all kind of living together quite openly as a different sort of relationship. It lasted for two or three years. At that time obviously we were a lot closer to the lesbian and gay scene and when we saw this legislation coming down we thought it was pretty alarming because there actually hadn't been any legislation that had specifically legislated against one particular sub-group before.
This was Nazi legislation, especially when you'd got enthusiastic Conservative councillors talking about "gassing the queers" being the only ultimate solution to the problem, then it was a bit nerve-wracking. So what we decided to do was mobilize as many famous friends as I could dig up and put out a benefit book with all the money going to the organization for lesbian and gay action.

So it wasn't an organization in itself?

It wasn't an organization in itself, no, it was just a magazine. The response was great. We had Frank Miller, Robert Crumb, Dave Gibbons, Art Spiegelman, Howard Cruse, Brian Bolland, Hunt Emerson, just everybody, Neil Gaiman, everybody chipped in and I think we made somewhere like pushing twenty grand for the organization of lesbian and gay action, who actually, we didn't even like that much, because they were sort of -

Were they militant themselves?

Ah, they were militant, bigoted, half-arsed. When we actually met them they didn't even like the fact that - I mean it was Phyllis and Debbie who went to deal with them - the fact that Phyllis and Debbie said that they were bisexual. This, you know, "Huh! Accepting money from bisexuals!" I think one of them said "We'll be allowing men in next!" However, once we raised the seventeen, twenty thousand, whatever it was, they were very different.

They loved you then?

Oh, they loved us then. But we kept up a kind of frosty contempt. We said "Here's your seventeen thousand but please understand that the way that you've treated us throughout all this says an awful lot about problems that you ought to look at within your own structure." [Laughs] Yeah. You know. It was a worthwhile thing. I've still got some copies of AARGH floating around upstairs somewhere. It was a nice Dave McKean cover.

Oh, cool.

It was a cool little magazine.
posted by Grangousier at 3:04 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, this interview. Surprisingly, I need more, rather than less, coffee.
posted by Grangousier at 3:05 AM on March 29, 2011


I think Scott Pilgrim is terrific, possibly my favorite movie from last year, and it seems to me there's two groups: People who love it and people who haven't seen it.

Well I've seen Scott Pilgrim twice and I hated it... because of yeah the hipster bullshit but mainly that Pilgrim himself was an utterly unlikable protagonist, frankly a total asshole. I was cheering for the exes all the way.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:06 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


If we're talking Alan Moore dream projects, Ballad of Halo Jones should be made into a mini-series.

I'd be happy if Moore and Ian Gibson just finished the comic!


Alan Moore has said he'll finish it when 2000AD give him back all the rights to everything he ever wrote for them (ie never). Still at least he's told us what the ending would be:

It would have ended up with Halo Jones upon some planet that is right at the absolute edge of the universe where, beyond that, beyond some sort of spectacular lightshow, there is no space, no time, and it would have ended up with Halo Jones – all the rest of the people on this planetoid because, actually, time is not passing; you could stay there forever, potentially – and what would have happened is that Halo Jones, after spending some time with the rest of the immortals, would have tottered across the landing field, got into her spacecraft, and flown into the psychedelic lightshow, to finally get out. And that would have been the ending. So, you’ve saved me a lot of writing, and you a lot of unnecessary worrying.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:10 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


*checks Zack Snyder thread*

*it's about Alan Moore now*

*awesome*


Goodnight, Metafilter!
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:22 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suppose the larger question that probably nobody but me is really interested in is: why is it that pop culture in the noughties has been so terrible? Relentless remakes. Endless fucking zombie films. The profound disappointment of the Star Wars prequels, the Matrix sequels, the Pirates-of-the-Caribbean sequels (well, the third one, anyway). If you think about pop culture in the 80s and 90s, it was generally amazing, bubbling with originality and vitality. What changed?

I think there are two reasons.

1) Marketing: people discovered that you could take a certain kind of movie - the blockbuster aimed at teenage boys - and turn it into enough of a hit to cover its costs, no matter how terrible it was. The Last Airbender, without a doubt one of the worst movies of its kind ever made, actually did reasonably well. The opportunity is there to make a lot of cool fantasy films, but nobody involved really cares about whether or not they are any good. Each generation of teenagers that gets burned, grows up - and a new one takes its place, vulnerable to the same marketing techniques that just need to work long enough to lure them into a ticket sale.

2) Fans, not artists, are making these movies: this is the great unsayable thing, but I think that all the people who loved pop culture when it was actually good but didn't understand it are the a part of this process. Think of all the people who honestly can't see that the Watchmen movie misses the tone of the comic. Think of what that implies: that there are people who are essentially "tone-deaf", in this area of art. There really are people out there who honestly seem to think that The Dark Knight deserves massive bonus points for having Batman in it - as if the warmed-over echo of something you loved as a child really had any artistic value.

Somehow, "fandom", that difficult to define nerd-mass, has created a culture in the last decade and half that acts as a life-support mechanism for bad art. It takes a kind of child-like pleasure in repetition. It's like the people who repeat Monty Python lines until all humor is lost, except that modern fandom often seems to be doing it on the level of characters and stories. Every Doctor Who episode nowadays seems to end with the Doctor saying "I'm the Doctor!" Icons celebrate themselves. Characters talk about each other as if they were fans. "You sly dog, you got me monologuing!" Every superhero movie that comes down the tube sends Aint it Cool News into a frenzy, as if maybe this time things will be different. But it never will be. Why? Because it can't be - not to please this crowd.

Behind this lurks a flattering lie: that there is no such thing as ability, just craft and enthusiasm. Do away with the idea of actual talent and anybody can be an artist - they just need to be a big enough fan. "There are only 36 stories". "It's all just about archetypes".

Hence the rise of the fan-creator: Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, Neil Gaiman. Even when these artists actually do have talent (Kevin Smith is funny; Tarantino can work a camera; Gaiman can do a kind of thoughtful melancholy and dry wit quite well), it is lost in the essentially trivial theme of how great it is to enjoy and regurgitate a certain kind of art. And it sets a bad precedent. Other regurgitators and remakers follow in their footsteps. This is the petri dish in which new film-makers and comic book writers are spawned.

The end result has been a massive, atrocious lowering of standards. These movies are so bad, in so many ways, that we are now in an era where 300 is actually considered to have some good points. This is an action movie where the action is boring.

Funnily enough, I am not too bothered, despite the length of this screed: there are plenty of places where genuine creativity is going on, away from the people who just want to play with the toys they had in the 80s. Movies have died in the past; someone will probably find them again and do great things. District 9 was good. Fantasy and science fiction are not the only kind of good art. So, you know, life is worth living. But I think that a combination of marketing and the modern culture of "fandom" - and, worse, art that flatters fans rather than striving to be good on its own merits - has led to quite a lot of shit being produced.
posted by lucien_reeve at 4:25 AM on March 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


I feel bad for Jena Malone for stepping into this turd. I liked her in Donnie Darko and she was wonderful in Pride & Prejudice.
posted by Anything at 4:43 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


When Sam Lowry gets lobotomized in the Terry Gilliam movie, it's something he made happen by fighting the system in Act II. He's not just a passive victim of Central Services.

Lowry doesn't get lobotomised in Brazil, he becomes insane as a result of his experiences, effectively permanently escaping into the dream world which has been his temporary escape throughout the film.
posted by biffa at 4:51 AM on March 29, 2011


the Pirates-of-the-Caribbean sequels (well, the third one, anyway).

what?! The second one sucked, the third one redeemed the franchise.

Turn between seeing Red Riding Hood and SuckerPunch. They're both getting lame reviews and I want to limit the number of lame movies I see.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:53 AM on March 29, 2011


I was listening to a podcast on film the other day where a guy who worked in a movie theatre said that there's a significant proportion of viewers who know zilch about a film before seeing, are just there to see a movie, any movie, with their friends and in some cases don't even know the title of the film - he give the example of people asking for tickets for 'I Am Numb' because they could not fit the full title 'I Am Number Four' on the display....
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:16 AM on March 29, 2011


Hence the rise of the fan-creator: Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, Neil Gaiman. Even when these artists actually do have talent...

You know, I think you're doing all three of those people a major disservice there by dismissing them like that, even Kevin Smith.
posted by Artw at 5:26 AM on March 29, 2011


I suppose the larger question that probably nobody but me is really interested in is: why is it that pop culture in the noughties has been so terrible?

That's a very good question and it has a disarmingly simple answer, which is that it has all been co-opted into the mainstream. All that stuff that used to be made by strange people in odd places -- all the indie music, all the indie comics, the odd books, the weird late night TV shows, the strange things made in hidden corners of the BBC -- all that stuff is now owned and exploited by huge, risk averse, corporations. There is really nothing more or less to it than that.

I'll give you a straight up example of how this works: the success of the original Miramax and other indies spurred the Hollywood studios into creating their own indie arms -- Paramount Classics, Fox Searchlight, Screen Gems and so on. These were tasked with creating indie-feeling movies within the studio umbrella. They often had rather wonderful people running them. HOWEVER these people had bosses above them in the corporate hierarchy who retained greenlight power, and moreover given the way that studio pictures are budgeted and made, a movie that would be made for $15m as a true indie would now come in at $30-40m. Add in studio advertising budgets and the essentially the same film need to bring in three to four times as much money at the box office. Which of course it wouldn't. So it couldn't be the same movie. It became an expensive Hollywood imitation of an indie movie.

The comic book world is now massively skewed by the fact that all the big comic book publishers now view the books themselves as loss-leaders for the movie deals. This is not necessarily a bad thing in terms of the amount of comic books published (and indeed the variety) but the money is being made on the rights deals not the book sales.

In the end it all comes down to distribution. Movies are the most egregious example of this because the studios do still largely have a stranglehold on the multiplexes and have managed so far to successfully fight day-and-date releasing which would put any movie in your Netflix or iTunes queue on the day of release.

The music industry shows what happens when this mold breaks: the big bands and corporate suits make far less money and the mainstream devolves into Beyonce and Lady Gaga, but the underground thrives -- the bands may not be making much, if any, coin, but they are out there and there is no lack of original new music.

I think the app store is actually the way the movie industry will go -- a huge cloud of movies, with crowd-sourced reviews, at much lower prices than are charged at the multiplex and without the massive overhead of exhibitor, distributor and prints-and-advertising which are like a lead weight around the ankle of a small indie movie.
posted by unSane at 5:51 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


>I'm sad it looks like Ebert passed on reviewing this one.

I read that as 'Ebert passed on, reviewing this one', which didn't seem surprising, considering what other reviewers thought of it.
posted by verstegan at 6:03 AM on March 29, 2011


In the end it all comes down to distribution. Movies are the most egregious example of this because the studios do still largely have a stranglehold on the multiplexes and have managed so far to successfully fight day-and-date releasing which would put any movie in your Netflix or iTunes queue on the day of release.

If you could wave a wand and change one thing that would altert the movie business for the better, it would changing the byzantine-yet-completely-critical distribution process.
posted by The Whelk at 6:20 AM on March 29, 2011


I've always wanted Ebert to review Scott Pilgrim. I get the feeling it'd be a trainwreck, since Ebert doesn't look too favorably on video games and thus would probably have trouble embracing a movie that's so entrenched in gamer culture without reviewing gamers themselves. But at the same time, maybe it wouldn't be, as Ebert is quite good at putting himself in the mindset of the target audience (sometimes laughably so, as when he gave the awful CGI Garfield movies good reviews because he figured kids would like them), even when he isn't fond of the target audience.

Remember how he reviewed Doom, thought it was bad (rightly so), but then decided he should try reviewing it from a gamer's perspective, and still came to the conclusion it was bad for some pretty valid reasons (primarily, it wears the trappings of an interactive medium, but removes the interactive elements that make it engaging in the first place)? Ironically, the review put a spotlight on his aversion to video games which started a long feud with the gaming community that's mostly just simmered down rather than resolved itself. While I feel like a lot of his ideas about games are fundamentally wrong and sometimes hypocritical, I think it says a lot that he still considered the gamers' viewpoints valid enough to review a movie through their eyes.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:32 AM on March 29, 2011


If you could wave a wand and change one thing that would altert the movie business for the better, it would changing the byzantine-yet-completely-critical distribution process.

Oh have a dream about it, with hot ninja strippers and zombie nazis!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:33 AM on March 29, 2011


why is it that pop culture in the noughties has been so terrible? Relentless remakes. Endless fucking zombie films. The profound disappointment of the Star Wars prequels, the Matrix sequels, the Pirates-of-the-Caribbean sequels (well, the third one, anyway). If you think about pop culture in the 80s and 90s, it was generally amazing, bubbling with originality and vitality.

The simplest answer is that you're only remembering the good things about pop culture in the 80s and 90s, and forgetting all the shit. Relentless remakes.* Endless fucking slasher films. The profound disappointment of the Batman sequels, the Highlander sequels.

*Remakes of the 80s and 90s include but are not limited to:
Against All Odds
Always
The Blob
Cape Fear
City of Angels
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
DOA
Diabolique
Fatal Attraction
Father of the Bride
Flubber
The Fly
The Hand
Outland, sort of
Invaders From Mars
The Jackal
Kiss of Death
Little Shop of Horrors, sort of
Meet Joe Black
No Way Out
The Nutty Professor
The Parent Trap
A Perfect Murder
Psycho
Ransom
Sabrina
Scarface
The Shaggy Dog
The Thing
The Thomas Crown Affair
Three Men and a Baby
The Toy
True Lies
The Vanishing
Vanishing Point
Village of the Damned
You've Got Mail
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:34 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


The ship is slowly coming round. If you look at movies which have gotten not just critical acclaim but box office traction over the last few months, they have generally been originated outside the studio system. Obvious examples: KING'S SPEECH, TRUE GRIT, THE FIGHTER, WINTER'S BONE, BLACK SWAN. Lots of people in Hollywood are taking notice of this. Meanwhile a bunch of huge studio tentpoles have simply augured in at the B.O. -- TRON LEGACY, MARS NEEDS MOMS, GREEN HORNET, SORCERER'S APPRENTICE and so on.

This weekend WIMPY KID II, made for $19m, beat SUCKERPUNCH, which was around $85m. THE LINCOLN LAWYER, which is about as old fashioned a movie as you will ever find anywhere, looks like it has very good legs. It was made for about $40m.

There is not much the studios can do about this -- they are the studios after all and they are simply not capable of making $20-40m movies. They don't have that DNA any more. However, the studios are not the only game in town. There are an increasing number of alternative sources of finance -- distributors and people like Media Rights Capital, along with European funds. The process of developing movies within the studio system has become so frustrating and unpleasant that if you have a genuinely good and moving idea you will take it anywhere but, say, Warners or Disney. The BBC, for example, are a delight to work with even if they only pay a pittance.

So it's not simply that studios don't make good movies -- it's that good movies deliberately route around the studios. For example, I have a book which I am trying to set up as a movie. It's a big epic period love story -- very DR ZHIVAGO -- and very much the kind of counter-programming which has been getting traction at the B.O. recently. However we are not even bothering to take it to the studios. Instead we will try to set it up somewhere where we know the guts won't be taken out of it. It will end up at the Beeb or Film Four or some European consortium.

It does not take too many $200m flops to destroy a studio. They are living dangerously right now.
posted by unSane at 6:35 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Relentless remakes.

Of course, infusing a 70s and 80s sensibility into a 50s movie like The Thing From Another World or The Fly often created something that was original and interesting in it's own right, and in some cases superior. That's really not what we see with remakes these days - cf. Synder's utterly pointless and soulless Dawn of the Dead remake.
posted by Artw at 6:40 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just saw this on Saturday, and while it was not what I had thought it was, loved the movie....pretty slick little movie...
posted by TeachTheDead at 6:56 AM on March 29, 2011


I've always wanted to, and on more then one occasion, got started on, making a real 1950s-style science fiction movie. Not sure if it would actually be set in the 50s, but the rules in my head are

1) No camp, no winking, no being cute. Take the genre seriously, tropes and all.
2) Black and white.
3)High concept, low budget "monster". Infectious madness, communicable telepathy, some kind of mold - think more Body Snatchers and less This Island Earth.
posted by The Whelk at 6:57 AM on March 29, 2011


Heh. I love the 70s Bodysnatchers best of all as well...
posted by Artw at 6:59 AM on March 29, 2011


That's really not what we see with remakes these days - cf. Synder's utterly pointless and soulless Dawn of the Dead remake.

I dunno. For sure, there are a lot of pointless, crappy remakes now, but there were then too. Why on earth remake Cape Fear or Psycho? Or Sabrina? WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO REPLACE AUDREY HEPBURN?

And in the middle of all that crap, the new Galactica is about a billion times better than the old one, and while they're not exactly remakes the new Batmanses are just over the top better than the 80s/90s dreckfests.

I don't mean this in an EVERYTHING IS BETTER NOW way, just that Sturgeon's Law applies to the 80s and 90s as well, and that it's easy to forget the vast sea of forgettable crap that the few gems float in.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:17 AM on March 29, 2011


Maybe, and we shouldn't discount that, but if we allow that things might ebb and flow then we are certainly amidst a tidal wave of crap right now. And really, though we take joy in Mr Synder's temporary setbacks you know the talent-free fucker is going to win in the end.
posted by Artw at 7:33 AM on March 29, 2011


There was always crap and there were always remakes. It's just that there seems to be a hell of a lot more crap than before. Oscar season brings a flurry of half-decent films but it now seems pretty damn dry the rest of the year. I remember being near a cinema recently with some time to kill and there was literary nothing I wanted to spend my money on - spent the time wondering round a bookshop instead.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:34 AM on March 29, 2011


Here's my theory of 21st century cinema.

Thanks to VFX we can now see anything we can imagine, photorealistically portrayed. There are few visual boundaries left in that direction. Bigger explosions, real-er monsters. In the end it's like the videogame industry, where content-creation gets more and more expensive until no-one can actually afford to produce a game unless it's Madden 2020.

You know what would be a revalation in the movies right now? A movie which didn't just want to *look* real, but wanted to *feel* real.

Agincourt of the heart, not Agincourt.

That right there is the power of the movies, not 3D.

The $5m movie which blows your mind emotionally as opposed to visually is going to clean up.
posted by unSane at 8:04 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the things that I thought was interesting about 300 was that essential Snyder was recreating Miller's imagery scene for scene in a much more dynamic way than was accomplished with the Sin City adaptation and the god awful Spirit adaptation. Many of the same green screening and post productions techniques were used with 300 to great success.

Snyder was essentially placing static splash pages from the graphic novel into a live action movie.

The problem was that Miller's original source material for 300 simply isn't that good. It's visually arresting (Miller is a master of visual storytelling) but it's completely lacking any depth whatsoever. I'm not sure it's a valid criticism of Snyder to expect that he'd breathe some sort of depth or subtext into what is essential a glossy style magazine.

With Watchmen Snyder had the opposite problem. Watchmen is simply so dense from a storytelling perspective that it's basically impossible to adapt that story in anything resembling a true to the source material manner and make it comprehensible to the average movie goer. In that case he's got to choose what to focus on and what to cut.

As a visual storyteller he chose to focus on the imagery of the source material which was definitely innovative but it lacks depth that Moore brought to original graphic novel. He captures most of the essential elements and he has some good visuals but in essence he seems to be converting what was a novel commentary on 4 color superheroes back into a typical Iron Age adaptation of 4 color superheroes. Like so many comic creators in the 80s and 90s Snyder is emulating the master without really understanding what he was attempting to achieve.

As a result it's all flash and no substance: Hyper-kinetic martial arts, dark visual tones and grim and gritty action, anything really subversive getting shit-canned.

Rorshach becomes an iconoclastic bad-ass like Batman while we don't really get to see the depths of his virulent right-wing homophobia, racism, and sexism. In the book he's the uncompromising face of extreme vigilantism but you also see all the negative behaviors that can come with being a caped crusader with an inviolable moral code : intolerance, paranoia, xenophobia, etc. The inability for Rorshach to conceal Veidt's action to the public and the decision to sacrifice him in order to maintain the public illusion behind Veidt's action is something that Snyder really botched.

Other characters have less issues with how they were handled but I suspect either Snyder or the Studio had a hand in toning down some of Rorshach's virulent right wing paranoia in order to avoid the mess of having Rorshach be the moral compass of the film despite his own behavior being so reprehensible.
posted by vuron at 8:05 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure it's a valid criticism of Snyder to expect that he'd breathe some sort of depth or subtext into what is essential a glossy style magazine.

That is actually the director's job.
posted by unSane at 8:06 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Delmoi, that movie is pretty much an epic exercise in point-missing. It's okay to miss the point if your point is better -- I'm talking like Starship Troopers, The Shining -- but Snyder's point was like, duuuuuuuuuuuude they just sawed off his arms braaaaahhhhhhh sweeeeeet
Maybe its about the attachment to the story. I mean, The live-action U.S. version of Akira they're making sounds like a Crime Against Humanity to me, but that's because I saw the Anime when I was a kid and loved it. When I read The Watchmen it was in the context of knowing a movie was already being made.

What I liked about The Watchmen was that it was so close to the comic. It was a pretty literal translation to the screen, with a few differences. I didn't like the way it wrapped up, though. But supposedly Snyder wanted to make the movie as a way of preventing the studios from butchering it even more (making it about the war on terror rather then the cold war, for example)

But you're right that the movie didn't really capture the oppressiveness of the 1980s cold war stuff and nuclear annihilation the way the comic did. So I guess you have a point. Still, I liked the movie, and I'm sure it got a lot more people to read the comic book (including me, since I read the comic based on the discussion about the movie)
posted by delmoi at 8:08 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


> This is an awful review.

That's the worst re-review I've ever reviewed.
posted by chundo at 8:11 AM on March 29, 2011


Maybe a great director and screen writer could've salvaged 300 but honestly why would a great director or storyteller work with source material that is so incredibly limited? 300 as a graphic novel has no depth of Miller's previous work. It's 100% over the top visuals with absolutely no substance whatsoever.

It's essentially a pro-war hero epic for the 21st century. Glossy and commercial but completely upfront about everything. It seems like the type of glossy commercial that is designed to get people's asses into Army recruitment centers. Miller simply seems lacks anything resembling subtlety anymore and that has completely transformed his projects.

Snyder basically adapts that graphic novel page by page. In that sense it's completely faithful to the source material. It's a horrible story, and a bad movie but I'm not even sure that it's intended to be great film but rather be the most faithful adaptation of the graphic novel medium possible.

Unfortunately his success with 300 has given him enough clout to move onto bigger more complicated projects like Watchmen. He obviously has the technical talent to handle such projects but he lacks any sort of subtlety and that showed in his handling of Watchmen. Watchmen is fairly true to the source material (it wasn't updated in time period, the basic narrative is largely the same) but he focused so much on Gibbon's visual storytelling and the basics of Moore's narrative that he wasn't able to capture the rest of what Moore was trying to do with the story.

Maybe if Snyder was more experienced as a director he could've captured more of that essence but I think he realized he had a tight window for getting the project done and through the hands of studios and bit off more than he could chew. It's also possible that he'll never really develop a subtle touch, plenty of directors with tons more experience also lack any sort of subtlety in their work.
posted by vuron at 8:24 AM on March 29, 2011


why would a great director or storyteller work with source material that is so incredibly limited

I'm sorry, you think the story of Sparta is limited?

They didn't have to restrict themselves to the comic book. Screenwriters (like me) often prefer to work off B-grade source material because you can make it better. That's your job.
posted by unSane at 8:29 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Battle of Thermopylae isn't limited but Frank Miller's view of it is. Honestly I have no idea what sort of creative control Miller is able to retain in regards to his work but for some reason the recent movie adaptations of his work have been extraordinarily narrow in scope. Sin City does not veer off the tracks, 300 does not veer off the tracks.

Snyder has also shown that first and foremost he's a fan, he seems to think that his job is faithful replications of the original source material into a wide-market movie not taking the original manuscript and telling a completely new story with it.

Based on the reviews of Suckerpunch it's probably better if he stays attached to adaptations rather than trying to film original concepts. Anyway Superman will be the true test Nolan and Goyer have decent track records with Comic book adaptations but Superman is a difficult property to handle correctly.
posted by vuron at 8:45 AM on March 29, 2011


Rorshach becomes an iconoclastic bad-ass like Batman while we don't really get to see the depths of his virulent right-wing homophobia, racism, and sexism. In the book he's the uncompromising face of extreme vigilantism but you also see all the negative behaviors that can come with being a caped crusader with an inviolable moral code : intolerance, paranoia, xenophobia, etc. The inability for Rorshach to conceal Veidt's action to the public and the decision to sacrifice him in order to maintain the public illusion behind Veidt's action is something that Snyder really botched.

I liked Watchmen a lot, but this really hits the mark for me. On the other hand, I think I enjoyed the movie as much as I did because I came in aware of all the background Moore wrote into the comics. Also, I trailed off reading a weekly pull in the late 90s, when a lot of superhero comics were celebrating the behavior Moore was condemning. My brain filled in all that background, the way i'm told you have to fill things in if you watch the Harry Potter movies, and all Snyder had to do was add the (gorgeous and true to the comics) visuals.
posted by immlass at 8:48 AM on March 29, 2011


Honestly I have no idea what sort of creative control Miller is able to retain in regards to his work

None, usually. 300 came from Dark Horse who I know and are good guys and very open to changes.
posted by unSane at 9:10 AM on March 29, 2011


I am increasingly of the opinion that arguing that Snyder movies have anything to say about anything is to impute a degree of subtlety and intellect to him for which there is absolutely no evidence.

Don't get me wrong, the movies do say things, but what they say is "Snyder likes blowing shit up, hot babes, and melodrama." None of which should come as much of a surprise, and none of which are actually related to the themes of any of the movies he's made.

He even manages to leech out themes that really are there. The original Dawn of the Dead has some pretty hefty racial overtones, and Watchmen is a brutal takedown of the entire superhero genre. Given to Snyder, the conclusions are "Zombies are awesome" and "Superheroes are awesome." Really, take any Snyder movie you like, and the "message" is little more than "X is awesome."

He's a fanboy.
posted by valkyryn at 9:23 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


They didn't have to restrict themselves to the comic book. Screenwriters (like me) often prefer to work off B-grade source material because you can make it better. That's your job.

I agree with your point in general, but not in this specific incident. After the horror that happened to his scripts on Robocop 2 and 3, Frank Miller decided to never give the rights away to his comics unless they were uber-faithful adaptations.

So, a great film could've been made about the Battle of Thermopylae but it wouldn't be 300.
posted by jaybeans at 9:29 AM on March 29, 2011


"...there's a significant proportion of viewers who know zilch about a film before seeing, are just there to see a movie, any movie, with their friends..."

We had a complete Mexican family in our showing of Sucker Punch, including Mom and Dad and half a dozen kids ranging from teenaged down to crying baby (and Mom had one in the oven). Absolutely NO IDEA why they picked Sucker Punch for their family movie night except that perhaps the parents' English wasn't so great and thus they might have perceived it as merely a kids action flick about girls fighting robots and dragons.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:31 AM on March 29, 2011


I would like to see a Zach Snyder version of The Boys.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:33 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


He should make a WH40K movie and everyone should take great care not to tell him how ridiculous the WH40K universe is, that way he'll get the tone just right.
posted by Artw at 9:36 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: IT AIN'T NO SIN TO FEEL BAD TO BE ALIVE

I had to jump in because... what the fuck. Is this a horrible mondegreen of "Badlands"? One that completely flips it? Mangle ye not The Boss in the pursuit of douchery.
posted by ego at 9:47 AM on March 29, 2011


I would like to see a Zach Snyder version of The Boys.

Good god, please no.
posted by biffa at 10:12 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


vuron: "Honestly I have no idea what sort of creative control Miller is able to retain in regards to his work but for some reason the recent movie adaptations of his work have been extraordinarily narrow in scope. Sin City does not veer off the tracks, 300 does not veer off the tracks"

300 I'm not sure about, but Miller and Rodriguez are credited as co-directors on Sin City. Rodriguez actually resigned from the DGA so he could share credit.
posted by brundlefly at 10:20 AM on March 29, 2011


I stopped reading it; A synopsis is not a review. I don’t know why people can’t understand this.

And about the homoerotic view of 300; I think many miss the obvious potential for hetero-erotic there. I know a middle aged woman who got mildly hot and bothered by it.
posted by bongo_x at 10:55 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't help but think that in thirty years, today's kids are going to be watching the chrono-movietrons at their local eight-dimensional cinema (we'll have gotten a lot done in thirty years, you see), and they'll see the final part of the fourth Star Wars trilogy and they'll be talking about what a complete abortion it was and how movies and pop culture in general suck today and how they miss how good Star Wars used to be. Except they'll be talking about the prequel trilogy and the Clone Wars cartoon, the Lego toys and all that, and they'll remember the original trilogy as kind of cool but not possessed of the same immediacy to them, because the Clone Wars cartoon and Episode III - that's Star Wars to them, and no amount of wailing or gnashing of teeth from us old coots will change that.

Everyone will have their opinion about why pop culture is so shitty in their time, I suspect. Too many reboots and remakes. Too little originality. The Dark Knight was a cinematic classic, they'll say, and none of the reboots since then have been any good.

And so on.

It's a circle, and the other side of it looks very different, very far away. Understand that when young adults talk about how the cartoons of their youth were so much better, they're talking about Pokemon. For some of us, it was He-Man and Voltron. For others it was Hong Kong Phooey. For some of us, Howdy Doody was the last time kids' TV was worth a damn.

The past always looks better to us. The present is especially thorny because now we have the Internet so we're aware of a lot of absolute dogshit. We can see trailers for whatever thing we want, instead of finding out a movie's coming out from going and seeing other movies, or maybe hearing about it on TV. If not for the Internet, no one would know about The Room or Birdemic: Shock and Terror (and that would be an immense tragedy).

The only real difference between Rebecca Black and Denny Blaze - other than the kind of interesting class issues raised by Black having parents who can just buy her a music video - is that Blaze was not contemporary when the video went viral; there was no way to attach a narrative of "kids these days."

If any one thing has changed it's what unSane was talking about - there's so much money at stake now that studios are mostly cranking out safe bets and also trying much harder to make sure you hear about it.

So, you know. There's a lot of shit out there, and a little bit of shinola, same as it ever was.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:27 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, maybe this is an in-depth discussion of the Watchmen movie after all, and their ain't nuthin' wrong with that. My general take on it is that it's kind of frustrating how Snyder gets some of it right and some of it completely wrong. Take the casting: Jackie Earle Haley and Jeffrey Dean Morgan were nearly perfect as Rorschach and the Comedian, Billy Crudup was quite good as Dr. Manhattan, and Patrick Wilson was surprisingly sympathetic as Nite Owl, a role that could have been ruined by another actor who would have played him as a big whiner. On the other hand, Malin Ackerman played Silk Spectre as thirtysomething-going-on-sixteen, and Matthew Goode seemed to be channeling Jeremy Irons when he's slumming it as a villain and kind of wants the audience to know that he's only in it for the paycheck.

Similarly, not all of the things that Snyder altered or added were entirely bad; redoing the excerpts from Under the Hood as a mini-documentary (only available on some versions of the DVD/Blu-Ray) worked well, and I liked the title montage, but even that... the first shot, with the first Nite Owl knocking out the mugger, should have had a young boy with the couple that are coming out of a theater, but instead Snyder plastered numerous copies of the cover of Detective Comics on the back wall. Were individual issues of comics advertised by handbills, back in the day? I kind of doubt it.

Miscellanea:

Ad hominem: I've been thinking of giving up on comics altogether. I feel that Watchmen, Sandman, Swamp Thing, and a handful of others are the real stand outs and I probably shouldn't torture myself any longer. It is as if there were 5 Citizen Kanes and every other movie ranged between "well... That wasn't bad" and "that was total fucking crap".

There are still plenty of good comics out there, although of course not everything is going to be to everyone's taste. In my case, my decrease in comics reading comes from a combination of burning out on the same old tropes and the Big Two continuing to rely on big crossover events that I don't have any particular interest in. Nevertheless, there are still things like Locke & Key that aren't quite like anything else out there.

Ad hominem: With Watchmen, yeah they did feel a bit super human, especially in the first scene where they are smashing marble with their fists, but that is extrapolated from the book. They are costumed vigilantes, they are going to know how to fight. I am looking at page 14 of issue 12 where Ozymandias catches a bullet. Even thought he is supposed to be the fastest , I am willing to bet his buddies are pretty badass as well.

Well, not really. Silk Spectre is an above-average fighter, Nite Owl is an above-average fighter with a lot of gadgets, The Comedian is an above-average fighter with guns, and Rorschach is an above-average fighter who's kind of nuts, but none of them are near Ozymandias' league in hand-to-hand, and the comic makes that very clear. He's at the very peak of human perfection. Even at that, he's not sure that he can catch a bullet (the movie mitigates this somewhat by giving him gloves), and that's still not in the same league as smashing through a six-inch-thick slab of marble with your bare hands.

Ad hominem (again!): I can't tell who the fuck is who in the book, all the panels are so small and muddy looking I kept getting everyone confused, I kept thinking "who is that, why is she in bed with the chief of police, what is going on"

If you're talking about V for Vendetta, there's a reason for that. Alan Moore's pre-Swamp Thing work was done for British comics magazines, which (at least at the time) were printed in black-and-white on a larger size of paper than most American comics. When titles like Captain Britain, V for Vendetta and Marvelman (retitled Miracleman after a legal threat from Marvel Comics) were reprinted for the American audience, they were shrunk and colored, which tended to obscure some of the finer details.

Grangousier: [speculation about possible Alan Moore adaptations]

Always fun to speculate, but I doubt that Moore would do it after his history of disagreements with every other adaptation of his works, and in particular Big Numbers crashed and burned pretty badly. As much as I love Top 10, as others have pointed out, there are already various similar projects in the works, and you'd have to use a lot of CGI to pull of some of the characters like Kemlo Caesar and probably Smax. (I think that Ron Perlman would make a great Smax.)

lucien_reeve: [long rant about how movies in the Aughts sucked compared to the glories of yesteryear]

This has been a recurring trope in every decade at least since the Seventies. Wait, you say, the Seventies of Coppola and Scorcese? Surely not; even such blockbusters as Jaws and Star Wars were so much better than this decade's, right? Well, at the time all anyone could talk about was How Star Wars And Jaws Ruined The Movies, Forever. Thirty years from now, you'll be talking about how great it was back in the day when we had movies like The Incredibles, not crap like Ow, My Balls! II: The Ballsening. And your claim that Quentin Tarantino just "regurgitates" stuff from other movies reminds me of what someone said about Kurt Vonnegut's writing style: it seems almost cartoonishly simple, until you try to write like him. There's a lot of Tarantino wannabes who have already proven that his movies are way more than the sum of the parts that he assembles.

Right, then.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:03 PM on March 29, 2011


On review WRT my last paragraph: what FAMOUS MONSTER said, and said better.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:04 PM on March 29, 2011


I'm sure Sucker Punch will just be "evidence" that Warner Brothers shouldn't have broken their ban on movies with women leads.

You've come a long way, baby!
posted by yeloson at 12:08 PM on March 29, 2011


In my case, my decrease in comics reading comes from a combination of burning out on the same old tropes and the Big Two continuing to rely on big crossover events that I don't have any particular interest in

This leapt out at me. Fear not, fellow traveler! Hope burns.

Comics are a lovely medium and there is a lot of good to be said of them. That said, superhero comics don't really have much new or interesting to say at this point. But if you love comics and you want to branch out a bit, there are some completely wonderful things being done outside that genre.

The thing which came immediately to mind was the fantastic I Kill Giants. If you can at all help it, don't read reviews or summaries - just give it a go. I have to say that it was part of what made me love the comics medium again.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:15 PM on March 29, 2011


V for Vendetta and Marvelman (retitled Miracleman after a legal threat from Marvel Comics) were reprinted for the American audience, they were shrunk and colored, which tended to obscure some of the finer details.

Aha! Somebody else mentioned that British comics were very different than American comics of the era but didn't say exactly how.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:22 PM on March 29, 2011


TBH though I complain about the big two's obsession with cross-over event bollocks I've never had that much trouble avoiding it, but on the other hand I'm pretty much creator focused - I mean, I like Batman and Wolverine and all that, but they're essentially unchanging iconic characters so keeping up with what they are doing in their "real' "continuity" has never really seemed like a priority for me.
posted by Artw at 12:23 PM on March 29, 2011


ha! Somebody else mentioned that British comics were very different than American comics of the era but didn't say exactly how.

Slightly larger format, tendency towards anthology titles (like 2000ad, Warrior) rather than single story titles, often weekly, tendency to be a bit denser because there's less pages to get a meaningful chunk of story in. Used to be they were mainly black and white, then 2000ad went all colour (and, horribly, for a while was mostly low quality brown painted art) - you actually see a fair number of black and white stories in 2000ad/The Megazine these days but it's more of a stylization (and art budget) thing - it's all color printing.
posted by Artw at 12:28 PM on March 29, 2011


I haven't seen Sucker Punch. And, judging from the ads, I probably won't see it in the theaters. But...In its defense, I'll say this...Great fucking logo.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:10 PM on March 29, 2011


Understand that when young adults talk about how the cartoons of their youth were so much better, they're talking about Pokemon. For some of us, it was He-Man and Voltron. For others it was Hong Kong Phooey. For some of us, Howdy Doody was the last time kids' TV was worth a damn.

Haven't we established mathematically that My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic is demonstrably better than your favorite kids' show? I thought we had...
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:33 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The movie's not about stopping bad things from happening. It's about dealing with them.

Is it, really?

Or is it about pretending to be about that?

Because what I see is pretty escapism: It's OK that she's brutally abused and forcibly lobotomized because SHE ESCAPES IN HER MIND. SRSLY.

This is in fact of a piece with "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" - or at least, it's trying to be, and not making it.

Really I find this whole subgenre of surprise! I'm really dead! movies for the most part to be pretty tiresome. They usually come to nothing; the best you can hope for is a little acceptance. (which makes what shyamalan accomplished with 6th sense all the more impressive.)

From where I'm sitting, it looks like a fairly sick combination of [not-very-]crypto-misogyny with boyzone escapism.
posted by lodurr at 2:35 PM on March 29, 2011


... as for the minor subthread on female action heros: yeah, WTF w/ forgetting Michelle Yeoh?! She stole the screen from fucking Jackie Chan, dudes!
posted by lodurr at 2:38 PM on March 29, 2011


No, it's ok because she gets one of her friends out. Really, literally, through-the-gates-and-onto-a-bus out. All the flash and sizzle is a metaphor for the nerve-wracking, dangerous, but not nearly as pretty theft and deception they managed to pull off under the absolute worst of circumstances.

It's not just a cabaret/whorehouse because sequins are shiny, it's because the girls in the asylum were being pimped out by unscrupulous orderlies. (This is never stated, but I think it's absolutely implied.) One of the reviewers above mentions in the comments that she assumed that Babydoll's "dance" was a barely-palatable metaphor for her putting herself in a position to be raped to give the other girls time to accomplish their tasks, and I think that's a pretty reasonable analysis.

Is it stomach-churningly dark and horrible? Yeah. I think the comment above that it isn't even good eye candy because it's impossible to forget the dreadful situation is actually kind of the point. I went into the movie expecting it to be awful and just kept waiting for the scene or line where it lost me, and it never quite did. It's not great, certainly - its reach definitely exceeds its grasp. But like this reviewer, I'm baffled by people who don't think it's about anything at all.

(I have no opinion about Zach Snyder - I've never seen any of his other flicks. It's possible I'm giving him too much credit. But at least I've seen the movie, neh?)
posted by restless_nomad at 2:46 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the comment above that it isn't even good eye candy because it's impossible to forget the dreadful situation is actually kind of the point.

So, just to be clear... the message of empowerment in Sucker Punch is that women can prostitute themselves to their captors.

As I said earlier, Ockham's Razor suggests that Snyder started with the sexy and worked backwards to the message. That's very, very easy, and it's not really that much different from any other exploitative cinema. At worst, Snyder is clueless. At best, he's created Trauma Porn.
posted by verb at 3:53 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you want good superhero comics, read Bendis' Powers. They're making it into a TV show, but, eh, I don't think it'll work. It's awesome.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:18 PM on March 29, 2011


Man, it's really not a good time not to like Nolan's gloomy take on superheroes (which worked okayish on Batman but would be an utter disaster on Superman or Justice League).
posted by Artw at 5:02 PM on March 29, 2011


Metacritic gives it a 35 by comparison...
posted by stratastar at 5:13 PM on March 29, 2011


Superman is the opposite of gritty. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I want a Superman set in the Fantasy Genre 1940s with lots of bright colors and shit. HE'S SUPERMAN. He's opera. He's 4 colors.
posted by The Whelk at 5:42 PM on March 29, 2011


The problem with that approach, Whelk, is that in the 1940s you could read Superman as a personification of America, or American-ness, which did indeed appear to be the Ubermensch of countries/nationalities. Sixty years on, that personification appears both naive and bordering on fascistic. Our present superheroes are troubled precisely to the degree that the culture which creates them -- and superheroes are currently at least an American genre -- is troubled.

It's the same problem you run into in trying to recreate sci-fi of the 1950s in a non-ironic way. 1950s scifi reflected 1950s preoccupations. To have any kind of resonance, modern sci-fi has to reflect modern preoccupations. I agree with you entirely however that it doesn't have to be either ironic or grandiose.

I've been trying to tell the studios that they should treat the Superhero genre as a new epic arena, like the Western or the Mafia movie, or Shakespeare's history plays. We should be thinking about the kinds of superhero movies Kurosawa would have made, or John Ford. And then make them.
posted by unSane at 5:49 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


that personification appears both naive and bordering on fascistic.

Which is why you have Superman doing the stuff he did do in the 40s, like taking down war profiteers .

Lex Luthor is a monopolistic a moral businessman, I can see a very zeitgeist-relevant story coming out of that.

and I agree, Superheroes are out modern epic form. So we should use them that way, and the basic, most epic, most iconic one of them, is Superman.
posted by The Whelk at 5:59 PM on March 29, 2011


amoral, not a moral. Sheesh.
posted by The Whelk at 5:59 PM on March 29, 2011


Whelk, that's exactly what they did in Iron Man, but the problem is there's no longer a bright shining line that we believe in between $EVIL_ARMS_DEALER and $HEROIC_AMERICAN. We know that the CIA supplies arms to all sorts of shifty characters. We do not live in a world with clear cut heroes and villains. The hardest part of writing superhero movies these days -- trust me on this -- is finding villains who are both clearly villainous and not caricatures. If not Osama Bin Laden, who? We know that the US supported Mubarak, supported Saddam. Superman cannot wrap himself in the flag. He is likely to find himself up against the flag. Lex Luthor has a contract with the Defense Department. And so we find ourselves back where we started.
posted by unSane at 6:42 PM on March 29, 2011


ok, unSane beat me to my question by answering it (haven't actually SEEN Iron Man, just heard about it).

But, unSane, aren't you falling into the trap of thinking that the audience sees things the way you do? Sure, I do; but do they? We increasingly live in a country where people are willing to believe five crazy and multi-mutually-exclusive things before breakfast if it lets them feel good about something. So they can rant about evil war profiteers and move unironically from that directly to a rant about the evils of taxing that poor Mister Luthor.

... and I suppose more to the point: Do you care? Since you care enough to make your argument, I'm guessing not.
posted by lodurr at 6:48 PM on March 29, 2011


But, unSane, aren't you falling into the trap of thinking that the audience sees things the way you do?

My job as a writer is to seduce the audience into seeing the world the way I do via a screenplay.

Someone who thinks differently would write a different script and good luck to them. But you underestimate the intelligence of the audience at your peril.
posted by unSane at 6:55 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


No offense, unSane, but I think you're kinda coming at this from the wrong direction. Iron Man is not Othello; Justice League is not The Searchers. That way leads to Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. These are not the great mythic stories of our age. These are children's stories. They can be clever, they can be cool, they can have meaning, but at the end of the day, they're there to make twelve-year-olds ohhh and ahhh and wanna buy a Happy Meal with the movie tie-in toy inside. I don't mean this cynically -- I think these movies can be great -- but trying to handle them like they're great art just makes what should be fun movies over into pretentious movies. It doesn't matter that we can't turn any real life figure into pure evil, because superhero stories aren't real life. Why should Superman fight Osama bin Laden anyway? No one wants to watch Mike Tyson box Professor Stephen Hawking. Superman should be fighting Darkseid, or Cthulhu, or Hades, or the dark side of the collective human unconscious, or a nine-hundred-foot-tall monkey with kryptonite eyes. He's Superman! His world is grander. This is by design!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:16 PM on March 29, 2011


they're there to make twelve-year-olds ohhh and ahhh and wanna buy a Happy Meal with the movie tie-in toy inside.

This is why you get Sucker Punch. This is why you can't have nice things.
posted by unSane at 7:43 PM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is why you get Sucker Punch. This is why you can't have nice things.

I have lots of nice things! When I want to watch a good movie, I can look at my shelf and take down Andrei Rublev or Night of the Hunter or Santa Sangre or really any number of excellent movies, and have a great time! If Hollywood can't provide me with new nice things, so be it; there are plenty of independent and foreign films coming out all the time, more than I can realistically watch and have any kind of life, so I'm good. If the best Hollywood will allow its creative people is to ask themselves how Tarkovsky might have rebooted Aquaman or what Hitchcock would have done with a movie based on Uno...I mean, fuck it. Filmmakers shouldn't have to attempt to elevate juvenilia and cultural flotsam to the condition of high art -- they should actually be allowed to make real movies. But if you're gonna make popcorn movies, you know...do it right.

And actually, this is the total opposite of why we have Sucker Punch. We have Sucker Punch because a guy who's been making the movies Hollywood wants was allowed to make an Inception of his very own. Sucker Punch is his art film.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:57 PM on March 29, 2011


Filmmakers shouldn't have to attempt to elevate juvenilia and cultural flotsam to the condition of high art -- they should actually be allowed to make real movies. But if you're gonna make popcorn movies, you know...do it right.

So your idea of Hollywood 'doing it right' is to make movies that make 12 year olds go aaah and sell popcorn?

That's actually not how you make money on a $100m + budgeted movie. The 12 year olds don't buy the tickets.

Making movies is easy when you don't actually have to, you know, make them.
posted by unSane at 8:04 PM on March 29, 2011


So your idea of Hollywood 'doing it right' is to make movies that make 12 year olds go aaah and sell popcorn?

If they're making popcorn movies, yeah.

That's actually not how you make money on a $100m + budgeted movie. The 12 year olds don't buy the tickets.

Making movies is easy when you don't actually have to, you know, make them.


Gosh, I'm no Hollywood sophisticate, but let me blink the stars out of my eyes over here and tell you what I actually am, which is someone who's been known to take nieces and nephews to some movies, and that's a transaction over which you as the adult have just about zero control. If you're taking a kid to a movie, you're seeing the movie the kid wants to see. In effect, the twelve-year-olds do buy the tickets. It's nice if it's a movie you want to see, too, but it's hardly an essential part of this transaction. It's about the kids.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:11 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


For YOU it's about the kids.

However, especially in the case of superhero movies, you are not the target audience and neither are your nieces and nephews. The target audience is primarily 16-24 year old males on Friday night dates, plus the international audience who will watch it in Laos in 3 months' time. However they are just one quadrant of the four (young/old/male/female). For a PG13 studio tentpole budgeted over $100m they need to hit at least two and preferably more of those quadrants. You cannot do this by appealing to 12 year olds. A successful movie at that budget level needs to appeal on a slew of different levels. Sure, it needs to entertain the 12 year olds. It also needs to entertain the 18 year olds, the 25 year olds and (preferably) the 30 year olds, both male and female in all age ranges.

If you only target one demographic then it must be 16-24 year old males.

Sucker. Punch.
posted by unSane at 8:26 PM on March 29, 2011


If you only target one demographic then it must be 16-24 year old males.

Sucker. Punch.


...Except that in reality Sucker Punch is getting beaten by a kids' movie that cost a quarter of its budget. I understand that what you're saying is conventional wisdom; what I'm not sure about is whether that wisdom is right. But even that is kind of sideways to what I'm thinking here, which is that a summer tentpole that appeals to twelve-year-olds is...well...Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ghostbusters...basically, the kind of stuff that got Hollywood thinking about summer tentpoles in the first place. These things not only excite children and adults, but excite them for pretty much the same reasons. I guess what I'm driving at is that what makes a kid enjoy a movie like this is also what makes an adult enjoy one. I think that trying to make these films into something deeper, for lack of a better term, may to some degree subvert what people go to these movies for.

I do understand that filmmakers want to make films, and if there's a certain type of film they want to make and superhero movies are what sells, then there's a desire to make superhero movies act like the kind of film they're actually interested in making. I get that. I'm just not convinced that's going to result in the film that that filmmaker really wants to make, or that his/her audience really wants to see. Like I said: Turn off the Dark. I kind of wish it were reasonable for me to ask you to throw an example of what you mean out here, because maybe I'm just not getting it, although I won't since you're actually trying to, you know, sell it, and I can see how talking about it on a message board could be kind of problematic.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:48 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meh. It's not that bad. I'm certainly not going to wax poetic about it. Especially since there's a portion of people around here who think Starship Troopers is sooooo deep with subtext based on a couple of Nazi/fascist infomercials sprinkled into it, and yet can't find any in Sucker Punch? When I first watched it earlier I thought it was excessive and rather immature, but the more I think about it the more I like it.

Here's just two misunderstandings about the movie (that makes some of this thread really funny to read):

A)The narrator isn't Babydoll and Babydoll isn't the main character. SweetPea is the main Protagonist and the story archs around her character.

B)The whole movie is a retelling narrative. The very first scene shows Babydoll "onstage" in her room, and the bus driver shows up througout the movie as the know-it-all-captian. Both of those things are revisionist and show it's a heightened fictional point of storytelling from the begining.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:56 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except that in reality Sucker Punch is getting beaten by a kids' movie that cost a quarter of its budget.

This week.

Show me the $20m kids' film that beat DARK KNIGHT, or AVATAR, or SPIDERMAN, or IRON MAN, or INCEPTION.
posted by unSane at 9:06 PM on March 29, 2011


Iron Man is not Othello; Justice League is not The Searchers. That way leads to Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. These are not the great mythic stories of our age.

You're dead wrong about this. Superman will outlive all of us.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:43 AM on March 30, 2011


UnSane, what I'm saying is that those are children's films, for the most part. Avatar's kind of a freakish outlier in a lot of ways, and Inception...honestly, I just find Inception to be a very loud, dull film the appeal of which is totally lost on me, so I have to abstain on that one. But the others are children's films. I mean, you can tell yourself that Spider-Man is a movie for adults the same way you can buy an edition of Harry Potter that has a cover that makes it look more, I dunno, grown-up, but it's not. Adults enjoy it -- I enjoyed it! -- and that's great. But it is what it is.

PS: ETW, I love Superman, and he will outlive all of us, but his story isn't Shakespeare.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:42 AM on March 30, 2011


You're dead wrong about this. Superman will outlive all of us.


Sure - he's still alive, in the healing rays of the yellow Sun, in the 853rd century. This we know. But I'm not sure than Superman Returns is going to be as long-lived. I think I'd actually started forgetting Superman Returns roughly forty minutes in.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:49 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have no idea how Superman Returns happened. It's like they sat down for the first meeting and said "Right, how can we make this as joyless as possible?".
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on March 30, 2011


It happens when you give a talented director complete freedom to make a movie exactly how he/she wants, contingent upon studio approval.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:29 AM on March 30, 2011


Wasn't he originally going to have Superman unable to fly, give him a Super-car and have him played by Nick Cage? Or was that the previous director?
posted by lodurr at 9:35 AM on March 30, 2011


(Anyway, aside from the facts that it was about as interesting as paint drying and managed to waste one of the best celluloid supervillain performances I can recall seeing, the biggest problem for Superman Returns was that the Other Man was more super than Superman. Let's be honest about this: If you have to choose between an invulnerable guy who abandoned you and gets his ass kicked, to boot, and a vulnerable but hunky, rich, and incredibly brave ordinary guy who's so steadfast he risks his life to save a kid he doesn't think is really even his, which do you choose?)
posted by lodurr at 9:39 AM on March 30, 2011




Ironically, the orignal script for Drive Angry 3D had Nick Cage playing Superman.

posted by running order squabble fest at 10:11 AM on March 30, 2011


I hope there can be a part II for this FPP once Sucker-Punch is available on DVD.

I'm at the point where I don't know if this is the worst exploitative piece of brain dead garbage imaginable, or if this is like a new fucking paradigm in cinema. I do know I'm not going to waste the freaking 11 bucks watching it, especially if it's as weakly executed as the Watchmen film.

But I also know that one side, or the other of this debate, or both are going to get a piece of my mind big time.

As soon as I see it. At home.

On DVD or streaming or whatever for very very little money to go to this Zach Synder clown who pissed weak tea all over my favorite Comic of all time: The Watchmen.
posted by Skygazer at 11:04 AM on March 30, 2011


what I'm saying is that those are children's films,

You guys do realize in Sucker Punch there's no sex, no swearing, and only three scenes with blood that doesn't appear any larger than a handprint, right? If you can get past the short skirts (which from what it looks like, most people can't for some reason) it's probably "safer" than a lot video games and anime out there.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:32 PM on March 30, 2011


PS: ETW, I love Superman, and he will outlive all of us, but his story isn't Shakespeare.

We don't get to decide which of our cultural artifacts survive into the ages.

I would not bet against the Superman myth.
posted by artlung at 5:35 PM on March 30, 2011


Sucker Punch Review: A Spectacular Display Of Breathtaking Incompetence from Pajiba. The reviewer did not like the movie.
It’s as if Snyder spent a weekend dropping acid and playing every video game he could find, and developed a series of hallucination-based short films. Then, he came up with a sordid, melodramatic-as-fuck story about young girls trapped in a brothel/insane asylum/burlesque club/Dickensian shithole. Then, he decided he was gonna get all girl-powered and developed his own brand of lingerie-inspired pedophelia-themed feminism. Then he took all of those things, stuffed them into a bag three sizes to small, and then beat the fucking bag with hammers until he shit himself.

He then topped off the bag with feces, and hit me in the face with it. In short, Zack Snyder is an asshole.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:12 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but did he like it?
posted by P.o.B. at 6:26 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Stranger:

When you're watching Sucker Punch, I sincerely believe you're gazing into the depths of Zack Snyder's soul. The problem is that Zach Snyder's soul is about a half-inch deep. Sucker Punch is an imbecile's attempt at auteurism, a rehash of a couple dozen great nerd films smashed together into a way-too-long two-hour running time. To remind us that we're just watching a movie, the film opens with parting curtains—deep!—and then launches into the story of Baby Doll (Emily Browning), a 20-year-old who attacks her lecherous stepfather and accidentally kills her sister in the process. She is institutionalized. She imagines the institution is a cabaret club in some confusing pastiche past. Every time she does a sexy burlesque dance in the cabaret reality, she imagines that she is a warrior woman in a series of fantasy worlds, acquiring different tools to help her escape the asylum in the first reality. See, you've got multiple levels of story, plus a voiceover at the beginning and the end of the movie about the power of storytelling and, um, angels. Which, of course, makes it deep. Um?
posted by Artw at 7:10 PM on March 30, 2011


He thinks he's making the next Fight Club when he's really just rebooting a lame Muppet Babies episode.

Oh my...God.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:00 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really anyone doing anything with. Layers of reality and thinking they're being clever should think back to the Muppet Babies and make sure they're not just doing the same thing. Or Backyardigans.
posted by Artw at 6:55 AM on March 31, 2011


Dude, Wishbone kicks their philosophical asses.
posted by lodurr at 9:34 AM on March 31, 2011


I love Superman, and he will outlive all of us, but his story isn't Shakespeare.

Until Shakespeare (or the modern equivalent) writes Superman.

"Shakespeare" is code for "highest art imaginable" -- and yes, he was brilliant and his works are amazing -- but his plays were Pop. Culture. The audience at the Globe wasn't just nobles and humanist philosophers -- the playhouses were filled with drunken commoners, apprentices skipping work, and the 16th-17th century version of the bourgeois. And the stories Shakespeare (and his contemporaries) told were based on old tales, myths, fairy tales, legends, etc. In other words, the mass culture of his day.

So, Superman could be Shakespearean. I seriously doubt it ever will be, but it could be.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:03 AM on March 31, 2011


Wait... which Muppet Babies episode had strippers and samurai robots?!
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:03 AM on March 31, 2011


Superman is more like King Arthur or Robin Hood... the character and the gist of his story will endure, but there isn't going to be any specific Superman work anyone other than historians are going back to 100 years from now... not even ASS.
posted by Artw at 11:35 AM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


SUPERMAN is so damned American. Invincible except for one tiny flaw. I suspect he'll go down with the empire ... one way or another, and come to be viewed with confused, ironic amusement -- rather how Brits now think of their 19th Century "boys own" heroes.
posted by philip-random at 11:46 AM on March 31, 2011


yeah, nobody gives a shit about 19th century characters like Dracula and Sherlock Holmes now... wait...
posted by Artw at 12:05 PM on March 31, 2011


I was wondering the other day if Terry Gilliam might have seen this as it's just rips the heart out of Time Bandits. But not he's probably too busy weeping as some bastards are actually remaking said film... ahem WHAT THE FUCK HOLLYWOOD! WHAT THE FUCK!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:44 PM on March 31, 2011


Don't touch it! It's evil!
posted by Artw at 4:11 PM on March 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


A contrary, slightly frothing view: The Problem Isn't Zack Snyder. The Problem Is You.
posted by Artw at 4:18 PM on March 31, 2011


You know what's funny is that's why I think he named it Sucker Punch. He's lobbing a fight winning hit before it starts. A kind of "I've got 'yer ultra-heightend sex and violence right here!"

Psychology Today had a write up on it.

That and The Huffington Post are the only critical write ups on it I've seen.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:25 PM on March 31, 2011


It's evil! Don't touch it!
posted by philip-random at 4:57 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


God I love that movie

/instantly and permanently forgets about remake.
posted by Artw at 5:10 PM on March 31, 2011


Time Bandits came out in late 81 when I was doing a lot of LSD, so it became THE go-to movie for a while. Strangest viewing of all (which I still sometimes think was just a dream) came one night when a fire alarm went off not in the theater, but behind it sort of. Maybe the adjacent building? This, of course, happened right at the end of the film, when (SPOILER ALERT) the kid was waking up from his weird adventure to find the family house on fire, and firemen swarming the scene (including Sean Connery). Meanwhile, in the theater, firemen were hustling up and down the aisles, going in and out of the exit doors at the rear. But nobody ever asked us to move, or leave.

So we sat out the final scene and, acid heads that we were, the entire credit sequence because we liked the theme song, and finally exited the theater only to find three fire trucks parked outside, a crowd gathered, lights flashing, firemen everywhere ... but no evidence of any fire. I supposed we could have asked somebody what was going on, but the mystery of it felt far more interesting, like the movie had something bled out into the real world and fused with it.

So we just laughed and wandered down the block to our favorite pub. Ah, the good ole days.
posted by philip-random at 5:36 PM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


That Geekspace guy's article is basically: Haters gonna hate. He lost me when he speculated that "geeks" like del Toro better than Zack Snyder because del Toro is fat and wears glasses or something. You know, like us them. (I am neither fat nor, contrary to my profile picture, bespectacled; though I also do not look like a member of Limp Bizkit.) That's where I stopped reading his article, because that's when I realized he was wasting my time. If you can show me the Zack Snyder film that'll go toe to toe with The Devil's Backbone or Pan's Labyrinth and not just embarrass itself right out of the gate, okay. But that film doesn't exist, that film will most likely not ever exist, and if this guy doesn't realize that, he has no business writing about stuff like this.

Besides which. If "geeks" hate Zack Snyder because he's beautiful, explain Kevin Smith. Yeah. There's a Chinese riddle for ya.

So no. But on the other hand, he's not...completely...wrong? These conversations do start to sound like sports radio call-in shows. The truth is, most of the people who've posted in this thread (including me) are themselves creators, and none of us are getting eighty million dollars to make The Suicide Girls Journey to the Bottom of Zack Snyder's Id. I guess there might be an element of envy, but at the same time, not much of one; I don't think any of us would like to be Zack Snyder, although I do think all of us would like eighty million dollars. Mostly, though, I like all of us would rather complain about the lack of meritocracy than actually, like, do our own work. 'Cause work is...hard? So. That part's true. It really is. Snyder, whatever you may think of him, is making a film a year, and not letting box office disappointment stand in his way. He's made a film this year, he made a film last year, and he'll make a film next year. They might all bomb. Hollywood might stop giving him money, and then he'd just make the one after that on his iPhone. Credit where it's due.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:07 PM on March 31, 2011


I think the point was that it looks like "nerds" are taking exception to this movie almost soley based on the fact that it's Zack "The Destroyer of Watchmen" Snyder, and if that's the case then it's a bit hypocritical to get the hate-on for this compared to normal nerd fare. That fare being the exact thing Snyder just made a movie about.

I'd be interested to see how this weekend goes but this might be Snyder's first movie that doesn't make back at least twice what it cost.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:45 PM on March 31, 2011


And I think he compares Snyders films to Del Torro's Hellboy films specifically because their adaptations, as those are what Snyder mainly does.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:50 PM on March 31, 2011


You can now watch the first 5 mins on line (spoilers - it's basically a music video for the worst cover of Sweet Dreams evah)

Odd that they have throw this out now... almost like they are attempting to shore up a collapse in box office in the second week
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:39 AM on April 1, 2011


Superhero movies - the boom and bust cycle
posted by Artw at 5:15 AM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, wait, the movie opens with a girl being abused, set to the music of some chick singing "some of them want to abuse you, some of them want to be abused"?

THAT'S DEEP, SNYDER. REALLY REALLY DEEP.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:36 AM on April 1, 2011


1: There was a remake of Time Bandits? (Oh, going to -- but I'm not seeing that at the link provided. Just some weird shit about turning The Long Good Friday into a series [spoiler: the central character is offed by the IRA at the end].) (I wouldn't mind seeing that again. Every now and then I look for it in video stores and never find it. Fucking incredible soundtrack.)

2: Phillip-Random, re. acid, I think it was something about Time Bandits. I knew several people in college who went to see it while tripping. One of them sometimes had a fairly hard time watching it after that. ("Don't get me wrong, it's great, it's just that...well, it wasn't the kind of acid movie as I thought it would be.")

3: I don't do this often, but "Metafilter: I don't think any of us would like to be Zack Snyder, although I do think all of us would like eighty million dollars."
posted by lodurr at 5:41 AM on April 1, 2011


Bob the Angry Flower on Sucker Punch.
posted by immlass at 7:55 AM on April 1, 2011


The Last Psychiatrist posted about Sucker Punch over at Partial Objects.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:19 AM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's an interesting analysis, but I don't think it even vaguely approaches why people don't like the movie. He's basically saying people think the movie sucks because we're forced to follow the "wrong" "main character". As though that wasn't true of every movie where the hero dies just before the end so someone else can live.

OTOH, the idea of a film where you've been cued to follow the wrong character is pretty interesting. This wouldn't be the first I'd seen. I've argued that's what's happening in Men with Guns; that's pretty much what's going on in Blood Simple; you could make that argument about Inside Man; a friend argued (not entirely persuasively to my mind) that's what's going on in Ghost Dog; it's the retconned premise of the entire run of St. Elsewhere.

It's a neat idea. But one neat idea does not a good movie make.
posted by lodurr at 10:35 AM on April 1, 2011


As a central idea though, it holds up fairly well to examination and explains away a lot of what people are misinterpreting about the movie.
In the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the narrator was actually Chief. So there were a few sections in the book where, as what tends to happen in crazy people's heads, everything falls away and your transported into a bizarre world. This makes you start to question: how literal is this story being told?
In Sucker Punch we find out that the narrator is actually Sweet Pea, another patient at the hospital. That simple fact should give you a reason to look back upon what you just saw and realize none of the movie happened in Babydoll's head, it was all a revisionist story from a mentally unstable person. A kind of "big fish" story.
TLP also mentions the lobotomy scene (a phallocentric mind warping tool?) near the beginning where Babyboll immediatly becomes Sweetpea. An obvious foreshadow of switching of the leads, but it's also an immediate alienating effect for the audience. One thing that kept going through my head as I watched was "that's excessive", and it made me realize that it was excessive for a reason. I don't think Snyder turned everything up to 11 unintentionally, but it's for the audience to actually question the acceptability of these things. Pehaps even the common acceptance of these things as viable entertainment?
Look, I try not to bullshit myself too much when it comes to this kind of stuff because I don't like it when others do that to me to try to justify things. But I don't really understand the level of hate people have for this movie. Why would you be upset about the very thing that is generally considered good? If you don't like it than that's your opinion to have, but just stringing together a bunch of advjectives and then saying "feces!" does not make for a good argument on why this movie is bad. I mean, even saying that it's shalllow is kind of hard for me to get because I think Snyder intentionally put enough themes in there to explore. All the allusions to "dolls" for one.

But, hey, whatevs.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:29 PM on April 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Your argument is reminding me of something a friend likes to say. I forget exactly how he puts it (which is a pity, because it's pretty pithy), but it's something to the effect that he'd rather read space opera than stories about paint drying in connecticut.
posted by lodurr at 1:16 PM on April 1, 2011


That's an interesting analysis

Well, as a defense, "Let me tell you, this movie is even more pointless and absurd than you thought" is unexpected, I'll give him that.

I mean, even saying that it's shalllow is kind of hard for me to get because I think Snyder intentionally put enough themes in there to explore. All the allusions to "dolls" for one.

You know, maybe Zack Snyder is actually Hans Bellmer in disguise. Sucker Punch: more themes than Jerry Goldsmith.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:26 PM on April 1, 2011


Bringing up the Chief in One Flew... brings back memories for me. I think I was 11 when I read it. It was the first book I read with a truly unreliable narrator (the "fog machine" really threw me at first), and first of many exposures to the trope where the unreliability is established early-on and then somehow "fixed" or otherwise largely forgotten about (because it would get in the way of the storytelling). I read it before seeing the film and was fascinated by the way Kesey told the story through the PoV of a character who didn't seem to be involved in the action at all -- but whose insights were absolutely crucial. (I'll never forget the line about how every time his father took a drink from the bottle, the 'bottle took a drink out of him'.)

That was, dare I say it, the "right" way to go about that kind of thing -- the "passive" narrator's story is what makes sense of the main narrator's story, and it works because you have access to it the whole time. And really even at teh time I thought McMurphy was kind of an asshole, though that could just be because I so strongly identified with the Chief. (I was very disappointed at how much of that was lost in the film. That was also the first thing that gave me cause to really think about what you could and couldn't do in films vs. prose.)

What's teh comparison, here? I'm not sure. I still think Sucker Punch is probably exploitative crap, but P.o.B. is kind of talking me into cutting it a break.
posted by lodurr at 1:42 PM on April 1, 2011


TBH all the explanations of how it's cleverer than it seems just make it sound dumber and more annoying to me.
posted by Artw at 2:32 PM on April 1, 2011


*shrug* That's fair. If it annoyed you then it's annoying, and I cant't fault you for having that opinion if you've seen the movie. Otherwise your just extrapolating off of others opinions. and if that's your thing then like I said, whatevs. But I find it just as annoying to have read through a couple of hundered comments and then realize most people who are trashing this movie have no idea what it's about because they haven't even seen it.

If you do think it's exploitive, and so on, my question would be: as opposed to? I mean it's easy to take the this thing out of context and trash it seven ways to Sunday, but it's pretty hyprocritical to comparitively talk about Kill Bill and this movie in the same sentence with a straight face. Don't get me wrong, I think Kill Bill is a great movie compared to this. I love samurai flicks and spaghetti westerns. But if you look at it, Kill Bill includes just as much exploitive crap and I think people are willfully ignoring that. Kill Bill is about a woman who was raped mercilessly for years before waking up and going on a blood filled rampage. Moulin Rouge is a heavily CGI'ed movie about love in a brothel.

Clever or not, I don't think this movie strayed to far from what people consider good watching.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:53 PM on April 1, 2011


/shrug

Kill Bill's got personality. Personality goes a long way.
posted by Artw at 2:59 PM on April 1, 2011


And lodurr, I agree the unreliable narrator can be kind of a hard sell because once we take that to it's conclusion the question and answer goes like: "Well, what really happened then?" "I don't know, SweetPea made it all up."
posted by P.o.B. at 3:00 PM on April 1, 2011


Sucker Punch is a filthy movie
posted by P.o.B. at 3:02 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I went to Kill Bill at the New Bev today, and, just so this thread is accurate-- the April 6th and 7th screenings? Are first-come-first-serve at the door, no advance sales.

Not sold out, in other words, and now you LA MeFites have three days to plan. ;)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:26 PM on April 2, 2011


Look, I know we shouldn't mock people because of their names and all that, but the first time I heard the name 'Zack Snyder' I thought "Isn't he the 'Girls Gone Wild' scumbag?" There's something about those two names together that sounds... inherently sleazy. It's the sort of name I'd expect to see on the mugshot of a cheap pimp. I'm not exactly proud of my initial gut reaction, but to date his oeuvre hasn't done much to change my impression.
posted by MarchHare at 10:17 PM on April 7, 2011


After finally getting around to listening to the Kermode review I think I will from now on sub-vocalise 'Zack Snyder' in falsetto whenever I read it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:18 AM on April 8, 2011


I'm yet another Sucker Punch defender. I agree with the Last Psychiatrist critique. It's far from a perfect movie, but it's actually about something, and I was surprised at how invested I was in how it would turn out, despite the fact that I already knew the major spoilers coming in. In a way, think knowing the main twists made me enjoy it more.

I would also say that Sucker Punch is a rare example of a genuinely loony movie escaping from the Hollywood system. It has more in common with Santa Sangre than it does with Heavy Metal, despite the surface iconography.

I bet if Sucker Punch had been a lower-budget film in another language, it wouldn't be getting anywhere near the critical dogpile that it is getting now.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:30 AM on April 8, 2011


I bet if Sucker Punch had been a lower-budget film in another language, most of those people would never have seen it, and if they did, they wouldn't have perceived it as a zero-sum sponge sucking up resources that could have gone to movies they'd like.
posted by lodurr at 5:15 AM on April 9, 2011


Apparently not too late! I just saw Sucker Punch last night. I thought it was awesome. Literally. Awesome.

Is Sucker Punch a movie?

Kind of. It's more than a hour long. It's shown at the big screens.

I heard somebody describe 300 as a 90 minute long music video. That's Sucker Punch too. Film is film, right? Kind of. Music videos really changed the genre, and they're still changing it. That's part of why a lot of people dislike Sucker Punch.

So if it's a movie, what kind of movie is it?

Oh, that's easy. It's a spaghetti western.

The good guys (gals) wear white hats. The bad guys (guys) wear black hats. Characterization and interpersonal conflict play no role in the film. The film is about establishing a moral right for action (self-defense, but even more, autonomy) and then providing beautiful metaphors for that action.

It's like Maxim, right?

Kind of. The girls (seriously, more girls than women) are very beautiful. That is part of the draw. But ultimately, this isn't a boy's power fantasy in drag. This is a girl's power fantasy. If it was a boy's fantasy, there would be somebody who needed rescuing. There isn't. There are a collection of characters that all play meaningful roles in the action. There are no damsels in distress.

This, to me, is part of a really wonderful change in women's fantasies. The fantasy movie of my childhood was The Princess Bride. This was a boy's fantasy, but to ignore that it was a girl's fantasy as well is to miss something. The Princess Bride, despite being one of the most misogynistic movies I've ever seen, remains beloved by most people to this day.

This movie represents a drastic change. The fantasy is that of a) having a good reason to act; b) acting, even at great risk; c) self-sacrifice. So different than living happily ever after, and such a welcome change in my eyes.

But isn't it misogynistic in a different way?

Well, girls get hit. Some people think that a movie is misogynistic anytime a girl gets hit. But being hit is necessary to show that actual risk is involved-- to make these girls' decisions meaningful and difficult.

The girls are very pretty, and are in sexual situations, although if you've only read what people have had to say, you probably think this is a much sexier movie than it is. It's certainly not porn. Part of the teenage girl fantasy involves being desirable, and wearing hot outfits, and that plays a role in this film. There are skimpy outfits, but there's no back arching or crawling on the floor or anything. A lot of people have inferred sexual violence (understandably) that isn't explicit nor even actually there (the step dad isn't necessarily sexually abusing anyone, for instance, even though a lot of reviews say he is) in the same way that they infer sexual violence from the video game The Path. The protagonist works her magic by sexy dancing, it's true, but it's a testament to restraint that this sexy dancing is never shown on screen. Kicking ass is a metaphor for her sexy dance which is a metaphor for her kicking ass.

But again, to me, the involvement of sex in this is a positive. For far too long, heroines in American action films (and video games, and lots of other genres) have been men with tits. Look at Aliens. Weaver (and that woman marine, forget her name) are great heroines, but they're examples of the failure of American cinema to show women as tough without just making them more masculine. Asian film has been doing much better for a long time in this. Look at The Bride with White Hair. Look at Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It's possible to be both feminine and badass. It's possible to have a sexual identity and still be an agent, rather than a damsel in distress.

So what about the movie, besides all these rebuttals?

I'm so glad you asked.

The editing is incredible. If you liked 300, you'll love Sucker Punch. It's so interesting to me that this is the one movie (I believe?) by the director that's not inspired by any comic book, but comic books inform the editing totally. Look at the train scene. He's actually creating something new here, some blend of comic book and movie that I've never before seen. These are frames without borders. It's beautiful.

The special effects are lovely. The bad guys are informed by tropes, yet something new and imaginative have been added to each. Steampunk zombie nazis are rad. Giant samurai with gatling guns that bleed light are rad. Dragons that fly so clumsily that they half-leap rather than fly are rad.

The choreography is beautiful as well. The fantasy of it all permits a lot of suspension of disbelief, which lets the heroines get away with some shockingly beautiful stuff. The action is fast paced and varied. The good guys get hurt, something that happens far too rarely in American action movies, so if you were one of those people that loved the glass in Bruce Willis's feet in Die Hard but can't stand Seagal's apparent invulnerability, you'll appreciate this movie. (If you can't stand to see women get hit, well, see something else, I guess.)

The storytelling is mixed. The film opens with an incredible montage that prepares you perfectly for the film. This is a fairy tale, not a drama, and the beginning let's you know that with incredible concision and beauty. It's true, the end could be done better, especially in light of the perfect intro.

But what really gets me about this movie is the morality of it all. This hearkens back to a day when heroes were really heroes. This isn't about self-defense, as disappointingly many action movies are. The morality of this is about freedom, and self-sacrifice. Not in some dumb military glorification way, but in a John Wayne way. The protagonist is way past simply protecting herself. Nothing for the loser; the hero always dies.

The story? It tells you right away that it's not for real, that it's only metaphor. If you don't like that, don't see it, because you won't be able to get past it. The story is surprisingly unpredictable for what is a children's story. But it's not deep-- it's just a fairy tale.

So why don't other reviewers like it?

I read a few of the reviews linked to here. There seems to be a heavy dislike of the sexualization of it, which surprises me, because it's not really that sexualized in my opinion. They don't like that it's more like Jackson's Thriller than like Citizen Kane. They don't like that it's a simple morality tale, a simple heroic fairy tale. I don't know.

I think they don't like it because none of them are 16 anymore. I mean, I'm not 16 either, but I hold onto my inner teenager tightly :) It's not always such a wonderful thing to be a grown-up.
posted by nathan v at 1:23 PM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


So... it's a film for no-longer-teenaged men who want to imagine that they are and then live in the fantasies of teenaged girls?

Well, it's a niche.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:31 PM on April 9, 2011


Not in some dumb military glorification way, but in a John Wayne way.

You mean the John Wayne way isn't a dumb military glorification?
posted by Grangousier at 2:45 PM on April 9, 2011


The hell it was!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:09 PM on April 9, 2011


John Wayne hugged a flag.
posted by Artw at 3:18 PM on April 9, 2011


John Wayne was a fag
posted by philip-random at 3:24 PM on April 9, 2011


SPOILERS

There seems to be a heavy dislike of the sexualization of it, which surprises me, because it's not really that sexualized in my opinion.

Something I found interesting about the sexualization in the movie was in how aggressively the film upended that sexualization. We never actually see the dancing; the dancing is only done tactically to distract pigs; and at the very end, when Babydoll is dressed in her most sexualized outfit yet, a scene is set up for another dance sequence, but not even the villains get to see another dance. They just get kicked in the balls.

Something else I thought was interesting: when we're back in the mental hospital at the very end, the doctor is alarmed that Babydoll flashed a disturbing expression. Dr. Gorski finds out about the fraudulent paperwork behind the lobotomies, and even the orderlies are put off by the villain's demand to do something awful to Babydoll, post-lobotomy. The main villain is swiftly caught by the police and dragged away.

At first, I thought that scene was far too good to be true - wouldn't the long-corrupt orderlies be all too happy to see Babydoll suffer by this point? - but then I remembered that Sweetpea was not there to see this part of the story. She's imagining this, just as she had imagined the opening. This is her best case scenario envisioning of what happened to poor Babydoll.

In a way, this movie reminds me of A.I., another much-hated movie that played around with a fairy tale being told by an unreliable narrator.

Hm. Interesting interesting.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:25 PM on April 9, 2011


Slight derail, but:

Look at Aliens. Weaver (and that woman marine, forget her name) are great heroines, but they're examples of the failure of American cinema to show women as tough without just making them more masculine.

This is a terrible, terrible reading of Aliens, operating as it does on the idea that women are masculine when they wear trousers and tank tops and feminine when they wear miniature school uniforms.

Ripley's relationship with the feminine and femininity is the subject of many, many learned works, but the short version is that her arc in Aliens is about being traumatized (by the events of the original Alien, the loss of her daughter, and the refusal of the authorities to listen to her1) and recovering herself through confronting her fears and finding new focuses for her positive emotions (a surrogate partner and surrogate daughter).

Ripley is consistently contrasted with the macho attitude of the marines (who, incidentally, are shown as hypocritical in the way Hudson mocks Vasquez for being exactly what they need her to be to fit into the unit - butch, basically). It starts with the first appearance of the loader, where she undercuts Master Sergeant Apone's assumption that as a civilian and a woman she will be of no use by strapping on an exoskeleton - what more obvious exposition of the fact that she doesn't need to be musclebound to pull her weight could there be?

Throughout the second act of the film, she opposes the actions and decisions of the male command structure of Burke and Gorman. And, of course, in every case she is proven right, and the people who stand outside those power structures are the ones who make it to the end of the narrative, by taking a critical and subversive view of machismo - whether that is Hicks' readiness to follow Ripley's advice, Bishop's pacifism or Newt's pessimistic assessment of the value of weapons and training.

In the third act Ripley once again demonstrates that the kinds of strength the marines value (physical strength and aggression) or the Company values (cunning, greed and readiness to sacrifice others to protect yourself, in industrial tribunals or alien-filled bases) are useless, and that the thing that beats the monsters is a readiness to face your demons and risk your own life in defence of the truly helpless, for no personal benefit.

So, yeah. Sigourney Weaver didn't do the whole film in a push-up bra and high heels (for that you need Galaxy Quest), but her portrayal is a long way from masculine. The general shittiness of female roles in Hollywood in general, and in action films in particular, is a different question, but Aliens does not support your contention.

1 There are a lot of metaphors in Alien about sexual assault, which are made quite explicit during the tribunal, where Ripley's account of being set up for forced impregnation by the Company and then assaulted by the Company's representative are mocked and dismissed
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:25 PM on April 9, 2011 [20 favorites]


"This is a terrible, terrible reading of Aliens, operating as it does on the idea that women are masculine when they wear trousers and tank tops and feminine when they wear miniature school uniforms."

Yeah, there's something (lots of things) that I didn't explain well. I'm familiar with some interpretations of Aliens that see Weaver as a model of femininity in the movie. But when I watch Aliens, I don't really see what they're talking about. The fact that Weaver is a woman is cool, from a sexual rights perspective, and it's a great movie, but it wouldn't be much altered by replacing Weaver with a man. I understand that other people feel differently.

A simple part of what I'm trying to say (but just a part) is that a person can wear make-up and still be tough. This is maybe common sense, but it's not a sense that's common to American action films.
posted by nathan v at 4:51 PM on April 9, 2011


Ooh, and maybe one more thing:

I think a lot of people don't like Snyder's editing style, which is definitely distinctive. It's hypermodern and is useful to manipulate pace, but a lot of people think, maybe, that it's too easy or something. I'm not of that opinion. I think if you have a tool, you use it; if you make distinctive cinema, then you've already done at least one thing right.

And for some reason, it reminds me a lot about people who complain about the heavy use of autotune in contemporary pop music. I have a feeling that if you dislike autotune, you probably dislike Sucker Punch. (Of course, judging from the number of negative reviews, that's probably as safe to say as, "If you like kittens, you'll dislike Sucker Punch" :) )
posted by nathan v at 5:15 PM on April 9, 2011


But when I watch Aliens, I don't really see what they're talking about. The fact that Weaver is a woman is cool, from a sexual rights perspective, and it's a great movie, but it wouldn't be much altered by replacing Weaver with a man.

I believe you when you say that you don't see what they're talking about, but that isn't their fault, or indeed the fault of the film. There is more to Ripley's character and treatment than you have noticed.

A simple part of what I'm trying to say (but just a part) is that a person can wear make-up and still be tough. This is maybe common sense, but it's not a sense that's common to American action films.

"There aren't enough good leading roles for women in American action films" is one statement, and broadly one I'd agree with.

"When women play leading roles in American action movies they don't wear enough makeup", on the other hand, is pretty much totally wrong. Examples: Angelina Jolie in Salt (glam), Angelina Jolie again in Mr and Mrs Smith (glam), Jennifer Garner in Elektra (glam, and in a catsuit), Halle Berry in Catwoman (glam, and actually literally in a cat suit. And working for a cosmetics company, albeit an evil one). Angelina Jolie again in Tomb Raider (glam). Mila Jojovich in the various Resident Evil films (Slinky dress, big boots, glamazon). Kate Beckinsale in Underworld (glam, leather boysuit, literally a vamp). Diaz, Barrymore and Liu in Charlie's Angels (paradigmatically glam). Charlize Theron in Eon Flux (glam, bodysuit)... none of these women is exactly superbutch. I'd go so far as to say, in fact, that the only way in which they could be called unfeminine is if one is only feminine if one is dressed as Sailor Moon.

Compared even to the 80s, where you could cast Grace Jones in Vamp or Brigitte Nielsen in Red Sonja, the 21st century has been an absolute banner decade for quote-unquote femininity as a prerequisite for a female lead in an action movie. The least glamorous-looking woman I can think of in a leading role in a mainstream action movie is Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, because she wears a tracksuit and is often quite mussed up. And she's Uma Thurman.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:18 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


You're right, but I'm afraid it's difficult for me to express exactly what I mean.

I haven't seen very many of the films you mention. What I notice about the ones I've seen, though, is that the gender of the protagonist has nearly no bearing on the story. They are, again, roles that could have as easily been cast as men. (Charlie's Angels is an exception, and I thought that was a very good movie, by action movie standards at least.) Aeon Flux (thanks for reminding me about that movie, it was a good one as well) could have the genders of the leading man and leading woman switched quite easily; I doubt there'd even be a need to change the dialogue. You'd lose nothing but the sex appeal by changing the protagonists' gender in Resident Evil or Underworld. These aren't movies about women; they're movies about killing machines. They're actually very good examples of the trend in American action movies of making action heroines into men with the bodies of attractive women. That's something that's built into a story like Red Sonja, so I can forgive that one :)

(I don't consider either Brigitte Nielsen or Grace Jones as unfeminine, btw, and I think both adhere quite closely to popular beauty ideals, although what were we thinking with those '80s haircuts?)

Part of the reason this is all so difficult to talk about is because it's extraordinarily difficult to talk about exactly what femininity or masculinity is. I believe interpretations are largely subjective, so it would probably have been a good idea for me to affix a lot more "I think"s in what I've written so far.
posted by nathan v at 5:41 PM on April 9, 2011


I think I understand what you mean better - it's not a lack of quote-unquote femininity, in the sense that the female leads in action movies don't look feminine enough, but rather that the characters being women is ancillary to the plot - the standard action movie template is gendered in such a way that the leading character is not narratalogically female.

Now, I think we're getting somewhere. However, once again, Aliens doesn't fit this model at all. Sucker Punch certainly needs its leads to be female, but that seems to be situational. You can't do Sucker Punch with men, because men in action movies are not subject to sexualized, if not sexual, assault, men in action movies can't be burlesque dancers, and so on.

The feminine as recipient of and then respondent to male violence is played out in a number of films - including Aliens, incidentally, although there's a lot more to it than that. Handgun is probably the classic expression of this genre. Kill Bill is another, Grindhouse another - Tarantino likes this motif, partly because it is a common motif in pulp and drive-in movies, because it lets you start the film with a violent scene, and often also get in some early nudity.

Snyder is in many ways a pulp director (this is not in itself meant as an insult), although one with some specific technical chops, so I can see how this model could appeal. I'm not sure if it's an evolution of women's fantasies, however - it sounds more like an evolution of Snyder's fantasies, wherein previously women have not featured, or have barely featured. I'd be interested to see if it's striking chords with young women - I suspect that Hardwicke's Red Riding Hood is likely to have a greater appeal to that demographic, but I could be wrong. One of the interesting things about Sucker Punch, for me, is that it doesn't seem to have an audience, or at least a defined audience. Diehard Snyder fans, I guess. People who really like ramping. People who enjoyed Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow but felt the technology wasn't quite there. It looks like it was designed to produce a hugely crowd-pleasing extended trailer at San Diego Comic-Con, but those same viewers might not want to sign up for 90 minutes plus of female leads.

Actually, in that sense, you know what it does remind me of, in terms of the hype followed by the first week? Southland Tales. Which, on the plus side, it's already outperformed. But it's getting a lot of the same very polarized responses and quite a lot of bewilderment.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:18 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, except it's not so important to me that Hollywood heroines' femininity is essential to the plot of movies. It is important to me that their femininity is essential to their dialogue and characterization. Look at Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Love interest was important to that movie, but exactly what gender played what role wasn't essential to the plot. Nevertheless, the women in the movie were women, not men, and this showed.

Which is kind of a funny thing for me to say, after saying that characterization was not a relevant part of why I thought Sucker Punch was a good movie. It's true that elements of the plot and, yes, the characters' appearances, reinforced their femininity. Baby Doll was barely characterized at all. (Rocket and Sweetpea were more developed, if by a hair.)

And it's also a really tough thing to talk about, because there's such a fine line to introducing feminine characters and introducing feminine caricatures. Gender identities include the sometimes offensive stereotypes. It's very difficult to talk about rules that divide positive and characterful portrayals from wafer-thin archetypes, and all I can do is give examples.

I'm familiar with plenty of the "Abused woman gets revenge" movies. They can be decent, they can be crappy. Sucker Punch distinguished itself from these movies by its particular moral slant. I'm assuming you saw the film; no character was ever motivated by revenge. That's, again, part of why I liked it. Selfish motives (vengeance, self-defense, even if justified, are still selfish) played second fiddle to selfless motives. I've been missing selflessness from Hollywood for a long time. Definitely in action movies.

Its audience definitely includes comic nerds. Anyone who's got a twenty-sided die in a chest someplace. I think they wanted to attract teenage girls (and boys) too, but who knows how well they did; can't particularly sell to the boys via sex alone in this Internet age. It's hard to know exactly how many decisions were motivated by trying for a rating and how many were motivated by vision. (Actually give it some of the sexiness it's accused of, and you can get a big following, at the expense of a PG-13.) I think it's safe to say that PG-13 was what it was going for, which means they figured teenagers sans parents would be a significant market. They never marketed it as a family film, as far as I can tell.

It does bother me that female leads hurt sales. It's hard for me to wrap my head around.
posted by nathan v at 6:59 PM on April 9, 2011


The least glamorous-looking woman I can think of in a leading role in a mainstream action movie is Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, because she wears a tracksuit and is often quite mussed up. And she's Uma Thurman.

This is one of my favorite things about Kill Bill, or indeed any of Tarentino's movies. If she's on a ROARING RAMPAGE OF REVENGE she does not have time to get her hair did. Beatrix actually looks like someone who literally crawled out of her own grave, goddamnit.

That and the realistic violence in Death Proof - getting shot in the hand HURTS.
posted by The Whelk at 7:04 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also liked the way Uma's character was presented in Kill Bill, and for that matter that they chose her. She's past what Hollywood c. 2011 normally considers "prime" for someone who's not Meryl Streep, and shows it with crow's feet and laugh-lines, and her hands are a particularly nice detail throughout: They're the hands of someone who works, hard, with her hands (using a sword, as it happens, but that's still work). (It reminded me of the interchange from Crouching Tiger... where Li Mubai takes the Michelle Yeoh character's hand and comments with obvious affection and tenderness about how calloused it is from handling the sword.) She's dressed in functional clothing throughout. Even when she's wearing a dress in the final act, it's a dress that allows for freedom of movement, like a hakama or kimono would. (I have lots of issues with Tarantino as a filmmaker, but I would never say he's not good at what he does, and in this thing his attention to detail was masterful.)
posted by lodurr at 8:07 AM on April 10, 2011


Regarding Ripley, the discussion around Aliens has often been confused by things Cameron says about his writing process -- e.g., he's often remarked that he likes to write a character for a man, then change the gender.

But that's only part of the story. Cameron's writing for female characters is at its weakest the closer they get to culturally-traditional female roles, and at its strongest when it taps into the deeper aspects of gender role. The parts of Aliens that work best are the ones where Ripley is being both powerful and feminine (in the deeper sense) at the same time -- defending the weak, challenging the power structure (as running order squabble fest pointed out so well). Compare Titanic, where the weakest, most cringe-inducing parts are the ones that deploy traditional romance tropes ("He saved me in every way that a woman can be saved"), and the strongest are the ones where Rose owns her own power as a human being to make her own choices.
posted by lodurr at 8:15 AM on April 10, 2011


She's past what Hollywood c. 2011 normally considers "prime" for someone who's not Meryl Streep

I would disagree with this slightly , I think. I mean, Hollywood absolutely has a problem with roles for women beyond a certain point, but at the time of Kil Bill Uma Thurman was 33, and well within tolerances. Compare Lucy Liu, who is a couple of years older but plays veteran as O-Ren Ishi and sex kitten as a Charlie's Angel in the same year. It's possibly more accurate to say that Kill Bill used lighting and makeup in Kill Bill to make Thurman look considerably less youthful than she would have if she'd had Cameron Diaz' role in Charlie's Angels, say.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:25 AM on April 10, 2011


(Although one might argue that Hollywood Circa 2011 and Hollywood Circa 2003 have different ideas of what a prime is. A penchant for Mouseketeers means that Lindsay Lohan and now maybe Vanessa Hudgens seem to have cycled through entire careers by about 24.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:28 AM on April 10, 2011


Well, 2 responses:

First, yes, I did mean to compare now versus some prior 'then', in several aspects. Lots of actresses have been taken seriously in the past while appearing older than young and not yet being genuinely old, but that rarely seems to happen now unless they are somebody very established. Sandra Bullock, e.g.

Second, that the appearance trumps reality, and that Uma isn't so much made up to look older as she is not made up to look younger. She basically looks her age. (Of course nobody goes on screen au natural; I'm just suggesting that Tarantino is treating her character as though her age matters.)
posted by lodurr at 10:54 AM on April 10, 2011


First, yes, I did mean to compare now versus some prior 'then', in several aspects.

Sure, but Tarantino was making his casting decisions for Kill Bill before it was made, by definition - in fact, he was making his casting decisions when she was about 28/29, given that he gave her the script as a 30th birthday present. But I think we agree - Uma Thurman in Kill Bill is roughly playing her calendar age, and the lighting, dressing and makeup reflect that.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:24 AM on April 10, 2011


Something I found interesting about the sexualization in the movie was in how aggressively the film upended that sexualization. We never actually see the dancing; the dancing is only done tactically to distract pigs;

I also noticed this, and even in the intro of the dances we see is not dancing but basically a marionette like sway. Which in turn highlights, again, the thematic idea of "doll".

but then I remembered that Sweetpea was not there to see this part of the story. She's imagining this, just as she had imagined the opening. This is her best case scenario envisioning of what happened to poor Babydoll.

Yep, and in several ways you have to think about what you would be saying if you talked about someone who had sacrificed themselves for you. You would probably almost deify the person, therefore we got a hyper-realistic story.

In a way, this movie reminds me of A.I., another much-hated movie that played around with a fairy tale being told by an unreliable narrator.

After I thought about it, partly because it was brought up earlier, Sucker Punch structurally bears quite a resemblance to Pan's Labrynth.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:20 PM on April 10, 2011


I'm not sure if it's an evolution of women's fantasies, however - it sounds more like an evolution of Snyder's fantasies, wherein previously women have not featured, or have barely featured. I'd be interested to see if it's striking chords with young women - I suspect that Hardwicke's Red Riding Hood is likely to have a greater appeal to that demographic, but I could be wrong.

I don't think you specifically meant that to be dismissive, rosf, but it seems that people have somehow glommed onto this idea that this movie is bullshit merely because Snyder thought it up. As a counterpoint all the other tough-girl movies that have been mentioned were written by males and sprung out of male fantasies. The minute I see a review start to mention the ridiculous idea that Snyder somehow intended this as some kind of juvenile whack off fantasy, I can't really read it as someone who tried to give serious thought to the movie. And I'm pretty sure porn is cheaper to make than 75 mill a picture.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:39 PM on April 10, 2011


You don't think Nathan or I were talking about sexual fantasies, do you, P.o.B? I very much doubt that Nathan was suggesting that this was an evocation or evolution of young women's sexual fantasies - at least, I very much hope he wasn't, because that would be weird. There are other types of fantasy, you know - not everything's about sex.

In the case of Snyder's imaginings, he hasn't done very much with female characters up until now. Sarah Polley sort of bleaches out in Dawn of the Dead, Lena Heady is wasted in 300 and Silk Spectre had the superpower of being completely underwritten in Watchmen. However, I think the idea of Snyder having a line into the feminine subconscious is not a hugely convincing one - so, his imaginings, his fantasies, now seem to involve female leads, which is nice, but I think not a reflection on women's self-image or ways to empowerment more generally.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:42 PM on April 10, 2011


You don't think Nathan or I were talking about sexual fantasies, do you, P.o.B? I very much doubt that Nathan was suggesting that this was an evocation or evolution of young women's sexual fantasies - at least, I very much hope he wasn't, because that would be weird.

No, I was just pointing out how some reviewers are using that kind of statement as some kind of dismissive idea and think it'll stand as a review.

There are other types of fantasy, you know - not everything's about sex.

Okay, but I'm not sure where you thought I made some kind of Freudian pronouncement to the contrary.

However, I think the idea of Snyder having a line into the feminine subconscious is not a hugely convincing one

Okay, but again, I'm not sure where you think this argument is being made.

so, his imaginings, his fantasies, now seem to involve female leads, which is nice, but I think not a reflection on women's self-image or ways to empowerment more generally.

Why not?
posted by P.o.B. at 4:25 PM on April 10, 2011


No, I was just pointing out how some reviewers are using that kind of statement as some kind of dismissive idea and think it'll stand as a review.

That has no relevance to what I said, though. Were you... advising me to watch my step? Giving us all some pointers about what is and is not a worthy criticism of Sucker Punch? I don't get it.

Okay, but I'm not sure where you thought I made some kind of Freudian pronouncement to the contrary.

Well, you seemed to be talking unprompted about Zack Snyder whacking off, and defending Snyder against accusations which had not been made in this discussion. If the word "fantasies" just sort of compels you to talk about whacking off for a bit, then no problem - although I'd avoid any Rogers Sisters gigs. But in this case the word was not being used in a sexual sense.

Okay, but again, I'm not sure where you think this argument [that Snyder has a line into the feminine subconscious] is being made.

If you read back to Nathan's review, that might help - I was referencing this, to me, is part of a really wonderful change in women's fantasies and the content that follows.

Honestly, P.o.B, I'm not sure what you're going for here. You seem to want to make it very clear that you have no respect for a line of argument that says that creating Sucker Punch was essentially a very long and expensive process of onanism for Zack Snyder.

However, nobody is making that argument here. So, your sudden insertion into this discussion of the idea of Zack Snyder whacking off, inspired, it seems, by nothing more than appearance of the word "fantasies", doesn't feel very appropriate. I know how you feel about the spectre of Zack Snyder whacking off now, and I'm sure any latecomers will take your feelings into account when they contribute. But I don't think whacking off was a major part of this discussion, and I liked it that way.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:45 PM on April 10, 2011


That has no relevance to what I said, though.

Hey, cool beans man. Maybe you shouldn't be so upset about it then???

Well, you seemed to be talking unprompted about Zack Snyder whacking off

Seriously? 18th(?) comment. And if you've read any reviews, the idea of Snyder and his "fantasies" comes up a number of times. I was merely just pointing out how dismissive that is, and I'm not sure why you're getting worked up about that.

Seriously though, I'm not sure if you're intentionally being obtuse and immature here but it would be nice if you stopped doing that.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:08 PM on April 10, 2011


I'm not sure what you're going for here. You seem to want to make it very clear that you have no respect for a line of argument that says that creating Sucker Punch was essentially a very long and expensive process of onanism for Zack Snyder.

Just so we're clear, no I don't. One sentence doesn't really make for a cogent argument.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:11 PM on April 10, 2011


Three question marks in a row. Mark of a calm, controlled and collected interlocutor.

I think you are now arguing with yourself, P.o.B:

Me: You seem to want to make it very clear that you have no respect for a line of argument that says that creating Sucker Punch was essentially a very long and expensive process of onanism for Zack Snyder.

You: Just so we're clear, no I don't. One sentence doesn't really make for a cogent argument

You, earlier: The minute I see a review start to mention the ridiculous idea that Snyder somehow intended this as some kind of juvenile whack off fantasy, I can't really read it as someone who tried to give serious thought to the movie.

But, seriously. Were you really so upset by ArtW making the spank bank joke 382 comments ago that you had to step in to warn us off any such further suggestions, having been activated by the totally non-sexual use of the word "fantasies" (in the context of The Princess Bride, no less?).

Man. See how much better the conversation was going before you arrived? Maybe there's a lesson there.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:35 PM on April 10, 2011


Man. See how much better the conversation was going before you arrived?

You earlier: Haven't we established mathematically that My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic is demonstrably better than your favorite kids' show? I thought we had...

Right, so you are intentionally being obtuse and immature. Got it.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:15 PM on April 10, 2011


You know what's funny is that I thought the conversation had made a good turn from all the one-liner snarkyness. I don't know what turned your raging asshole knob to 11 rosf but I assure you I've got nothing against you. Or why the fact that I merely was stating a simple line of thinking that I noticed that's popped up quite a bit. I mean, seriously, is ctrl - f "spank" to see how many times it's turned up in this conversation is a herculean task?
posted by P.o.B. at 6:24 PM on April 10, 2011


"ctrl-f spank" is the name of my next band. Or "command-f spank", because it'll be recorded entirely in Garage Band on my iPad2.

Four instances in over 400 comments, as it happens. Artw, in the context of his enjoyment of bad reviews of Sucker Punch. Fearfulsymmetry, linking to a review that uses the phrase. These are both right at the start of a 400-comment post. Jacqueline, later, uses it while disagreeing with the use of the term to dismiss the film, and then that's it until you turn up and start talking about Zack Snyder whacking off, when it is used again, in the context of me mentioning how long it's been since anyone made a "spank bank" joke and thus how unnecessary your admonition was.

So, because two people were mean about Sucker Punch 380-odd posts ago, you had to weigh in to uphold its honor because Nathan V described it as a fantasy movie? It's got steampunk Nazi zombies in it. What do you think it is, a documentary? A largely improvised piece of social realism in the style of Mike Leigh? I just don't get why you're trying to derail this conversation with imaginary acts of self-love, but I think you might want to cool off. Nobody is your enemy here.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:47 PM on April 10, 2011


Actually, for some reason you keep bringing up Snyder and self love references at this point, and it seems like you can't (or you don't want to) connect the dots on what I'm saying here. I'm sure you'd like to keep up this trolly behavior, but TBH I don't even know what your going on about anymore. Perhaps my attempts at having a conversation with someone who has resorted to acting like a giggly thirteen year old was my mistake.

Troll on big guy.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:07 PM on April 10, 2011


Get an action-packed dreamspace with an unreliable narrator, you two.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:47 PM on April 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm sure you'd like to keep up this trolly behavior, but TBH I don't even know what your (sic) going on about anymore.

If you don't know what I'm saying, how can you tell that it's... oh, never mind. I doubt that someone whose finishing move involves claiming not to understand English is going to shed much light at this point.

So, before we got derailed by the Spanktastic Mr PoB, I think we were talking about women in action movies, and Sucker Punch in particular. I said above that Snyder hadn't previously seemed to have much of a space for women in his films - Lena Headey is always watchable, but has very little to do in 300, and Malin Akerman struggled womanfully with being a plot device in rubber stockings in Watchmen. To an extent, you can blame the source material for that - rather more convincingly in the case of 300 - but Snyder was a long way down my list of people I expected to make a film built around an all-female group.

But then it struck me that I'd missed one of his films - The Owls of Ga'hoole. Not written by him, admittedly, but starring Abbie Cornish and featuring some notable female guest appearances - Miriam Margolyes and Helen Mirren among them. Did anyone catch this? I have a feeling it might be the bridge between Watchmen and Sucker Punch in more ways than the chronological.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:56 PM on April 10, 2011


Owls of Ga'hoole is a sturdy kids' actioner - I'm a fan, it's far better than 300 - but the big female parts are the helpless younger sister and the villainess. Not a rich space for female characters.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:12 PM on April 10, 2011


Ah, well. Scratch that, then.

Incidentally, a collection of edits of the B-roll footage have been put on YouTube - first one here. They're quite interesting, from an artisanal perspective, although they might ruin the magic.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:30 PM on April 10, 2011


Wow, that got derailed fast. From critical counterpoint to antipodes, in just about 1.25 posts.
posted by lodurr at 3:15 AM on April 11, 2011


Sincerely, I have no idea what happened there. A brave but unnecessary attempt at spankproofing descending almost immediately into increasingly ungrammatical fury, by the looks of it. I'm wondering whether it's traditional to take accusations of trolling to MetaTalk - in my experience, it's the worst thing you can do on a bulletin board.

The B-roll footage is interesting, in showing how much is added as CG in post - not just the sheen and lighting effects, but also the impact of the ramping. Something else interesting, I think, is what is and is not physically present in the set - Red Letter Media's epic takedown of the Star Wars prequels mentioned how, because there was literally nothing on the set most of the time, nobody ever interacted physically with these huge spaces - they just walked along narrow corridors within vast chambers, talking. The screen areas in this shot seem wider than a lot of the screen locations from the backstage footage of the prequels (although they are fight scenes, so that's not a wholly fair comparison) and at least the zombie WW1 trenches are built in as actual trenches...

Something that struck me, looking at the B-roll and how _normal_ the characters look (well, I say normal - normal for Hollywood actresses dressed for an alt-burlesque cabaret, let's say), is that the very Snyderish thing of digitising over their bodies and putting in a digital colour wash - as seen in 300 - actually has an effect strangely like Ralph Bakshi's partial rotoscoping, a hugely analog and labor-intensive technique, in Lord of the Rings.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:54 AM on April 11, 2011


It's traditional to go to MeTa when the attacks get personal and sustained and are happening in an active thread. It's occasionally frustrating when you feel as though you're simply defending yourself, but it's one of the things that's made Metafilter what it is and old-timers ("low numbers" as we used to call them when I was a lad) take it pretty seriously.

As for 'what happened', I suspect my view is quite different from yours.
posted by lodurr at 6:04 AM on April 11, 2011


As for 'what happened', I suspect my view is quite different from yours.

Very possibly - a dog always looks cuddlier when it's not your leg it's biting. So, now that the Siege of OrSpank appears to have ended, should I got to MetaTalk to work this out? I noticed that P.o.B also got increasingly cross and incoherent in a discussion about going to the toilet recently, and accused someone of being a troll there, also - to be exact, JesuswhyIamstillhavingthisinaneconversationaboutstupidtrollytroll???. When does that kind of behavior become a MetaTalk issue?
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:11 AM on April 11, 2011


Generally speaking, if you feel like there's some sort of ongoing issue that bears community discussion, going to Metatalk is a reasonable option. If you're annoyed that you personally are caught up in an annoying exchange or derail, just walking away from that immediately is a much better step one. If you're having an ongoing argument with one person, going to email with it instead of continuing to do it in public is a pretty good option; if you consider doing that and you're like "no, why on earth would they want to or would I want to keep having this argument privately", the "just walking away" thing comes back to the top of the queue.

Metatalk works best for "here is something we, as a group, actively need to talk about"; as "here is something that I don't like" it's a little dicier and that may be a good time to write an email to the contact form instead to let us mods know if there's something up that just maybe needs an extra set of eyes on it or whatever.
posted by cortex at 7:43 AM on April 11, 2011


Thanks for the clarification, cortex. In which case, I'm going to assume that it was a bad day for someone who is prone to seeing trolls when they're having a bad day, and... basically, wimp out of taking it any further. If it happens again, whoever gets called a troll next can deal with the same decision.

(In community dynamics I've seen before, "troll" was the worst thing you could really be called or call someone, and often led to full-on Thunderdome. If it's just something people do here when they lose their temper, fair enough. No harm done. I still don't entirely understand what that was all about, but some things man was not meant to know.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:57 AM on April 11, 2011


Well, community dynamics certainly do break down when intimating personal details about another person, and I certainly wasn't the first, nor the last, to do that here. Neither am I one to innocently shrug off any culpability when caught with my hand in the cookie jar, so I apologize to everyone else for the derail.

I'm still open for discussion about Sucker Punch though. As a matter of fact, for anybody who has actually seen the movie and has a real opinion about it: what was up with the dragon/orc fight? I was kind of surprised as they were trying to escape and worked their way through the last of the orcs and then also started killing off all the knights.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:00 AM on April 11, 2011


As a matter of fact, for anybody who has actually seen the movie and has a real opinion about it: what was up with the dragon/orc fight? I was kind of surprised as they were trying to escape and worked their way through the last of the orcs and then also started killing off all the knights.

I'm blanking on this bit. Could you describe this a little more?
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:02 AM on April 11, 2011


It was a hectic scene. When they flew down in the bomber to the castle yard full of orcs, the orcs were fighting a bunch of knights at the front gate. They fought through the orcs into the castle, out came the dragon, and then as they fought their way out they killed off all the knights that were trying to enter the front gate. I was surprised at the time, and it just seemed a bit odd to me that they were killing off the "good guys". I'm curious if that again was another reference to women empowerment.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:28 AM on April 11, 2011


Neither am I one to innocently shrug off any culpability when caught with my hand in the cookie jar, so I apologize to everyone else for the derail.

I don't think you specifically need to exclude yourself from apologies - but hey, thanks. I appreciate your apology to me, and I think you should extend the same forgiveness to yourself.

Isn't the thing about the knights and the orcs that the viewer is expected to side with the knights, because they look like people, but there's no narrative argument for them to be good guys? There's an animated short about the Medieval world here, in which they are not depicted as particularly nice people.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:38 AM on April 11, 2011


Like a lot of what I've said, you're (intentionally) mistaken about the apology. For the second time I'm asking nicely; it'd be cool if you stopped coming at me. If not whatevs, but I think we can be friends here without the back and forth.

Anywho, knights in shining armor have for a long time been considered the good guys, and the narrative history is definitely there to back that up.
What I recall from the movie is that they were literally fighting knights in shining armor, and if we the viewers are on the side of the narrator then whether they are a fantastic imagining or not the implicit "good guys" are not really so good for our protagonist. That seemed to play out on the multiple levels of reality we got to see.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:20 PM on April 11, 2011


Oh.

You mean... you were apologizing to everyone except me? In a passive-aggressive attempt to get the last word? Wow. For someone who is telling me to stop coming at you, that's.... incredibly hypocritical. Almost as hypocritical as calling me obtuse and immature and a raging asshole just for pointing out that your semi-grammatical screeds against the armies of imaginary spank bankers polluting the thread didn't make any sense.

I tried so hard to understand you. I ctrl-f-ed "spank" for you. I did that for you. And you reject me, just because I couldn't see the spectral spankathon that this thread was in your imaginings. Just because I could only find three references to "spank" in over four hundred comments before you got spank fever, is that a reason to reject me? Can't you see how I'm trying to help you and your ctrl-f "spank" quest even now?

I'm so hurt. The only way I can escape from this bad situation is to... dance...

/Sways a bit, drops suddenly into a giant mecha suit, crushes some robot zombies. Feels a bit better.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:48 PM on April 11, 2011


You're right, my grammar is atrocious.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:55 PM on April 11, 2011


Hey, cortex, when do we get into deleted comments territory anyway? I mean, really?
posted by P.o.B. at 2:05 PM on April 11, 2011


This thread is for dorks only and will underperform at the box office.
posted by Artw at 2:07 PM on April 11, 2011


I'm kind of surprised he showed up. It's an old thread, and the mods have a lot to keep an eye on.
posted by lodurr at 2:11 PM on April 11, 2011


Maybe it's for the foreign markets?
posted by Artw at 2:13 PM on April 11, 2011


It doesn't look like it's going to get it's money back. Battle: Los Angeles has been out twice as long and is killing at the box office but it looks like Sucker Punch is petering out a lot faster.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:17 PM on April 11, 2011


How about we get into "both of you go for a walk if you can't ignore each other" territory? That would be more straightforward and require less work for me to boot.
posted by cortex at 2:18 PM on April 11, 2011


You should let them get to the meta-level and then incept them.
posted by Artw at 2:24 PM on April 11, 2011


Only if he does it with love. Like a Care Bear.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:27 PM on April 11, 2011


Double helix rainbow blast of FRIENDSHIP, My Little Pony style. Boom! Both of you, friends forever.
posted by Artw at 2:34 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't worry about me. The horror of my everyday existence1 has driven me to imagine that I am a burlesque dancer in a rather Joel Grayish club2, which has in turn driven me to dance my way into a hyperkinetic fantasy world in which I am hanging out with robot German zombies3.

I'm very much over this. Because robot German zombies.

1 Getting called obtuse, immature, a giggly 13-year-old, a raging asshole and a troll by the enigmatic doctor, a man apparently hallucinating a mass of references to Zack Snyder masturbating and dead set on preventing more of these apparitions by lobotomizing the thread.

2 Where the enigmatic club owner has drawn a rather disappointing equivalency between my behaviour and the aforementioned torrent of abuse.

3 Who are by the way a bit miffed about being called Nazis when they are clearly from the First World War and thus members of the Deutsches Reichsheer.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:49 PM on April 11, 2011


[ IF YOU READ THIS FAR YOU HAVE BEEN LOBOTOMISED ]
posted by Artw at 3:00 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now demonstrate that Priscilla Queen of the Desert is actually a totally by the numbers quest adventure.
posted by Artw at 3:02 PM on April 11, 2011


Can it be in a hyperbolic-ranty-screed-style?
posted by P.o.B. at 3:05 PM on April 11, 2011


Absolutely, it can even be in a completely random thread.

/not that I was trying to post that to the Predator thread.
/oh no.
posted by Artw at 3:08 PM on April 11, 2011


Nah, it makes more sense here.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:16 PM on April 11, 2011


One of these days I'm going to have to see that just so I can find out what Agent Smith looks like in drag.
posted by lodurr at 8:22 AM on April 12, 2011


and: Battle: LA isn't dead yet?

(Now, there was a great example of the trailer kicking the movie's ass. Some things work best at trailer-length. Ace Ventura, Pet Detective being the paradigmatic example for me.)
posted by lodurr at 8:24 AM on April 12, 2011


Ah yes, the mismatch between trailer and movie. I still want to see the movie that actually went with the trailer for "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace".
posted by rmd1023 at 12:51 PM on April 12, 2011


Looks like Arthur is the new Sucker Punch, in terms of critical stinkage and box office sinkage... and there's even talk of it taking the 80's remake fad with it.

80s remakes, Zack Synder and 3D all destroyed within a two month period? Happy days! Sadly, given the general awfulness of Hollywood I suspect whatever will feel the gap will be just as unimaginative and bad.
posted by Artw at 9:36 AM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


(It doesn't hurt that I hated the original, mostly because Arthur is a fairly distinctive name in the UK so if you share it with a shitty arse movie people will let you know about it all the time.)
posted by Artw at 9:40 AM on April 14, 2011


It's probably just coincidence, but it is interesting, isn't it? The bonfire of the vanity projects...

Actually, Sucker Punch has made a lot more sense to me, in a "how-did-this-get-made?" sense, once I realised that the high concept - like "Russell Brand's Arthur" - is "Zack Snyder's Inception". Which is one of those ideas that might seem very tempting if looked at as A plus B, although perhaps less so if seen as A multiplied by B.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:52 AM on April 14, 2011


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