Dabbling in different genres is much the same as experimenting with a wild cocktail of hard drugs; it may have some electric highs but the comedown isn’t going to be pretty. After unleashing Sucker Punch on the world Zack Snyder must be wiping the coke and ecstasy off the coffee table and speeding for the Betty Ford clinic as we speak.
Flashback to the young Snyder acting out a wild and crazy battle on his bedroom floor; dragons swooping over the Kaiser’s soldiers, Hueys strafing a train set and his sister’s Barbie dolls fighting giant Samurai. Who would have thought that this innocent self-confessed geek would become hopelessly addicted to a drug so dangerous it makes crack look like stardust.
Yes, Zack Snyder is one of a growing number of Hollywood directors completely dependent on a drug that robs its addicts of any narrative cohesion whist overloading the sight with nonsensical visuals, robs them of any taste before finally reducing them to an infantile state unable to tell the most basic of stories. The name of this horrific drug? CGI.
A small minority of directors have tamed this digital dragon. David Fincher uses it to create camera shots that would be otherwise impossible (think the opening of Fight Club), Steven Spielberg to root his extraordinary stories firmly in reality (the reflection of the tripods in a car window in The War of the Worlds). Yet even seasoned effect junkies can push the envelope dangerously, just look at how close James Cameron came to overdosing on Avatar.
If the “King of the World” nearly lost it just think how whacked out of his brains little Zack must have been when he thought up Sucker Punch. You can just imagine the pitch. “5 super hot strippers must escape the evil clutches of a mental asylum. We’ll arm these chicks with machine guns and throw Nazis, dragons and robots at them. The story? Fuck that we’ll worry about that later. They’ll have to find a map and a bunch of other stuff. Did I mention the super hot strippers?”
Sucker Punch is even too dull to be controversial. The cries of misogyny seem a little too harsh, as Snyder genuinely believes his female characters are empowered individuals taking control of their wretched situation. Perhaps we should be worried about his lack of awareness but the movie is so boring the audience loses any will to get riled up and angry.
Even more concerning is his absolute failure of even any two-dimensional characterisation-we couldn’t care less about a single soul in the film. Names like Baby Doll and Sweet Pea make you think that Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor had never been written let alone made it to the big screen. The male characters are all leering, sweaty cigar chomping perverts who spout such drivel that they become laughable rather than terrifying.
In the end all the visual razzmatazz and blaring soundtracks (covers – oh please!) will never compensate for a good story. The quicker Snyder gets back to movies like his cracking Dawn of the Dead remake and revisits heroic female characters like its lead Ana the better for his career. If not, the next CGI overdose might well be fatal.