Sucker Punch – Broke-Ass Movie Review

This was a complete mind-trip. Seriously.

Sucker Punch (2011)
Starring: Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens and Abby Cornish
Written by: Zack Snyder and Steve Shibuya
Directed by: Zack Snyder

Synopsis (courtesy of imb)
A young girl is institutionalized by her abusive stepfather. Retreating to an alternative reality as a coping strategy, she envisions a plan which will help her escape from the mental facility.

This warranted two trailers:

Review:

I’m going to upfront with you. I cheated. Babygirl and I were sitting here watching it and within the first half-hour, we were looking at each saying WTH? I made the executive decision to look up the plot online. Usually when I try to do that, my daughter is right there with a “That’s cheating, Mom” but given the fact that we were both confused as hell, it was okay (point for me :))

My daughter and I both think that Baby Doll is beautiful.

After being falsely accused of murdering her younger sister, Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is locked away in a mental institution. Her dear step-daddy makes an arrangement with the head orderly, Blue, for her to have a lobotomy. Blue forges Dr. Gorski’s signature in order to make this happen. He’s a nasty bugger, that guy.  That was the part I got to before it all became a complete mind-warp.

When Baby Doll went to her first alternate universe, I wasn’t expecting it. I asked my daughter if this was the same movie. She told me she was about to ask the same thing.  Then we wondered if this was based on a video game but its not.

Anyhoo, in this alternate universe, Baby Doll envisions the nut-house as a bordello, her co-patients (for lack of a better word) as dancers, Blue the orderly as a pimp and Dr. Gorkski as a dance instructor. (Confusing, right?)

From L to R: Baby Doll, Blondie, Sweetpea, Amber and Rocket

Baby Doll wants to escape but she doesn’t know how. She ends up saving Rocket (Jenna Malone) from being raped by the Cook. Baby Doll is then invited to join the other dancers. Actually, she doesn’t have a choice in the matter because Blue the Pimp has other ideas. Dr. Gorski tells Baby Doll that she’d better dance like her life depended on it. While Baby Doll does her sexy dance, she goes to her second happy place which is set in Japan.

I know.

Stay with me, okay?

While there, she meets the Wise Man (Scott Glenn, whom I simply adore) When she tells him that she is trying to escape, he gives her a list of things she must gather in order to do so: a map, fire, a key, a knife and a fifth one which is unrevealed at the time. He then gives her a cryptic warning, some bad-ass weaponry and sends her on her way. This isn’t the last time she sees the Wise Man. Her journey to freedom has only just begun.

Baby Doll and her posse are slicing, dicing and plugging bullets into any and everything. One minute they are jumping out of airplanes, the next cutting open a dragon’s throat. You see World War 1 infantry men battling against some Robo-cop-looking thing that soars into the sky with Baby Doll hanging off the end.  There’s a train ride into the sunset with the planet Saturn just over the crest of mountains and Nazi Zombies are thrown into the mix as well. These girls are hardcore (I hate the term “Kick Ass Women”, its been used to death). The fight scenes remind me of the Matrix films and I’m sure that its a subtle nod to them.

I know this sounds crazy but once you figure out what’s going on, the movie is actually one that I would watch again. Aside from the initial confusion of where the plot was going , the storyline is not bad but it is the imagery that makes it. It’s simply brilliant. I wouldn’t have thought up half of what I’d seen to try and make it into a short story let alone a movie.  I don’t know if this is a result of a week-long drinking binge or what but I tell you, it works. Set in the 1960s, Sucker Punch is  a wild mixture of sci/fi, fantasy, steampunk, with lots of action and violence.

The opening song was a haunting rendition of Sweet Dreams which set the tone for the rest of the movie. I have to confess, the last soundtrack CD I bought was for Sleepless in Seattle.

Oh, shut up 🙂 That was a pretty good CD, lol
As much as I loathe today’s music, I am definitely putting the soundtrack for Sucker Punch on my To-Buy list. Its that good.

I’ve read several reviews where there were complaints about the lack of plot, the degradation of the female characters in that they were dressed to either fuel the school-girl fetishes of sick men or to cater to the fan-boy demographic only. I’m neither one so I don’t give a rip about that. If I had to stop and think about all the movies I’ve seen where women were either scantily clad or cast as the typical too-stupid-to-live blonde bimbo, I would drive myself crazy.

Yes, the young ladies are definitely beautiful and look sexy in their costumes but when’s the last time you’ve seen a group of bad-ass women fighting and doing what they did dressed in Versace with Steven Madden shoes?  Oh please. I tell you, if I looked like them, I would run around in a corset and fishnets, too.

What was important to me was the message that the director, Zack Snyder, was trying to convey. In my opinion, it was pretty simple: You have the tools needed to make a change. Use them.

And that’s exactly what they did.

4 stars ****

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – BAMR

I’ve been wanting to see this movie since rumours of it surfaced. Let me get the other stuff out of the way first.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto and John Lithgow
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Written by: Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver

Synopsis(courtesy of imb)
During experiments to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, a genetically-enhanced chimpanzee uses its greater intelligence to lead other apes to freedom.

The Trailer:

The Review (some spoilers, sorry :)):

Oh my…
Oh my goodness.
As a rabid fan of the original Planet of the Apes franchise I was a little apprehensive about the resurrection of this classic series. I love Tim Burton, will always support Tim Burton but after he basically mutilated the 2001 reboot, I feared that this, too, might fall along the wayside. I will, however, give him major props for the ape-makeup in that movie. It was by far the best I’ve seen.

Cornelius - Planet of the Apes (1968)

Thade - Planet of the Apes (2001 Reboot)

All hail Caesar

Now back to this one here.

Would the gods above strike this one down? Will there ever be another heart-stopping, thought-provoking film such as the classic we all know and love?

Let me tell you something. This movie was flat-out AMAZING!!!

James Franco is Will Rodman, a scientist on the verge of discovering the cure for Alzheimer’s. He is driven by the love of his father, Charles (the always wonderful John Lithgow) who suffers from this terrible disease.

John Lithgow

When a presentation for potential sponsors goes slightly awry (major tongue in cheek, right here) the project is closed down and all of the test chimps are euthanized. One of the lab techs begs Will to take the baby of the one that created all the mayhem in the first place. I’m giving you an abbreviated version so bear with me 🙂

Anyway, fast forward a few years. Will’s father, who has shown a remarkable recovery, starts to regress while Caesar (baby chimp) has advanced intelligence. Will has even taught Caesar sign language (which will, later on in the movie,  open your eyes AND make you wonder)

James Franco and Freida Pinto

While out for a walk with Will and his girlfriend, Caroline (Freida Pinto is so beautiful, she makes me sick :)) Caesar sees a dog similarly tethered with a leash. Visibly upset, Caesar wonders if he’s a pet as well.  Through sign language, he conveys this to Will who tells him no, he’s not but Caesar starts to question who he is.

An incident occurs where Charles finds himself abused by a neighbour. Caesar comes to his defense and ends up at a primate sanctuary where he suffers abuse.

Caesar, being the new chimp on the block, gets his butt kicked by another ape. This happens a couple of times until Caesar shows him that there is a new sheriff in town. Once that’s been established, Caesar starts his own revolution and you can’t help but hold your breath to see what happens next. I was on the edge of my seat.

Tom Felton, he of the notorious Draco Malfoy (I swear, if you even HAVE to ask…) plays the villainous Dodge Landon. He is the nasty caretaker of the primate sanctuary and gets his comeuppance for sure.

On a side note, I am glad to see that Tom has transitioned from child star to adult star. He does so without missing a beat. Welcome, Tom, to the next stage of your career. You’ve definitely earned it.

Tom Felton

As Dodge Landon, Tom also has the honour of barking out one of the most infamous movie lines ever: Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!  While it doesn’t hold up to the rage-filled wheeze of  Charlton Heston, Tom puts his own stamp on it and that’s alright with me. When you get to that part, you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.

I couldn’t find a clip of Tom’s version so forgive the brief trip down memory lane. Charlton, you would have been proud 🙂

This review will not be complete without including the wonderful Andy Serkis.

Andy Serkis

If you’re not too sure who he is, let me give you a  clue.  Still not sure? What about this one?  Well, Andy Serkis is literally the man behind those iconic characters. All those delicate, life-like movements can be accredited to him and the ever-changing world of technology. Every touch, every expression, every little thing about Caesar wouldn’t have been possible without the talents of this man. He has been hailed the King of Motion-Capture performance. I’m not even going to try to explain what it is but you can read all about it here.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a great tribute to the original series, while standing on its own. You will recognize some similarities but you won’t think, Oh its just like the original. This is a prequel and when it gets to the end, you will see what I mean. It answers a lot of questions and raises new ones.

Yes it does bring to mind all of  the social commentaries, the ethical treatment of lab animals, the politic aspects, and the religious versus evolution debates. Most movies like this do. I have my own ideas on the whole thing but I prefer not to incite any flame wars 🙂

I know I’ve left some major points out but you have to see it for yourself. This is a great movie.

Get it, watch it and watch it again.

5 stars*****