I don’t really know where to begin in reviewing this one. It’s a divisive film all around. The hype on it was fairly sizable and yet when the movie finally opened last week it was critically maligned beyond even my expectations and rejected fairly roundly by the general movie-going public. I’m pretty sure that someone could write a dissertation on why the film failed to connect. The simple fact of the matter is that while the film is a technical marvel from a cinematography standpoint, the narrative structure is akin to reading a book that had every other chapter excised for reasons nobody can explain. The structure of the film is never clearly defined and leaves too many questions for the viewer. The best way I can describe this is that it would be if you were to watch a version of Inception where the mechanics of the dreams were never explained, or the fact that they were even operating in a dream were never mentioned. In Sucker Punch we understand that what is happening is a fantasy world. That’s not in dispute. What is lacking is a correlation between that world and the real world. Events don’t seem to sync and as such the story crumbles under its own ambition.
I’ve read from several sources that Snyder wasn’t pleased with the end result of the film, with the ending hacked and sliced to a point that barely resembled his original scripted intent. There are places where it feels evident that some serious editing has taken place and gaps in the narrative flow are fairly obvious. I think we can anticipate a director’s cut that differs quite a bit from the theatrical version when the film finally sees a home video release. Whether what was removed will really do anything to salvage the film is anyone’s guess as the film is flawed beyond the choppy narrative.
Snyder is not fully developed as a writer in any manner of speaking. Directing from others’ scripts he can apply his own sensibilities to dialog and actions that lack his tendency towards melodrama. Thus far he’s been attracted to films that allow for his love of over-accentuated melodrama can run rampant but he’s never been responsible for the bulk of it. I think we can blame Frank Miller for the more bombastic elements of 300. Snyder interpreted more than was present for Watchmen, as I don’t think the mood he set in various parts of that film were present in Moore’s original vision. I certainly don’t think that Moore would approve of Snyder’s interpretation of the Nite Owl/Silk Spectre sex scene. Of course, I doubt Moore will ever bother to actually watch the film.
The questions that are raised by Sucker Punch are more closely tied to Snyder’s future than they are about whether the film actually works. The film, as it stands, is an admirable misfire. The most frequent comment I’ve heard made is that Snyder’s grasp is not as far as his reach. He goes further than he has the ability to manage. So what does this mean for his adaptation of Superman? He’s certainly got an amazing cast. And visually I think he’s a perfect fit for something like Superman. The big question is whether or not the Nolans’ involvement can reign in Snyder’s bombastic nature. I would like to hope Snyder knows he has to realize that on a movie like Superman it is Superman who is the star and not Zack Snyder.