Sunday, March 27, 2011

Zack Snyder: Only Theatre of Pain

Sucker Punch is that rare feat of big time, studio financed pop culture creation, wherein a visionary American auteur utilizes all of the resources at his disposal to go balls out and bring his dreams and fantasies to cinematic life. In that respect, it joins the likes of From Hell, Sin City and Shutter Island as an unsheathing of our collective unconscious.

Snyder fuses Golden age Hollywood, film noir, pin up poster art, video games, Hong Kong action extravaganzas and throws in the kitchen sink to come up with as brilliantly blinding a melange as this. His fascinating combination of female objectification and empowerment feels deranged and exhilerating, his mind bending narrative stimulating, his set pieces compulsively watchable.

A cast of burgeoning Hollywood actresses are led by the incendiary Jena Malone, who steals every scene she is in as fragile, headstrong Rocket, among the girls in a mental hospital who escape the terrors of their daily lives by retreating into a B-movie film noir world where they are prostitutes in a mobster run nightclub. Within that world, they flee from their minds into their minds, creating an apocalyptic world where they are all powerful warrior women, fighting zombies, robots and dragons.

The plot is complex and wondrous in its originalty, rivaled by the fevered mix of crisp and sepia, blur and technicolor to the palette of these worlds. Carla Gugino and Oscar Isaac both deliver the goods in pulpy character roles which display their talents as character actors.

Snyder's cenralization of incident into small units of space and time clarifies his status as one of Hollywood's most daring auteurs. His driving influence here is Victor Fleming's The Wizard of Oz, a film derided in it's day as amess of vision and theme, with it's twisting dimensions, alternate visual worlds and empowered heroine. The fluidity of thematic conception and fantastic motives penetrate our consciousness as few films can, marking this as, aside from the equally brilliant Legend of the Guardians, Snyder's time to shine as wonder man. The final binding force of his vision leaves us aware of the transcendental power of both life and cinema.

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