Without A Net

Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Does Zack Snyder's 'Sucker Punch' work?

I went to see Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch" Saturday night. I've been curious about the movie for almost two years now. I first heard about it in July 2009, when, after a screening of the director's cut of "Watchmen," Snyder gave out Sucker Punch T-shirts to everyone in attendance.

Snyder's made a name for himself by directing material created by others. His first major film was 2007's "Dawn of the Dead," a remake of the George A. Romero zombie classic. Snyder followed that with "300" in 2007 and "Watchmen" in 2009, both adaptations of critically acclaimed comic books. He most recently took on an animated movie, "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole," based on a children's book.

For the first time, Snyder took his own original story and brought it to life in "Sucker Punch." How did it turn out? If you're to believe scores from review aggregators Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, not too well - 21% and 35%, respectively. It also underperformed at the box office, making just over $19 million its first weekend and coming in second to "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules."

Still, the hatred for the film isn't universal. I tend to agree with the review written by Ain't It Cool News head honcho Harry Knowles. "My first pass at a thought was to call the film a glorious mess," writes Knowles. "A spectacular spectacle that tragically doesn’t entirely connect upon first view."

The film presents three different levels of reality, reminiscent of "Inception," but the real world first level is shown only briefly, at the very beginning and the very end of the film. Without being able to see what's actually happening for the majority of the movie, it's difficult for the events we see to have a real impact, as we don't fully know what the events in these fantasy worlds mean about what's actually happening.

Still, you get to see a visual director provide plenty of eye candy, taking on a wide variety of genres. The "real" reality of the film plays as gritty drama, the second level as a glitzy "Chicago"-style period piece, and the third level jumps from genre to genre, including war, fantasy, sci-fi and martial arts.

So does it work? The consensus seems to be "no," but it'll be interesting to see how this plays once the inevitable director's cut is released. Snyder reportedly had to make significant cuts to get a PG-13 rating instead of an R, but whether that footage being restored would help the narrative remains to be seen.

Actress Emily Browning spoke out about one of the cuts in an interview with Nylon magazine, complaining about a sex scene she had with Jon Hamm being removed. "I think that it's great for this young girl to actually take control of her own sexuality. Well, the MPAA doesn't like that. They don't think a girl should ever be in control of her own sexuality because they're from the Stone Age. ... So essentially, they got Zack to edit the scene and make it look less like she's into it. And Zack said he edited it down to the point where it looked like he was taking advantage of her. That's the only way he could get a PG-13 [rating] and he said, 'I don't want to send that message.' So they cut the scene!"

What's next for Snyder? He's returning to the comfort of adapting established characters – next up: Superman.

Did you see "Sucker Punch"? If so, what did you think? Let us know in the comments. You can also find out what KPCC's "FilmWeek" critics thought about the movie.

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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