Reviews: “Sucker Punch” and “Source Code”

Today, it’s a fanboy/fangirl double-header. (I am the Omnibus after all.) Two movie reviews in this post. It’s fairly damn convenient to review both at the same time, since there are many similarities between the two. Both films start off very strong, and both end with the viewer scratching his or her head. I’ll go one at a time.

The director, Zack Snyder, has often proclaimed “Sucker Punch” to be, “Alice in Wonderland” with machine guns. Well… he’s batting .500, at least he got the latter correct. Maybe he should’ve said “Sybil” since “Sucker Punch” cannot make up its mind which medium it wants to be. Is it a video game? A music video? A graphic novel (aka: live-action cartoon)? The movie shoots for the moon as it tries to be everything to every
fanboy by appealing to as many aspects as possible AT THE SAME TIME. We start in film noir mode, and then we delve into the genres of: samurai; cabaret; steam-punk (with mecha!); sword & sorcery; diesel-punk; and finally a bit of the Twilight Zone at the end. The good news is that the soundtrack kicks ass and takes names! The bad news is that Vanessa Hudgens does a terrible job at acting. (Suck it Disnoids!) Snyder does not stray from the path he forged in his earlier works, “300”, and “Watchmen.” It is more of the same, except this
time it’s rated PG-13, so it’s been watered down in order to get the tweens in the theatre. It’s a strategy that may backfire since the fanservice sed fanboys want  are the very things that are usually not seen in a PG-13 movie. Snyder wants to enter the pantheon of greatness by trying to create an all-engrossing epic, and joins the ranks of Spielberg, Lucas, Cameron, and Jackson. He falls a bit short. That is not to dissuade fans from wanting to see this. In fact, if you’re a fan, and you haven’t seen it yet, WHY ARE YOU READING THIS?!  For the rest of
you, this is sensory overloaded treat that is worth placing at the top of your rental queue. My grade = C+ .

And now here’s one for the ladies…. Jake Gyellenhaal stars in “Source Code.” I suppose that as long as he’s not cast a Persian Prince, he can play an action hero. I’m afraid that Vera Farmiga has now been officially
typecast, as she plays the smart, professional woman who is conflicted by the protagonist’s dilemma. In other words, she’s the 21st Century’s Gillian Anderson. “Source Code” has all the elements to be an adventurous
joyride: the “Quantum Leap” time travelling body snatcher; the “Groundhog Day” repetition of events until the “best-case” scenario is found; the whodunit aspect of finding the identity of the bomber; the “Matrix-esque” alternate reality computer program; and an exploding train. However, like many, many other movies, “Source Code” got the “Hollywood treatment” in terms of a re-written ending. At least to me, it felt like the last act was given to a new writer – one who knows nothing or chooses to ignore the science of the rest of the film.
I, and most of the audience, left scratching our heads wondering what the hell happened at the end. I suppose that the ending is justified by a hand wave one-liner by Jake stating the program works better than expected. It left and everyone else in theatre with more questions than answers, which is too bad because it marred an otherwise fine film. My grade = B- .


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