March 25, 2011
On the Big Board
|I wanted to walk out of the theater more than once. Huge disparity from the great trailer. This is video gamer porn, and it's crap. The one positive: Abbie Cornish is bad ass.
Zack Synder’s ascension to become one of the hottest directors working today has been more extreme than Christian Bale’s way of dealing with issues onset. Following his feature debut, Dawn of the Dead, a remake that successfully tapped into the “fast-zombie” craze, Snyder then directed a small little buddy flick about guys who enjoy sit-ups and manscaping, called “300.” With the best trailer in recent memory (far superior to the actual film, in my opinion) the visually inventive graphic novel adaptation shocked the box-office world with a stunning $70 million opening weekend, skyrocketing numerous careers (unfortunately giving Frank Miller the chance to direct “The Spirit”) and earning Snyder the chance to direct another graphic novel adaption, Watchmen.
Deemed unfilmable by some and carrying a fiercely devoted fan base, Snyder faced a very tall order. Once again turning out a fantastic trailer, anticipation for Watchmen grew to true event picture status. The stakes were very high for Snyder. Would it be his ticket to cinematic immortality, or a lifetime of death threats (Alan Moore may personally already have that one covered)?
Upon release, Watchmen did not eclipse the success of 300 but it came close. More importantly, its fans largely accepted it as a strong retelling of their beloved source material. And while those unfamiliar with the comic (excuse me, graphic novel) felt they were left in the dark, it did nothing to lower Snyder’s overall stock. For sure, Watchmen kept anticipation for his next projects considerably high and assured the “visionary” prefixed to his name in trailers won’t be going away anytime soon.
Since Synder’s next film, Guardians of Ga'hoole, is yet another adaptation, this time of a children’s book series, Sucker Punch, his following project, will mark the first time Snyder directs original material - his own no less. With his name attached and a wonderfully to the point description, “Alice in Wonderland with machine guns,” it’s not hard to see why Sucker Punch got the green light.
Set in a 1950s insane asylum, the story concerns Baby Doll (Emily Browning), who has five days before her evil stepfather (stepparents sure do get a raw deal in movies) has her lobotomized. To cope, she takes refuge in an alternate reality, which includes dragons, B-52 bombers and brothels, where she imagines her escape, needing to steal five objects before being “deflowered” (that seems to the popular term) by the villain. I’m picturing a love child between Pan’s Labyrinth and One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest in video game form.
The primary cast will be all female, in contrast to his earlier man-fest in 300. In talks to star are Vanessa Hudgens (the girl from the apparently popular High School Musical franchise), Abbie Cornish (Ryan Phillipe’s and Reese Witherspon’s home-wrecker, she’s also in films), Jamie Chung, and Jena Malone. Warner Bros. has anointed Snyder with a $100 million budget; not being a sequel or a remake clearly he’s earned the benefit of the doubt.
It will be interesting to see how Sucker Punch fares. Will it be further affirmation of Snyder’s place in the “big” movie world? Or will it be the major misstep that starts a downward spiral resulting in each mention of the term “visionary Director Zach Snyder” to recall earlier triumphs in whose shadow he now lives. The latter is the “worst case” or “M Night Shyamalan scenario”.
While the outcome of this film and its effect on the director’s career are hard to gage at this point, one thing is a given. The trailer will be dynamite. (Tom Macy/BOP)