Why did it have a rotten rating of 17%? This is one of those films that I find unexpectedly good; it’s like Equilibrium (2002) that I doubt it was ever released, with Christian Bale as John Preston; Taye Diggs (Brandt); Sean Bean (Partridge); Emily Watson (Mary O’Brien), but at least Priest was out for a week or so. I’ll say Equilibrium is the male version of Ultraviolet (2006) with Milla Jovovich (Violet Song Jat Shariff), cause both John and Milla use swords as their choice of weapon, and both films are about oppressive government.
This film is about vampires and humans as the last two races combated for dominance. At the end, vampires are locked up and humans locked themselves up in a protected zone governed by some elders or council, Monsignor. One of them is Monsignor Orelas(Christopher Plummer). The army of Priests was disarmed and disavowed to live a peasant life after the war was won.
Priest (Paul Bettany – DaVinci Code) has unsettling dream of his buddy, Black Hat (Karl Urban – Dredd 3D (2012)) being dragged down and grabbed by vampires inside a cave, where his hand slips, losing his friend forever… NOoooo! Then his brother’s, Owen Pace (Stephen Moyer – True Blood) family is killed, except his niece, Lucy Pace (Lily Collins), who is in love with the town sheriff, Hicks (Cam Gigandet – Burlesque). Priest must find his niece and find out who kills his brother and family? even if it means living in exile and among the vampires! Btw, the background is a mix of medieval, cowboy western, and futuristic.
Yes the story is linear, but the actions are good and fast-pace. Boom, boom, boom, let’s find out what happens… cool fighting scenes, gadgets, nitro-bikes, super-polar-express, slow-mo somersaults, body parts, vampire parts, … It’s kewl to watch, that’s all! True, most of the scenes resemble other films’, but it is still kinda unique on its own.
Sucker Punch was a bit better with 23% rating. Mostly it was trashed by film critics saying it was incomprehensible. Well, it worked for me. The way I see it is metaphorical. I know it is cliché to use fantasy as a way to deal with pain and suffer, but at least it is a good attempt of director, Zack Snyder, to give us a vision how those fantasies may play out.
The story is about an abusive father signs off her step-daughter to an asylum after accidentally killed her sister while trying to save her from the hands of his step-father (Gerard Plunkett). Her mother was dead. While preparing for her lobotomy, the operation turns into a play supervised by Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino), acted by a bunch of girls who also live in the asylum.
In the dream world, Dr. Gorski is a dance-master, whose girls dance for a male audience: mayor, and high rollers. The dance is more burlesque than ballet. I guess, the metaphor is that dance can be a powerful skill to have to fight against men. Imagine, how men submit to women in a dance (yes, men pay; therefore, he has the power and control, but isn’t the one who is in motion is really the one in control?). So, Babydoll (Emily Browning) closes her eyes before her dance, and that transports her into a new realm of a war-torn place that is run by zombie-nazis. Those are the moments this film shines, the cinematography reminds me of such style as Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004).
Babydoll, the step-daughter, under the guidance of her sensei, Wise Man(Scott Glenn), recruited a team of “freedom” fighters, Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie(Vanessa Hudgens), Amber (Jamie Chung) to escape the institution. Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac) is their pimp for the dances.
There are music that accompany each of those fantasy episodes, and it works quite well.
In essence, the whole story is about how we can help ourself in a tough situation, which I totally agree. So here is the deal, if you don’t believe the meta-theme, and see reality as black and white, this will definitely not your cup of tea, because you will see young make-up girls in their tiny skirts dancing and fighting like girls. However, if you have an open mind and see an object from different perspective, I will say this is quite a film on many levels, and almost rivalling Inception (2010). How? both play on our psyche, and alter our perception of reality, and it is not just one level, but several. In this case, from a patient to a dancer to a fighter.
Parallelism: Sweet-pea and Amber are sisters; Amber died saving her sister, which can be seen as a parallel between Babydoll and her sister (Frederique De Raucourt). Sweat-pea survives and escapes, and has always been the strongest in the asylum.
Nuances: who is Blue Jones? does he molest those girls while in the asylum as a warden and with others? what about Dr. Gorski? is she really on the girls-side? or the institute?