Review by Blair Stenvick
One good thing about “Sucker Punch” — it’ll be easy to review. That’s because it was awful.
And the worst part of it is, it had the potential to be great. From the creators of “Watchmen,” “Sucker Punch” is a story within a story within a story — a teenage girl, nicknamed Baby Doll, is sent to an insane asylum in the 1950s, where she overhears that she will be lobotomized in five days. From that point on, Baby Doll and the audience enter the fantasy world she creates to cope with her harsh reality.
In that fantasy world, Baby Doll is in a glamorous brothel (strange that she would choose to be in a brothel in her daydreams, but then again, she is insane). Baby Doll soon teams up with four friends (including a fantastically dim Vanessa Hudgens) to try to escape, and the majority of their plan involves stealing items like knives and lighters. The five girls realize that whenever Baby Doll dances for the men in the club, the men are all distracted enough to be easily stolen from.
This is where the third story comes in. While she dances (the audience never actually gets to see what’s so great about her dancing, by the way), Baby Doll’s mind is transported into yet another world, where she and her friends enter a video-game like fantasy realm and fight crime, usually something that parallels whatever task they are trying to complete in the brothel.
This might sound cool to you — I know it looked interesting to me. I thought it might possibly have the complexity of “Inception,” the artful insanity of “Black Swan,” and a commentary on how video games blur the line between reality and fantasy.
Instead, it had a weak plot line, overwhelming visuals and audio, an annoying soundtrack and some disturbing over-sexualizing of teenage girls.
“Sucker Punch” seems to be grasping at some sort of message about the power of the self, but that’s only apparent in the opening and closing voiceover, and if you have to overtly tell people the message, it’s not all that powerful.
“The Adjustment Bureau”
Review by Hannah Toda
Matt Damon is confused. Again. In his latest film, “The Adjustment Bureau,” the existence of free will is questioned as fate takes the form of a group of suited, stoic men wearing debonair fedora hats. The film has both a romance and sci-fi tone as it tells a love story in a fictional world where everything in life is predetermined by a book. As in the “Bourne” trilogy, Damon is the only man who knows the secret of the bureau’s existence and is unsure of how to navigate it. Way to go, Matt Damon.
The first half of the film follows the same cookie-cutter plot as any romance movie. Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Something happens, and now they must do something slightly off-course to get back to that happy place. British actress Emily Blunt is a perfect fit for the role of Damon’s love interest, Elise, as her subtle accent adds to her mystique. The chemistry between Damon and Blunt makes an appealing love story that keeps the audience intrigued. The second half of the film shows the aftermath of Damon finding out that Blunt was never meant to be with him.
As the bureau haunts and chases the couple throughout the film, poor and hasty plot choices are made that left me wondering, “Is this it?” While the overall combination of a world without free will and a pretty couple doesn’t make for the best film, the concept of the fictional world alone is interesting enough to watch, and an adequate reason to get to the theater.
Review by Blair Stenvick
This movie might be off-putting to a lot of people. After all, Matthew McConaughey’s over-relaxed acting style and good-ol’-boy Southern drawl can be irritating, and the title sounded more like a “Saturday Night Live” sketch than a legitimate film.
But I got talked into seeing it anyway, and it turned out to be a fairly entertaining two hours. Because he isn’t trying too hard to be funny or charming, McConaughey works as a street-smart, self-indulgent criminal defense lawyer whose morals and worldview are tested when his own client turns on him. Ryan Phillippe plays the defendant, a wealthy young man accused of assaulting a prostitute. His blank stares and even tone of voice help to create the scariest kind of criminal: the one you would never expect.
You find out soon in the film that Phillippe’s character is guilty of assault and much more, and the next hour and a half focuses on what lengths he’ll go to so he can stay out of jail. Meanwhile, McConaughey struggles with making sure justice is served without putting his family in danger or breaking lawyer-client confidentiality. There are a number of twists and turns, and while the plot can sometimes fray into Lifetime Original Movie territory, the solid acting keeps it alive.
The film is based on a novel by Michael Connelly, and the source material translates to the screen well. Every scene reflects the Los Angeles setting well without being too picturesque, and the cinematography and editing keep the story from dragging as it unfolds. Overall, I enjoyed “Lincoln Lawyer,” but I could’ve just watched a couple reruns of “Law and Order” for the same type of stuff — and that wouldn’t have cost me $10.