Sucker Punch, X-Men: First Class

Sucker Punch (2011)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Sometimes it’s nice to know that nobody gives two shits about your reviews. Like now, for example, because I can admit to having enjoyed watching Sucker Punch.

You know…I kinda think Zack Snyder demonstrates elements of genius in his filmmaking, not solely in his striking use of computer imagery, but also in his visual storytelling. And I’m totally serious. This is a work that could almost be played as a straight silent film (and in point of fact, for the first five minutes or so, that’s pretty much exactly what it is).

I’m only going to say three things about this movie:

(1) I was never bored. At all. I found it roundly entertaining from minute one right through to the unexpected musical number in the credits.

(2) It’s not totally empty-headed entertainment by any means. While so many action films feel uncomfortably familiar, as though you’ve seen them before, I promise you, you’ve never seen Sucker Punch before. You may have seen fragments of this film elsewhere, but never strung together this way or within such an odd narrative frame.

(3) Neat soundtrack, though this could just as easily be somebody else’s complaint, as the film at times feels like a sequence of music videos.

If I’m being honest, I don’t quite understand why it was eviscerated by critics. And I’m not going to bother reading the reviews.

Is it a brilliant work of cinema that 20 years from now is going to be studied in film theory courses alongside Citizen Kane? No, of course not. Hell, it might not even be a movie you’d be willing to watch more than once. But even if you consider the film a failure, it seems you would have to acknowledge that it’s an interesting failure, at least.

X-Men: First Class (2011)

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Why do the writers of these movies always feel the need to inject at least a few ridiculous mutants of their own creation? To be honest, I haven’t read a bunch of X-Men comics, so perhaps some of these lame-ass characters are actual Marvel creations, but just as an example, this film gives us a stripper with dragonfly wings who hawks up fireballs from her throat. She’s not a prominent character, really, but the point is, she’s in X-Men: First Class, and when you see a character like that, it makes you cry a little bit for all of the awesome mutants they could have employed instead.

Also, there’s a character that’s just Nightcrawler except he’s red and Russian. Get it? And there’s another guy whose “ability to adapt” somehow allows him to encase his torso in a turtle shell. Or something.

Nitpicking aside, this wasn’t a bad origin story for the X-Men. It hits all the notes: Magneto’s beginnings during the Holocaust, the friendship between Xavier and Magneto, the romance between Xavier and Moira McTaggert, Xavier’s paralysis, Professor X’s School for the Gifted, and so forth. And along the way, it manages to explain things like how Mystique fell in with Magneto, how Hank McCoy turned all blue and hairy, and even how Magneto acquired that helmet of his. Internally, it’s pretty sound storytelling as all things organically fall into their place as we know they must.

In all fairness, there’s a lot to like about this film. So why didn’t I love it? I’m not quite certain, to be frank with you. Perhaps because I never did quite get interested in the villain’s plot to start World War III. Or perhaps it’s merely because I don’t care much about characters like Banshee or Havok. Or perhaps it’s because I think it may have been pointless to attempt to wedge this into the continuity previously established by the other X-Men films; and even within those guidelines, it still creates some questionable continuity. In any case, you have my rating.

 Second Opinions

Bonus! Random Video

This has absolutely nothing to do with anything. I just stumbled across it on YouTube and it cracked me up hard for some reason.

6 Replies to “Sucker Punch, X-Men: First Class”

  1. I had to click on the link to my review to remember if I liked it or not. Needless to say, my review was pretty vague, so I still can’t remember. I seem to remember not knowing if I liked it even as I was watching it, but I also remember wishing it was better. It was neat.

    And my opinion about First Class was pretty much the same as yours: It was a well done as a movie could be that had such a crummy cast of characters and no point to even exist at all. But it was neat. I thought it was better than Sucker Punch.

  2. So I went and checked Wikipedia, and it doesn’t look like any of the mutant characters are original–they’re all from the comics.

    The one guy, Azazel, who I said was just a red Nightcrawler? Turns out that’s Nightcrawler’s father. I don’t know why that annoys me, but it does.

  3. Azazel is Nightcrawler’s father? I did not know that. I knew of the character, but not to that extent.

    Anyway, here’s another reason why First Class better than Sucker Punch: Kevin Bacon. Say what you will about First Class’s story and cast of characters, my boy Bacon was awesome. He should play a villain more often. He’s good.

  4. Bacon was surprisingly awesome. I mean, I’ve got nothing against Bacon. I think he’s a pretty good actor. But I was surprised he played that character so well. Easily the best villain of all the X-Men films–I’ll say that.

  5. Damn, now I suppose I’ll have to see Sucker Punch. I can say now though that I’ll probably like it a lot; I’m a– ha ha— sucker for visually impressive films even if the story ain’t that great.
    NICE JOHN HAMM VID! (cackle).

  6. To be honest, I wish you would see it, because I’d be curious to know what a woman would take away from it (my wife was in Europe when I watched it). I think it’s supposed to be about female empowerment or something, but ultimately, it’s probably just about a bunch of attractive women getting to play out totally over-the-top action sequences.

    But you know, I say that, but the interesting thing about it is that the next day, I was killing time and kind of fastforwarding through the bits that weren’t fight scenes, and I found that the action set pieces actually did seem to benefit from all of the context that on the surface, seems pretty unrelated.

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