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Sucker Punch (2011)
Interesting But Poorly Executed
Zack Snyder is deemed a master of action-packed slow-paced visual effects, as proved from his previous work on 300 and Watchmen, and a similar visualistic aspect is certainly not lacking in Sucker Punch. He pulls off the stylized graphic novel look with ease and it looks brilliant most of the time. It is, however, unfortunate that the action that shrouds it is too dull and unengaging.
The levels of reality and imagination are maybe a little too distinct to be meaningful and the sequence of events are too ridiculous to be taken seriously. The subject matter is very dark and having two levels of imagination, one built on top of the other, is a bit more unbelievable, and this could have been much more than production team could have probably handled. We can understand what is trying to be conveyed on screen - a constructed fantasy in the mind of a character as she is indecently treated in a mental institution. However, it is poorly executed, especially the conclusion, and we are just left with scene after scene of nonsense and atrocious dialogue.
I give kudos to Snyder for taking a risk on such a project - it meshes some complex storyline with action - but it simply isn't great with either. The girls, which include Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jamie Chung, all give convincing portrayals of their characters, and Oscar Isaac is wonderful as one of the orderlies. The presence of some of the other supporting characters simply deteriorates the realism of the real-life sequences. Since most of the film is presented in a sub-reality or an imagination, anything that happens has less of an impact, leaving one not caring what actually happens to heroines.
Battle Los Angeles (2011)
Entertaining Alien Invasion Movie
There's a lot of negative things I can say about Battle: Los Angeles - the aliens look like humanoid robots that are strong one minute and weak the next, the overly dramatic and patriotic one-dimensional characters who all act as archetypes of what American marines stand for, and the simple and unoriginal story and dialogue.
However, I feel like the unoriginality and clichédness was as expected, especially coming from a director such as Jonathan Liebesman, who has only had experience working on mediocre horror flicks. This film is entertaining, one of its primary objectives being to get you pumped up, and it sure did it for me.
Battle: Los Angeles is marketed as a realistic alien invasion movie, and in my opinion, its purpose was handled rather well. It conveys a simple story that follows a group of marines who must save civilians from an area that will be bombed to annihilate invading aliens.
There are some parallels to Independence Day, the difference being that this one is being told from the perspective of one group of soldiers on ground level, who know very little about what is happening, and are fighting to help each other survive. This, I believe is a somewhat new take in cinema on how trained individuals deal with a totally unexpected invasion as it begins. The situations are realistic in terms of how these people behave when fighting against an enemy force. As a result, these aliens could have easily been replaced by human adversaries, and the narrative would have been unfazed.
The actors did a good job of portraying their characters, unfortunately, these roles had very little development, and so it is difficult to feel for them when they are met with misfortune. One very positive aspect of the film is the score, composed by Brian Tyler, which fits in very well with the mood of each scene, whether dramatic or action-packed. Some considerable gripes I have with Battle: Los Angeles, however, is that it does not offer anything new in the war genre, and the ending feels rushed, but still exhilarating nonetheless.