Book Review: Sucker Punch - The Art of the Film

Here we are, the studio poster boy for style and visual eye candy has finally gotten his hands completely dirty with his own imagination. By this I refer to Zach Snyder, a filmmaker both admired and criticized depending on who you talk to for his textured surfaces, busy compositions and… well, if I had to describe the vision of Zach Snyder in one word- loud. That ain’t a bad thing. Back on track: next week he’s releasing his first wholly original project in SUCKER PUNCH. Based on the promotional campaign alone I’d think you agree that out in Hollywood land a team of artists and designers must have sharpened a lot of pencils and dried a lot of ink filling in the huge canvas Zach invites us to explore come FRIDAY. That’s where THE ART OF SUCKER PUNCH comes in.  

I was stoked when this arrived for a review. In 2000 I purchased a book that re-defined my affection for cinema and filmmaking. It would be years before I would enroll in an art school but I knew at the time this book would be something that illustrated both the geek and film lover in me, that book was THE ART OF THE MATRIX. From then I was freaking sold, I got my hands on as many “Cinematic Concept Art” books as I could find. From STAR WARS to INDIANA JONES, PIXAR to THE DARK KNIGHT. It’s crack and I’m a willing drudge in the game. So how does this book fair to t he rest? I can’t speak for the film itself yet, but if nothing else SUCKER PUNCH’s production was worth it for the collection of bat-shit nutty/sexy/sleek pieces found in the pages of this thing.

If Marilyn Monroe and an X-Box made XXXtreme lovin’ hopped on mountain dew, then THE ART OF SUCKER PUNCH would be the gospel recounting the conception (the movie being the child… of course). Again, this is not a bad thing at all. In fact the book charms the socks off of me and makes me much more curious in the story that propels this kind of material. Orcs, bi-planes, manga-inspired designs, samurais, robots, dapper agents, dragons, zombies, fishnet stockings… This is pop culture in a blender. Skimming through the pages one could easily get the impression that it was a collection of a dozen separate projects, not one movie telling one story. That’s the point though, as the narrative frame work weaves through the imagination of a teenage girl (locked in a loony bin no less). Zach actually articulates it quite well in the book while discussing the title, SUCKER PUNCH

“Calling it Sucker Punch was really our way of giving it almost no title at all. It can’t be pigeonholed into any one genre, and we didn’t want a title that would try to encapsulate what the film is, or even what it isn’t.”

A daunting aspect of Snyder’s previous features (and an ultimate test in his next movie) is the pre conceived notion of what his films should be. It’s a blessing and a curse to adapt the likes of some of the most famous movies and graphic novels made. No doubt it must have been a juggling act for someone who loves this much sensation to deliver all of the familiar elements we come to expect in Allan Moore, George Romero and Frank Miller territory. As much as I love the source material for all of his work, I am most exited for his shackles to be unchained with SUCKER PUNCH. If the art is an indication, it should be a hell of a ride.

The book itself is gorgeous. On that front any admirer of these collector’s items will appreciate the quality not only of the work itself but in its layout. Classic pin-up’s, concept art, sketches and photos are arranged in a way that is spacious and pleasing, a difficult task given the detail in most of the work. This feels like an urgent and earnest endeavor from Snyder, the work here doesn’t seem released as much as it feels unleashed. In the same way images of pop culture dance in our imagination on a daily basis so do they on the pages of the book. The worst that can be said is that in a way no individual piece feels particularly unique; there are zombies, but these are mechanized-nazi zombies. There are robots, but these robots have girly stencil designs on them. Samurais? Yep, but ever see a samurai wielding a big ass machine gun that would make Jesse Ventura’s jaw drop? You will. There is definitely something to be said for the culmination of these macabre fantasies to the beat of a burlesque ALICE IN WONDERLAND or THE LITTLE PRINCESS. I think at the very least there is uniqueness and admiration in that.

One thing I did hope to see were some storyboards, not necessarily because they would be vitally important in completing the book but more to feed my curiosity in how Zach plans to weave burning zeppelins, alien cities and the like together coherently. However, I’m sure once I see the film I’d find the book to be better off focusing on the detailed concept art and costume designs, which are far richer than your typical storyboard. And speaking of costume designs, the spreads of young ladies wearing some of the sexiest warrior garb imaginable are worth a gander and admittingly I get a kick seeing how bad-ass Scott Glenn looks sporting leather dusters and sunglasses. His outlandish outfits seem as chiseled and lived in as his face. Points. Looking forward to his role in the movie most of all.

You can find a limited edition of THE ART OF SUCKER PUNCH singed by ZACH SNYDER on Amazon and be sure to check the film out this Friday, March 25th!

Extra Tidbit: Is it wrong to say I might be looking forward to the opening credits more than the movie? Between DAWN OF THE DEAD & WATCHMAN, Snyder may have found his true calling as the rightful successor to Saul Bass.
Source: JoBlo.com



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