Posts Tagged ‘Oscar Isaac’



USA 2011  Directed by: Zack Snyder  Written by: Zack Snyder, Steve Shibuya  Produced by: Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder  Cinematography by: Larry Fong  Editing by: William Hoy  Music by: Tyler Bates, Marius De Vries  Cast: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Oscar Isaac, Carla Gugino, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn

They say if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. And in this day and age, with advanced technological support, it has become truer than ever. I’m sure Zack Snyder would be the first to agree, and eagerly trying to prove he can keep up with his peers such as Christopher Nolan, by making “Sucker Punch.” I personally don’t necessarily see Snyder as a filmmaker, but rather a hyper-action visual artist. His detail in composition, lighting, and movement is borderline impeccable, and usually always aims at one thing – a mind/eye devouring feast. And each of his films is a work of art.

Adding to his usual roles, Snyder directed, produced, and co-wrote “Sucker Punch.” But whereas pieces like “300” or “Watchmen” had been visually and verbally outlined, and simply needed a loyal adaptation, SP manifested from the pit of Snyder’s creative blender. And this is where it hit a speed bump.

The trouble with making ultra-stunning effects is they can easily become your crutch rather than a style. And the audience expects you to raise the bar each time, but that simply can’t persist, because all of Snyder’s bells and whistles jingled and jangled in his earlier pictures, which gave him notice in the first place.

With a blank canvas, Snyder painted a world of Baby Doll, a young woman (although she looked 14 in her Japanimation-fashioned outfit and makeup) desperately trying to survive and escape the insane asylum that she was committed in by her malicious stepfather. It seems, in this dark and dingy institution, only pretty young females are the patients. And even the head psychiatrist is a busty eastern European seductress played by the always sumptuous Carla Gugino. Through her guidance, Baby Doll finds herself able to bend the cruel reality into a spirited fantasy, fighting her way, along with her inmate patients, through Japanese feudal times and WWI Germany, and eventually to freedom. Sometimes there were dragons, other times futuristic robots. But at all times, girls were kicking bad guys’ asses, while in killer heels, dangerously short skirts and deadly décolletages. And?

The entrance to the fantasy world was always accompanied by a song played out in the room and Baby Doll’s irresistible dance that would set all the men in a trance, allowing the other girlie inmates to do their business – collecting items that would piece together the steps for all of them to escape. Till the end, we never saw what her dance actually was; it was always through the expressions of the men that we knew her moves were mesmerizing. And even though the color schemes and costumes contrasted between the two worlds, one element seemed to remain constant amongst the characters – really long eyelashes. Why?

If a film/story can be depicted by a genre of music, “Sucker Punch” would be a techno-trance maxed out on decibel levels. The action almost never seizes, and never quite allowed any downtime to peel back any layers of the characters. And yet, the actions almost always stayed at the same level, too – never really advanced the game from previous scenes. Sometimes, the fight sequences were caught too closely by the camera that was obviously placed on a lawn mower, giving way to vertigo and light reminder of last night’s dinner. This repeated several times throughout the show. What for?

In the end, through the psychiatrist’s final analysis, “Sucker Punch” concludes that the key to setting us free in this cruel world is…us. Really? Is that it? Can this be the punch-line to this episode? Did Snyder really go through all that pain to reveal a message that could be found inside a fortune cookie? I guess the audience got suckered in this one. Snyder needs to get back to what he does best: visualization – dust off his ego and hang up his writer’s hat, for awhile. And let’s hope his new installment of “Superman” will fly a bit higher, under the producing wings of his multiple-hat-wearing peer, Christopher Nolan.








USA / UK 2010   Directed by: Ridley Scott Written by: Brian Helgeland  Story by: Brian Helgeland, Cyrus Voris Produced by: Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe, Brian Grazer  Cinematography by: John Mathieson  Editing: Pietro Scalia  Music: Marc Streitenfeld Cast: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max Von Sydow, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Danny Huston, Eileen Atkins, Mark Addy

There are two ways you can look at a film: art or entertainment. For the former, the director, cast and crew pour their souls into it. Find money by donating blood and selling their children in the name of high art. Because they believe a story must be told to better people’s lives for the years to come. ROBIN HOOD would take the latter.

But, even as entertainment, ROBIN HOOD missed a point or two. Robin Hood, as a character, is fiction. And the magic in making a fictional character believable is by placing him/her in a realistic (or once thereof) setting. This is where the problems began. The dates, events and supporting characters in the story were out of sync. They crossed over each other, missed each other, sometimes by hundreds of years. This, in turn, gave no credibility to the Robin Hood character, which lowered the stake for our hero. As a matter of fact, this lowered the stake for pretty much all the characters. The audience had little to care for if the characters in the story didn’t have a goal or relevance to the story.

In the Ridley Scott’s tale, Robin Hood (Russell Crowe) was a bowman fighting in the crusades. He returns to England and finds his home country in a shamble, under the ruling of King John (after the death of King Richard the Lionheart). King John is a fool, blindly misguided by his ego and his advisor, Godfrey (Mark Strong). Godfrey turns coat and befriends the king of France. Together, they scheme a plan to invade England when it’s on its knees, out of money and out of luck.

Robin Hood is a selfish man who’s only looking out for himself. But, he made a promise to a dying knight that he’d return his sword to his father. Forward to the town of Nottingham, RH finds the father and the dead knight’s widow, Marion Loxley (Cate Blanchett). Needless to say, the father finds Robin a man that his real son never was and accepts him as his own. What? And, pushes the widow Marion to get busy with Robin. What the what?! Through some pointless, cheesy one-liners and flat humor, Marion falls in love with Robin. How that happened I guess only the writers knew, because I didn’t see it in the film.

Upon the French invasion on England’s shores, actually, looking very reminisce of the Normandy landing in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, Robin decides to take on the role of Braveheart and save England from the foul French. Through many a jerky camera-work and haphazard sword flings, the English won, all thanks to Robin. And, following Robin’s noble sample, the English people even demanded for a document of certain justice and freedom, lending to the initiation of, what looked like, the Magna Carta – the first constitution.

The technologies (weapons, musical instruments, vehicles) appeared in the film were modern interpretations of things by artists and creative minds, not historians. The writing, filming, locations and scenes were reminders of other movies. ROBIN HOOD looked like a big buffet salad of stolen footage and props. With Scott and Crowe at the helm, I expected a magical encore of GLADIATOR. But such was not the case. ROBIN HOOD is entertaining…if you have a short-term memory, have not seen many movies before, or if you aren’t a stickler for cohesive storytelling. I can just imagine the pitch for this movie to the studios: “It’s the history of England meets Forest Gump.”