Tag Archives: Carla Gugino

Sucker Punch (2011) Review

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Sucker Punch

Time:
109 Minutes (Theatrical)
138 Minutes (Extended)
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence
Cast:
Emily Browning as Babydoll
Abbie Cornish as Sweet Pea
Jena Malone as Rocket
Vanessa Hudgens as Blondie
Jamie Chung as Amber
Carla Gugino as Vera Gorski/Madame Vera Gorski
Oscar Isaac as Blue Jones
Jon Hamm as The Doctor/The High Roller
Scott Glenn as The Wise Man/The General/The Bus Driver
Director: Zack Snyder

Locked away, a young woman named Babydoll (Emily Browning) retreats to a fantasy world where she is free to go wherever her mind takes her. Determined to fight for real freedom, she finds four women – Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Amber (Jamie Chung) and Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) — to join together to escape the terrible fate that awaits them. With a virtual arsenal at their disposal, the allies battle everything from samurais to serpents, while trying to decide what price they will pay for survival.

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Sucker Punch released 10 years ago remains a very polarising movie. Zack Snyder is a very divisive director, to this day it remains the strangest movie that he’s created. Having seen the extended cut of the movie, I can say that I am in the group of people who likes this movie, even though I can somewhat understand some of the mixed responses.

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This is the only movie (until Army of the Dead) from Zack Snyder that isn’t based off an original source material. Before I go into the different versions about the movie, I’ll talk about the movie as I saw it. Some of the part of why the movie didn’t get so well received was expectations. From the marketing, trailers and posters, Sucker Punch looked to be like a videogame influenced Charlie’s Angels with a group of young women with weapons taking on giant robots and dragons. Now these action sections are actually all imaginations taking place in the mind of the lead character. With that said, I do think that you still might be able to enjoy it as an action fantasy movie. I can’t go too deep into the movie without spoiling anything so I’ll try to be as vague as possible about the plot. The action scenes are entertaining, though you are aware the whole time that what’s happening on screen during these moments are just in the head of the main character played by Emily Browning. While these scenes are fun, there’s not much to explain the setups of those scenes, and I wasn’t able to pick them up even on a second viewing (unless I’m missing something). It could very well be that it’s just an excuse to have large action sequences and even if that’s the case, I wouldn’t want those moments removed.

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Zack Snyder has described Sucker Punch as Alice in Wonderland with machine guns, and that’s a very fitting description of the movie. It’s quite an ambitious movie, especially because the narrative is far from straightforward and doesn’t spoon feed you what’s happening. There are already plenty of deep dives into what this movie is. Essentially, Sucker Punch is intended as a female empowerment film, a commentary and examination of trauma, misogyny and abuse, and the story is essentially about escaping. Even if you don’t like the movie, I do think Snyder deserves a lot of credit for really trying something risky and trying to say something. That’s not to say that the script doesn’t have its issues. The characterisation isn’t great and most of the characters are underdeveloped and underwritten. The narrative isn’t always coherent, but I wouldn’t trade that out for one that was 100% clear cut. The version of Sucker Punch I watched was the extended cut. I will say that although I haven’t seen the theatrical version, from what I could gather from looking online, the cut down version on paper looked a bit messy. When Zack Snyder makes a movie, every single time there have been more than one version, it’s been shown that it is best releasing the version that was filmed instead of cutting it down. For Sucker Punch, the extended cut actually fully realises the message and intent by the end, and with such a bizarre story it needed to be told fully. On top of that, instead of it being PG-13, it is now R, which means you never feel any restrictions. With that all being said, it has been confirmed by Zack Snyder himself that there has been no official release of a director’s cut, hence why it’s called an extended cut instead. Nonetheless, this is the version of the movie to watch.

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The cast all play their roles very well. The main cast played by Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung were quite good, especially Emily Browning as the lead character. Other actors like Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm and Scott Glenn are also good. Even if some of the characters were underwritten, the performances made up for them.

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Zack Snyder’s direction is great, from beginning to end you can definitely tell that this is one of his movies. In fact you could say that this is the most Zack Snyder movie that Zack Snyder has ever made. Some have criticised this movie with the tired criticism of ‘it’s style over substance’, to which I’d counter with ‘style is substance’. Snyder excels at visual storytelling, and the biggest example of that in the movie is the incredible opening sequence, which tells so much within the 5 minutes without any dialogue being spoken. Larry Fong’s cinematography is fantastic, there are some very stunning visuals from beginning to end. There are many stand out action sequences, including a war sequence, a fight against giant samurai, and the like. Even if you don’t like much of the story, I think you would still be able to get a lot out of the action, even if some of them do feel video game-esque (especially with the CGI) and don’t really have any tension. The soundtrack is very well picked for this movie and works excellently for it.

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Sucker Punch is a pretty polarising movie. The performances were really good, I loved Zack Snyder’s direction, and I like what Snyder was really going for with the plot. If you do choose to check it out, I recommend checking out the extended cut. Not all of the movie works, and there’s definitely some messiness to it, but a lot of it does work.

Watchmen (2009) Review

Time: 162 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language and sex scenes.
Cast
Jackie Earle Haley as Walter Kovacs/Rorschach
Patrick Wilson as Daniel Dreiberg/Nite Owl II
Malin Åkerman as Laurie Juspeczyk/Silk Spectre II
Billy Crudup as Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Edward Morgan Blake/The Comedian
Carla Gugino as Sally Jupiter/Silk Spectre
Director: Zack Snyder

In an alternate 1985 America, costumed superheroes are part of everyday life. When one of his former comrades is murdered, masked vigilante Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) uncovers a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his retired associates, only one of which has true powers, Rorschach glimpses a far-reaching conspiracy involving their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the world’s future.

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I’m a big fan of Zack Snyder. I loved Batman v Superman (the Ultimate Edition was of course the far superior version), Man of Steel, 300 and many of his other movies. However, I have to say that Watchmen is undisputedly his masterpiece. Alan Moore’s unique story was adapted incredibly well (not a perfect adaption of the comic, but the best that we’ll probably ever get). It was not only riveting and entertaining, it was something really special for the comic book movie genre. Although Watchmen was polarising to most people upon it’s initial release, it has gained a cult following (deservedly so), and I am certain that the film will only receive more love as the years go on. In my eyes it’s the best comic book movie ever created.

First thing you should know is that Watchmen isn’t exactly a conventional superhero film. Sure it has beautiful visuals, action scenes and people who dress up in costumes and engage in fights but it’s still not quite like other superhero movies you’ve seen. It’s one of the few superhero movies that I would call a drama (like The Dark Knight, Logan, Batman v Superman Ultimate Edition). This film shows what it would be like if heroes really existed in our world (the standout being of Billy Crudup’s Dr Manhattan, truly fascinating character arc). The film – like the graphic novel – accurately displays the flaws in the superhero. Every character (at least the main characters) have visible flaws, making them quite interesting and feel like real people; it’s interesting watching their stories. It also should be known before going in that this movie is very dark, It’s the darkest and most violent of all the comic book movies ever made (that or Sin City). It’s a bleak world this film inhabits. This film wouldn’t have been as effective if they tried to make it a PG-13/M rated movie, Snyder firmly stuck with an R rating, allowing them to take the story to many levels (in terms of the story, tone and violence). While this turned off many of the viewers, I think that decision really benefited the movie overall.

This movie did have a lot to work with, it being based on Alan Moore’s Watchmen. I have read the graphic novel and I personally think that the film adapted it quite well, the changes made worked well. Some of the themes and aspects of the story were changed which made it work as a movie. While Alan Moore’s Watchmen tackled comic books, Zack Snyder’s Watchmen tackled comic book movies. Also, there are some ways that this movie improves over the graphic novel, especially the ending (if you’ve seen the movie and read the graphic novel, you’ll know exactly what I mean). I pretty much love everything about this movie. The plot kept me interested from start to finish, despite the long runtime I didn’t feel bored (however I do think that the Director’s Cut, which includes 24 minutes of additional footage, is better paced). I honestly think that Watchmen is the best comic book movie yet.

One thing I really like is the casting, these actors weren’t well known when they were cast. No one here is an A-lister and so it’s so much easier to see these actors as their characters. The acting by everyone was very impressive but there were particularly a few stand out performances for me. Firstly, Jackie Earle Haley as the vigilante Rorschach. Even with a mask on his face for most of his screentime he conveys so much with his movements, mannerisms and his voice (especially the voice). Rorschach is a disturbed, almost psychopathic character but yet he’s one of my favourite characters in the whole story, and I’m not alone with that. It’s one of the best comic book performances I’ve seen. Another great performance was from Jeffery Dean Morgan as the character of The Comedian. This character was a nihilistic force of nature, one of the most fascinating characters in the story. Even though he is despicable, a lot of what he says is true, in a very twisted way. Morgan portrayed him excellently, definitely a scene stealer.

The other stand out performance was Billy Crudup was Dr Manhattan, who is such a super powered being. For most of Crudup’s screentime he is motion captured but despite this, Crudup manages to give a compelling performance, he definitely left an impression. His character is very fascinating and Crudup did a perfect job with him. Other actors like Patrick Wilson, Malin Akerman, Matthew Goode and Carla Gugino were also were great in their roles. Matthew Goode also stood out, also in the way that the story turned out (won’t spoil anything here). His performance and character I think is particularly underrated.

The direction of Watchmen is so excellent. As this is Zack Snyder, you can expect the visuals to be great. The cinematography by Larry Fong is absolutely fantastic as always. The use of colours and shadows were so beautiful, it’s like the scenes were ripped straight out of a comic book, which Zack Snyder does very well. The action and fight scenes were also directed greatly, the choreography was so excellent and works so well with the movie (however I will say that occasionally Snyder does use just a little bit too much slowmotion). The CGI in Watchmen is also great overall but I particularly want to draw attention to the motion captured CGI used on Dr Manhattan, it was so well implemented in the film. It was really the only way to bring Dr Manhattan to life and it worked incredibly well (of course it was also helped by Billy Crudup’s acting). The score by Tyler Bates was also great and fitted so many of the scenes. Also previously existing songs worked very well in the film, such as ‘Unforgettable’ for the opening scene. While on the subject of classic songs used in Watchmen, the opening credits sequence (which features Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times they are a-Changin’, is truly excellent, as it shows the history of the Watchmen through brief clips and snapshots. The graphic novel did contain that history but it would be near impossible to show it in the movie. However without any lines of dialogue, Snyder successfully portrayed that on screen and it is beautiful. It’s one of the all time best opening credits scenes ever. I loved every single scene of this movie, the only moment that really didn’t work for me was a sex scene between Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) to the sound of Hallelujah, which was… odd. I guess it was meant to be over the top and hilarious but I’m not sure… I loved everything else though.

Watchmen is my all time favourite Comic Book Movie. With Zack Snyder’s great direction, the excellent performances as well as the fascinating, riveting and overall brilliant story makes this one of my favourite movies of all time. Watchmen isn’t for everyone, it’s not a conventional superhero film, it is slower paced, it’s very dark and brutal (probably the darkest superhero movie out there) and the story is a lot different from what most would expect. But I do think that it is worth a watch. If you’re going to watch this movie, I highly recommend the Director’s Cut, even though I loved the Theatrical Cut, the extended version makes the film much better overall (I haven’t seen the Ultimate Cut yet, so I can’t judge that version).

San Andreas (2015) Review

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San Andreas

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast:
Dwayne Johnson as Chief Raymond “Ray” Gaines
Carla Gugino as Emma Gaines
Alexandra Daddario as Blake Gaines
Hugo Johnstone-Burt as Ben Taylor
Art Parkinson as Ollie Taylor
Ioan Gruffudd as Daniel Riddick
Archie Panjabi as Serena Johnson
Paul Giamatti as Dr. Lawrence Hayes
Director: Brad Peyton

In San Andreas, California is experiencing a statewide earthquake that goes on record as easily the biggest earthquake in history. Dwayne Johnson plays Ray Gaines, a helicopter rescue pilot for the Los Angeles Fire Department, who is trying to find his daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario), who is in San Francisco amidst the chaos. Ray’s estranged wife, Emma (Carla Gugino), is forced to turn to Ray for help, as he is her last resort. Together they journey to save their daughter.

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Disaster movies have practically become a genre in itself. Some of them are entertaining, others are painfully bad. As disaster movies go, San Andreas is one of the better ones but it’s still pretty dumb. The characters are one dimensional, the story is cliché and predictable and the action while good, at a point gets a little tiresome. Still, you know what you are going into, and you’ll probably get all the destruction and action that you want.

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You should know that the plot really doesn’t matter. If you have a hard time following what’s going on, it’s because not much of this movie makes sense. There isn’t any character development here either, all the characters are one dimensional and cliché. You don’t really care about the characters, you only care about Dwayne Johnson’s character because he’s The Rock. The plot is also predictable, from the get go you know exactly how the plot is going to go, you know what characters are going to live and what characters are going to die. There are also some really cheesy lines, there’s a scene where Paul Giamatti figures out what’s going on and someone asks him “Who should we call?” and he says “Everybody”. Moments like this make me wonder whether they are intentional cheesy or not. However if you’re watching this movie, you probably aren’t expecting a good plot.

Dwayne Johnson once again is a likable lead, he can add credibility to anything and elevate the films that he’s in. The supporting cast is pretty good with what they have, consisting of actors like Alexandra Daddario and Carlo Gugino. Paul Giamatti was good in the movie but his entire purpose in the film is to deliver exposition, I felt like he actually didn’t do that much in the movie. As I said before though, all the characters are one dimensional and you don’t particularly care about them. The only reason you care about The Rock’s character is because he’s played by The Rock.

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If you are going into San Andreas, you are going for the action and destruction. The effects for the most part work but at times it can look really fake. For example in the first scene of the movie a car flips down a mountain many times and it looked like a scene from the SyFj channel. The special effects most of the time do work but after a while, it gets kind of boring. Maybe it’s because there’s so much of it at once and after a while it doesn’t feel as impactful. Also the characters survive unbelievable destruction that there is no tension, like in the case of the aforementioned flipping car, when the car stopped flipping, the driver was still alive. It was like the film is running on Die Hard 5 logic.

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San Andreas is not that good of a movie but if you want to see destruction, you’ll definitely get that, if you want to see The Rock being awesome, you’ll get that. The story is predictable, the characters are one dimensional and cliché and the plot is really dumb. However I do think that if you want to see a mostly entertaining movie, you’ll get that with this movie, but I think there are better movies out there.