Tag Archives: Jena Malone

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.

Sucker Punch

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.

Pride & Prejudice (2005) Review

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Pride & Prejudice

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast:
Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet
Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy
Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennet
Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet
Tom Hollander as Mr. Collins
Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet
Carey Mulligan as Catherine “Kitty” Bennet
Jena Malone as Lydia Bennet
Talulah Riley as Mary Bennet
Judi Dench as Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Director: Joe Wright

The story is based on Jane Austen’s novel about five sisters – Jane (Rosamund Pike), Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), Mary (Talulah Riley), Kitty (Carey Mulligan), and Lydia Bennet (Jena Malone) – in Georgian England. Their lives are turned upside down when wealthy young Mr Bingley (Simon Woods) and his best friend, Mr Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) arrive in their neighbourhood.

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2005’s Pride & Prejudice was a movie I had heard about and have been meaning to watch for a while. Actually right before I watched the movie, I saw the mini series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, which I thought was quite good. It came with some of the dated aspects and some very tv moments as expected, but I liked it as it was. The movie is similar but different, and treating it on its own, it’s quite good.

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Now there’s something I have to note first of all, I’m not familiar with the Jane Austen story, but from what I can tell, the mini series is pretty much an exact translation of the book. So I’m going on the assumption that I know what the book is generally like. The movie comes with the expected adaptation flaws, and it does simplify and change some aspects, though it’s usually not too much of a problem for me. It’s even set at an earlier time period which was an interesting choice. The only part that bothered me was that some aspects feel rather rushed, mainly in the first act. Going from a 6 episode long mini series to a 2 hour long movie is definitely going to feel jarring especially when comparing the two, but they rushed through so many of the early parts for like no reason at all. They could’ve easily added 10 minutes more to that portion for some moments to breathe. After that first act however it gets better, and I was quite invested in the movie even though I knew of the story and indeed it largely played out the same way as in the mini series. It’s been called one of the most romantic romance movies but some and I can certainly see why. The take on the story feels quite fresh that even people who aren’t as into period piece dramas/romances will likely find something to enjoy here. Side note but if possible, try to watch the American version of the movie. It includes an extended ending and I’m not sure why both versions don’t have that.

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The cast is stacked, and all the actors performed very well. Keira Knightley plays the lead character of Elizabeth Bennett and she was really great. This version of her is quite different to the mini series (and from what I can tell the book), but I thought it worked quite well for the film. Matthew Macfadyen plays Mr Darcy and he was really good, although it is quite hard seeing anyone else other than Colin Firth in the role. The chemistry between Knightley and Macfadyen is top notch and they really sell that romance over the course of the film. The actresses who played the Bennett sisters with Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone, Talulah Riley, and Carey Mulligan, as well as the rest of the cast which includes the likes of Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Tom Hollander and Judi Dench also do well in their roles.

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This is Joe Wright’s directorial debut and he did pretty well with his first film. It’s a great looking movie, with the costume design and sets being at the level of quality that you’d expect them to be. The cinematography also is what makes this version so special, and the aforementioned romanticism owes a lot to it, particularly with what the camera focusses on in certain moments. The score by Dario Marianelli is also really great and perfect for the film.

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Whether you’re familiar with the source material or not, Pride & Prejudice is definitely worth watching. It’s a very well made movie, greatly directed and acted. As to whether I think this or the mini series is better, they both have their advantages and disadvantages, but they ultimately both work for what they are.

The Neon Demon (2016) Review

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Time: 118 minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence, Horror, Sexual Material and Necrophilia
Cast:
Elle Fanning as Jesse
Karl Glusman as Dean
Jena Malone as Ruby
Bella Heathcote as Gigi
Abbey Lee as Sarah
Desmond Harrington as Jack McCarther
Christina Hendricks as Roberta Hoffman
Keanu Reeves as Hank
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Jesse (Elle Fanning) moves to Los Angeles just after her 16th birthday to launch a career as a model. The head of her agency tells the innocent teen that she has the qualities to become a top star. Jesse soon faces the wrath of ruthless vixens who despise her fresh-faced beauty. On top of that, she must contend with a seedy motel manager and a creepy photographer. As Jesse starts to take the fashion world by storm, her personality changes in ways that could help her against her cutthroat rivals.

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The Neon Demon was one of my most anticipated films of 2016, this is the second film from Nicolas Winding Refn I’ve seen, after Drive. Drive was an absolutely fantastic film, I loved it, so naturally I was excited to see his upcoming film. After seeing this film, I have to say, I absolutely loved The Neon Demon. Visually stunning, excellently performed, everything here was great. Understandably, not everyone will like this movie, due to it not having a straightforward story and some of its weirdness will alienate some. I’m just glad I’m one of the people who loved it.28fc5711b37fcb526c803cf78b40972f[1]

There are a few things that you have to know before going in. This film is slowly paced quite a bit, part of that is due to the fact that The Neon Demon is also very artistic, with many visual sequences showing symbolism and metaphors. This really isn’t surprising as Refn is known for being more of a visual director. Although this film sort of has a plot, it doesn’t have a very straightforward story, there are many different ways to interpret this movie. This may turn off and come across as pretentious for some viewers, but I personally loved the story that Refn told. The last act is completely nuts, having a complete change in tone, turning into straight up horror. While that change was a little jarring, I loved the last act, even though at times it could get ridiculously over the top at times. I’ve also heard from many that this is Refn’s most disturbing movie yet, I’ve not seen Only God Forgives or many of his other films aside from Drive but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the case. I won’t say what happens in this movie to avoid spoilers (as I found many of them out before watching the movie), but let’s just say I can understand why this movie turned a lot of people off…

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The performances from everyone was excellent. Elle Fanning was really good in the role of the main character, she goes through a form of transformation in the film, and along with the visuals of the film from Refn, she conveys that expertly. All the supporting cast did great jobs as well. Jena Malone was a standout for me, there are certain stand out scenes that she’s involved with which (I won’t spoil) I have to say are very daring, she’s fantastic. Bella Heathcote and Abbey Lee were really great as two of models who become jealous of Elle’s character. Keanu Reeves also plays a small part in the movie as the seedy hotel manager, he’s only in a few scenes but he still manages to leave an impression, it was a very different character for him to play.

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This film quite possibly has the best cinematography all year, which really isn’t surprising as it’s directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. I can’t really comment on whether its Refn’s best looking film yet (as I haven’t seen any of his films aside from Drive) but it looks so gorgeous. The use of colour also makes the film absolutely beautiful, visually this film is perfect. Also the soundtrack by Cliff Martinez is absolutely europhoric, memorable, it really added a lot of the movie.

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This movie really isn’t for everyone however, whether that be the lurid content, the slow pacing or the visual storytelling. If you want a more straightforward plot, this isn’t your film. For me though, The Neon Demon is one of my favourite films of the year. This film is a reminder that I really need to see more of Nicolas Winding Refn’s films, with this film and Drive, he’s already becoming one of my favourite directors.