Review Shooter: Sucker Punch

Directed by Zack Snyder

Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Carla
Gugino & Jon Hamm

Based on Zack Snyder’s previous directing gigs, walking into Sucker
Punch
with a sense of pending disappointment is an accurate way to
start this film. The movie starts with a great big blow to your expectations and in its
finale finishes the 109 minute masturbation-of-metal-core, by taking a dump
all over any kind of redeemable story or plot. This movie is a solid 2 and I
need to explain why.

First off, it becomes very hard to relate to characters who have no real
names. They move throughout the film in fake identities with fake ambitions
and have nothing but the most honest intentions of escape from the severely
over-the-top insane asylum called Lennox House. Unfortunately, most of the
characters serve no purpose other tha extra dialogue.

The film, right from the get-go, is a bit of a  stretch. What could have
easily taken 15 minutes to tell is stretched over a 109 minute time span of
pointless noise and gyrating half-nude, young, female bodies as they tote
guns and swords in completely outrageous scenarios. The story kicks off with
the tragedy of the (improbably) 20 year old “Baby Girl” and how she came to
the terrible Lennox House in Vermont. The rest of the movie after her
introduction to the various cast members is a sexual explosion into
metaphorical dream states and overtly stimulated action scenes that would
have made Freud and the Wachowski brothers, respectively, sit down and check
their pulses.

Sucker Punch unravels in a tactless style that reminds me of Snyder’s
previous film, Watchmen. There is absolutely zero pay-off for the audience
and there was a complete absence of a hero’s journey. The hero is never
redeemed, she never receives a beneficial lesson in life, and the entire
film is an abysmal, gray, fight for a freedom. However the audience is never
given anything to go on to believe the characters deserve their freedom. The
only exception to that is Baby Doll who is responsible for the accidental
death of her sister, whilst trying to protect her from her ravenous and
greedy step-father.

When Baby Doll (Emily Browning) dances for men (arguably herself), she steps
into a dream state where she fights evil in some poor metaphor that is meant
to resemble her fighting for her freedom. During her “dream-fights” (for
lack of a better term and a laziness to find a better one), Sweet Pea (Abbie
Cornish) and the other girls of the ward try to work together to retrieve
various “artifacts” that Baby Doll needs to escape (the knife, the fire, the
map, & the key).

There is never any definitive evidence in the film that the girls are being
brutalized or exploited by “Blue” (a mobster/… warden? Apparently?) but
most of the film happens in Baby Doll’s (or was it Sweet Pea’s?) head, so
the evidence is circumstantial at best.  While Baby Doll & Sweet Pea
continue their state of denial, Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino) attempts to
“save them” by having them *dance* their pain away, in hopes that they will
be able to deal with their bodies are being whored out to men of power in
Vermont. Again though, the evidence of that is shoddy being a good 80% of
this movie is in the imagination of the girls. Freud *really* would have
loved this movie.

Honestly; the movie is stuffed with poor 1990’s alt-rock covers while
simultaneously trying to either pay homage (or possibly plagiarizing)
various works from over the years including (and not limited to): ‘One Flew
Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, ‘Girl Interrupted’, ‘Sailor Moon’, ‘Lord of the
Rings’, & ‘Bioshock’. It felt like various interns to Robert Rodriguez had
gotten together after a long night of some anime-marathon and decided they
needed to make a movie, set in 1955 Vermont, about school girls in an insane
asylum, putting themselves into provocative situations while fighting with
samurai swords, mechas, anti-aircraft guns, and a lot of 9 mm bullets. It
was just a terrible film and is realistically a waste of just about every
one’s money. There is zero originality throughout the entire picture and not
a moment of hesitation or pause to further develop a plot that could have
been easily explained in a simple fifteen minute short-film. It was like
watching a live action of every poor anime to ever come out of Japan
combined with the most apathetic writing conceivable. The fact that this
movie took $82 million to make is a tad scary when one steps back and
realizes how little emphasis on telling an *actual* story there was.

The only true positive point about this film is the special effects were
astounding.

Recommendation: AVOID. Unfortunately for the visual CGI artists for the film, the sheer
audio volume of the film is enough to overwhelm that aspect and allow me to
slap a solid one on this immature, erroneous, naive and all-around terrible
film. If there is one lesson to learn from this movie, it is simply how *not
* to make an action flick, or any flick for that matter. Let’s hope Zack
Snyder learns this lesson and does not drop the ball so indecently with
2012’s *Superman: Man Of Steel. *Is it too late to have high-hopes for *Fast
Five*?

Earl Rufus

The owner of this little chunk of the internet. Enjoys having a good time and being rather snarky!

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3 Responses

  1. Allen says:

    Spoilers to follow! I’d like to point out I see your argument and do realize the film had its failings. However, I don’t agree with this review for a few reasons. First, I feel as though you glossed over the sexual exploitation aspect of the film, the part I had the least comfort with. My mom wants to see this movie with me and I’m tempted to tell her, because I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable like I did, especially because she is a woman and this rhetoric is rampant and unoriginal (the social dynamic of trying to be a woman’s protector is an issue for another day, but another one to point out as well, but I digress). That kind of background for women in fiction is tired, and is definitely something to be decried.

    Second, while it is unoriginal, I like the integration of so many different styles. Each of the daydream sequences had a little to add to the other. Not to mention references to samurai, robots, and dragons in 1955 America, around a time of extreme xenophobia and ignorance and not even close to the level of technological advancement that would be needed to reference the technology from those sequences (all which lend to seeing this movie as a work of imagination).

    Third, the lack of ‘real’ names adds to the mystery for me. I’m left wondering who everyone ‘really’ is and whether they are many or they are one. I wanted to know who they are. And, while I am upset I didn’t get to know, that also was a shining point. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to know.

    Fourth, the movie is ripe with psychological themes. The possibility of schizophrenia (Babydoll or possibly Sweet Pea’s delusions), dissociative identity disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc. There were so many themes to explore, so many questions I have after seeing the movie. Honestly, I loved it. I love to wonder about ‘my’ characters, the ones I made a connection with. And, as a friend just pointed out to me, Blue may have had his own psychological issues.

    Fifth, while redemption is good, I think we, as Americans, expect a happy ending, and that’s the impression I got from part of your review. I like that it was gritty, that the ending was open, ambiguous, and uncertain.

    I appreciated reading your review, because it helped me solidify where I stand on how I felt about the film. It did take some convincing, I will admit. I was unsure what to think. I wasn’t willing to say it’s a bad movie, or even a good movie, but it is a movie I’d like to watch again. Still, at least I know you watched it and gave a genuine opinion rather than shitting on it like a lot of people do. So, kudos and keep writing.

    -A.

  2. sam says:

    honestly after seeing it, it was average.

    and sorry to tell you but not all stories have happy endings, as not all “heroes” have to have compelling qualities.

    watchman doesn’t have a nice happy ending because the graphic novel doesn’t…. it wouldn’t fit at all with the theme of the story.

    hell the main problem that I had with Sucker Punch was it had to many levels, and that the “dreams” for a better word were pointless. I was hoping that they would represent real events that were taking place, not hey I’m dancing to distract people over and over again.

    i never knew if what they were doing was really going on or just representing something else.

  3. Tom Nix says:

    “First off, it becomes very hard to relate to characters who have no real
    names. They move throughout the film in fake identities with fake ambitions”

    Mr. Orange, Mr. White, Mr. Pink, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Brown.

    Movies with characters who use aliases are hard to relate to?

    Regardless of the film’s quality (I think it’s a massively flawed film that tries to say VERY interesting things on gender roles in our time), I’m not sure if any of what occurred and/or what was suggested in the film made it through to this review beyond what physically happened on screen. I’d recommend a second watch. I’ll be doing the same on Blu-ray.

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