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Dinah’s Rating: 5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating 4.9/10
(4 ratings total)
Inception gave us a dream within a dream; Sucker Punch is a fantasy within a fantasy. Zack Snyder has created another visual stunner, but it won’t be hailed in years to come as among the best of his filmography. The tagline for Sucker Punch is “You will be unprepared.” You’re darn right! The story waxes so thin it could be a New York Style pizza; the characters are given no depth and are treated as expendable. The dialogue and deliveries are as hokey as a Nickelodeon show and all this from the director of one of my favorite action films, 300. Sucker Punch is entertaining, but the narrative is poorly conceived and the execution is basically thrown in the fire by the third act. It’s weak.
Babydoll (Emily Browning) is institutionalized by her stepfather after she is favored in her mother’s will. She is exploited by Blue (Oscar Isaac), an orderly, and Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino), a sympathetic but passive doctor. Babydoll urges four other young girls—the reluctant Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), the outspoken Rocket (Jena Malone), the street-smart Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and the fiercely loyal Amber (Jamie Chung)—to band together and try to escape before the mysterious High Roller (Jon Hamm) comes for Babydoll. This is all occurring across three realities: the actual mental institution where Babydoll is set to be lobotomized; a fantastical reality where the asylum is a brothel and where she is a sought-after dancer; and a full-fledged dream world she escapes to when devising her escape from exploitation.
Snyder knows how to make a movie look expensive with a relatively modest budget. The epic stylings of the sets are aesthetically pleasing and tantalizing to behold. Each girl’s costume is tailored to her personality and battle scene. Whereas 300 was a heavenly sunwashed landscape, Sucker Punch‘s landscape takes on a moody darkness and grim smog. The asylum is dank and filled with seedy figures, and thus the dream world is occupied by just the same terrors- zombies, samurai, and dragons.
The pacing of this film is frenetic and layered in a way that is expected from Snyder. His camerawork is daring, edgy and fun. Expect slow motion, fast motion, tight shots and revolving shots. The action is mouth gaping and satisfying, yet it lacks any tension. Because the viewer is fully aware this is Babydoll’s fantasy within a fantasy we know full well she is safe and will slay the monsters. There aren’t the necessary moments when she is cornered; she always wins quickly.
Be prepared for so much music it would make MTV jealous. In the first third of the film there is hardly a scene not amplified by rock, disco, or rap music. Subtlety is not the name of Snyder’s game, but he gets a bit off track with the use of sound in comparison to 300. Save the opening montage, the music did not fit the setting or tone of the movie at all. It seemed to imply a drug-fueled-rock-and-roll haze when in reality this is an allegory about the sexual abuse of a young girl.
And then there are the performances. Emily Browning is cherubic and vulnerable as Babydoll as Abbie Cornish is fierce as Sweat Pea. The other young ladies are merely along for the ride and plot movement. Snyder could have saved some dough and gone with three girls instead of five. Blue gives the most worthy performance as the sleazy head orderly, but one slick actor among so many cannot save a film. Although entertaining, this is Snyder’s most awful film to date and is likely going to be his least financially successful. Worst of all, this movie contains no actual sucker punches!
Directed by Zack Snyder
Written by Zack Snyder
Starring: Emily Browning, Carla Gugino, Abbie Cornish, Scott Glenn, Oscar Isaac
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Max thought: “If a movie cannot give a great story with memorable players, it better damn well put on a show and nobody can argue that Sucker Punch does accomplish this in spades. The star of the film—much like Snyder’s last two films— is not any of the actors but the vivid special effects work. Each new reality Baby Doll (poor name choice for a protagonist) creates is as vivid as it is a sensory overload for the little boy in all of us; make no mistake, this is a movie made for teenage boys of all ages. This being Snyder’s first round writing a script on his own merits, you have to give him points on having a vivid imagination but dock him a few for not taking his time in fleshing out his characters. In the end, what could have been a great film overall is a great visual feast and nothing more. Mind you, that’s not a bad thing to offer when you want mindless/gorgeous entertainment. It just leaves the viewer wondering what could have been for Sucker Punch.” Rating: 6/10
Simon thought: “For a movie with almost no dialogue, you’d think that director Zach Snyder would have tried to polish his script a tad more. Instead we get visual splendour and a lifeless everything else. Snyder is an unyielding purveyor of slow-mo shots, though with Sucker Punch, he embraces the gimmick with such a passion it not only becomes pointless, but also makes a sluggishly paced film seem even lengthier. The ending is simply terrible and even though the concluding events happen to two-dimensional characters we care little about, the finale still whisks away any semblance of good-faith built up through the previous acts. Snyder has such vision, and there is a fantastic movie buried beneath the layers of stylized muck. One of the main character’s fantastical journeys in particular (which involves a WWII-set battle with Nazi-zombies) is particularly thrilling and well choreographed. Alas, the man’s slide is complete, so let’s hope he can dust himself off and get back to bloody basics which made him the director to watch out for.” Rating: 3.5/10
Steven’s Rating: 5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 4.9/10