Sucker Punch (2011)

Snyder sucker punches the audience

Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is committed to a mental asylum by her sexually abusive step-father after he kills Baby Doll's younger sister and blames it on her. Baby Doll is to suffer a lobotomy, and retreats into an alternative reality as a coping strategy. In there, she envisions a plan which will help her, and four other girls, escape from the mental facility.

When I first saw the trailer for Sucker Punch, I was enamored by it. The film instantly became one of my most anticipated of 2011. After all that time, i finally got to watch it, and suffice to say, I am rather disappointed by it.

As far as the performances go, there was nothing really worth praising. Carla Gugino really hammed it up, while putting on a bad accent to boot, and Jon Hamm barely appeared, leaving me unable to actually judge his performance. Oscar Issac played the horribly unlikable and typically by the numbers villain. Speaking of the characters, I never once felt connected to any of them or really cared about whether the girls escaped or not. In fact, I felt more emotion for the mother dragon when she saw the dead baby dragon than I did about any of the girls.

Being a Zack Snyder film, you're right to assume that he employs the use of slow motion. He integrates it well with the action sequences which when put together, manages to be utterly thrilling, before eventually becoming repetitive. The soundtrack is a great selection of songs which work well within the scenes they are used in.

The sudden change between worlds is used as a coping mechanism for Baby Doll, but I found it a bit confusing. I wasn't confused about which world was which, but I was confused as to what was happening in the mental asylum as Baby Doll's fantasies about the brothel and the other world took hold. The dialogue was pretty bad, with every word escaping The Wise Man's mouth being cliched.

Nothing says intimidating like a rabbit faced robot

Snyder does bring quite a few different and interesting ideas to the table, like employing steampunk nazis who bleed steam or making the quest for the kitchen knife a race against time to stop a bomb on a train from exploding. With that said, each journey to get each item feels like a level in a video game. The best thing about this film is Snyder's visual style, making this film feel more like a stylish extravigansa as the near-breathtaking visuals showcased where Snyder's strengths lie (hint: it isn't in writing).

When Baby Doll is told about the items she'll need to get, she's also told of a fifth item which will be "a deep sacrifice and a perfect victory". I'm not going to spoil it for you, but I will say the sacrifice is not the slightest bit deep, nor is the victory (if you can call it that) perfect at all. The film's ending was pretty unsatisfying, especially due to the fact that Baby Doll's scumbag step-father gets away with what he did. I also found the ending to be quite weird.

Sucker Punch felt like a string of notes about different films that Snyder had clobbered together, and it really shows. One of the more disappointing films i've seen this year, and it leaves me doubting how 2013's Man of Steel will turn out.


HarleyQuinn said…
I thought it was technically excellent and reasonably entertaining, but narratively awful. I can stand a sexed up prison break movie so long as it has characters I care about, and I cared about none of the characters in this. The film also shouldn't have pretended to be some sort of feminist empowering movie, because it's clearly not. I went one star higher though for entertainment alone. Oh, and the Wise Man sounded cliched because every word that came out of his mouth was put there for the trailer/exposition. excellent review!
Ruth said…
Like you, I saw the trailer and immediately assumed the film would be amazing. I still haven't seen it, but every single person I know who has has said the same as you! I'm in no hurry to watch this. I might rent it one day....
Robert said…
I may be one of the few Sucker Punch apologists out there. It was fun to look at, and that's about it.

I just don't think Snyder can write that well (for a filmmaker I suppose - he's probably way better than your average citizen).

My favorite Snyder flicks are Watchmen and Dawn of the Dead, and he didn't write either of those. I don't think he wrote/is writing Man of Steel either, so I think we're safe.

Enjoyed your review!
Chad Hill said…
I also immediately put this on my must watch list when I saw the trailer, and this movie let me down so much. I feel it tried to be like Inception in a way with the different levels of reality, but lacked any intelligence in the writing or narrative. Excellent review
Matt Stewart said…
Nice review Rodders! I actually was never interested and i'm still not interested ;)
James Rodrigues said…
@Harley Quinn no, it wasn't empowering, it was more 300 for straight men

@Ruth take your time, you're not missing out on much

@Robert Well that gives me hope for Man of Steel, and I loved Watchmen and Dawn of the Dead

@The Chad Reviews I can see how it was like Inception, in the whole dream within a dream thing, but the intelligent writing and narrative were vacant

@Matt Stewart well you're not missing out on much
Tom_Film_Master said…
I am with you on this one. I hated the film because it was just a male attention grabbing piece of shit. Still, some of the visuals were quite amazing. but repetitive. Nice review!
yaykisspurr said…
Yeah I pushed my family to see this and it was so, so bad. My brother was terribly angry at me. If you are going to do such a terrible writing job than at least end it so we leave at least knowing the bastard didn't get away with killing her sister! And who cares that one girl you though I didn't give a hooey about any of then except maybe the dead sister...Cheers! Good review.