Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Disappointment: Sucker Punch (2011)

I know, I know, I shouldn't have expected anything from Sucker Punch.  I was that person who despite the terrible trailers and terrible reviews still held out hope that the film was going to be fun entertainment and a visual spectacle.  I was half right.  Visual spectacle, yes.  Was the film fun at times?  Certainly.  Those times were usually the first 5 minutes of battle scenes that then continued for another 20.

Zack Snyder has proven himself a master of visuals.  The man has time and time again created visually stunning and cohesive universes for his films.  One of them even became instantly iconic: 300.  The one concern I have with a man who has this much style is that there isn't much substance.  I think that isn't true necessarily, but it's part of the problem.  Snyder clearly needs to work on his storytelling skills because Sucker Punch was a hot mess.  Plot-wise the film tried to juggle multiple narrative-within-a-narrative stories. The film starts out with a truly amazing sequence where our lead character Babydoll's (Emily Browning) mother dies and the stepfather in a fit of rage from being left out of the will tries to rape her and then her sister.  She accidentally shoots her sister and is then committed to an asylum.  In the asylum she hears that she is going to be lobotomized and then creates this parallel world where her and her four friends--Amber (Jamie Chung), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Rocket (Jena Malone), and Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish)--are dancers in a high-class bordello.  Within this bordello Babydoll finds she's a dancer who can seduce any man.  While she dances she enters a world inside her mind where her and her friends fight off dragons, orcs (yes, the Lord of the Rings kind...they look exactly the same), robots, and giant machine men.  Sometimes on a futuristic train, a medieval castle, or even a WWI (or WWII...that is also unclear)-era battlefield.  During these dances in the faux-real-world her friends and her are stealing items for their escape plan.

Babydoll and Madame Gorski

It sounds fucking ridiculous, I know.  That is, if you could follow that at all.

The film doesn't feel as crazy as that when watching, but the focus of the story is always on the wrong thing.  Instead of focusing on why the orderly is evil they focus on battle scenes.  Instead of making Madame Gorski (Carla Gugino) an actual character, they forget about her until she's actually needed.  Even the relationships between the 5 main girls seem forced and insincere. It is a complete mess.  Complete. Mess.  Snyder needed to take more time developing the script because it feels schlepped together. With the right script and focus I feel as though this film could've been something really great.  Instead the whole thing falls flat after the first battle scene is over and you realize that you've still got countless more to go.

Pet peeve:  Snyder needs to stop with the super slow-mo in the battle scenes.  It is used ad nauseum and gets REALLY ANNOYING.  We know you can do that, we know you think it's cool, now STOP.

The acting of the film=average.  Jamie Chung as Amber was my favorite of the girls, if only because she looked as if she was just having a great time.  The others--Browning's Babydoll in particular--looked miserable/pouty/coy/coquettish almost every second of the film that it got irritating.  Also, why people keep hiring Jena Malone to do anything is beyond me.  Attention must be paid to one person though:

Abbie Cornish.  You hurt my heart.  HURT. MY. HEART.  Why do you do this to me?  After all you gave me in Bright Star you decide to star in this?  Did you not read the script and see how terribly your character was written?  Quintessential bitch-with-a-heart-of-gold.  I hate you for this.  Thank goodness you looked fierce in those leotard/bustier outfits and were good at kicking ass because we would've been through otherwise.  THROUGH.

Grade: D+


  1. We're meant to be going out to see this on Saturday, so thanks for the heads up. :) I didn't know what it was about but you have explained it well. Sounds like a confused mess. The trailers looked like a bog-standard video game, pouty female and all. Still, might be fun to watch, if only to write a scathing review of it afterwards. ;) At least now I know that my low expectations perhaps aren't low enough ...

  2. Having now seen the film ... I agree with you oh so very much! Crikey what a mess.

  3. you are all doll rocks !

  4. good effects in the movie but the story was very messy
    (sorry my english i'm from Norway)

  5. I understand that you think it's a mess, but from a psychological point of view, the movie is brilliant. Yes, of course, it's confusing and all over the place - but so is the mind. Like Quentin Tarantino, Snyder makes it very cultural and dark, that kind of movie isn't for everyone, especially people who don't understand innuendo and double, triple layers. So I like this movie just because it's not the same as everything else. It's original.