Sucker Punch

2011-04-20 15:48
 
What it's about:

Baby Doll (yes, "Baby Doll") is a young girl who finds herself in a mental asylum after being framed for killing her younger sister by her abusive stepfather. Retreating into a fantasy world in her head, she imagines a world where she and four other inmates plan to escape the facility. Or maybe they do. It's really kind of hard to tell.

What we thought:

Come the latter months of 2012, the world will be "treated" to the latest cinematic reboot of Superman. A reboot directed by one Zack Snyder. I bring this up because Superman is very easily one of my favourite fictional characters and, after taking in the brain-damaging, mind-numbing experience that is Sucker Punch, I am now officially worried about just what the hell Snyder is going to do to The Man of Steel.

Snyder has long been called a "visionary filmmaker" and I'm sure many will praise at least that aspect of the film because it's all there: the garish costumes, the slow motion, the hyper-real colours, the slow motion, the sets that are almost as gaudy as the costumes, the CGI-stuffed fantasy sequences and, of course, lest we forget, MORE BLOODY MOTION. Oh, how Snyder loves to shoot things in slow motion! Slow motion rain! Slow motion fight scenes! Slow motion in slow motion! It just never ends...

Of course, that's precisely what I felt about the film in general. Sure there is a whole lot of visual razzle dazzle and sexy girls in ridiculous stripper costumes, but that never stops the film from being a dull incoherent mess with laughable dialogue, horrendous storytelling, unexciting action scenes, non-existent characterisation and some truly godawful acting – even by the few actors (John Hamm, Jena Malone) who are usually really good. In particular Baby Doll herself is a totally vapid creation played by an actress (Emily Browning) who always looks like she'd rather be elsewhere. But then, who could blame her? 

As it is, Sucker Punch just looks like a poor rehashing of far better films. It's use of multiple-level dreamscapes obviously invokes Christopher Nolan's excellent Inception, while its placement of fantasy alongside cruel, gritty reality is an equally obvious nod to Guillermo Del Toro's even more excellent Pan's Labyrinth. I'm slightly sickened at the thought of even mentioning those two films in the same sentence as this vacuous nonsense but the comparisons are there and, if nothing else, Inception and Pan's Labyrinth only show just how far off the rails Sucker Punch truly is.

There is none of the elegant dream-logic of Inception's dreams-within-dreams in Sucker Punch's own multi-layered constructions. Each reality seems entirely disconnected from the next and it's never made clear how the actions in one level actually affect any of the others. The videogame-like action scenes are made all the more innocuous by the fact that there appears to be no peril involved in the girls' adventures in these scenes as they act as nothing but a reflection – at best a visual metaphor (Hey! It's like Scott Pilgrim! But with all the good bits taken out!) of what's happening in the levels of reality above it. All the samurai giants, zombie Nazis and fire-breathing dragons in the world can't hide the fact that these sequences feel more like watching someone else playing a cool but harmless video game than an integral part of what's going on in the story.

As for Pan's Labyrinth, well, aside for showing that this sort of story can be told with intelligence and real emotional power, Del Toro beats the stuffing out of Sucker Punch on a purely visual level. Held up against the visual artistry of Del Toro's fantasy visions, Sucker Punch can't help but look incredibly artificial and unimaginative.

The bottom line is this: Zach Synder clearly fancies himself a "geek director" and Sucker Punch – with all its allusions to video games, anime/manga, comics and other genre films – is  his geekiest film yet. As something of a huge geek myself, though, I have to say that his constant allusions to better examples of geek-culture actually does him no favours at all. Until he learns to back up his enthusiastic fanboy obsessions with proper storytelling, he will simply never be much of a filmmaker.


Sexy girls in stripper costumes, zombie Nazis, and fire-breathing dragons can't prevent Zack Snyder's fantasy film from being a dull incoherent mess.
Read more on:    zack snyder  |  vanessa hudgens  |  movies  |  superman  |  review

Andrew 2011/04/22 9:29 AM
Ouch! I will give this movie a miss!
Matt 2011/04/22 5:57 PM
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terrible film
DD 2011/04/23 2:07 AM
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Definitely one of the worst movies ever!!!
CJ 2011/04/23 8:16 PM
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You clearly lack the intelligence to recognise subtly, depth, and charm.
JC 2011/04/24 1:58 PM
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I would advise you to watch it again, as you missed the whole plot and story. In the end, after the doctor is finished with Baby Doll, the psychiatrist clearly states that she aided in the escape of one female patient (think back of the last fantasy world snippet), that they set alight to one of the closets, etc etc. So I am wondering now what you thought of 300 or even Watchmen or we can even look at Legend of the Guardians which were all also directed by Zack Snyder... After reading your review one can immediately tell that you have your favorite type of movies and this was not it
Ilan Preskovsky 2011/04/24 3:46 PM
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JC, since you took the time to write out an intelligent defense of the film, I really should reply to what you have to say. First off, I did catch the line you are referring to. I understand that what the fantasy elements did reflect what was happening in the real world. I did think the timeline was a bit hazy though. Worse, I still don't understand WHY we needed the fantasy sequences. I understand that they were supposed to reflect her disassociating from what was going on but they still felt irrelevant to what was really happening in the real world. My problem ultimately isn't that I didn't understand the film, it's that a) it was a fairly simple idea that was badly portrayed and b) I simply didn't CARE whether I understood what was going on or not. As for Snyder's other films, I only saw half of 300 so I can't comment too much on that but I thought Dawn of the Dead was OK but far from a Zombie classic, Legend of the Guardians was largely rubbish but watchable and Watchmen completely missed any of the subtext that was clearly there in the comics. Basically, to date, I haven't really liked any of his previous films but I haven't hated any of them as much as Sucker Punch. It may have something to do with the fact that at least the other films were based on stories not written by Snyder himself.
MartingFord 2011/04/25 12:59 PM
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I am sure that I will hate this film. I am sure that JC and CJ are the same person.
Tish 2011/04/25 8:50 PM
Ok granted this movie is a lil confusing at times but its something different with an edge. Something for a 300 lover!!
Meh 2011/04/25 11:39 PM
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Just watched it, it's ok, not that great
Kyle 2011/04/26 11:35 AM
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You've all got the wrong idea... Don't go watch the film unless you are in the target market,which would be young, interested in gaming and a fan of manga/anime. If you still went to watch it and you know you are not into any of those things, then it's your own damn fault! Film was great by the way, if you can suspend reality and just enjoy the action!
dre 2011/04/28 11:07 AM
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Best visual effects but WORST story line! if you a gaming fan go see it if not.. dont waste your time!
Arthur 2011/05/10 9:40 AM
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The author of this review has got to be the biggest joke of a reviewer that this site has ever had, and there have been quite a few so far. I'm not even sure how to begin pulling apart his "opinion" on this film, or his ludicrous commentary on Zack Snyder and his films. Ilan, really, you missed the plot completely and even though you're arrogant enough to justify this negative tripe you write, you definitely need to find somthing else to do. Either that, or ONLY write about films that you actually manage to "get". Because your write up is not about how poor the movie is, but more about your inability to understand or appreciate what it is about, and then twist it around to make is sound like Zack Snyder has done it all wrong when you can't even get a 300 word review right. EPIC REVIEW FAIL.
PharoG 2011/09/24 7:45 AM
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It’s a grate movie! I enjoyed everything about it. The grate soundtrack, the Snyder style of the movie, the kick ass action, the different time layers, the underlying message – everything. If you are into Jane Austen novels and like your movies more subtle and reality based, Sucker Punch is not for you.
AndreG 2012/01/12 4:36 PM
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Don't be fooled at your job title's hidden meaning. Contrary to popular belief the ability to scan a dictionary for complex words whilst googling "witty insults" doesn't encapsulate the complete set of skills necessary to be labelled a film critic. The movie was brilliant and obviously just went over your unimaginative and presumptuous head. Methinks perhaps this gentleman suffers from delusions of adequacy.
JJ 2012/02/21 11:41 AM
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Excellent review Ilan and I completely agree with you. This is by far the worst movie ever. Complete waste of time.
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