At least, it wasn’t what I wanted it to be, which is to say an imaginatively ludicrous, fun action movie where girls get to kick ass for once. Sure, the trailer made it look like it could end up be pretty bad, but it also looked like it could’ve been an absurdly fun time. But no, no it isn’t. “Sucker Punch” is not a good movie.
I am almost 100% positive that nobody this side of Pluto is going to go see “Sucker Punch” because it looks like it’ll have a great story. Unfortunately, director, Zack Snyder, seems to think it otherwise, making the audience wait around 30 minutes for the first fantastical action scene. But let’s talk about what this movie is even about.
Babydoll (Emily Browning) is sent to an asylum by her can-only-be-described-as-evil stepfather, but needs to escape in five days or she will be lobotomized. To do so, she needs to steal five items from various workers with the help of the other girls in the asylum.
So, where do all the crazy action samurai robot dragon-Nazi scenes come in? Well, it’s complicated. First of all, almost the entire movie takes place in a dance theater, or more precisely, in an imagined, more glamorous version of the drab, ugly asylum.
Here, the girls are all scantily-clad dancers who apparently double as prostitutes for the right price, though this is only mentioned once in an off-hand comment.
None of this dancing is ever directly seen and the ridiculous action scenes you’ve seen advertised are the mental representations of this dancing.
During each of these dancing scenes, the girls are stealing one of the items they need. But they totally can’t be dancing in the reality of the asylum; that wouldn’t make any sense.
What is actually happening in the asylum is absolutely never hinted at and is instead left to the viewer’s imagination. The only explanation that makes any sort of sense is that they’re being raped, but the various imaginary action scenes emanate some kind of empowerment vibe that just confused me.
There’s a hidden sad, messed up tone to the narrative, but it’s never fully explored, probably in order to preserve its PG-13 rating.
Basically every man in the movie, save for the guardian angel (Scott Glenn), is just plain evil, with almost all of them participating in or ignoring the sexual violence being perpetrated against the protagonists.
I guess you could look at it as Babydoll’s perception of men, but I think that would be giving the movie a bit too much credit; it’d be reading in between lines that never existed. Frankly, this overwhelmingly negative portrayal of men was insulting, especially considering some of the later events in the story.
I could keep bringing up specific examples of why the story fails, but I think you get it at this point. I could see what it was going for, but it’s just confusing garbage and perpetuates the message that girls can only be awesome in their imagination.
Zack Snyder, if that wasn’t what you were trying to say–– and I hope it wasn’t––then you should’ve incubated the script a bit more instead of focusing on how you wanted everything to look.
Snyder’s focus on style over substance is evident in every single frame of this movie. You know how you might pour maple syrup on a pancake to make it taste better? Judging by “Sucker Punch,” Snyder just has an entire underground facililty producing maple syrup all day long to dump his pancakes in. In other words, “Sucker Punch” is oversaturated with the stuff.
There’s such a thing as going overboard, and I think that when a fight between ninja-girl-super-soldiers and steam-powered-undead-cyborg-Nazis is only kind of entertaining, you’ve gone overboard.
The problem is that when this movie is going at regular speed, it’s almost impossible to follow the action. On the flip side, the movie also goes into super slow motion pretty regularly. That sounds cool, right? It definitely was in “300” and “Watchmen,” but here, it’s boring. I just wanted the slow-motion sword strokes to hurry up and finish. The action scenes fluctuate between indecipherable or boring.
Unfortunately, the non-action scenes aren’t much better thanks to acting that usually just amounts to “mediocre.” Of note though, Carla Gugino puts on a good Polish accent, at least by my uncultured American standards, but the best acting on display here is by Oscar Isaac as Blue, the main antagonist. He has a certain neurotic malevolence about him that I can’t help but wish was in a better movie. Emily Browning, on the other hand, is permanently fixed with a sad puppy dog expression, and that seems to have been all that was required of her as far as acting goes.
In the end, the only absolutely positive thing I can say is that the soundtrack was good. This soundtrack, however, includes lyrics and can be heard over every single action scene, turning each one into what amounts to a high budget music video.
I guess I’ll leave you with this tidbit of wisdom: if you don’t want to pay $10 to hear Zack Snyder’s cool playlist, then don’t see “Sucker Punch.”
[Photo courtesy of myconfinedspace.com]