Sucker Punch Review

Posted by David On April 20, 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Welcome to our first film review – Sucker Punch!

Our review format will involve a round table style, in a similar vein to the podcast. For our first review we have myself and David R. I hope you like it!

David W –           Sucker Punch is a 110 minute journey through the seemingly 14 year old mind of Zack Snyder, where everything he thinks is cool has been thrown into the mix, regardless of sense, and combined together to form a movie. As you can imagine, the action is fast and furious and full of over the top in your face moments. There is so much ‘awesome’ going on that it almost blinds you to the fact that there really isn’t much to it. This isn’t exactly a bad thing, as Mr Snyder and I appear to share very similar interests like giant sized cyborg Samurai with a Gatling guns, undead German soldiers, dragons and scantily dressed young ladies kicking arse, but I also like a compelling story and unfortunately Sucker Punch just cannot deliver.
David R-           I agree. Zak Snyder has made an artform of the style over substance approach to filmmaking so prevalent in modern Hollywood. His movies have always shown great visual flair and excellent production design, elements that often hide a lack of any real complexity of character or story. Sucker Punch illustrates both the strengths and weaknesses of Snyder’s approach, creating a superficial visual spectacular that fails to deliver any real depth or insight.

Unfortunately, all of this gloss and glamour plays a sleight of hand with the viewer, distracting them from the fact that, at its core, Sucker Punch has very little in the way of story, or character development. Despite Snyder’s best intentions, it’s difficult to view this movie as anything more than a two hour music video clip, especially during the opening sequence that is clearly a homage to Aerosmith’s Janie’s got a Gun video. Subtlety and nuance are not part of Snyder’s repertoire and any potential deeper meaning is lost in a barrage of obtrusive music, explosions, flimsy metaphor and gratuitous slow motion action sequences.

David W-           Agreed. Character development definitely takes a back seat to the awesome set pieces. During the opening montage sequence we are introduced to our heroine, Babydoll, (the lovely Emily Browning). The events of the sequence lead her to being interred at a mental institution, where she faces a grim future. But before any actual character development can occur the reality of the institution is replaced by Babydoll’s fantasy world, a sleazy burlesque brothel. Why she chooses a brothel instead of a pain free garden of Eden paradise is never explained, but it does give an excuse to have the above mentioned scantily dressed young ladies, including her new friends, Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Amber (Jamie Chung) & Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens).

David R –           Yes. Unfortunately, this sequence fails to offer any deeper insight into her character or her world, presenting us with only the most superficial of details. With no real understanding of who Baby Doll is, we have no context in which to place the worlds she creates in her mind. Why does she choose these wildly varied realities, from WWI trenches to futuristic cities? What is it about her personality and psychology that leads her to choose these settings and populate them as she does?

David W-           As it is a burlesque brothel, all of the girls must dance for their clients, and it is during Babydoll’s dance that we learn of her ability to entrance her audience and escape within yet another fantasy world. Inception meets Ralph magazine if you will.

In the first sequence she meets her guide, (Scott Glen), who we meet again in the rest of the fantasy set pieces. In this one he is kind of a cross between Kane from Kung Fu and the Caterpillar from Wonderland. In fact, the Alice/White Rabbit theme is prevalent throughout the film. He gives her the task of finding certain objects. These objects correspond with objects in the real world and will enable her and her friends to escape. Each item involves battling through another 3 fantastical set pieces of gorgeous visuals and lead us to the end of the film.

And that’s it. Except for some ‘We can do it if we work together’ dialogue, and a ham fisted revelation at the end, this is as deep as it gets. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting Citizen Kane, but at no point did I care for any of these characters. Even during a particularly brutal scene all I could muster was ‘Well that was harsh.’

David R-           It is here that we really see the flaw in Sucker Punch. Without a greater understanding of our protagonist psyche, we have no framework in which to place the events that follow her internment. As such, the movie devolves into a series of essentially meaningless fantasies, with a nonsensical plan that is signposted from the moment she enters the asylum.

David W-           Yeah, I tried so hard to love this film, and sequences like the cyborg Samurai definitely help, but in the end I just didn’t care. Supposedly there was quite a bit of non-action scenes cut out, so hopefully they will be re-inserted into the DVD/Blu-Ray release. If that happens I gladly revisit the world of Sucker Punch and enjoy the action thrill ride Zack Snyder has given us.

David R –           Yes, there’s definitely enough to appeal to sci-fi, anime, steampunk and fantasy fans, but, If you’re looking for something with a little more substance, then give Sucker Punch a miss.


David W-   2.5 out of 5
David R-    2 out of 5

Leave a Reply