Sucker Punch (Review)

You had me at ‘5 Hot Chicks’…

Quick history lesson: Zack Snyder’s first – and so far still by far best – film was the Dawn of the Dead remake, where a huddled few survivors made mince meat out of bloodthirsty savage undead, and were in turn frequently munched upon. With accompanying dark tunes that suited the film.

Then 300: oiled up ancient Greeks take on insurmountable odds and massacre thousands of invading hordes and various impossible beasts and creatures for good measure. This time the rock music was inexplicable given the setting of the film. But 14 years olds don’t like opera.

Then Watchmen, an overlong puff piece that spent an hour and a half introducing too many characters and showed that none of them actually do anything with their powers – except Rorschach – and then another hour proving that this by petering out to one of the lousier conclusions in a long time.

Now get ready for more CGI, gratuitous slo-mo and inappropriate rock music with Sucker Punch.

Best as I can understand (and I was paying attention… initially) Sucker Punch is about dancing hookers – who never dance or hook – who devise an intricate and totally pointless plan to escape their situation that involves navigating through crazy fantasy dreamscapes when a tiny blonde pig-tailed orphan dances in a distracting manner to empowering songs sung by female vocalists… but never onscreen, I told you it isn’t that sort of exploitation film.

Now if you think that sounds confusing you should have seen my face when the girl named Baby Doll sets herself to dance, Bjork’s (awesome) Army of Me cranks up and 12 seconds later she’s fighting 3 giant robot samurai in a vast courtyard and dojo. My jaw only dropped further (and my belief that the local cinema had finally cut costs so far that it was cutting scenes from films) when one of the towering samurai pulled out a bazooka and a mini-gun and cut loose.

After this Baby Doll and her fellow strong sistahs with names like Sweet Pea, Rocket, Amber and ummm, Blondie (who isn’t blonde, Baby Doll is…), undertake a pointless scavenger hunt where the actual missions all take place in these bizarre fanboy dreamscapes full of slo-mo and the 5 young scantily clad (which I think Zack means is empowering) girls embroiled in testosterone fuelled situations and armed to the teeth.

I mean how’s this for a boy’s own adventure:

  • The aforementioned giant samurai battle with swords and heavy automatic weapons.
  • A World War 1 trench fight with zombie Nazis.
  • Air breathing land-sharks with ipod shuffles and four armed Japanese schoolgirls made of liquid metal battle on a giant chess board.
  • Storming a castle teeming with orcs and surrounded by molten lava to steal crystals from a dragon.
  • Hijacking a moving train guarded by robot sentinels while wearing jet-packs.

Who wrote this? A focus group of Dungeons and Dragons aficionados? (By the way I only made one of those up.)

The cast of Saving Ryan’s Privates.

It seems with Zack Snyder that no fanboy fantasy is too far out that it can’t be further embellished, and the icing on the sundae is obviously the inclusion of the five scantily clad hotties. It seems that the prevailing rule here is the hotter the chick the fewer the lines, I guess this allows the girls to better concentrate on remaining hot without ruining it by learning pesky lines – furrowed brows and worried expressions aren’t sexy.

Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung get the least lines, Jena Malone talks a lot. Emily Browning doesn’t have to do much but look appropriately jail-baity in an unfortunately all too Paris Hilton looking way complete with pig-tails,  and Abbie Cornish looks uncomfortable and out of place as the almost dignified over-protective voice of reason Sweet Pea. A grizzled Scott Glenn pops up in the fantasy sequences as a man who helps the girls on their various inane quests.

While they are cartoony enough the supporting characters are a who’s who of female prison movie clichés, the fat sleazy chef, the sleazy and menacing warden and the demanding Eastern European Madam with a heart of gold.

So much of Sucker Punch makes no sense. It is literally a patchy framework to justify the list of insane ‘go to’ scenes listed above. To be fair some of the scenes were OK (the giant Samurais particularly worked for the fanboy side of me and when are WW1 Nazis a bad foe?). But without a coherent and worthwhile plot you might as well string a bunch of Youtube clips together.

Why a bunch of girls who work in a kitchen with one lazy chef watching over them can’t steal a knife or a lighter without resorting to a lapdance I’ll never know. Maybe Zack will enlighten us all on his process in the DVD special features. I expect his reasoning would go something like “Well you tell me how you would segue into the train hijack while wearing jet-packs?”

Fair point Zack, far be it from me to question your process… carry on making films for 14 year old boys to grow out of.

Final Rating – 4 / 10. As always Snyder brings the goods with the spectacular visuals, but he seems to be moving further and further away from common sense and spends more time reaching for coolness. The result is a pretty mess – insert your own Lohan joke here.

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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