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Sucker Punch

A 2011 fantasy-action film directed by Zack Snyder.

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Zack Snyder's Genre-Busting Fantasy Film Punches You Like A Sucker!!

  • Mar 26, 2011
I’ve always said that Zack Snyder has the ability to take on an adaptation of the some of pop culture’s most groundbreaking creations such as with “300”, “Watchmen”, “Legend of the Guardians” and even succeeded with the remake of “Dawn of the Dead”. I’ve always seen Snyder as the ultimate fan boy and he knows what he likes and likes these things for a reason. I’ve also wondered how he would fare if Snyder was inspired to write and direct a film. Well, this time Snyder co-writes this film with the original writer Steve Shibuya. The film is being co-produced by his wife Deborah and released under their “Cruel and Unusual” films label.

Well, “Sucker Punch” is definitely something that defies genre. It is a mish-mashing of ideas and storylines much like “Inception” and has loads of references to zombie movies, samurai films, Japanese anime, medieval fantasy epics, psychological thrillers, burlesque, video games and war movies. Yes, Snyder has a good idea and tries to be both original and unoriginal. Now, I am going out on a limb by saying this; but remember when Eli Roth popularized the term “torture porn” with movies such as “Hostel” and “Cabin Fever”? Well, Snyder may be poised to invent another genre description such as “tribute porn”. This is a guy’s movie and I am not surprised at all why this movie has been shunned by critics.

                             Emily Browning as Babydoll in "Sucker Punch."

                            Abbie Cornish as Sweet Pea and Jena Malone as Rocket in "Sucker Punch."

                           Emily Browning as Babydoll in "Sucker Punch."

                          Jamie Chung as Amber, Emily Browning as Babydoll, Abbie Cornish as Sweet Pea and Jena Malone as Rocket in "Sucker Punch."

“Baby Doll” as the lead character is called (played by Emily Browning) is shocked beyond recovery after the death of her mother and she even more succumbs to instability after her sister’s death. She has now been sent to an institution for the insane and her new environment seems to have caused her psyche to decline even more. Now trained by Madam Gorski (Carla Gugino) to try and live within her fantasies in order to deal with her pain, Baby Doll becomes encouraged to develop a trance-inducing dance that takes her to the depths of her psyche that is made up of war zones and fantasy areas. This may help her escape her situation as she seeks out four items that may lead to her freedom. Envisioning herself as a woman of pleasure in brothel, Baby Doll is joined by a foursome of similarly broken women made up of Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Amber (Jaime Chung), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Rocket (Jena Malone). Aided by a mysterious benefactor (Scott Glenn), they must escape their captors before the “high roller” arrives (played by Jon Hamm).

                          Emily Browning as Babydoll in "Sucker Punch."

                          Jena Malone as Rocket, Abbie Cornish as Sweet Pea and Vanessa Hudgens as Blondie in "Sucker Punch."

Admittedly the film feels very episodic with several shifts in tone and mood; and I believe it was Snyder’s intention for it to appear as such. The film was originally intended to be “R-rated” and I could see it since the film has a certain level of darkness about it. The film has a number of strong themes of child abuse and exploitation of women as it wraps itself around three stories of different nature to bring forth Snyder’s fantasies while he brings forth his skills as a music video director. The film is rich with tributes to Japanese anime (Sailor Moon) and samurai films, medieval fantasies (Lord of the Rings), burlesque (Moulin Rouge), video games (Killzone), war movies while he brings the core story in an ala-”Girl Interrupted” meets “Shutter Island” kind of fashion. Snyder does feel to be going wild here and he seemed to be inspired with the Japanese style of bizarre filmmaking. It is a visual and aural feast that is aimed towards the male testosterone; and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t entertained with all the mayhem on display. Oh, the film is pretty fun, after all, I always loved the concept of sexy female leads kicking butt. The problem is, Snyder didn’t know when to stop and he ends up hurting his idea in overindulgence.

                               Vanessa Hudgens as Blondie in "Sucker Punch."

                               Jena Malone as Rocket, Emily Browning as Babydoll and Abbie Cornish as Sweet Pea in "Sucker Punch."

                               Emily Browning as Babydoll in "Sucker Punch."

I guess the thing is the film is rendered in a serious manner, and it doesn’t seem to make fun of its own idea. This somewhat cheapens the premise as the film has near-rapes, lobotomies, murder and torture to try and keep the story going with a sense of temperance. I know this is a film of psychological escape and it makes no qualms to hide it, and it opts to ignore the thematic urges it had established in the beginning. The problem with doing a cross-bending genre display is that one has to maintain a sense of restraint and/or a form of discipline. You can never allow your own concept run wild on you, otherwise it would be a recipe for disaster.

To its credit, Snyder is a visionary director and he knows how to manipulate the senses. He fills the screen with a lot of intense action and references to the films that make a guy’s day and night. The action is quick and Snyder knew how to make his female leads look cool with all the “ass-kickery” on display. He uses the green screen to the max, and aided by fancy editing tricks he makes the action scenes come alive with staples of fantasy and loads of intense action. The ladies looked quite capable in pulling off the action sequences (no doubt credit to Snyder's editing, their occasionally stiff moves were hidden) albeit some scenes did look a little too flashy. Swords, guns, mechas, robots, dragons all serve as metaphors for the film’s core premise. The four key ingredients to their escape are mostly served up in this fantasy world in Baby Doll’s mind, they mean something within their world within a world. From a technical standpoint, "Sucker Punch" was impressive; it is a beautiful film from a visual and aural sense. The "Watchmen" team joined once again with Snyder to create the designs and sets, and it has that look of familiarity about it. (see funeral scene, wait! did Snyder tribute himself?!)

I suppose I can say that “Sucker Punch” looks and feels very superficial. I know, and I agree that the film is flawed and honestly, the last act just ruined the experience for me. I thought to take it as what it was, a tribute film that PLAYS like a video game; one I shouldn’t take seriously and then Snyder just goes to try a hand to be different and it all collapses in on itself. Now is it as bad as most of the critics have said it was? Please remember that you are watching a film called “Sucker Punch”; that alone should clue you in that you should expect a wild ride and to expect anything more would lead to disappointment (then it would be your fault, just look at the promo posters). So was “Sucker Punch” a bad movie? Heck no it wasn’t. Now was it a good movie? I think it was meant to entertain, and it did. But this movie is far from being good. “Sucker Punch” is middle ground for me; it is a guy’s fantasy wrapped around under one package, even if the package is a little broken…

RENTAL [3- Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "Sucker Punch: The IMAX Experience."  Poster art for "Sucker Punch: The IMAX Experience."

Character poster art featuring Vanessa Hudgens for "Sucker Punch: The IMAX Experience."  Poster art for "Sucker Punch: The IMAX Experience."

Character poster art featuring Abbie Cornish for "Sucker Punch: The IMAX Experience."  Character poster art featuring Jena Malone for "Sucker Punch: The IMAX Experience."

Character poster art featuring Emily Browning for "Sucker Punch: The IMAX Experience." Character poster art featuring Jamie Chung for "Sucker Punch: The IMAX Experience."

Poster art for "Sucker Punch: The IMAX Experience." Poster art for "Sucker Punch: The IMAX Experience."
Zack Snyder Genre-Busting Fantasy Film Punches You Like A Sucker!! Zack Snyder Genre-Busting Fantasy Film Punches You Like A Sucker!! Zack Snyder Genre-Busting Fantasy Film Punches You Like A Sucker!! Zack Snyder Genre-Busting Fantasy Film Punches You Like A Sucker!!

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March 29, 2011
This one was already on my "to see" list, and based on your review and a couple of others, it looks to be about what I'd expect a Snyder flick to be. Still, I'm gonna go see it.
March 29, 2011
Honestly, Kendall, despite the fact that I know it is flawed, I will probably buy the bluray as long as the price is reasonable and add it to my guilty pleasure collection LOL! It is fun, so though I gave it a 3/5, I was entertained and never bored. Thank you for the comments and the read.
March 28, 2011
Hmmm, I'm was on the fence about this, but you make it look kinda awesome!
March 28, 2011
It does look pretty awesome; Snyder is a good visual artist. Despite its flimsy, it can be entertaining, as long as you have the ability to turn off your brain and go with the ride. @ gave it a perfect score, so it does have its audience.
March 28, 2011
Nice review, William. :) I'm still undecided about going to see this one. It just looks like the result of Snyder sitting down and writing a script entirely based around things he thought would be cool to have in a movie, or things he thought a certain demographic would like to see in a movie.
March 28, 2011
Exactly how I felt about it, Simon. It's like he sat down and jotted down every male fantasy he could think of. I didn't hate it since it had some fun moments, it came close to a guilty pleasure kind of deal but he couldn't stop and went further, it cheapens the film's premise a lot imho.
March 28, 2011
I want to see this so bad plus your review was wonderful. "loads of references to zombie movies, samurai films, Japanese anime, medieval fantasy epics, psychological thrillers, burlesque, video games and war movies." is more than enough to sell me on it, plus "tribute porn", oh WP you do have a way with words Sir.
March 28, 2011
Somehow I had a feeling you would be interested on this. It was fun while it lasted....I just couldn't resist incorporating something that resembles "torture porn"; so I thought to myself while I was cooking corned beef and cabbage- "Tribute porn" LOL!!
March 27, 2011
Awesome, I was wondering when you'd post this. I still may see this, though my expectations are nil since the highest rating I've seen any serious critics give it 3 out of 5 and the reviews have been far from kind (you liked it though), so I may see it at the theatre or on DVD... not sure which. Sweet photos by the way!
March 27, 2011
Thanks! I added those promo posters so potential viewers can have an idea of what they're in for. I liked it from an entertainment standpoint (God, you know how I enjoy cult cinema), but I cannot deny the fact that several elements can  ruin the overall experience. I tried to look at it from perhaps what Snyder and company wanted to do. I think this is his own fantasies and his fanboy instincts taking hold honestly.
March 27, 2011
I have made no secrets of being a critic of Snyder but also intrigued.  300 was, as far as I'm concerned, an all flash and no substance kind of film.  I felt that Watchmen was a good adaptation but nothing short of just an "okay" film (as far as I'm concerned the only thing it had to do to please fanboys was not be terrible... that didn't mean it was suddenly great, though, it was still rather dry--especially in the acting department).  As far as I was concerned, Sucker Punch was a 14 year old boy's wet dream.  It has barely clothed women running around brandishing guns and swords.  Aside from the obvious reason why that doesn't work for me, it seemed rather insulting to the audience.  In short, it's like 300... all flash no substance, but suffering from that to a much more horrible degree.  It's easy on the eyes but I was much more disappointed in it than anything else.  I think Snyder has potential but aside from his remake of Dawn of the Dead he's not really done anything to wow me.  His movies have awesome art direction... but a storyteller Snyder most certainly is not.
March 27, 2011
I do agree with your comments of Snyder. The man is a tremendous visual artist, (he is an animation and music video director) but his weakenesses as a storyteller were on grand display in this film. I do however, have to say that the man can pick projects that can possibly showcase his strengths.

Yes, "300" was an exercise of style over substance; an absolute machismo-laden flick that channels action and style. Well, Frank Miller's "300" was exactly like that, the graphic novels was used as a screenplay with dialogue so similar to the source material (ok, a red flag on "Godspeed"). So I liked "300" as an adaptation, but yes, it fails as a historical epic and lacks intricacy. As for "Watchmen", the story was well....the main moving element of the source material. Truth be told, I was disappointed with the deletion of the giant squid and the changes to the 3rd act hurt it. I liked it since the original script for the adaptation was deemed "unfilmable".

"Sucker Punch"..well, I was entertained and it is a fantasy for guys. I didn't like the fact that he changes the tone too much, and the 3rd act was just...well so cheap and disappointing. This type of genre-mashing can work, as long as it was taken in a non-serious tone. There are projects out there that can fit his style, "Legend of the Guardians" was surprisingly good. But yes, he needs to develop his story-telling skills.  I have a feeling he'll be one of those directors who hits a high note, but never develops pass it.
March 27, 2011
Actually, when it comes to "300" I didn't like the graphic novel either.  I felt much the same way about that as I did the film.  All style and no substance, but then again... I really don't like Frank Miller much either.  Zack Snyder uses the graphic novel as a storyboard when he does his adaptations.  So I don't actually care about historical accuracy (if Snyder had historical accuracy the movie would've been really really boring, it wouldn't have been entertaining at all) but I do look for a little substance if the director is constantly telling me he wants there to be some.  And that's often what Snyder does.

But as for Watchmen there are two things I have to point out.  The first is that Alan Moore deemed it unfilmable.  That's it.  Once he said that there were, of course people who agreed, but Alan Moore looks down on the film medium as a whole in the first place.  It's not like a committee got together and said, "This can't be done," it was Alan Moore.  Because when he wrote it he specifically did it to showcase what graphic novels could do that film could not. 

But that's also exactly my why I don't fully understand all that praise.  It's because Alan Moore said it couldn't be done that people praise it so much... because it was actually done.  And I think that we should demand so much more from an adaptation than simply "accuracy."  That ignores Watchmen as a film and only pays attention to it as a Graphic Novel I think.  In short, all Watchmen had to do was "not suck" to appease the fanbase... and call me cynical, but I think we have to demand more from adaptations than just accuracy.  As a film Watchmen is still fairly dry.  It's got so much good going for it, but some of the things that worked for it as a graphic novel didn't actually translate well to film.  I thought that one of the shortcomings of Watchmen was that it tried so hard to encompass the graphic novel that Snyder didn't take into account that he wasn't actually dealing with a graphic novel when he made the movie.  He tries to stuff a lot more into the film than the medium itself can sustain.  Take all the backstory the film puts in there.  It works for the graphic novel, but makes the film unusually long.  Some of the dialog is also quite cheesy in the film... despite being rather solid in the graphic novel.  I don't think Alan Moore was right, per se... but you have to give credit to the fact that when Alan Moore wrote the graphic novel he knew he was dealing with a graphic novel.  When Zack Snyder made that graphic novel into a film... he was much more concerned with getting as much of the graphic novel as he could more so than whether or not all parts of it would've actually worked as a film if that makes sense. 

I actually DO like Watchmen, though.  I just wasn't quite as easily distracted by it being a "good adaptation" as most.  When I watch a movie I'm pretty big on seeing it as an actual movie.  I watched the movie for a movie.  A lot of Watchmen fans walked in with the graphic novel in mind... I really tried to see the movie for what it was.  And while it's a good adaptation I just didn't see how that made it as Great as everyone was boasting it was.  I even give Snyder credit for bringing it to the screen after it stuck around on the shelf for so long... but it was just a "Good" movie not a "Great" movie.  It probably should've been given a better shot at the box office when it was playing because it was certainly much better than the pitiful gross it got.  I am of course speaking about the fact that it didn't quite make enough to cover the costs of what it took to make it.  Like I said, though, I think as movie goers we have to demand more from adaptations than just accuracy.  If accuracy is all I should settle for then there are a lot of terrible movies that should be considered good and a lot of good movies that should be horrible.

Sucker Punch, on the other hand... was "Style over substance" in full form.  If there's any credit I have to give to 300 it's that it actually feels like there's something there, at least.  It provides a much better illusion that there's an actual point than Sucker Punch does, which kind of tacks on the point at the end because it forgot about it for so long.
March 27, 2011
I am with you with Frank Miller's 300; I just think that since it is an adaptation of that source material, then I thought Snyder had the right execution in mind. I also loved "Sin City" (another of Miller's work) but the direction there was more capable I believe.

Well, I can barely remember, but in the 80's-90's yes, Moore said that it was unfilmmabe as well as director Kubrick (I think, not sure anymore)who said it couldn't be done. Maybe it was the technology at the time so they made a premise and an ending totally different. 

The issue with the Watchmen comic was that it was filled with mood, and dialogue heavy. The characters were already rigid and detached, and it was filled with philosophy that translates well in a reading format but maybe hard to interpret into film. Yes, it was flawed, (me and Nick had a long discussion about it) I also didn't like they cut essentially scenes that they later re-edited into the director's cut. The theatrical release wasn't the best adaptation though the dvd version became better.

I agree movie goers deserve more than just an adaptation.  Movies are made differently after all. As with your comments on Sucker Punch, I agree wholeheartedly, that is why I like Japanese cult cinema; they are silly and they know they're silly. They make no such pretensions.
More Sucker Punch reviews
review by . March 27, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
When Zack Snyder made 300 it suffered from the joke of being homoerotic because it was populated with tons of scantily clad men.  The joke for Sucker Punch is sure to be that it's a fourteen year old kid's wet dream because it's populated with a ton of scantily clad women.  But it goes even further by having tons of women dressed in sexy attire but also wielding guns, swords, flying planes, fighting dragons and just blowing up everything in sight.  In short, Sucker Punch …
review by . August 30, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
** out of ****     Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch" is reminiscent of a modern music CD; stylish, has a good tune to it, but ultimately has tedious and distracting messages that accompany any potential goodness. Here's a film that I imagine will find appeal, and an audience, beyond those who are referred to as "film snobs". Oh, I have been called that many times, and I assume that I will be called it again for reviewing "Sucker Punch" and not liking it. People seem to be wondering …
review by . May 02, 2011
This is clearly the fantasy of Zack Snyder and pretty much every male geek that the movie was marketed to. However, I am not into girls, so the hot girls in the movie had not influenced me to go and see this. Sucker Punch was a fantastically entertaining movie in my opinion, although it definitely has its problems. If you have read my Guilty Pleasures in Film blog, then you know that I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with style over substance, as long as the style is well done. Well, the …
review by . March 25, 2011
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   What happens when a guy falls asleep playing a video game - say Resident Evil or Lara Croft - who had previously spent the early morning hours playing an old throwback version of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter? Well most likely he's dreaming of girls who can kick ass... but might somehow resemble Sailor Moon. Yeah I said it.  The Sucker Punch trailers gave off the appearance of being something cool like a post-apocalyptic version of Annie, however the reality of the film had …
review by . March 28, 2011
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Sucker Punch Is No Suker Of A Movie, This Is Very Well Done
This weekend my daughter and myself ventured out to the show to see a new movie called "Sucker Punch", the name does not tell the whole story, so you have to see this to tell what it is all about. This movie is 109 minutes of action, fantasy, and thriller scenes. So, if this is what you are looking for in a movie, then yes you will be quite pleased with all of the action and computer graphics that this movie has to offer. In my book this show is done very well and it will keeps you in …
review by . March 26, 2011
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Star Rating:         Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch is a strange one indeed. It’s at once an all-girl action spectacle, a phantasmagoric special effects extravaganza, and a philosophical examination of destiny, freedom, and the power of imagination – an offshoot of the mind, an endless road if ever there was one. There’s no doubt that the film is a technical achievement, but when it comes to plot, character, and theme, I can’t help but wonder: …
review by . March 25, 2011
'Sucker Punch' 'Two Jews On Film' Only One Thinks This Scored A Knock-Out (Video)
'Sucker Punch' is directed by Zach Snyder (300, Watchmen) It stars Emily Browning as Baby Doll, a girl who meets tragic circumstances in the 1950's.  The film opens with Baby Doll witnessing the murder of her mother and sister by her wicked stepfather...One look at his face and you can tell...this is a very bad man. Baby Doll manages to get her hands on a gun.  She aims it at Stepdaddy-dearest but instead of doing the smart thing and killing the evil creep, she drops …
review by . May 06, 2011
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12A - 110mins - Action/Adventure/Fantasy - 1st April 2011 Sucker Punch intrigued me before its release due to the seemingly random storyline and what looked like impressive graphics. So I sat down to watch it wondering whether I was going to enjoy the story it has to tell or be confused by it. Unfortunately it was the latter. Now I try and find both positives and negatives in everything I review but graphics aside (which were very enjoyable to watch and engaging) I struggled to for Sucker Punch. …
Quick Tip by . March 23, 2011
I'm very excited about Sucker Punch.  I'm a bit mixed on Zack Snyder's work, but I'm hoping that Sucker Punch falls in line with the brilliance of Watchmen and doesn't get  caught up in visual displays like 300.  Of course, explosions, hot chicks with big guns, and a cool soundtrack doesn't hurt this film's chances in my book!
Quick Tip by . March 24, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Plan on seeing this over the weekend. Hopefully it will be as bizarre as it looks...      UPDATE:      The tagline of Sucker Punch is "You will be unprepared." A more accurate tagline would have been "You will be unimpressed." But that wouldn't have helped to sell tickets. Director Zack Snyder has proven that he can deliver a stunningly visual cinematic experience when it comes to genre cinema. His film adaptations of graphic novels …
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This weekend my daughter and myself ventured out to the show to see a new movie called "Sucker Punch", the name does not tell the whole story, so you have to see this to tell what it is all about. This movie is 109 minutes of action, fantasy, and thriller scenes. So, if this is what you are looking for in a movie, then yes you will be quite pleased with all of the action and computer graphics that this movie has to offer. In my book this show is done very well and it will keeps you in your seat during the whole 109 minutes of run time. This is rated "PG-13", this is definitely not for the younger crowd, even though the 12 and younger crowd would probably enjoy this because of its intense action scenes, it may give them nightmares because of all of the violence that you will see in this show.
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Director: Zack Snyder
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Thriller
Release Date: March 25, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Zack Snyder, Steve Shibuya
Runtime: 120 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
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