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Sucker Punch

A 2011 fantasy-action film directed by Zack Snyder.

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A 14 Year Old Boy's Wetdream

  • Mar 27, 2011
Rating:
+2
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 is like almost everything else that Zack Snyder has ever directed.  It's all flash and no substance.  Sucker Punch just doesn't do nearly as good of a job at distracting you from all this. 

I caused a small spark when I related that Zack Snyder knows how to do style but not always much else.  300 was a gorgeous looking movie that had a lot of cool effects and fight scenes but it's hard to really compliment the story in and of itself.  Watchmen, despite actually having plot even relies a lot more heavily on the art style to carry it along.  Watchmen fanboys seem to love it, but in all honesty it's because it wasn't terrible.  But just "not being terrible," didn't equate to good... the movie was long and boring and over-the-top.  Sucker Punch is pretty much what you would get if 300 and Watchmen breeded and had a very ugly child.  It's not terrible, sure, but it hardly has enough to make you want to love it.  Again, like Watchmen and 300 it's a very pretty movie to look at, but that's about it.

So we'll start there.  Sucker Punch is absolutely beautiful.  The sets, the special effects and even some of the action sequences are downright amazing.  The movie wastes no time setting the mood when you watch the opening sequence.  It's hard not to marvel at Sucker Punch's art direction or it's stunning visuals.  They'll blow you away... but they don't exactly keep you distracted from the actual story in and of itself.

The story may be a little hard to describe and a little hard to take in.  To simplify it, the movie concerns itself with a character only known as "Baby Doll," who has the ability to escape into her imagination.  Instead of being in a mental institution she instead imagines that she is a dancer at a brothel who has to escape before the "High Roller" comes.  She dwells deeper into this world in any moment where she "dances."  During the moments where she dances the movie shifts into a fantasy world.  This is where the movie really comes to life.  In the first of these imaginative worlds she meets a wise man who tells her that in order to escape from her prison she has to find five items: A map, fire, a knife, a key and the fifth item the wise man does not tell her.  He then gives her a sword and a gun and tells her that the last thing she'll have to remember is to defend herself.  From there she fights three demons and we discover how this movie is going to unfold.  Despite Baby Doll not really ever using a sword or anything she seems quite proficient.  And here we're treated to the first of five really intense action sequences.

The movie goes in a pattern.  First we see her gather her girls who will help her escape her torment and then during these different "dances" we are thrust further into her imagination.  You'll see Baby Doll and her companions go through several different locations each time they have to find one item.  For example, there is an imagination to symbolize them getting the map.  There are times when it feels less like you're watching a movie and more like you're watching someone play a hypersexualized video game.  This is because so much of what actually happens in Sucker Punch makes no sense.  As fun as some of the action sequences are, the majority of them are padded out and absurd.  Watching Baby Girl take down a dragon sounds exciting.  And it would be, if Snyder wasn't so self-indulgent with his own style.  Too much of the movie is just too absurd to really take that seriously.  And even worse, it kind of forgets it has much of a plot until the very end of it all. 

There have been a lot of comparisons to Nolan's Inception with this one, but it's not exactly an appropriate comparison.  We're not entering Baby Dolls's dreams.  We're going deep inside her imagination.  These aren't dreams.  These are moments used to symbolize her journey in ultimately escaping from a mental institution.  She just simply imagines it as a brothel she has to escape instead... and then goes deeper by making it seem like each quest for these items are actually "missions."  The movie ties it all together at the end, but much of it feels like an after thought.  Aptly enough, the audience will feel like they've been Sucker Punched by the time the movie ends.  It's easy to feel cheated by the movies conclusions and even fooled at times. 

But what makes Sucker Punch hard to sit through is that it feels like we're watching the concoction of a fourteen year old who just discovered the joys of women.  All the women are dressed in skimpy or revealing clothing.  They're running through battlefields showing a bit more skin than you'd imagine soldiers to show.  There are tons of explosions too and some really well choreographed scenes.  The problem with all this isn't that it makes Snyder come off as a pig (the movie tries to show this as feminism--because the main cast are a bunch of girls kicking ass and not taking shit from anyone) but rather that it seems to be used more as a distraction.  These "dances" we see are nothing more than distractions from a plot that isn't really going anywhere for a very long time.  It's action packed but it makes the movie feel long. 

The fight scenes in and of themselves are also intense.  But even Snyder's trademark with slowing things down and then speeding them up is wasted here.  So many fight scenes are unfocused.  And even worse than that, it feels like Snyder is slowing things down so that we can keep up with it more so than anything.  Not much of it looks cool anymore.  There are moments where the camera is so shaky you can't really make sense.  And other moments where there's just too much going on.  And throughout much of this you never really get the feeling Baby Doll is in any real sort of danger.  You can argue that it's her imagination and therefore she CAN be perfect, but the only time you actually feel like she's in any real danger is during the first fight with the three demons.  Beyond that we watch as she levels entire buildings with ease, take down HUGE blimps and an entire army.  Am I watching a movie?  Or am I watching an experienced gamer play God of War? 

Perhaps the even bigger problem is that Snyder just throws far too much in.  What he wants from the film is bigger than the film itself.  He's so caught up in making it look cool that the characters are rather dry and hard to really care about.  There's imagination here, but the story is overall a letdown.  I can understand the idea of people escaping into their imagination where they're powerful instead of powerless and can literally take on the world, but it gives the movie no emotional attachment and pull.  We don't see the characters outside of this state enough for them to become fully realized characters.  When the movie finally hits us over the head with the idea that they are human after all, we just don't care. 

There is nothing wrong with being a visually stunning film and appealing to our senses of sight.  We've had movies that have taken us away to other worlds before that we could really get sucked into before.  Where they are visually stimulating and we like them for being such.  But Sucker Punch tries to give the viewer the idea that it's reaching for something when it really isn't reaching for anything.  In short, the movie thinks it's more clever than it actually is.  The story isn't front and center.  And I have, in the past, liked movies where the story isn't the focal point.  But it's clear that the story is actually supposed to be about something.  Problem is, only the very beginning and the very end really get at anything.  Beyond that Sucker Punch doesn't offer much.  It's pretty and there are some intense action sequences, but the art direction can't hold it, and some of the action sequences are stretched for too long.  They get boring much faster than they get interesting.  More so because they're ridiculously over the top.

There actually is another aspect to Sucker Punch that actually so bad.  The soundtrack is actually fairly good.  The opening scene being played to a fantastic version of "Sweet Dreams," is probably the best part in the movie.  It is the one moment where the movie truly shines.  Aside from that the rest of movie is mostly hot girls running around kicking ass without wearing a lot of clothes to do it, while also being filled with explosions and completely over-the-top fight scenes. 

At times it's a wonder if Snyder wanted to make a graphic novel, kung fu movie, video game or Japanese Anime.  Then he decided he wanted to do all five.  And that's mostly what Sucker Punch.  A very strange hybrid of all of it.  It's like going to someone's house for dinner and they serve you a stew.  When you ask what's in it they tell you they just put a little bit of everything they had in the fridge.  It's probably not going to taste good.  Sucker Punch throws in so much that it's a mess.

It's very difficult to recommend Sucker Punch.  It is a film that leaves you wondering what the whole point of sitting through the 110 minute ordeal is.  It's certainly easy on the eyes and the ears in terms of its soundtrack, but the rest of it is hard to swallow.  Even when not taking the movie seriously (and you probably shouldn't) the film leaves a lot more to be desired in terms of storytelling.  The film in and of itself is a good concept but the execution just wasn't that good.  And I'm certain Zack Snyder is capable of so much more.

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March 31, 2011
I like your food analogy, because that's what I was thinking the film seemed like. Someone came up with the separate ideas and then mixed them altogether as though a ten course meal would be really good if it was blended into a drink. Nope, doesn't work that way. LOL!
 
March 29, 2011
I haven't seen it yet, but your review pretty much defines my expectations of this film. I am not a fan of 300, but I did enjoy Watchmen.  Still, the fourteen year old boy in me wants to see this flick on the big screen.  It will be the first Snyder film that I've seen at the movies and not on DVD.  Great review!
 
March 27, 2011
well done review! I am with you, I cannot recommend this film, but yes it would look stunning on the big screen but I think it would be better suited as a rental. From a technical standpoint, this was real good, but the story's execution was very flawed.
 
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More Sucker Punch reviews
review by . March 26, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Zack Snyder Genre-Busting Fantasy Film Punches You Like A Sucker!!
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 …
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
posted in Movie Hype
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
posted in Movie Hype
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
Caption
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
Caption
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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Sean A. Rhodes ()
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I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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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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Details

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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