Monday, October 10, 2011

Sucker Punch

By s. Monday, October 10, 2011 , , , , , , , ,
(110 min, 2011)
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Zack Snyder (screenplay), Steve Shibuya (screenplay)

Stars: Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens and Abbie Cornish

One flew over Heavy Metal island

I wanted to like this movie. I really did. I thought this can be an interesting film, where there are different secrets and mysteries to uncover under all the visual effects, where the innuendos and hidden meanings create truly disturbing picture. Unfortunately, although “Sucker Punch” had a lot of potential it is ultimately a very flawed mess of beautiful visuals, gorgeous actresses, plot-hole filled story and confusion. Nonetheless, it's nowhere near being the worst picture of the year and it's still an entertaining movie. The problem is, that the film is not fun when it should be and it's at its best during brief moments untainted by presence of dragons, Nazi zombies or robots. But those moments are simply too brief.

A young girl (Baby Doll) is locked away in a mental asylum by her abusive stepfather where she will undergo a lobotomy in five days time. Faced with unimaginable odds, she retreats to a fantastical world in her imagination where she and four other female inmates at the asylum, plot to escape the facility. The lines between reality and fantasy blur as Baby Doll and her four companions, as well as a mysterious guide, fight to retrieve the five items they need that will allow them to break free from their captors before it's too late...

The biggest problem with “Sucker Punch” is that it's a mix of things that do not fit together. When Baby Doll stays in the asylum she imagines the whole place as a glamorous brothel. And if Snyder just ended the fantasy element there the movie would have had a shot at consistency. Unfortunately, when Baby Doll performs her dance and goes into some kind of trance state, she goes into another fantasy, where she fights undead soldiers, futuristic robots, dragons...Given how the movie is set in 50's and the girl imagines all of that it makes you Why? again? The fantasy scenarios have no reflection in the real world at all, they are horribly out of place in the movie. The CGI is impressive at times, but more often than not, it looks too fake to get inside this world and forget you are watching a movie. If only those scenes were somehow anchored in the Baby Doll's real world – just a figurine of dragon in her room would explain that whole sequence. Unfortunately, Snyder doesn't even attempt to patch this all together and we never get explanation as for why exactly a teenager in the 50's imagines the things she does.

The characters are another problem – Jamie Chung and especially Vanessa Hudgens don't have much to do during the film. The movie would be better off without their characters, especially since they are neither interesting nor played by actresses with actual talent. Had the film focused only on Baby Doll (Browning, bland but cute as a button), Rocket (Malone, delivering good performance) and Sweat Pea (wonderful Abbie Cornish), Snyder might have had a chance to do a good movie. But the way things just too much. Carla Cugino, who lacks talent but bases each of her performances on her looks is good near the ending of the movie. For the rest of it she has one of the most embarrassing accents I've heard. It 's so bad, it can challenge what Jolie did in “Alexander”.

I doubt if director's cut is going to improve the film. With “Watchmen” I awarded it additional two stars, because the movie felt more whole and less ridiculous with extra scenes. With “Sucker Punch” 18 minutes were cut to secure PG-13 rating and having read what those scene include the movie may actually fail even more with them in it. Apparently, there are...musical numbers. The action scenes are already weighting this story down and the one thing I can think of that will turn it into even worse film is dancing around and singing. Do you think you can mix “Mortal Kombat” with “Chicago”? You can't. It's like eating candy with pizza. You'll puke.

Another issue is with dialogues. Whenever Wiseman spoke his lines I wanted to close my eyes and cover my ears and escape to my fantasy world. The only time we hear good lines in the movie is when narrator speaks. And pay attention to who the narrator is. That's one of the reasons for which “Sucker Punch” is at times very clever film.

There are good things in “Sucker Punch” - the whole idea to show the events in the form of fantasy, so that the viewers would have to figure out on their own what really happened works. The fantasy elements shown are embarrassing in mission/quest world but the brothel interpreted as actual events form asylum creates many disturbing possibilities. The soundtrack is wonderful and the opening, whilst not nearly as good as in “Watchmen” is lovely. The girls look beautiful, but the only one you can really connect with is Sweat Pea and maybe, at times, Rocket. Abbie Cornish not only looks amazing but also manages to create something out of nothing. In the movie, where she is forced to be half naked all the time she manages to create strong heroine you admire and root for. I couldn't care less about Baby Doll with her blank expression, but Sweat Pea was one hell of a character. In addition, as all of Snyder's films the movie is filled with amazing shots

The film is also a riddle – what really happened? who is who? Whose fantasy are we watching? Is any of this real? The trouble is there is not enough data to base the theories on it. There are masterpieces like “Mulholland Drive” when we are given pieces of puzzles and even if we rotate the image and rotate the pieces, even if everybody gets a different picture, there are no missing pieces and no pieces are omitted. But with “Sucker Punch” you just can't explain everything and make sense out of it. It's simply a lazy script with many holes.

Even if Snyder bowed to MPAA to lower the ending and compromised his vision I still think that man has balls. The ending is the best part of the movie and had the film was as good as its prologue and epilogue it would be excellent. Unfortunately, too many things went wrong. I enjoyed “300” and “Dawn of the Dead” and I liked director's cut of “Watchmen”, but the one thing I agree with that has been stated in “Sucker punch” reviews is that it's Snyder's worst movie. I think he had material for two films here – one taking place in asylum and the other with all those CGI filled fantasy missions. Together, thrown into one 100-minute long picture, it just doesn't click.

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