Beardface Reviews: Sucker Punch is Zack Snyder’s Dream and My Nightmare

Is Sucker Punch a good film? No, it’s actually pretty god damn terrible… more on that later… BUT if you plan to see it, and we mean at all, ever, you might as well see the full spectacle that only the cinema experience can provide.

Hold on though. We are not advocating seeing this movie. This is exactly what we expected from the ‘mind of’ or the ‘original vision of’ Zack Snyder (or whatever send-up they’re using) and sadly his M. Night trend continues with each new film. Sucker Punch is the epitome of style without substance, just simple eye candy that we couldn’t believe someone took a writing credit for…

There are some, actually quite a few, who will try and tell you that this film is more than meets the eye. That there are some really deep themes being explored and thought-provoking comments about feminism and/or pop culture being made. These people are… reaching. In fact, when we started to see the words ‘feminist critique’ and ‘Sucker Punch’ being thrown around in various headlines our only reaction (the only suitable reaction really) was come on, really?

IF there was an actual female character in the film, then we might entertain the idea but enough of that and frankly, that kind of promotion doesn’t help the film because the key demo (fanboys between 13 and 40) probably doesn’t give a crap about the ‘issues,’ they’re paying to see the short skirts, the CGI and the fight choreography.  So, the question becomes, will they get their money’s worth? In our humble opinion… maybe. There are some out there, nay many, who will LOVE this movie and there are also some, just as many, who will LOATHE it. We’re in camp latter…

It opens with a tip to Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge and the drawing of a theatre curtain to suggest that, like the famous Shakespeare line, this whole world’s a stage… convenient because it allows Snyder to do, well, whatever the hell he wants. He sets this ‘stage’ for his fantastical narratives (yes, two levels… at least) so as to cram every ‘that would be cool’ thought into one film. Every time Babydoll (Emily Browning) sexy-dances her way into the second layer of fantasy (this sentence will make more sense after seeing the film) we enter a new level of her video game. Then rinse-repeat for all four of her objectives and we’re done (oh, but make sure you check-off every cliche game villain for each new level… orcs, robots, zombies in zepplins and steampunk Nazis).

Okay, I’m being a little harsh. Sucker Punch‘s visuals are stunning. Each ‘level’ has it’s own look and mixed with Snyder’s talent for flashy fights, some are well worth the watch… and with the decent soundtrack (remixed tunes from the last 20 years) some play like big budget music vids a la Julie ‘Turn Off the Dark‘ Taymor’s Across the Universe. The girls all look amazing; that’s Emily Browning’s Babydoll, Jena Malone’s Rocket, Abbie Cornish’s Sweet Pea, Jamie Chung’s Amber and Vanessa Hudgens’ Blondie. There isn’t exactly much acting going on, there’s a lot of the girls looking sexy, fighting hard (they’re pretty bad-ass and convincing actually, I’ll give them full credit in that department) and crying… a lot and about problems that we don’t care about. Why don’t we care? Because none of them are actual fully formed characters.

And that’s ultimately what sinks SP. I could accept everything else, all the ridiculous plot bullshit and excuses to get to Snyder’s visual playground, if there was even one small emotional thread to grab… and then to make matters worse, there are NO STAKES in the fantasy world. The first fight has Babydoll chew up the concrete floors after being tossed around by a giant Samurai without even incurring a scratch. How are we supposed to engage in any battle when there are no consequences? Maybe watching the ‘cool’ action is engaging enough for some but we need to care about the characters… (although I did like John Hamm in his Hammeo (see what I did there) as HighRoller/DrLobotomy because it’s just so ridiculous).

I want to close with a word on Superman: Man of Steel. Snyder of course was hired to direct the high-profile comic-book film for Warners and this film only reinforces the fact that he’s the wrong choice. There’s a stunning shot of some corn fields at sunrise near the end of the film that immediately brought Supes to mind… and then left me disappointed at the thought of seeing Snyder’s ultra-slick, cold and character-less approach to one the most beloved and warm characters in the American canon. At least he’s not writing the script.

Sucker Punch Trailer…

Official Synopsis: Sucker Punch, an epic action, fantasy from filmmaker Zack Snyder, takes us into the vivid imagination of a young girl whose dream world provides the ultimate escape from her darker reality.

Locked away against her will, Babydoll (Emily Browning) has not lost her will to survive.  Determined to fight for her freedom, she urges four other young girls—the outspoken Rocket (Jena Malone), the street-smart Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), the fiercely loyal Amber (Jamie Chung) and the reluctant Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish)—to band together and try to escape their terrible fate at the hands of their captors, Blue (Oscar Isaac), Madam Gorski (Carla Gugino) and the High Roller (Jon Hamm).”

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