Sucker Punch is a film I put off seeing in theaters as the cinema of Zack Snyder…let’s face it, he’s not my bag! In my eyes, Snyder’s Frank Miller adaptation 300 is a lesser film than Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City, Romero’s Dawn of the Dead is obviously stronger better than the remake and Watchmen was always un-filmable. I haven’t read the original comic, but only the character of The Comedian stood out for me as a memorable superhero. With those previous experiences, I’ve put off on watching Sucker Punch until yesterday. Time to play catch-up with the rest of the internet.
After minutes of deep thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is Snyder’s worst film yet. Here’s a handy chart.
I haven’t seen that owl movie he made. Chart Incomplete!
Sucker Punch is an original story that Snyder penned with the idea of a film that contains action scenes that “aren’t limited by the physical realities that normal people are limited by, but still have the story make sense so it’s not, and I don’t mean to be mean, like a bullshit thing like Ultraviolet“. Ouch! Take that Kurt Wimmer! To do so, Snyder had created a film that revolves around a young girl nicknamed(?) Babydoll who is sent to an insane asylum/brothel/magical-emporium where her plans to break-out involve gathering four (or is it five?) everyday items. To get these items, Babydoll performs dances which put her into a fantasy world where she battles various monsters/robots/dragons with her pack of wigs.
Why wigs? That’s pretty much what the characters in this film amount too in separating themselves from each other. There’s already a dozen articles online from various sources about how much of how the females are treated in this film, but let’s face the facts: both men and women in this film are pretty characterless. Whether it’s the villains who are distinguishable because they have accents or are silent drones such as the I, Robot-esque robots from the bomb-on-a-train hijacking scene. The girls in this film are not divided by personality but by their hair-cut. My least favourite of these girls is the main one: Babydoll. The unending close-ups of her face and her overall plasticity make her character robotic and lacking in a personality. Doll-like might have been what they were going for, but it translates all too literally. The story explicitly states she is 20 years-old, but I really get some serious pedo-bait vibes from her. It’s PG-13 though, so nothing overly sexual happens unless corsets and upskirt shots during the action scenes tickle your fancy. If your sadomasochism is your game, these girls don’t even get bruised. I smell a film that was chopped up to get a PG-13 rating. I wonder if the level of gore in films like 300 and Watchmen had anything to do with that?
Tough luck bear! She’s 20!
The actors in this film are still thankfully more competent then let’s say…Corey Yuen’s DOA. The action scenes are silly steampunk infused malarkey but I’m still not a fan of how Snyder handles them. His scenes are large and fantastical but when you overlay physical characters (whether it’s Babydoll in Sucker Punch or Leonidas in 300) in these green screen arenas. If I can’t feel that a character is really there, how can I myself as a viewer feel like I’m there with them? Perhaps these scenes work better in a fully-animated works like that owl film which will not be named here. Unless someone wants to send me a copy of that, I’m not going to be watching it anytime soon. For a contrast of how these computer-boosted fights look to real-scene locations, look no further then the credit sequence involving a cover Roxy Music’s “Love is the Drug“. It’s more cinematic than anything in the story…it’s more steamy too if you were looking for that!
If you a fan of the film, both the image and sound quality on the American blu-ray which is what’s expected for a film this new. The “Extended Cut” should not be confused with a “Director’s Cut”. It involves slightly extended action sequences and an added dance scene. No extra story details are hidden within to flesh out the film. The bonus features are a joke. There are four animated blips to expand on the fantasy sequences. Their narrations feel like they should be in the latest Mortal Kombat game while they only raise further questions for me. Do these scenes that are dreamed up by Babydoll need back-stories? Are they even happening? Does anyone care?! Bah! Even more of a joke is the information involving the soundtrack which ends with Zack Snyder announcing that yes! Even he himself drives around in his car listening to the soundtrack involving Bjork’s “Army of Me” as well as the covers of “Sweet Dreams” and “Where is my Mind?”. Since there is a unique choice of covers for the film, it’s a mighty shame there’s no information of why these songs were chosen. In short: it’s an ad for the soundtrack.
Sucker Punch does live up to Snyder’s desire to make something better than Ultraviolet for the fact alone that it does not include a baby in a suitcase like Ultraviolet does. The cast has the ability to act with their limited characters, but I wouldn’t rush to check it out. As far as films go in the cheesy category of Heavy Metal magazine influenced fighting-girl-gangs go, it’s better than Corey Yuen’s DOA but not as strong as let’s say…Johnnie To’s The Heroic Trio. Even if you are a Snyder fan, approach which lowered expectations.