Starring Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens and Abbie Cornish
Written by Zack Snyder and Steve Shibuya
Directed by Zack Snyder
Running time 2 hrs
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating Matinee
To talk of the plot of Sucker Punch walks a tightrope balance on giving away too much. The story opens on a stage and a young girl performing then it turns into a version of real life.
On a dark and stormy night, young woman (Emily Browning) reels over the death of her mother, consoling her sister. Her wicked stepfather finds that all the wealth goes to the daughters. In a rage, he attacks the older sister and then goes after the younger girl with a demented gleam in his eye. The older girl shimmies down the drain pipe and confronts the stepfather with a gun. An accidental discharge kills the younger girl. This happens within a few minutes.
The stepfather takes the older sibling to a mental hospital Lennox House. There he pays a slimy intern to make sure that she cannot testify against him. A doctor will show-up to perform a lobotomy in five days. Just as the hammer pierces the skin, we jump stories.
In a blink, the young woman is now Babydoll, a captured woman in a strip club-brothel and front for illegal activities. The girls dance for the patrons and then give extra service in the back rooms. Blue (Oscar Isaac) is their manager/owner/capturer and he runs the place with an iron fist.
The captured girls include the dark haired Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), the exotic Amber (Jamie Chung) and sisters Rocket (Jena Malone) and Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish). All hate their circumstances and wish to be free.
When Babydoll first has to dance, we are again transported into another world. In this version of reality Babydoll is a fierce warrior. Guided by a mystic, Babydoll is told that to vanquish her foes, she must find five different elements. Those elements are a map, fire, knife, key and a mystery piece. In order to achieve freedom she must form a team.
Sucker Punch bounces back and forth between the two worlds. In one world, the girls plan their escape from the club. In the other, they fight and defeat mutant Nazis, dragons, and mechanical trench warriors in order to retrieve all the needed elements.
The fear of the mysterious High Roller taking Babydoll’s purity in the stripper world parallels the five days she has before the lobotomy is to happen.
I’ve been interested seeing Sucker Punch since the first trailer. The work looked like some hybrid cross between 300 and Sailor Moon. The final effect is more a cross between Burlesque and Inception.
The film is style over substance more like the filmed version of Tommy all crazy and big without any meat. Most of the time, the female cast is dressed as if they were rejects from Maxium Magazine–in short skirts, high hose and lingerie. All the puffy hair and silly costumes are in tangent to the world of drag queens.
The entire production feels more like a video game than a movie. While the effects look wonderful at the same time they feel a bit ‘been there/done that’. Parts of the film parallel Sin City and others Flyboys. The effects of daring-do have some element of excitement and adventure even when it is just an imagination of Babydoll. The bad guys are menacing, terrifying and exciting but begin to feel like lambs for the slaughter.
The actual production is impressive with a world that is never set in any solid decade. Parts are from the 1950’s while we get battles from both world wars. The mishmash of styles give Sucker Punch a unique look that never quite finds a base but still works.
Director Zack Snyder does a solid job of keeping the story moving along never letting the audience get a chance to question what is going on. The idea of Babydoll’s dancing was left to the imagination which was a cleaver narrative touch. The ending runs along the lines of the director’s cut of Brazil, so it wasn’t much of a surprise.
To be honest, the actresses in Sucker Punch are more pawns meaning just about any actress in Hollywood could have been placed in this CGI world. They all are just background for all the fancy kung-fu and electronic effects. This film is more of a ride and solid acting is not required.
Sucker Punch entertains but doesn’t do much more than that. More like a video game, the best parts are the mayhem and destruction. It is like cotton candy, a big fluffy confection that eventually dissolves into a small slimy mess.