Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Ching, Oscar Isaac, Carla Gugino
Rating: 1/2 stars (out of five)
Review: With its grim dystopian worldview mixed with allegorical fantasy sequences and thoughts about the subjective nature of reality, there was only one living director who could have pulled Sucker Punch off “¦ unfortunately, that director is Terry Gilliam, and he was probably on another continent when Sucker Punch was put to film.
Instead we are left with Zack Snyder, a man who made his mark with slavish adaptations of critically acclaimed and violent graphic novels (Watchmen and 300). This is the first time we’ve been served a heavy dose of Snyder’s brand of stylized violence without the strength of another writer’s brilliant storytelling propping him up, and the results aren’t pretty.
Sucker Punch tells the story of five Victoria’s Secret models that are institutionalized in a mental hospital. They manage to escape by imagining that they are actually prostitutes/dancers held as sex slaves. (Yes, this is presented as an improvement.) Or maybe they actually are strippers. They have stripper names: Babydoll, Amber, Sweetpea, Blondie. Or maybe the chance to smear an extra layer of sleaze on the lens was just too great for Snyder to resist, since we spend far more time watching the peep-show than we do watching the “real world.” With a plot this thin, who knows?
The Pussycat Dolls Our heroines then escape the imaginary “stripper world” by imagining themselves as some sort of Delta Force-like strike team that fights clockwork Nazis and the undead in fetish-wear — the girls wear the fetish-wear, not the Nazis — in an effort to gather the items they need to escape. The fighting replaces what is actually happening in the real world which is stripping — no wait, that isn’t real either. I think I’ll have to get back to you on what actually happened, since even after watching the movie, I still have no idea.
There are four different set pieces told in this alternate reality hyper-violent style. And each of them is pretty cool. If they actually served some greater story or if there were characters that you gave two craps about, Snyder might be on to something, but the girls have all the depth of a petri dish. Things only get worse when Snyder refuses to give the audience a straightforward ending with a satisfying payoff — instead opting for a hideous “twist” that would have been groan inducing had anyone in the theater actually become attached to the gossamer-thin threads of “plot.”
The movie is really, really pretty, but after sitting through the entire thing I felt like I should have paid for my ticket by leaving some money on the nightstand rather than at the box office.Â With its head-ache-inducing, Inception-like, fantasy world within a fantasy world; it’s obvious that Snyder wanted you to wonder about what is real. Instead, you’re likely to spend most of the time wondering if you really just paid $10 to see this dreck ““ sucker.