No One Was Prepared
Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch. It’s a great title, I’ll give it that. Out of all the bad movies I have seen recently rarely is there one with such a perfectly placed title. I didn’t feel The Last Airbendered, or Resident Eviled, or Clash of the Titaned after any of those films were over. I did, however, feel sucker punched when this movie was over. At the very least you should feel suckered.
In Sucker Punch Emily Browning plays Babydoll, a 20-something with a nasty stepfather. When her mother dies her stepfather opens the mother’s will and finds out everything is going to her two daughters. In a drunken fit of rage he decides to …rape(?) Babydoll, but when she closes her door he decides to try her younger sister. She pulls a gun on him and accidentally kills her sister. This is all shown in slow motion to music.
Her stepfather uses that as an excuse to say that when her mother died, Babydoll went crazy and killed her sister. So, he takes her to a mental institution to be lobotomized. While there she learns she has five days before the lobotomist is supposed to show up in order to escape. Then, believe it or not, it gets worse.
It devolves into some pseudo fantasy/dream where instead of being in a mental institution she’s in a whore house that’s posing as a mental hospital, or an orphanage for 20-something year old women. It doesn’t make much sense. Babydoll is forced to dance, and when she dances she goes into a dream state in which she’s told how to escape her reality. She tells a few other girls what they need to escape and they listen to her, probably because they’re in a mental institution, then this freight train of a mess just keeps on chugging along.
(Move along now. Nothing to see here)
- Points to Zack Snyder for trying to be clever, negative points that is. This is supposed to be a mind-bending journey, except it’s mind-numbingly boring. There really isn’t anything exciting about it. Which brings us to the next bullet…
- The dream sequences are very infrequent, there’s four total, and there isn’t much to like about them. Let me break them down.
- In the first one she meets the man who tells her which items she’ll need to be free. He actually tells her the fifth thing is a mystery, setting the movie up for a very lame reveal. Then he tells her to defend herself and three giant samurai show up. It should be awesome, but she gets her ass kicked without seemingly being affected by it at all. She then proceeds to outrun bullets and do about five slow motion flips out of the way of bullets and blades. It sounds cool when you read it, but the lame looking samurai along with the Michael Bay level of slow motion ruin it. This sets the bar low for the rest of the action sequences.
- The second, where she takes her four patient friends with her for the first time is actually probably the best of the bunch. They need to overwhelm an army of pneumatically resurrected dead German soldiers (essentially Nazi zombies full of hot air) to obtain a map. The fight choreography is pretty tight at first, but later in the sequence Snyder resorts to nausea-inducing shaky-cam; and Babydoll deflects bullets with her sword, furthering the idea that these dream worlds have exactly zero consequences.
- The third “dream sequence” was the most offensive by featuring the hardest rip-offs and one of the worst covers of a Stooges song I have ever heard. My girlfriend, who’s a huge Lord of the Rings fan, said if Zack Snyder didn’t pay WETA for their Orc designs that they might have reason to sue (even in a dark theater she was visibly pissed during this scene) . Aside from that it’s just uneventful. A dragon chases a plane and then (gasp!) more slow motion.
- The fourth is cool if you really like the idea of the robots from Bjork’s “All is Full of Love” video fighting three girls while the camera is in a running clothes dryer with one of those windowed doors. Seriously, what’s the point of tumbling the camera like that? This segment also goes much further with the idea that these worlds have no consequence as each girl gets punched square in the face by a cyborg(in slow motion of course), but they’re completely OK. Anyone remember that scene in I, Robot where Sonny hits the table in anger? His hand imprints get left in the metal table! We also find out life in Sucker Punch is the opposite of how it is in The Matrix.
- It’s a shame Babydoll ended up in a mental institution, because she could have made a fortune in various things that we would have loved to cover. Whether it was supposed to be real or in her imagination, this seems to take place in the 50’s/60’s, and she mentally “invents” a giant Iron Man-like mech, fighting cyborgs, earbud headphones, and the song “Army of Me” by Bjork. She’s apparently a genius.
This is a lot of not-so-great words for a single movie, but it deserves every single one. Zack Snyder has proven that his movies will almost always contain music videos strung together in the attempt to make a coherent film. He has also proven that if you let him try to write it himself it will be a DISASTER. I think his next film is supposed to be Superman. Let’s hope the guidance of Christopher Nolan will quell Snyder’s love for his own music video style and Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City.
If you were interested in seeing this movie, just watch the trailer again instead. Then you’ll have seen everything worth seeing.