I have never been more prepared to hate a movie than I was for Zack Snyder’s (300, Watchmen) Sucker Punch. This picture really sums up my ire for the entire promotional compaign:
Pigtails, midriff schoolgril outfit, katana, pistol, fishnet stockings, World War I soldiers, and lollipop. Grimace. When these things appear individually in films, they range from tolerable to wicked sweet. When they all appear in the same film at the same time, it’s a giant obnoxious mess; and my standards aren’t that high, people. I legitimately enjoyed Battle: Los Angeles. LEGITIMATELY.
Here’s Sucker Punch in an elaborate nutshell: Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is framed by her stepfather for her sister’s murder, has a mental breakdown (maybe?) and is admitted/trapped in an asylum. To escape the torment of the asylum, Babydoll escapes into her mind where the patients and staff are transformed into the cast and crew of a PG-13 bordello. Like, super PG-13. They don’t even use the word “sex.” When called upon to dance, Baby Doll retreats even deeper into her mind by entering fantastic combat situations, including (in order of appearance) fighting giant stone samurai with miniguns, WWI steampunk zombies, WW2 orcs, and unspecified-era robots. Her dances are so mesmerizing that anyone watching her is completely spellbound. She hatches a plan to distract staff/clients while her fellow patients/dancers steal items from them to use in the escape.
It sounds interesting, but the nicest thing I can say about Sucker Punch is that it’s the most creative movie you’ll see this year. But besides the visuals, it’s empty. Sucker Punch aims to be a conversation piece--the sort of film that you make theories about and discuss with your friends. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough foundation laid before or after the fantasy sequence for any sort of interesting discussion about the plot or themes to occur. The only reason anything happens in this movie is because it’s imagined, and the things that weren’t imagined are extremely linear. Even the fantastical action sequences became wearisome, mostly due to gratuitous overuse of slow motion.
I went into the film prepared to hate Sucker Punch, but by now find I merely pity it. There's such incredible talent here gone to waist. I can see in a hundred spots where director Zack Snyder really thought he was making a classic, but Sucker Punch falls as flat as the imaginary Kaiser’s imaginary steampunk zeppelin.