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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.54%
Worth A Look: 12.68%
Average: 1.41%
Pretty Bad: 22.54%
Total Crap40.85%

6 reviews, 35 user ratings

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Sucker Punch
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by Daniel Kelly

"Nothing says feminism like sexy schoolgirl outfits."
2 stars

Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch” is an odd beast, an epic fantasy sprawled over several layers of existence. In concept at least the picture is rather promising, a massive blockbuster examining the lengths a troubled mind will go in order to attain peace. However in execution the movie largely misfires, damaged by subpar lead performances, an incredibly muddled screenplay and a lack of engaging action. Snyder’s ability to craft marvelous looking films remains unquestionable, but “Sucker Punch” once again confirms he’s no master storyteller.

“Sucker Punch” operates over three very distinct layers of its protagonist’s psyche, the character in question being a young woman known only as Baby Doll (Emily Browning). Having been wrongfully committed to an insane asylum by her lecherous stepfather, Baby Doll is threatened with a full blown lobotomy almost immediately after her arrival. In order to escape her disturbed reality, Baby Doll retreats into her head, dreaming up a world in which she is a burlesque dancer at a club run by the corrupt Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac). There she forms an alliance with the other dancers: Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), her sister Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung). The group eventually reaches the conclusion they need to escape, Baby Doll formulating a plan that requires attaining five random objects. Whilst in pursuit of these items, Baby Doll slips even further into her mind, imagining an apocalyptic environment in which the gang, armed with weapons and skimpy clothing, do battle with all manner of monster and opposition whilst searching for the designated articles. However the clock is ticking, the girls have to make their break for freedom before the mysterious High Roller (Jon Hamm) comes to town.

As he did with his excellent adaptation of “Watchmen”, Snyder opens “Sucker Punch” with a bang. Snyder delivers the necessary exposition smoothly, setting up Baby Doll’s tragic circumstances with clarity and atmosphere. However as soon as Baby Doll starts descending into the fantasy worlds the film starts to collapse, Snyder becoming preoccupied with visual bravado at the expense of the script. There are moments in the burlesque environment that work, but every sequence set in the third reality fails, and increasingly one gets the feeling that’s where Snyder applied the majority of his attention. The action sequences are aggressively violent and sufficiently large in scale, but sadly there’s’ no innovation or creative energy evident. The filmmaker just resorts to his old slow-mo tricks (seriously count the amount of times a young woman flips over a sword!), stimulating set-pieces that feel ripped directly from a particularly generic videogame. There’s little soul or purpose at all in “Sucker Punch”, but when it comes to the bombastic action the movie ceases to even care about its human population. Snyder appears to think that simply adding meticulously rendered dragons and zombie soldiers will make his movie exciting, but due to his lack of imagination that’s not the case. The old adage “it’s not what you have, but what you do with it” has rarely felt so appropriate.

Emily Browning is weak in “Sucker Punch”, the actress failing to inject Baby Doll with any sense of pathos or heart. As with several of her other co-stars she looks tremendously attractive in her jailbait outfit, but that doesn’t prevent her performance from being one note. Chung and Hudgens are both dreadful, the latter laughably miscast in Snyder’s depraved universe. Jena Malone is slightly better, whilst Abbie Cornish actually delivers something approaching a good performance. Cornish is able to find a personality amidst the wooden dialogue that everyone else appears unable to detect. Carla Gugino vamps it up spectacularly as the girl’s polish dance mentor, although Oscar Isaac is actually rather menacing as the sleazy Blue Jones. “Sucker Punch” does manage to mount some tension in the burlesque realm towards its conclusion, much of that largely down to Isaac’s genuinely threatening turn. Jon Hamm on the other hand is only in about three scenes, and feels completely wasted in all of them.

The soundtrack is uneven, the song selection never able to give the production anything more than a surface level adrenaline rush. Being a Zack Snyder film, “Sucker Punch” is of course visually flawless, both the cinematography and CGI reaching a pretty dazzling standard. However had Snyder shown more attention to the undercurrents of familial distress and mental anguish that only lightly season “Sucker Punch”, and slightly less to the picture’s aesthetic then it would almost certainly be a more satisfying endeavor. There are moments of hostile interaction between Rocket and Sweet Pea that allow a little emotion to drip into this otherwise barren offering, and Baby Doll’s heartbreaking psychological breakdown is never given the attention it deserves. Instead “Sucker Punch” becomes obsessed with lethargic excess, resulting in a hollow excuse for entertainment.

Some will attack the film as being misogynistic, although I do feel that was never Snyder’s intention. Although he absolutely misses the mark in trying to write strong female characters, at least an obvious effort to do so was made. The revealing outfits the gorgeous actresses have to wear do appear to be an obvious attempt to conjure up a nerd’s wet dream, but “Sucker Punch” has too many other fundamental problems for that to be a major concern. Indeed Snyder’s camera seems far more fixated on the director’s stale mythical creations than any physical attributes possessed by the thespians. He occasionally looks, but in fairness, the director never really stares.

It’s interesting to note that “Sucker Punch” is Zack Snyder’s first rumba with original material, his other works all being remakes or adaptations of some kind. It’s not an encouraging start to this segment of his career, the outcome a distressingly messy affair. I wasn’t impressed by “Sucker Punch”, my only hope being that through it Snyder has indulged his poorer instincts sufficiently, and that afterward he can return to making worthwhile features like “Watchmen” again. You’ll be sucker punched if you waste your time or money on this one.

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originally posted: 05/10/11 19:36:14
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User Comments

5/03/15 Chilly Dong Thornton did I really just read someone call this movie a right brain classic? 1 stars
3/22/14 gc Critics need to lighten up! Cool music, unique plot idea and kick ass action scenes. 4 stars
2/08/14 zeng8r terrifically awful, but mainly awful 2 stars
8/25/13 Yourmom Amazing mind twister movie i loved it:) 5 stars
4/04/13 Michael Fiddes I dont know why people think this is bad Agree with Stephen, visually and mentally stunning 5 stars
6/05/12 Amy I have the purest pity for Peter, Erik and brian but glad Rob has eyes to see, entertainme 4 stars
1/04/12 Jake To those who gave this more than two stars: Did we watch the same film? 2 stars
12/24/11 debbie hodgdon not really a good plot, only a little eye candy, bad ending 2 stars
9/08/11 Pret Solidly entertaining, as long as you get on board in the way you are supposed to 4 stars
8/11/11 larsen A-List grindhouse; This is a guilty pleasure, not high art! Get over yourselves! 4 stars
7/17/11 Faraz The sensual dance in front of the fat guy was good. Otherwise sucked. 2 stars
7/03/11 othree Sexy, visual, girls w/ guns to music! oh & bad guys! *wheee* 4 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles Visually and mentally stunning 4 stars
4/16/11 LadyGrinningSoul It wasnt as bad as everyone made it seem. People need to chill out 3 stars
4/02/11 Man out 6 bucks Unwatchable schlock which makes by comparison any 50 Cent video into a Tchaikovsky ballet. 1 stars
4/02/11 William Hrt Yes a bad film, for IQs lower than 110 4 stars
4/02/11 Steve A Wip flick sanitized for todays market wrapped around crazy over the top action. Winning 4 stars
3/31/11 artemi great film- wish all the critics would just pull the fingers out of their asses like you :) 5 stars
3/31/11 Sean It’s a visual feast with a script just good enough to stay out of its way. 5 stars
3/30/11 CruZControL Great review for a great movie. Kudos from us *crazy* greek folks @ 5 stars
3/29/11 Fil great movie, interesting review. 5 stars
3/29/11 cooler awful film, just terrible 1 stars
3/28/11 JL My mouth was agape at how ridiculous and BAD this was. Plot=Showgirls-in-a-video-game. Nuf. 1 stars
3/28/11 Koolaid I disagree .entertained the whole time. Don't see how anyone can say worst of all time 5 stars
3/28/11 Wil Original? No. The movie was an adaptation of One Flew over the Cuckoo's nes. 1 stars
3/28/11 Retribution Inc. I am stupider for having seen this shit. 1 stars
3/28/11 Reason Prevails Wow. This is one of the worst so-called reviews I've ever read. Ever. 4 stars
3/28/11 Alfonso Hill I appreciate all the references in the review. 5 stars
3/28/11 Peter Coulter 5 stars
3/27/11 JC Hey, at least it wasn't in 3-D. 1 stars
3/27/11 sisterHood i believe this movie is about how sisters love each other 5 stars
3/27/11 Fully Thank you for authenticating my misery watching this film. 1 stars
3/27/11 Quin Browne The film produced something excellent--one of the funniest reviews I've ever read. 1 stars
3/26/11 Jack Great review Erik. 1 stars
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  25-Mar-2011 (PG-13)
  DVD: 28-Jun-2011


  DVD: 28-Jun-2011

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