Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung
Directed by Zack Snyder
Sucker Punch truly delivers on its namesake - to your wallet, that is.
Director Zack Snyder, known for 300, Watchmen and Dawn of the Dead, brings us his first written-and-directed feature, Sucker Punch.
Hype for the movie was no doubt amped up by its tantalising trailer. There was badassery of the highest order, amazing CGI effects, eye-catching stylised worlds, a brilliant soundtrack and chicks fighting baddies with pure girl power, which all made this film look incredible.
Despite this, there were a few problems. First, let’s talk about the plot.
The film opens in a beautifully stylised fashion, with an abandoned theatre stage and red velvet curtains that pull back to reveal a bedroom centre stage. All this is set in sepia tones and accompanied by an eerie voiceover setting the mood of the film.
This is where we meet BabyDoll, our main character, who is sent to the Lennox House Asylum after her Mother’s death and the traumatic loss of her younger sister at the hands of their abusive stepfather. BabyDoll's stepfather then makes plans with one of the asylum nurses to have BabyDoll lobotomised in five days' time. This is right about where the plot gets confusing.
BabyDoll is so traumatised by the death of her mother and sister, and terrified by her looming surgery, that she creates a world for herself. This world is a sort of "dream-within-a-dream" world, where her initial escape from reality is into a burlesque house.
Here all the patients become burlesque dancers, the head psychiatrist becomes a dance teacher, and the nurse from the start of the film, who planned BabyDoll’s lobotomy, becomes the corrupt owner of the burlesque house.
Except that, most confusing of all, this isn’t explained, not even in a cryptic or implied way. BabyDoll literally blinks, and we have a slow-motion zoom in to her catatonic stare and suddenly - BAM! Burlesque house! Or BAM! Asylum! Or BAM! Fighter world!
This doesn’t occur just once. BabyDoll and the other patients/burlesque dancers plan to escape by collecting five items: a map, fire, a knife a key and a mystery fifth item. These five items are explained, along with the plan, when BabyDoll blinks in slow motion and jumps into another reality world, where she’s suddenly some sort of fighter ninja assassin and an old man is her "spirit guide" or something.
The plot spirals out of control as BabyDoll and the other patients/burlesque dancers jump in and out of the escape realities, all with a slow-motion blink of BabyDoll’s eyes, as they fight to collect the five items that will allow them to escape the... burlesque house? Fighter world? Asylum?
Confused yet? I was.
Apart from the confusing plot, which, despite my understanding of reality, failed to help me comprehend and had me asking what the apple was going on, I quite enjoyed a surprising amount of things. The stylised costumes, make-up, and three separate and distinct worlds were beautiful.
There was literally an awe-inspiring display of steampunk themes, the grimy-glittery appeal of the burlesque world, and the bleak, grim, grey asylum world, each reflecting BabyDoll’s sad reality.
The soundtrack included a bunch of songs I recognised, and had me humming quietly in the theatre, but it also had lots of songs I’d never heard, and now really want to know. So points go to Sucker Punch for having an incredible soundtrack.
Putting aside the good 15 minutes of annoying slow motion spent staring at BabyDoll’s eyeballs, this movie has a beautiful soundtrack, an elegantly fashionable style, sweeping cinematography, a strangely haunting message of morality, and some kick-ass female leads who fight for their freedom.
If you like a plot that’s easy to follow, I’d give this movie a miss. But if you’re in the mood for an ass-kicking, Nazi-robot-fighting, dragon-killing romp, I’d say watch Sucker Punch. You'll definitely get what you're looking for.
2.5 out of 5
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