HT Schuyler: Sucker Punch Review

Posted: July 3, 2011 by htschuyler in HT Schuyler's Movie Reviews

Rated 14A for partial nudity, action violence, intense combat sequences and language.

Starring: Emily Browning, Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Oscar Isaac, Carla Gugino, John Hamm and Scott Glenn.

Directed by: Zack Snyder.

When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I’m not going to lie, I thought it looked awesome. I was extremely excited for this movie, but then when it was released, something happened. People hated it. Critics tore it apart, and even PG Cooper said it was one of the worst movies of the year. So, I decided to skip it. I actually skipped this movie to see Paul…what a mistake that was. So, when this movie was released on DVD, I decided I’d take my chances and give it a watch. So, was Sucker Punch an exciting, thrilling treat for the senses, or was PG Cooper right all along?

If you were to take elements of Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings, Suspiria, Inception, Kill Bill and every escape/war movie ever, and throw in a group of girls dressed in lingerie wielding machine guns, you’d get Sucker Punch, Zack Snyder’s first film not based on pre-established property. The plot is so complicated and layered in this movie, so I will try to make it as simple as possible. Threw a series of unfortunate events, Emily Browning’s character Baby Doll is taken to a mental institution where she creates an alternate reality (which is essentially a whorehouse), and within this reality, the girls are required to dance, and whenever she dances, she is transported to an insane world with dragons, robot Nazi’s, giant samurai’s with rocket launchers and a detailed sci-fi city run by robots. Using this reality she hatches a plan to escape and be free. If your confused, don’t worry, so is everyone else except the director. I’ll start off by saying I like Zack Synder, I thought Dawn of the Dead was a great zombie film, despite it being extremely different than the original, therefore not really needing the title, 300 was a great action/epic, and I really liked his adaptation of Watchmen. He has a lot of visual style, and is very creative with how he presents his projects, and all his creativity and techniques are present here, so you can definitely tell it’s a Zack Snyder film.

The acting all around is pretty good, all of the main female leads are great, Jena Malone and Abbie Cornish is particular. Carla Gugino is alright, but the accent she puts on is a little embarrassing, and you never really care at all for her character. Oscar Isaac was great as the warden, creating an intimidating and believable villain. Scott Glenn………why were you in this movie? Don’t get me wrong, Scott Glenn is a brilliant actor, but why was he in this? I understand that he was there to tell Baby Doll what she had to do to escape, but all he really did was blurt out the most ridiculous and unsuitable dialogue ever, and randomly say epic quotes…that have nothing to do with the situation in which it’s stated. The only time his character seemed genuine was at the very end, but that’s it. Either way, it’s Scott Glenn, and so it’s not like it was a negative thing to see him in here. Overall, acting was pretty good, especially the five main females, as they carried the movie.

The Good:

Despite there being a lot of complaints about the originality of them, I don’t care, the visual effects were stunning. The whole tone and atmosphere was perfect for what the movie was trying to achieve, and I was immersed in whatever world the movie was creating. Music plays a major role in the film, and despite it being annoying at times, for the most part it had a solid soundtrack. The action scenes were great, and there was some exciting choreography during fight sequences. Despite the plot being absurd, I will admit it was original, and there’s nothing I love more than creativity and originality in a movie. So, hats off to the cinematographer and special effects crew for creating a fascinating and detailed world, interesting fight sequences, and overall there is enough originality in the story to keep you surprised throughout.

The Bad:

At this point it may seem like I love this movie, so let me reassure you, I don’t. This movie is very heavily flawed, my main complaint being when Baby Doll enters her mystery world, they’re not that original. It borrows constantly from other films for reference on how the worlds should look, so despite the tone and look being original, it feels very familiar, and you know it’s been done before. Also, the story is very confusing, and half the time your wondering what is actually going on. This is sometimes due to the writing, and sometimes due to the camera flying all over the place and your not sure who’s hitting who. Another thing that bugged me was the setting. The movie could have taken place in any location, and at first it’s a mental institute, but when we enter the first alternate reality, it’s a whorehouse. It seems that the only reason for it to be this location was so that the females could be dressed with minimum clothing, which really makes it hard to take the situation seriously. Also, when Baby Doll enters the dream world, it feels just like a video game, which is weird because it feels like you should be playing it instead of watching it.

Another thing that really separates this film from Snyder’s previous projects (except Legends of the Guardians) is that it is not rated R. Which means all the moments were you would expect something brutal and harsh, it’s toned down and momentarily takes you out of the film. That being said, there is a scene about three quarters into the movie that is extremely dark and violent that really took me by surprise, but again it’s played down because it’s targeted towards younger audiences. I am aware that they released an extended R rated version on Blu-Ray, and I would honestly really like to see that, because I feel the movie wasted some potential in order to achieve a lower rating. Finally, this may not count because it’s not technically part of the story or anything, but during the credits, the credits are spliced together with random footage of Oscar Isaac and Carla Gugino dancing and singing on stage together. It is so absurdly random that I had to remind myself what movie I had just watched, because it does not fit the rest of the film at all. It’s not really a complaint, but more of a ‘what the hell just happened?’ scenario.

In Conclusion:

I don’t hate this movie, but I don’t love it either. It has plenty to enjoy, the visuals, the tone, characters and acting, but unfortunately it is ruined by some unoriginality and bizarre elements that really take you out of the film. If your looking for a mind bending thriller with lots of twists and turns, you won’t find it here, but if you want some simple entertainment with some form of a message, you might enjoy Sucker Punch. It is nowhere near perfect, and could be considered a ‘love-it-or-hate-it’ movie but I myself am stuck in the middle. If it takes your interest, by all means see it and make up your own mind.

6/10

Comments
  1. Paterick says:

    You NEED to watch the extended. I don’t even consider the theatrical cut a real movie. Hated that, really liked the extended. I think the studio might’ve chopped it up.

    And the extended was only 2 hours long, smdh.

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