daniel cohen reviews the latest mind-bender from Zack Snyder …
Plot: After a young girl’s (Emily Browning) mother (Kelora Clingwell) dies, her inheritance is left to her two daughters, angering the girls’ deceitful stepfather (Gerard Plunkett). After the girl accidentally kills her sister (Frederique De Raucourt) while trying to save her from the stepfather, he sends her to an institution where she becomes Baby Doll and plans to escape with the aid of three other prisoners and her imagination as inspiration.
Note to Zack Snyder: Story structure is really important when directing a movie. The funny thing is, there isn’t a whole lot wrong with Sucker Punch except for the story. The problem is the story is so terribly put together that it nearly derails the entire movie. When you can’t understand the basic rules of a film, it’s kind of a problem. The plot is just an excuse to get to the action.
The big selling point for Sucker Punch is experiencing Baby Doll’s imagination for really bad-ass action scenes that include giant stone samurais, crazy robot and really fast trains. But here’s the explanation for how we get to those things: She just imagines it. Wow. That is so lazy. Sucker Punch is like Inception from an alternate universe. Inception sets up rules for the first half, so that when we get to the second half, we go through one of the best emotional and intense roller coaster rides ever. This is just like … whatever, here is the cool shit. Yay. There is no clever set up for anything, but I will give Sucker Punch this: The action scenes are pretty incredible.
There is stuff to actually appreciate about this film, and the action is at the top of the list. The visuals look amazing. When the film alternates from real life to Baby Doll’s crazy fantasy land, I was curious to see what the next world was going to be. For what it’s worth, the film kept my interest and I was never bored. The problem, though, is that there’s no risk, because the basic premise of how this works is never set up, so I don’t feel any emotion behind it. It’s like watching a pre-season NFL game. Sure, the starters might be playing, and you’ll see some cool plays, but it doesn’t mean anything. However, towards the later fantasy scenes they do alternate between the imaginary and real life, and you finally experience some heartbreak and loss.
As good an action director as Snyder is, we still see a lot of pretentious Snyder moments. The guy uses the same shots from previous films. And keep in mind, I’ve only seen two Zack Snyder movies, and his style is already losing originality for me. He does a close-up shot of a button rolling onto the floor in slow motion, which is identical to the smiley face button rolling on the street in Watchmen. He even throws in a song that he used in Watchmen. Come on, man — really? I will say, though, the score is fantastic. There are some cover songs which are hit and miss, but the actual score really hits hard as does the acting.
The four main girls all have strong and distinct personalities. The two notable performances are definitely Abbie Cornish (Sweet Pea) and Emily Browning (Baby Doll). Even in a shit storm of a story, I empathized with them, which really says something for their acting. And the four girls do have fun with this.
Look, this isn’t very original. It’s lazily hashed together, and this would probably work better as a kick-ass music video, but there is enough here to call this movie passable. The fighting and action really do look gorgeous. And unlike the shitty Transformers movies, you can actually tell what’s going on. It’s never boring, and the characters are solid. I like this for the same reason I like G.I. Joe, although at least G.I. Joe’s story is cohesive, which is more than I can say for the crazy and psychotic world that is Sucker Punch.
Rating: 5.5 out of 10 (Passable Entertainment)