I have been a bit of a fan of Zack Snyders work since my friends and I decided to go and see the Dawn of the Dead
remake several years ago. We all liked the film and I have checked out most of the work he has done since then, I enjoyed 300
a lot, really liked Watchmen
, and was eagerly awaiting Sucker Punch. That being said after the lackluster reviews I decided to wait to see it and after viewing it I think I made the right choice.
The story mainly takes place in an asylum for the insane where the lead character Babydoll has been sent by her set father after the death of her mother and sister. Once there she is scheduled to have a lobotomy in 5 days unless she can escape. In her mind she creates a world resembling a burlesque club and the other characters take up roles in the club. It is discovered that when she dances she can hypnotize all who watch her allowing her friends to gather the necessary tools for the escape. Her dances are shown in her mind as fantasy worlds and each is the quest for an item to help them escape before she is lobotomized.
As with all of Snyders films after the Dawn of the Dead remake Sucker Punch is visually stunning. He has a very styalised visual style and it works to great effect in this film. When the story take place in the fantasy worlds the look of everything seems to have been so heavily designed to to make almost every frame look amazing that the effect is it simply takes your breath away such as when Babydoll first goes into the snow covered samurai world, it just looks so good. This is not just the case with the fantasy world however as I very much enjoyed the look of the film through out, from the standard Snyder style slow-mo opening, to the actual asylum. All of the shots would work well as stills and this I think is to the films benefit as even when the story loses its way, the fil remains nice to watch.
Alas the visuals are the only thing the film really has going for it. There are quite a few problems with the film probably the biggest of which is that very little of it really makes much sense. While what is explained seems quite outrageous, thus seeming to be a bit stupid like dancing and hypnotizing people, it never the less works as this is the story. Where I have problems is that there are elements of the story that are just never explained like why the asylum suddenly changes into a dance club. This is a big problem as I spent a reasonable amount of time waiting for an explanation that just did not come, saying that it could be that I just missed the explanation as I nearly missed part of the set up by reading the wrong part of the mothers will. This becomes a problem as the film goes on as it can quickly become confusing and some of the explanations take a bit of time to turn up, such as the one explaining that the fantasy worlds are her dancing.
Another issue the film has is that the acting is not that great. There are some exceptions, I liked Scott Glenn as the mysterious guide, and I thought Emily Browning did quite well with her role as well, I just feel her short comings are a result of a messy script. I thought Gerard Plunkett was very good as the creepy, bad step father and he nailed his role, and finally Abbie Cornish was OK. Other than these for there was not another person in the cast that I liked, I could not stand Oscar Issac as Blue, which is a shame as I thought he did a good job in Robin Hood, John Hamm was hardly in the film enough to warrant mention, and Jena Malone was pretty wooden through out. The less said about Jamie Chung and Vanessa Hudgens the better as both were level in my opinion for the worst performances in the film. Neither of them seemed to show an emotion in the roles and when they did try it came across as so forced it was distracting, such as when Blondie is being confronted toward the end of the film. I had other issues with the film but this is enough for the purposes of this review as the above are the major ones that stood out the most.
In conclusion Sucker Punch was an average experience and is worth seeing if you can over look the above problems and want to see a visually stunning series of action sequences with some eye candy, however if you are looking for a deeper and anything more than this I would say avoid this film.