Twitter Plot Summary: Babydoll is sent to an institution by her stepfather where she escapes into a series of fantasy daydreams to cope with her situation.
Director: Zack Snyder
Key Cast: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn, Gerard Plunkett, Richard Cetrone
Five Point Summary:
1. There’s that trademark slow motion. Already.
2. Cue a plethora of fantasy within fantasy sequences…
3. It was all looking pretty good until the dragon shows up. Bad CGI.
4. That chef. Big ugly son of a gun.
5. Ahh right, so that’s what it was all about…
Zack Snyder has become known as a director with visual flair, an obsession with slow motion mixed with impressive visual effects and an Inception-esque fantasy within a fantasy setup. You could see Sucker Punch as the antithesis of the six-pack-fest that was 300, very much a fetishist’s paradise, an excuse to throw a group of attractive girls together and dress them up in an array of potentially exploitative costumes. Sure, you can argue that it’s actually liberation rather than exploitation, but I would disagree. Showing good looking women wearing slightly suggestive outfits can be considered acceptable when the overriding notion of the film is sexual harassment. The woman become playthings, their sole reason for existing is for men’s entertainment and to be exploited. Babydoll is our lead character, sent to an asylum after accidentally killing her sister. She reverts to fantasies within a fantasy in order to cope with her new circumstances and her past life, giving Snyder carte blanche to unleash the CGI machine.
Zack Snyder’s love of slow motion gets its fair share of use and then some. It’s another case where if he decided to play everything in real time the film would likely be a third shorter than it actually was. I’m in two minds as to whether or not this would be a good or a bad thing. And that sums up my feelings with regards to Sucker Punch – there are some really good bits let down by a meandering story that doesn’t engage its audience. Even the gratuitous use of women wearing fetishistic outfits does little to counteract the script. Well, some might argue otherwise on that point, but in any case just because the film’s setting and characters look interesting, doesn’t necessarily mean the film works as a whole.
Snyder does at least use music well in the edit. It complements the visuals and it’s a shame that we couldn’t get a story to match those two elements. Without dipping into spoiler territory I did appreciate it a little more once the story wrapped up and explained most of what had preceded it, but there was an equal amount left unanswered or parts that stare logic in the face and then run off screaming in the opposite direction. Ignoring the fantasy sequences for a moment, the rest of the film looks stylish but incredibly cheap – locations are limited to a few rooms within the asylum so it has an air of a stage play to it. As for the fantasy sequences, they look cheap but in a different sense. Clearly they were shot on a reasonably small sound stage, and the CGI itself is moderate to poor throughout. They also don’t make much sense – Babydoll and the girls have to find a number of items within those fantasies in order to escape from the asylum – fine, I’m with you on that point – but then the fantasies themselves make as much sense as an Alejandro Jodorowsky screenplay. The difference being, Jodorowsky is weird but entertaining, whereas this borders on tedium. I’d put this one down as an admirable failure.
Favourite scene: The World War 1/2 themed fantasy. Trenches and Steampunk Nazis = epic win.
Quote: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”