Release Date: March 25, 2011 (conventional theaters and IMAX)
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Zack Snyder
Screenwriter: Steve Shibuya, Zack Snyder
Starring: Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jamie Chung, Jena Malone, Carla Gugino, Jon Hamm, Oscar Isaac, Scott Glenn
Genre: Action, Fantasy
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for thematic material involving sexuality, violence and combat sequences, and for language)
Official Website: SuckerPunchmovie.com
The “Biff”, “Bam”, and “Booming” Plot
Babydoll becomes the victim of her abusive stepfather now that her mother has passed away. The father, whose name is never revealed, finds a way to lock Babydoll up in a mental institution after she accidentally shoots her sister, with the original intent of drilling the bullet right into the skull of her adoptive parent.
The story then fades away from the family trauma and becomes a darkmorality tale of survival by way of escaping into the world of imagination. Babydoll leads her team of inmates into a series of imaginative wars that all tie into the institutional world around her. Battles range from unrealistic duels with giant Samurai’s to dog fights with World War II fighter jets, all of which maintain this theme of escaping one’s life by delving into a world of make believe.
But before all is said and done, this band of women must make a sacrificial decision and choose between doing what’s right and what is easy. Despite the virtual arsenal at their disposal, their toughest battle will wield no guns, swords, or fighter jets…just the simple power of will and the drive to be set free.
My “Blam”, “Kick” and “Ka-Plowing” Thoughts
This newest Zach Synder cinematic installment instills debate as much as it does entertainment; when should visual effects become the acceptable predominant storytelling force, and when should it be the supporter of the storyline? As someone who prefers the written script to be the heart of any film, my artistic side cannot be denied either. The film has a point! As predictable and campy as it is, the story fuels the film enough to give room for the more important aspect of Sucker Punch, which remains within the visual rhetoric.
Zach Synder is making a real name for himself within the film industry, having made two successful films (300 & Watchmen) which have now defined that unique signature style which comes off in Sucker Punch. The film, however, brings a new direction to life with Snyder’s multiple sets of visual prose that, most times, seem chaotic and without purpose. The fact that Babydoll’s imagination seems to also have an imagination of its own will be confusing enough for any audience member. She goes from being in the mental institution, to imagining herself in a classy-style dance brothel, and then (while still in her whore-house imagination) to dreaming up a world where she leads her fellow inmates into intense & destructive wars which seem out of this world. Babydoll fights zombies, Orcs, over-sized Samurai, and many more adversaries, all of which have its foundation in folklore and fantasy. Too much to take in? Who cares?!?
There is a very blurred sense of reality which permeates all throughout the film. At one point, I actually forgot about the mental institution as I was so enthralled by Babydoll’s world in her mind. Snyder is certainly ahead of the rest of the film-world in his visual approach with every movie he makes; the animation is realistic enough to be believable, yet maintains enough cartoonish fervor where it still feels like it could have come out of a comic book and/or a gothic video game. I’m excited to see what he does with the next Superman film!
Sucker Punch takes everything that isn’t normal within mainstream movie making and slaps it on this film’s central part of the stage. when it comes to carrying around guns and swords, women rarely are the heavy hitting protagonists in most movies today; most of the time that role is given to the men with the women carrying on the role of the supporting cast member. Here we have women not only shooting everyone down and slicing all the badie’s heads off, but we also see a strong sense of confidence within each female character. Yeah sure, two of the women are timid about a few things, but in the end, they all could kick major ass without breaking too much of a sweat.
Now of course most hardcore feminists (both male AND female) will challengeany who approach the film with that positive angle and ask “Why is it that even in the imaginary world of a female, the women are still dressed in revealing and seductive outfits?” The answer to that question is simply this…the film is still made by a male majority. The movie does not represent a feminist viewpoint as well as one might hope, so don’t expect Sucker Punch to meet all of the feminist demands for representation. Sucker Punch is not meant to be an accurate depiction of a victory cry for female rights, but more so as a representation of what every comic book geek, video game nerd, and…well, let’s be honest…every male’s secret fantasy of watching hot girls star in a Kung-Fu and bullet-blasting movie.
Members of the Babydoll Resistance Brigade play their parts nicely; Abbie Cornish, AKA Sweet Pea, plays a wise, yet reluctant big sister to the action-hungry, sexy red-haired tough girl, Rocket, played by Jenna Malone. Vanessa Hudgens and Jaime Chung do well at bringing the vivacious attitudes to their heavy machine operating and fist pumping roles to the screen which compliments Emily Browning’s leading role as Babydoll perfectly. But kudos needs to go to our two great supporting actors, Oscar Isaac and Carla Gugino. Gugino presents a very confident and proud Russian woman who obviously cares for her girl’s safety, but doesn’t allow any man to walk all over her. Likewise, Isaac fantastically supports the stereotypical male standard within films that all men want sex (which in turn supports the conservative Christian attitude that all sex is bad) quite well with his role as the seedy zoot-suit, fedora-wearing sex offender named Blue.
The “jab”, “jolt”, and “Ker-Plunking” Conclusion
While I found Sucker Punch quite entertaining, a little more support within the story would have greatly improved its confusing nature. The few thematic driving points, such as sexual leverage and the inner workings of revenge, felt much more like a fleeting after thought which didn’t lend itself to the story as well as I’m sure Snyder hoped for. But the film’s visuals are more than enough to keep my interest firm and never wavering for its two hour duration. And besides, the film’s title should suggest to you that “Sucker Punch” is going to hit you with very little preparation. Don’t take it too seriously and you should be fine.
8 out of 10 stars