Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."

Film: Sucker Punch
Year: 2011
Director: Zack Snyder.
Written by: Zack Snyder and Steve Shibuya.
Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn.
Running time: 110 min.

If there was a lesson that I've learned this year, it would have to be all thanks to Sucker Punch. You see, at the beginning of the year, this was my most anticipated film for 2011, because the trailers I'd seen made it look really pretty. As soon as it came out, everyone was trashing it, so I decided not to go and see it in cinemas (I didn't have time either). Okay, so I wasn't exactly excited for it to come out on DVD, but I still held on to a little shred of hope that this movie might actually be as cool as I thought it would be. Now that I've watched the film, I am doubting myself and the decisions I make. I'm sorry, why the hell did I want to see this movie so much?! Lesson learned from this mess: never choose the huge blockbuster movies that are really just made for teenage boys as your most anticipated. Sucker Punch is the reason why virtually all of the movies I want to see in the remainder of the year are festival favourites that don't have budgets over $5 million.

If there was one thing that really drew me into Sucker Punch before it was released, it would have to be the interesting-sounding story that looked like it was set to become 2011's answer to Inception. Well, it does have more than one layer of mental state. But the difference between this and Inception is the fact that I could understand Inception straight away, whereas I didn't understand Sucker Punch at all. First of all, we see young Baby Doll (Emily Browning) being sent to a mental institution by her stepfather. She's up for a lobotomy in five days. But no, Baby Doll is not crazy, and she needs to get out of the institution. How does one single white female get out of a mental institution? Well, she enlists the help of some other institutionalised women-folk: Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung). From the asylum they launch into their second reality: dancing at a burlesque club owned by the shady Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac). From Baby Doll's apparently brilliant dancing, they all go off into their third reality, which has them trying to retrieve five different items so they can get the hell out of Lennox House for the Mentally Insane.

For positivity and optimism's sake, I would love to say that no, Sucker Punch wasn't as bad as everyone made it out to be. I would love to say that some people may have just misunderstood what it was trying to say. I would love to say that it was so unfairly treated and all those critics were wrong. Unfortunately, it was just as bad as everyone made it out to be, I found it virtually incomprehensible, and the critics were all right. I wouldn't say I hated it - because hate is a very strong word and I don't wish to ever apply it to a film - but I found Sucker Punch to be a genuinely repulsive mess of a film.

I admire Zack Snyder for his ambition here, because his idea was kinda original. But it just didn't work on screen. The story-telling wasn't very coherent, and I found it extremely hard to understand what was going on with the different layers. Instead, Snyder seems to rely on fancy graphics and over the top action sequences to get his point across. Which is cool, because I have to admit that some of the action sequences are incredibly well staged, but for the most part, the audience is just thrown into all of these different situations with little knowledge of how they got there. Snyder, unfortunately, lacks the ability to tell a good story, which is a prerequisite when handling a multi-layered plot. Let's look at it this way: Sucker Punch was probably a teapot with a beautiful intricate design on the outside, made out of Chinese Porcelain, when Snyder first thought of it. But once he started to develop the story a bit more, he dropped that teapot and it broke into a hundred pieces. He was supposed to be the glue that held that teapot together again, but the pieces were just thrown together and the teapot wasn't that beautiful anymore. It was just a crappy looking, poorly put-together thing that had no real love or intelligence put into it. Moral of the story: don't mess with the teapot.

The one thing that really annoyed me about Sucker Punch was the fact that just about every character in this movie was despicable. First of all, every man in this movie, except for maybe the Wiseman (Scott Glenn), was made out to be utterly evil. They weren't just part bad, they were really bad, all the way through to their core. This was a little bit odd to watch, as being from a female's point of view, the men would have been put in a bad light anyway. Except, the women in this movie aren't much better. Sucker Punch is a revenge tale of sorts, and it sets out to give females empowerment. It's just a bit hard to believe in this inspiring story of how women overcome the power of men when the whole film is basically a teenage boy's wet dream. I, personally, found it hard to go along with these women who were wearing next to nothing and going out into all of these strange situations and beating the crap out of everything that moves. If this sort of fantasy is supposed to empowering and inspiring to a female like myself, then it certainly did fail. Sure, the men were really, really mean to them, but I'm sure that they were just there to highlight Sucker Punch's underlying theme of objectification of women.

In short, this movie is dismally bad. The acting doesn't really help any of the characters, especially as Hudgens' and Chung's characters fade into the background, leaving the talented Cornish and Malone (and their nice backstory) to support Browning's underwhelming heroine. All of the actors are on deflated autopilot, just like the rest of the film. There are some redeeming features in Sucker Punch, but they are buried beneath pile upon pile of glossy crap that it almost hurts to look at the film. Unless you're a teenage boy, because then I'm sure it will be quite fun.

What I got:


  1. Yeah the trailers did make this lok good didn't it?? Unfortunatley I saw a movie before this and had a migraine come on and I had paid for my ticket for this and I sat through it!!! Bad move!!
    This was a poor film that shows big bucks and quality don't ensue. For me it highlights the curse that CGI is one modern film making. It doesn't produce good cinema as filmakers would raher bombard the viewer with visual over load than supply acting, or heaven bid, a semblance of a plot.

  2. I thought it's gonna get Jacki Weaver rating but I'm not going to see it anyway. Maybe, only if I have nothing to watch at all except for this one, but it's unlike to happen.

  3. I only hear about it when everyone was already saying that it was rubbish, so I never intended to watch it... that is until, I confess, I noticed Jon Hamm was in it. And still today I can't believe he got involved in a film like this, so I may watch it, just to see.... why... hahah

  4. I didn't think it was bad as a lot of people thought it was. I watched with low expectations and it wasn't a good film. It had some moments but not much else. I think Emily Browning is a very good actress but she didn't really do a lot with her performance which I found to be very dissatisfying. Aside from Oscar Issacs, Carla Gugino, and Scott Glenn, Abbie Cornish and (my muse) Jena Malone were the saving graces of that movie.

    It was obvious that they were the only ones who kind of knew what to do and actually brought their A game no matter how messy the script and film was. I like their back story and wanted more from them. If it had been about the two of them, I think it would've been a more interesting film.

    I don't think the film was a waste of time because if it wasn't for this film. I wouldn't be motivated to write my script that I'm writing specifically for Ms. Malone.

  5. I couldn't wait to see this either. And then the reviews started.

    I caught it On Demand and I have to admit I didn't think it was horrible. It truly was just an effects-driven film, but I couldn't ignore the virginity/lobotomy thing. I thought that was mildly clever.

    I might be biased because I've truly enjoyed everything else Zack Snyder has done. This was the first original film he did. Kind of sad that it wasn't the greatest and it got trashed.

  6. you forgot to mention that a teapot put back together will have a crap load of holes for the good stuff inside to leak from, leaving just the ugly surface and no yummy tea

  7. Brent - I'm glad I didn't have a migraine while watching this, but I think I did have one afterwards. I'm also glad I got this movie for free! (oh, the perks of having a DVD can watch crap movies and not feel guilty for spending any money on them).
    I totally agree!

    Lesya - Make sure you stock up on heaps of movies so you don't have any time to watch this one :)

    Maria Sofia - Jon Hamm is barely even in it...he's got like, 30 seconds screen time. That was a big selling point for me, too!

    thevoid99 - Emily Browning is a very good actress, so I was a little bit pissed off that she didn't do that well here. I do agree, though...Gugino, Isaac, Glenn, Cornish and Malone were a lot better.
    It would have been a better film had it just been about Sweet Pea and Rocket. I liked their backstory a lot and Cornish and Malone are two very talented actresses who would have pulled it off.
    Well that's jolly good, then!

    Robert - I've only seen Watchmen...and I thought that movie was okay, certainly better than this one!

    Toby - I totally did! And for some reason now I really want some yummy tea!

  8. I saw this recently, and honestly i found it to be alright

  9. That's too bad that a movie you're anticipating ends up so disappointing for you, Stevee. Y'know what's funny, I asked a guy friend of mine to review this for my blog. He was all gung ho for it after the first time he saw it that he bought the movie! But then he watched it again and he had a completely different opinion. Needless to say, I didn't end up borrowing his Blu-ray.

  10. Agreed, this was quite bad. Nice review!

  11. Julian - It makes me feel so guilty that I can't say "it wasn't that bad"...I so wish I could!

    rtm - Ha, that's too bad! You won't be needing to borrow his Blu-Ray any time soon can live a healthy life even if you've missed this moive.

    Vik V - Indeed it was. Thanks!

  12. I didn't think it was bad at all, I came in expecting to see hot girls in skimpy clothing create a lot of violence with no plot and I got exactly what I wanted. Actually the whole point of the film seems to be pretty cool as it wanted to say we have all the things we need to be free, we just need to use them.

    IT was a strange way of saying it and it wasn't successful but i wanted hot girls and violence and I got it.


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


Related Posts with Thumbnails