Monday, March 28, 2011

Suckiest Punch

Release: 03.25.11
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 49 minutes

A Netflix Night

After her mother's death, a young woman (Emily Browning, The Uninvited) is carted off to a mental institution by her stepfather. Once there, Baby Doll imagines she and her fellow inmates are being held captive in some sort of brothel/halfway house for runaway girls. The headliner, Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish, Limitless), doesn't take to Baby Doll the way her sister Rocket (Jena Malone, The Ruins) does. When Amber (Jamie Chung, Dragonball: Evolution) and Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens, Bandslam) hear Baby Doll has a plan to escape before the High Roller (Jon Hamm, The Town) arrives in five days, Sweet Pea reluctantly joins them. For her plan to work, the women have to procure four items from their captor Blue (Oscar Isaac, Robin Hood) and his men, which they do while Baby Doll mesmerizes them with her dancing. As Baby Doll sways to the music, she dreams she and the girls are instructed by a Wise Man (Scott Glenn, Training Day) to conquer a series of nightmarish realms to retrieve these precious items. 


That was kinda shit.

I never expected Sucker Punch to be revolutionary, but I didn't anticipate wanting to repeatedly punch myself in the face for paying to see it. I defended director Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead) for both 300 and Watchmen. Save for that one excruciatingly ridiculous Hallelujah sex scene, Watchmen was a pretty awesome film. Sucker Punch, however, felt like I was watching that scene on a continuous loop. Also, weeeee... dooooon't... neeeeed... tooooo... seeeeee... evvvvv... errrrry... scennnnne... annnnnd... pllllllot... poooooint... innnnn... slooooow... mooooo... tionnnnnn. Baby Doll explains to her sisters-in-satin that she needs to acquire a map, fire, a knife and a key to escape so why bother telegraphing their importance to audiences using slow motion? Maybe Snyder thought viewers are too dense to follow his needlessly complex story. 

Sucker Punch has about as much substance as Baby Doll's skirt has cloth. It's all sex appeal and style, which at first promising, loses its awe rapidly. The monstrous creations Baby and Co. face are inspired and suitably menacing. By the third nightmare sequence, the hail of slow-motion bullets into yet another throng of disposable, faceless combatants becomes tedious. All of these dazzling visuals are accompanied by a rocking soundtrack, but the combination of music and explosions are mind-numbing and, at my theater, nearly deafening. 

Poor Emily Browning. She alternates between kicking ass and staring into space wishing for a better-written character. I feel sorriest for Abbie Cornish who now has to list this film on her resume. To her favor, she is the only girl given any significantly emotional scenes and she nails them. I'm glad Jena Malone, Carla Gugino and Scott Glenn are working, but they deserve better roles. Glenn's Wise Man stands around spouting cliches. Snyder should have hired Baz Luhrmann to advise the girls to wear sunscreen; it would have been just as effective.  

Dirty Undies
I should give Sucker Punch credit for giving audiences five smokin' hot heroines, but even that backfires. Seeing sexy, supple hotties wearing fishnets and thigh-high stockings with outfits that would make strippers blush should sprout a rainforest's worth of wood in theaters across the country. However, the slow-motion barrage of battles, which devolve into Baby repeatedly relying on cool gymnastics and swordplay is enough to wish to never see pigtails and a slutty sailor's suit ever again.

Baby Doll's first battle against the giant samurai is thrilling as is the rush-through-the-trenches sequence that follows. Snyder's use of exploding light and escaping steam to limit the bloodshed is clever, but had he wanted this film to have better theatrical legs, it needed to be rated R. And, by the by, why does Sweet Pea carry a sword if she never fucking uses it?!

The Money Shot
Zack Snyder has said, "It's difficult to find a movie that feels true to itself. You feel the hand of Hollywood, the moviemaking by committee, on everything." Yes, a good amount of Hollywood fare is by-committee bullshit, but you, sir, needed others to keep your ego in check with Sucker Punch. If it were up to me, I'd snatch Superman: Man of Steel out from Snyder's hands without hesitation. I guess the announcement that Amy Adams will play Lois Lane conveniently overshadows this colossal fuck up.

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  1. Emily Browning has bad luck with sisters, doesn't she?

  2. LOL! I had the exact same thought!

  3. Well said. I especially agree about the sex appeal and style losing the aww cool! factor relatively quickly. I pretty much zoned out during the WWII zombie battle royale, and Baby Doll facing off against the Mommy Dragon was about the only action scene that kept my interest (I love me some dragons and samurai swords).

    Although one thing I can't necessarily agree with folks is their fear about Snyder and Superman. For one, he wasn't involved in the writing process, he's just there to bring the story into reality. And from what I read, Snyder recognizes that the style he's used in his films wouldn't benefit Superman. So, I ain't worry just yet.

    (and I loved the slow mo typing, it cracked me up) Great review, mate.

  4. My Snyder-Superman comment is more of a knee-jerk reaction. It's funny; David Goyer is an excellent writer, but he isn't much for directing and Snyder now proves he's better behind the camera than he is at writing, so with the two sticking to their strengths, Superman should be safe. I'm glad he's looking to bring a different style to Supes; I don't know how much slo-mo fighting I can take from the Big Blue Boy Scout.

    Glad you enjoyed the write-up.

    20 days and counting to DW!

  5. So THAT's why Emily Browning kept staring into space.

  6. That's what her eyes were telling me. That, and "I need a better agent."