Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sucker Punch

Year: 2011
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Scott Glenn

Plot: Set in the 1960s, the film focuses on a young girl, recently orphaned, who is sent to a mental hospital by her wicked stepfather. There, she befriends four other girls, and as they plan their escape, she imagines a parallel world where they become warriors on a handful of missions, which coincide with the escape plan.

Review: That plot summary was not easy to write. But then again, Sucker Punch isn't just a film. It's part guilty pleasure, part music video, part video game, and if you stay till the end credits roll, it's part Broadway too.

Zack Snyder has always been a master of visual style, and here he shows us why yet again. For every action sequence, there's a musical number, and a lot of slow mo is used, combined with some neat camera tricks that takes the audience up, over, upside down and pretty much everywhere else. Snyder also deserves credit for filming the fight sequences properly, which means no close up shots that blur the moves.

As for the CGI used to depict the fantasy worlds, it is nothing short of spectacular. We have WWI trenches filled with zombie Germans, a castle with a dragon, a Japanese fort with demon samurais and a train with robot warriors. It all looks damn awesome, even though you know that the girls are really fighting nothing during filming, you sure don't feel or notice it on screen.

Emily Browning, who plays the lead girl Baby Doll, excels in the fight sequences but her acting is a bit bland. However, she makes up for it by contributing her voice to a few songs used in the film. The standout number would be Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) which is played at the beginning of the film. I must say, Browning has good vocals. Abbie Cornish and Jena Malone, who play sisters Sweet Pea and Rocket, are the best ones in the acting department here. Their conflict on whether or not to escape is well executed. Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung don't get to do much here, but fill their roles as best they can. Carla Gugino lends some good support as the girls' instructor, Mdm Gorski, while Oscar Isaac makes a pretty good villain as their pimp in the fantasy world. Poor Scott Glenn however, gets the Yoda like role of the Wise Man, their guide in the fantasy missions, who has the corniest lines ever heard on film.

Despite all the outstanding visuals, Sucker Punch is still a bit of a mess plotwise. Sure, I can dig the parallel fantasy/reality universe thing, but compared to Snyder's previous work on 300 and Watchmen, it's rather flimsy. In fact, Sucker Punch is rather an acquired taste. Either you like it (or at least get it), or you hate it and call it crap. A few patrons walked out of the theatre when I saw this yesterday, so I'm guessing they're of the latter group.

In summary, Sucker Punch is a visual feast and more likely a favourite amongst men who love seeing sexy women fight with guns and swords, but if you want something meatier, this probably isn't your cup of tea. (3.5/5)

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