Sucker Punch (Devil’s Advocates Review)
As a collector of fine swords and admirer of fine ladies, Sucker Punch was my go to film for the year. The amalgamation of swords, guns, dragons, mechs, and fetishistic fantasies should grab a hold of and keep my attention. Not only should it do that, but it should succeed on all other fronts as well.
Sucker Punch, the latest CGI encumbered escapade from Zach Snyder, is the story of Babydoll, a young woman who is institutionalized after accidentally killing her sister. While in the asylum she begins escaping into various fantasy sequences, while all the while attempting to escape her confines. The story, while moderately captivating, is mired in needlessly confusing plot devices, backed up by vacuous action sequences.
Initially the film was sold to viewers as an action packed, fantasy laden fusion of the provocative and the preposterous. As time went on, more details became available to the public, revealing the true nature of the story. I should say, it was revealed that there was indeed a story, though you wouldn’t know it from the original teaser trailer. The story’s premise seemed secondary to the mercurial and divergent orgy of the senses that was presented in the trailer. Upon viewing the film as a whole it became obvious that the film was hampered by the story. Not just the story, but by having too much story.
I love great special effects and fight choreography, but I tend to prize story and dialogue above all else. If a movie has no real story, it loses my interest immediately. Knowing this, I am actually advocating a version of Sucker Punch that somehow loses the story. The DVD and Blu-Ray needs to have a recut version of the film that somehow dials back the story. Especially the last twenty minutes and the final revelations.
Despite the overindulgent story, there are some interesting allusions to other stories and entertainment mediums. There is a sequence where the Sucker Punch Angels are in World War I, ala Call of Duty, fighting soldiers that are steam and clock gear powered. At first I dismissed it as an homage to the “Steampunk” subgenre of Sci-Fi. A day later, while discussing the film with my daughter, it dawned on me that the real homage was to an obscure character named Tik Tok from the Oz series. Later in the story, characters that were confined to the fantasy sequences are seen in what we believe is the real world, all of which is punctuated by a scarecrow by the roadside as the story concludes. Now this could all be coincidence, but it would explain some of the story and stylistic choices.
When discussing a Snyder film it’s impossible to ignore the ostentatious CGI work. In 300 Snyder established a style of filming and special effect usage that hasn’t changed much since then. In 300 and Watchmen, Snyder employed a great deal of dark, washed out looking CGI backgrounds and buckets of animated blood. In order to get the PG-13 rating Snyder lost the latter, keeping the former, as it appears to be a staple in his films. Now this is more of a nitpick and preferential issue, but the dreary, colorless scenery is played out. Maybe this is due to lackluster computer animation and can’t really be blamed on Snyder, but it seems that most other productions in Hollywood, using the same technology, for the same purpose seems to get it right. It’s as if they have difficulty fully realizing the animated sequences, so they speed up and darken what doesn’t work, which appears to be everything. Hopefully this issue is corrected before Snyder begins work on Superman: Man of Steel.
Had the story been a little less convoluted and the special effects more expertly done Sucker Punch could have been a knock out film. Unfortunately, it gets in its own way too much, which hurts viewer enjoyment. It’s not completely bereft of gratification, but the moments are so scattered, like the story, that it impacts the film as a whole.
Posted on March 29, 2011, in DA Film Review and tagged Abbie Cornish, Carla Gugino, Emily Browning, Jamie Chung, Jena Malone, Jon Hamm, Oscar Isaac, Scott Glenn, Sucker Punch, Vanessa Hudgens, Zach Snyder. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.