Zack Snyder is known for doing CGI blended films, usually controversial and sometimes, maybe just a teeny bit homoerotic. I’m not passing any judgment on 300 or Watchmen, I really enjoyed both of them. The point is, his name makes your ears perk up when hearing in a passing conversation. While people may have mixed feelings about his films and his content, he never fails to deliver something that is unique and edgy. With Sucker Punch being his first film based on original content and not a graphic novel or children’s story, it was in debate whether he could create something worth watching. You bet your sweet potatoes this movie is worth watching.
Damn, this is going to be difficult to explain. Sucker Punch is a story about Baby Doll (Emily Browning) getting sent to an insane asylum by her evil step-father. Scheduled to have a lobotomy in five days, she develops a coping mechanism. She shifts her consciousness to back out of reality and into several levels of fantasy, using this to help her plot an escape. Sucker Punch‘s storyline takes place on three tiers of consciousness, much like Inception‘s multiple dreams. The top tier of her reality is the truth, an insane asylum. The second tier of her reality is a 1930’s club/brothel, where each of her asylum mates take on different identities. Each of their new identities parallels their real selves, even the guards and orderlies take on alternative identities. Most of the movie occurs in this second tier, but the first two tiers are really only differentiated by aesthetics — almost everything that happens in the second tier is happening in the first. The third and final tier only actually occurs when Baby Doll is required to dance. Instead of showing a dance scene, she goes deeper into her mind’s fantasies.
Let me give you an example, because this is ridiculously hard to explain out of context. So, the first thing Baby Doll needs to get to escape is a map. In her second tier, the map is in a particular office. To distract the men and the owner of the club, she does a dance for them. Now, instead of showing the dance, it drops into a metaphor for the current situation. In this case, the scenario switches to the girls fighting in a steampunk WWI, with mecha-zombie enemies. They fight through it in order to get the map, so the third tier is just representing their plan in the second tier. If it succeeds in the third tier, they succeed in the second. I really hope that didn’t just confuse you. It takes a minute to adapt, but it is much simpler when you’re watching the movie.
The plot of this movie really surprised me. At first, I was mostly terrified that this would be some depressing movie about women being abused. Then Snyder completely turned it around, making it exciting, beautiful, funny and most of all, entertaining. The movie has a very similar feel to a video game, where the main characters have to collect five items in order to accomplish their mission and escape. Each of the Third Tier scenarios you see even feel like levels out of a video game. Now, if you’re not a video game nerd, it doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy it any less. The beauty about using the three tiers throughout the film is that it allows you to see so many more settings. It lets things get over-the-top and bad-ass, in the best way. If you want a mental health drama, you can go buy ice cream, rent Girl, Interrupted and feel sad. I would say that, next to Scott Pilgrim v.s. The World, Zach Snyder has created the next epic for ‘Generation Nerd.’ And God bless him for it.
I bet you couldn’t guess that a Zack Snyder movie would be a gorgeous blend of CGI and reality! Of course, this movie was stunningly beautiful. Whether it was blowing up a zeppelin, giant shogun robots or just the mental facility, every setting was delightful to look at. When you combine the strong art direction and perfect use of music, you create a film that can be enjoyed simply on those. What was interesting was how this movie was rated PG-13. At first I was disappointed, considering that Watchmen and 300 would’ve been severely lame if they’d been deprived the privileges of an ‘R.’ I loved that Zack Snyder got around the rules of PG-13, without nerfing the action, language, or sexuality. One example is that in the big fight scenes, the enemies didn’t bleed. He replaced any blood with either steam, bits of metal or beams of light. Also, he was able to put in some harsher language, simply by muffling their voices when they said the words. I think it let the movie feel more adult, without necessarily having to restrict itself.
I can’t even tell you how much the music in Sucker Punch impacted the film as a whole. With each ridiculous Third Tier setting you encounter, each one has a song that goes with it. Luckily, this isn’t some shitty original piece or Creed Remix. They picked some of the best songs to remix and blend into the scene, including “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, “Love is the Drug” by Roxy Music, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics. The songs during these scenes are really what drive them forward and tie them together. Buy the soundtrack.
I must admit that Emily Browning pulled a Kristin Stewart in this movie. Much like the blank face of Bella Swan, Baby Doll is really just good at looking doe-eyed and kicking ass. Her speaking lines were fairly limited, but I don’t feel like that took anything away from the film. It was so stylized and physical, you didn’t need everything described through dialogue. Besides, the supporting characters did a great job of making up for her. I was happy to see that there were no actors or actresses who kept the movie back with poor performances. Yes, even Vanessa Hudgens was passable as Blondie. That doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven her for Beastly. Usually, when a movie has multiple lead characters, you end up not finding out who these people are, or forgetting their names. That didn’t happen at all to me in Sucker Punch, with each character feeling important to the plot and the fact that you’re rooting for each of them. Of course, we can’t leave out the men! With Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac) being the male lead in this movie, he did a fantastic job as that slimy bastard that you love to hate. His character brought a majority of the humor into the script, even in tragic scenes.
Now, of course, there will be critics out there who hate this movie. They’ll look at this movie and see nothing but women in skimpy outfits running around and killing shit. They’ll hate that it is similar to a video game and they’ll find it demeaning towards women. I can tell you in all honesty, they are wrong. This is a movie for the younger generation. The generation that’s been playing games their entire lives, that can suspend their disbelief and enjoy a story. I think that everyone can get something out of this movie, not just 15-year old boys. Also, if anyone should be offended by this movie, it should be men. Almost every man in this movie is portrayed as mean-spirited, drunk, and disgusting. With only two male characters even shown as decent or normal, I think being sexy and whooping eight kinds of ass is an acceptable representation.
Obviously, this is one of those movies that you’ll either love or hate. Personally, I loved every minute of it. When I walked out of the theatre, I wanted to tell everyone I knew about it and get them to see it with me. I rarely get that feeling from movies, and I take it as a good sign. Don’t expect The King’s Speech or The Passion of the Christ when you’re walking into Sucker Punch. It is entertainment that is genuinely entertaining. Let the uptight critics and the snobs pan this movie, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be a fan favorite for quite a while. Have a drink and enjoy it. Anything that has the balls to let beautiful women shoot orcs in the face with silenced assault rifles will get my vote.
I give Sucker Punch 5 “Fishnets and Sexy Nicknames!” out of 5