There has not been a single movie released so far this year that looks as fantastic as this movie does and be utterly pointless and flawed in almost every aspect. I find it depressing that this is the same director that brought us the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake and the big screen adaptation of WATCHMEN. Honestly, SUCKER PUNCH is an orgy for the eyes but torture on all the other senses. I’m still trying to wrap my brain on how a movie featuring chicks with swords, ninja statues, Nazi zombies, dragons and robots could be so dreadful instead of five different levels of awesome.
Here’s the plot, at least as far as I can tell; a young girl, Baby Doll (Emily Browning), is forced into a mental institution after attacking her step father and accused of murdering her little sister. While in the institution she enters into a fantasy world that pins her and her fellow crazies as prostitutes/dancers in a brothel and concocts a plan to escape using her seductive dancing as a means to distract the guards. Once the dancing starts she envisions herself in a variety of fantasy worlds to obtain all the different objects she’ll need to escape the facility.
I honestly believe SUCKER PUNCH was just an excuse for Zack Snyder to spend a lot of time on a set with scantily clad and half naked girls. The very first action scene is shameless exploitation of how many different ways you can show Emily Browning spinning and spreading her legs open in slow motion. Snyder has made a name for himself with the liberal use of slow motion and it’s never been more evident here and this is the worst it’s ever been used. The entire opening sequence is nothing but a music video for the song “Sweet Dreams” as directed by Zack Snyder; there’s no dialogue, just set up for the relationship between Baby Doll and her step father and how she ended up in a mental institution. There are several scenes that feel like nothing but extended music videos and set ups for a really bad porno.
The fantasy world Baby Doll chooses to live her escape in is a brothel, where the girls dance in order to turn on some horny dudes then take them back into a room where they finish them off. I half expected each subsequent fantasy to go a step farther and the girls are asking their cable guy to take his pants off. The fantasy worlds for the most part look pretty awesome; they all have some shaky CGI going on, but the visuals all have a very cool aesthetic.
The soundtrack is actually pretty decent; too bad the script requires that bland and lifeless characters that inhabit SUCKER PUNCH to speak over the top of it. The dialogue throughout is pretty awful and laughably bad at times. Every single time the Wise Man, played by Scott Glen, opened his mouth and said the words “oh and one more thing” the sentence immediately after induced an uncontrollable facepalm. The script has some of the worst and cheesiest cliché lines in the history of the English language; it literally uses the line of “don’t write a check that your ass can’t cash,” it’s like Snyder used Google search to come up with every cliché in the script.
Zack Snyder has always garnered points for style with films like 300 and WATCHMEN, but I can’t possibly make that concession here. Despite how good the action and special effects look, the film is completely devoid of anything involving real emotion or profound characterization. The action scenes have no stakes because you know everything takes place in a fantasy world while she’s doing a stripper dance for her employers. You never even see this dancing that hypnotizes everyone; Baby Doll just moves back and forth a couple times, closes her eyes and we are back in fantasy land.
For all the implied sex, half naked girls and violence on display you’d think this was an explicit hard R raunch-fest. Sucker Punch is decidedly PG-13 for reasons I’ll never understand; it’s so disappointing to see Synder going from awesome zombie carnage in DAWN OF THE DEAD to girls slaying Nazi zombies. That last statement is disappointing for the fact that these zombies don’t spill blood and that’s because Snyder has scripted in that the Nazi’s developed a way for their dead to function as soldiers by powering them with nothing other than steam, so when these poor saps die they don’t squirt blood, they spill out pockets of hot air.
All the money on screen here appears to be entirely on the special effects. The cast looks and acts like Snyder was walking through the set of a porno and grabbed any girl that wasn’t busy and said “do you have a second,” filmed their scenes and tossed them away like a used condom. I might be giving anyone who had a hand in the script too much credit because I’ve seen porns that have way more passion on display than any second of footage in SUCKER PUNCH. The writers of this garbage must have already suffered severe carpal tunnel just thinking of all the girls in spandex and the rest of the chicken scratch had to be translated through beer goggles.
Zack Snyder’s WATCHMEN flirted with a three hour runtime and I was ready for more by the time it was over. SUCKER PUNCH rings in at two hours and if it was a second longer I might have caused serious physical harm to the nearest living soul left in the theater. If I found any enjoyment in the film at all it was the moment it was over and realized I would never have to watch it again. The film is sort of like one long lobotomy, in that, when it was over I had no memory of why I ever wanted to subject myself to it. SUCKER PUNCH is aptly titled as anyone buying a ticket has already succumbed to what the title suggests. We only have ourselves to blame as the title is also a warning because you can’t get passed the first syllable of the title without spelling SUCK.