Sucker Punch marks the first major release of an original work from writer/director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen). It tells the story of a young girl, who after attacking her cruel step-father finds herself admitted to a mental institution. It is at this mental institution where she uses the imaginative powers of her mind to escape the horrors that lay inside.
While that synopsis sounds promising, Sucker Punch falters in the same way that 300 and Watchmen faltered. It lacks a clear definition of what it wants to be. 300 stood out as a groundbreaking visual feast of visceral action and testosterone filled fight scenes, but its random injections of humor kept it from being truly “balls to the wall”. Watchmen struggled to find the balance between being true to its roots and being accessible enough for a wide audience. Sucker Punch doesn’t know if it wants to be a thought provoking psychological thriller or a 109-minute music video. It certainly isn’t a thought provoking music video.
The structure of the film is perhaps its weakest point. After Baby Doll (Emily Browning) goes into her first dance trance and learns how to escape, the audience figures out that for every item that she must collect, we’ll see another dance trance and another anachronistic fight scene. While the fight scenes are honestly spectacular, they do practically nothing to advance the story. This wouldn’t be a problem if the core story was trash and we wanted an escape, but because Snyder’s story has such potential, the action scenes only remind us we’re not getting anywhere.
The acting is more than adequate, and Jon Hamm’s limited screen time as the against-type “High Roller”, only adds to his mystery. The question of how to recommend this film comes down to expectations. There are bits of genius in this movie, but they are harder to appreciate because of the numerous pitfalls. The ending, while not entirely satisfying, deserves credit for breaking convention. It seems that the lower your expectations are for Sucker Punch, the more you’ll enjoy it.
Worth Your Money
Not Worth Your Money
-Worth Somebody Else’s Money-
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