Starring Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish and Scott Glenn

Directed by Zack Snyder

Written by Zack Snyder and Steve Shibuya

Naming your film Sucker Punch is a dangerous move because it allows critics like me to write things like “Sucker Punch: emphasis on the ‘suck.’”

Now that’s a rather glib assessment of such a visually striking film, but it’s accurate. Sucker Punch looks fantastic, but unlike the quick, startling jab promised by the title, it’s more like a slap in the face to the ideas of character and plot.

Vanessa Hudgens unloads as Blondie

The Univited’s Emily Browning stars as Babydoll, a young woman locked away in an asylum by her abusive stepfather. There she meets a cast of similarly gorgeous and troubled young women (Jenna Malone, Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung) who are being used by the staff to entertain wealthy businessmen. Babydoll deals with the enforced drudgery of her new life by vanishing into a fantasy world which sees her battling dragons, assassins and steam-powered Nazi robots, all while being guided by a nameless wise man (Scott Glenn) in a quest for five items which will aid their escape from the asylum before the mysterious High Roller (Mad Men’s Jon Hamm) comes for her.

Sucker Punch is set in a highly stylized fantasy world, much like director Zack Snyder’s other films 300 and Watchmen, and his visual imagination is fully on display. Many of the images he creates pander to the geekiest of us film fans ands are downright painterly in their compositions, but his script (co-written with Steve Shibuya, whose most prominent other credit is production assistant on 1988’s Killer Klowns From Outer Space) fails to create any real interest in Babydoll’s fate. Browning is suitably waifish and doe-eyed while simultaneously kicking ass on her own mental battleground, but she’s given no real dialogue to create an emotional interest in her or the other girls who are themselves virtual ciphers; beautiful misfits for whom we feel nothing.

Scott Glenn as the Wise Man

Like Tarsem Singh’s The Cell or Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain, Sucker Punch succeeds brilliantly as a showcase for its director’s visual fetishes. But there’s nothing going on beneath those brilliant visuals. Sucker Punch is a tale told, not by an idiot exactly but is certainly full of sound and fury, signifying very little.

Rating: 2.5/5

2 Responses to “MOVIE REVIEW: SUCKER PUNCH (2011)”

  1. Sucker Punch is a movie with hot mental chicks carrying samurai swords, shooting machine guns, fighting dragons and robots – it’s the ultimate teenage guilty pleasure.

  2. I love your post you seem to know a lot about your topic, I will reference this post.

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