Sucker Punch (2011) – Film Review

Sucker Punch Movie PosterSucker Punch

Starring Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm

Directed and written by Zack Snyder

IMDB Rating: 6.1

Zack Snyder, a creator famous for painting surreal pictures in cinema, creates a real doozy with Sucker Punch, a film I’ve been wanting to see for ages! A surreal world of ridiculous action is awesome, but films cannot be purely awesome to look at.

Sucker Punch stars Emily Browning as Baby Doll, a girl thrown into a mental asylum by her abusive stepfather after her mother and sister die. Set to undergo a lobotomy in five days time, she persuades four other female inmates to help her escape before she undergoes the procedure. They all work in the asylum as burlesque dancers under the eyes of owner Blue Jones (Isaac), and use Baby Doll’s dances (which she sees in her mind as dangerous adventures) as ways to get all the tools necessary for their escape.

I should start this review by stating that I did not totally get this movie! I mean, I understood enough to go along with it, but it jumps around, chopping and changing between the real and imaginary (and I think even past and future) so much that you get the impression there’s something that you’re missing. I sure hope there is, because the story in itself is quite unimpressive. Like you would expect, without the awesome visuals this film does start to fall apart, giving off quite a tacky vibe. And even when the cool action scenes were playing there we’re multiple times where I was thinking “come on, really?”.

Secondly, this is not the film I was expecting. As mentioned earlier, I had wanted to see this film for years (not even joking) because I have always been a big fan of Emily Browning, and a general fan of silly-cool/lollipop-chainsaw action. However, I stayed away from spoilers and giveaways until I saw it, so I went into this film more blind than I would usually. With that in mind, it surprised me how much of a strange psycho-action film it was, and I was almost disappointed when I saw that all the cool action sequences that attracted me to Sucker Punch were all in the main character’s head instead of actually happening. Also, I didn’t expect this to have such a girl-power vibe – that sounds silly, I know, but what I mean is that I didn’t expect their gender to matter that much. At points this really felt like it was one of those films that are made to tell young girls ‘don’t worry, you’re in control of your world’, like a ‘finding yourself’ kind of film, instead of being a group of innocent looking killers causing havoc. Sure, them inspirational films are good, but shouldn’t be mixed with actions films like this.

That being said, the visuals in the action sequences are awesome! The action sequences, however ridiculous (and generally unnecessary in respect to the story), do look incredible and are exactly what Zack Snyder does better than anyone I can think of.

As mentioned earlier, I’m a big fan of Emily Browning and am kind of disappointed she hasn’t done anything the big recently. She does as good job in this film, perfectly embodying the dangerous-innocence vibe that surrounds Sucker Punch. I do however feel that while she looks cool in the action sequences her best acting is in her vulnerable moments, which would explain why she’s been kept away from big blockbusters and been doing more quiet, pretty films such as the musical God Help the Girl. In terms of other performances, Jamie Chung stood out of the four backup dancers with a very cool performance in the action sequences (outside of that, all the girls just blended into one). Oscar Isaac delivered a very impressive performance as the erratic asylum owner, delivering an exciting, engrossing performance that shows just how legendary (and I mean LE-GEN-DA-RY) he could be, especially with Star Wars coming up!

The directing by Zack Snyder was excellent. The way he directs his movies shows a great level of control, ironically, as I can’t escape the feeling that he has complete control over what I’m looking at. That’s not necessarily good or bad, but it’s his style and I myself am a huge fan of what he does. The visions in Baby Doll’s head are more like visions in Snyder’s head, purely him playing with his toys in a way films like 300 and Watchmen didn’t allow him to.

Overall, this is definitely not the film I expected it to be. While not as good as I was hoping it would be, I think it hasn’t done anybody in it any harm. The action sequences show what Zack Snyder can really do, but I don’t think storytelling is his strong point. There are moments of pure brilliance in this film, but there’s just not enough to make me want to watch it again or suggest it to someone else.

HAPPY ANIVERSARY! Yes, the day this review is released is exactly 12 months since our first film review (15/11/2014 – Welcome to the Punch). With ‘Punch’ in the title’s I feel an invigorating feeling, as if I’ve gone full circle or something! Thanks to everyone for sticking around (I remember feeling really proud of my 10 followers), I promise you we’re only just getting started…

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