Sucker Punch

Director: Zack Snyder (2011)
Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone
Find it: IMDB

AKA Speed Ramping: The Movie. It's like 300 except with super hot women instead of super hot men. It's a movie that probably employed more makeup artists than actors. Even when lead hottie Babydoll (Browning) is incarcerated in a hospital for the clinically insane, she's done up to the nines. I've seen the Joker wear less makeup in Arkham Asylum.

I really enjoy Zack Snyder's movies, but it's starting to feel as though he has trouble delivering anything beyond fancy visuals. His debut, the Dawn of the Dead remake still remains my favourite Snyder movie. Watchmen never really transcends the source material enough to become its own thing, and I've never been a fan of 300. It's the same reason I can't play Call of Duty; too much macho makes me feel ill. Sucker Punch might be all about the hot girls, but it still feels sickeningly macho. If 'girl power' is female macho, then Sucker Punch has girl power in spades. I actually think it would have been improved by putting some Spice Girls on the soundtrack.

But Sucker Punch has no such self-awareness. And its supposed female empowerment is undermined by a wardrobe that's all fishnets & schoolgirl outfits and the leering gaze of the camera. After accidentally shooting her sister and attempting to murder her rapey stepfather, Babydoll is committed to an asylum for the criminally insane. There she awaits the arrival of a lobotomist to relieve her of her troublesome mind. Can she escape before he arrives? In an attempt to do so, Babydoll retreats into a fantasy world and then another fantasy world inside that fantasy world. It's like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest if One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest had been stupid. It's like Shutter Island as made by somebody who didn't read Shutter Island but played a lot of videogames instead.

In her fantasy world, Babydoll is friends with Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone and Abby Cornish. Apparently Vanessa Hudgens plays the streetwise one, although I didn't really pick that up, given that she only has a handful of lines of dialogue. To escape the institution, Babydoll and her friends must steal a number of tools. Every time Babydoll wants to steal something, she does a hypnotic dance at a warden/the cook/the mayor and her friends steal said item. Instead of seeing anyone steal anything, the film retreats into the fantasy-inside-the-fantasy and we see the girls fight Samurai or robots or zombies or serpents. This always happens in slow motion and it's always stupid except for maybe the one with the giant robot Samurai.

Sucker Punch looks lovely but its story verges on unbearable. None of the characters ever feel real - like videogame avatars they do little other than pout or kill things. Occasionally they pout and kill things at the same time. There's as much emotional investment as a game of Tomb Raider. Sucker Punch is like watching someone else play a videogame: it's very pretty and all, but entirely boring unless playing yourself. I may not physically have been punched, but I feel like a sucker for watching this movie.


  1. I too am disappointed by Zack Snyder's work. He started out so bad ass but then it all went down hill.

  2. 'Tis true. Here's hoping he improves for Superman: Man of Steel. I don't think I can bear to see macho Superman punching things in slow motion.

  3. I'll be honest, his Dawn remake is the only movie of his that I enjoyed. The others feel too much like I'm watching someone else play video games.

  4. Disappointing but enjoyable. It's far from being as great as Watchmen, but I thought it was fun

  5. @Kev D. - Aye, I've not enjoyed any of his movies like I did Dawn of the Dead. The others have been fun, but lacking in character.

    @Maynard - I did think it fun, but I just couldn't connect with it on any level other than the prettiness.