Bobcat Movie Review: Sucker Punch
March 25, 2011
I have only myself to blame for getting sucker-punched by “Sucker Punch”. This movie lured me in with such a spectacular trailer that it tricked me into forgetting one of the Commandments of big-budget entertainment: “Thou shalt not a release a blockbuster in March.”
If a studio thinks it’s got a special-effects laden, sure-fire moneymaker on its hands (think “Transformers” or “Avatar”), the movie will premiere during the summer or in the holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If a studio suspects it has a special-effects laden, sure-fire stinker on its hands, it books a March release date and reaches for the Purell.
Sadly, “Sucker Punch” is a stinker. As much as I wanted to like this movie, as much as I marveled at the visual magic conjured on the screen, the end result is a soul-less and emotionally-numbing adventure where the people are upstaged by the Intel chips that create a CGI universe like nothing you’ve ever seen.
Fans of Director Zack Snyder’s movies (“Dawn of the Dead”, “300”, “Watchmen”) will not be disappointed; this movie bears his stylized signature in every frame. But Snyder, who also co-authored the script, offers the audience a barely comprehensible story that slathers two separate layers of fantasy over the bleak reality of a mental institution.
The plot isn’t really a plot at all. It’s a blueprint with strategically placed windows into a fantasy realm where the heroine Baby Doll (Emily Browning) and her gal-pals can unleash unholy hell on a fire-breathing mama dragon, 10,000 zombie-fied WWI German soldiers, and a trio of Mortal Kombat rejects. This movie earned a PG-13 rating for pervasive and bloodless violence, but it should have been rated M for Mature. These action sequences have truly exhilarating moments, but they stretch on far too long and eventually become tedious.
The story opens with Baby Doll’s mother passing away, and not long after that her younger sister is murdered at the hand of her dastardly stepfather. Step-daddy blames the murder on Baby Doll, has her committed, and bribes the asylum staff to have her lobotomized ASAP.
Browning and four other actresses (look for “High School Musical’s” Vanessa Hudgens in a giant black Snookie wig) get top billing and spend the bulk of the movie strutting around in outfits that make GaGa and Katy Perry look classy and chaste, respectively. The young women band together to escape the asylum, and the key to their escape plan is Baby Doll, who apparently can do the sexiest sexy dance in the history of sexy dances. It’s like a thermonuclear Lambada. And when each dance starts, Baby Doll loses herself in her imagination and cues up those epic fantasy battles.
Yes, it’s exactly as stupid as it sounds.
The best performances belong to a couple of guys, the young Oscar Isaac and the approaching-ancient Scott Glenn. Isaac plays Blue, a ruthless, slithering villain with enough of a brain to sniff out the escape attempt. Glenn plays Baby Doll’s nameless advisor in the fantasy universe, and he does so with a Yoda-like Zen and a twinkle in his eye.
He’s the only actor, or character, in the movie who is having any fun, and that’s a shame. With a plot this preposterous and special effects this over the top, “Sucker Punch” should have been mindless escapist fun. Instead it’s just mindless.