Sunday, August 28, 2011

Review: Sucker Punch

When you walk into a movie directed by Zack Snyder – he of "300" and "Watchmen" fame, you more or less know what you are going to get – a highly stylized film loaded with digital effects. In this regard, “Sucker Punch” does not disappoint. In this film, Snyder immerses us into a dark world that snakes its way between reality and fantasy with a stunning brand of visual bravado. While this film differs from his last two live action jaunts in that it does not come from comic book source material, its roots lay in the genre and pander to every fetish and whim of that segment of fandom.

What works about this film is the action. Say what you will about Snyder, whether it involves the clanging of razor-sharp blades or the rat-a-tat-tat of semi-automatic firearms, the man knows how to frame a fight scene. In “Sucker Punch” we have a film that revolves around four major action sequences that have the complexity of a cutting edge PRG video game with the accompanying near visual overload. While at times it felt like Snyder went a little too John Woo/Michael Bay with the slow motion, his attention to detail in these scenes is his ultimate strength.

What does not work about this film is that the characters seem like mere vehicles to deliver four action sequences. The plot that threads these pieces together is contrived. Taking a group of individuals – each bearing a layer of catastrophe, does not add depth to the proceedings. Of course this can be easily remedied if the major players develop throughout the narrative, but unfortunately more attention has been paid to the visual than the cerebral. Cinematic gravitas only bears true weight when one is invested in the character of the protagonists and this is hard to do when the filmmaker himself pays little attention to such details.

As for the cast, Emily Browning as Baby Doll is bland and unconvincing; Abbie Cornish and Jena Malone inject a bit of genuine grittiness to the sense of noir that underlies the sets; Hudgens and Chung are pure eye candy; Oscar Isaac plays a stock heavy; while the presence of Jon Hamm and Carla Gugino serve only to provide a modicum of credibility to the cast.

I did not hate this movie, though I did not particularly like it. It feels a lot like “Scott Pilgrim versus the World”- a movie I really enjoyed - without the humor and no way near as fun. Throughout this film, I spent most of my time wondering (and worrying) how Snyder’s style would translate to his next project (produced by WB golden boy Christopher Nolan) – Man of Steel.  At the end of the day, if you liked Michael Bay’s Transformers movies then you will find entertainment value here via Netflix or On Demand. If not, then you should steer clear. This one has “caveat emptor” written all over it.

Notable Performance: Jena Malone of Life as a House fame outshines the rest of the cast.


  1. You have to see Our Idiot Brother and review it. Please. Just saw it and enjoyed it. However, I would enjoy seeing what you think of it.