Friday, 16 September 2011

DVD REVIEW: Sucker Punch

The trailer for this promised so much. Hot girls in skimpy costumes kicking all kinds of arse. I could get on board with that; a simple, escape flick with added T‘n’A. But that’s not what I got.

That’s not what anyone got.

Instead, we have a convoluted mess of a plot, where the action scenes are dull and by the end you don’t know what just happened. The story such as it is, involves Babydoll getting sent to an asylum (maybe) by her abusive stepfather after wrongly being accused of killing her sister, and in five days she will be lobotomised so as she doesn’t tell anyone the truth. So, to counter the horrible reality of being in an asylum, where they are abused by the misogynistic male staff, Babydoll imagines that she’s actually in a brothel, where they are sold to lecherous men, and abused by the misogynistic male staff. So, imagining a shitty situation to replace the shitty situation you’re currently in. Great, makes no sense. And then when she’s trying to steal the items she needs to escape, she imagines that she’s in various different worlds, when in the brothel reality she’s dancing for the bosses, and in the actual reality (or maybe not) she’s using her imagination to think that she’s dancing when she’s really being abused. Still with me? Good.

At least I think that’s what was happening. The film never clearly tells you, not that I expect any film to explicitly state it’s intention, but this one is just so deliberately obtuse and vague that it makes you wonder if the writer knew what the actual point of his movie was. For example, I like to think Inception has a definite interpretation, even if we never know for sure what it is, it’s seems as though Chris Nolan does have a definitive answer for the whole movie. Sucker Punch just seems to throw a whole bunch of things together with no real coherence and it seems as though they thought it would inspire debate as to what was real and what wasn’t (a la Inception) but come the credits, you’re still no surer of what the writer’s end game was.

Still, at least there was some great action, right? Well, sort of. While I liked the idea of the action being a figment of Babydoll’s mind, by the time we actually to some, it was so bogged down in plot mechanics that I didn’t care. And it’s not as though the plot was difficult; it basically came down to steal 5 things then escape, but it took about 5 minutes for this to be explained to Babydoll. However, the WW2 trenches, with (get this) steam powered clockwork Nazi zombies was, while mental, a very good action sequence, as was the fight on the train, and the one with the dragon. But when these scenes are all part of someone’s imagination, they may look cool, but there are no real stakes. You never think anyone is in danger, despite what is happening in the fantasy is also happening (in a more mundane way) in the real/brothel world; for example, Rocket being stabbed to save her sister, is mirrored in the fantasy as her being blown up after saving her sister by activating her jet pack (seriously). I will say however, that these sequences looked amazing. Visually spectacular, but emotionally hollow. Which sums up most of Zack Snyder’s work really, except this time it didn’t work. Sorry Zack.

(Seriously, he made this boring)

So, overall Sucker Punch is a bit of a mess really. It confuses intrigue with vagueness, and comes of stupid when it trying oh so hard to be clever. And there’s a female empowerment subtext running throughout, which never really convinces and only seems there as some sort of justification for dressing its heroines the way it does, by making them male fantasies but at the same time fighting the power/male objectification as it were.

And I haven’t even mentioned that perhaps Babydoll isn’t actually the protagonist, which throws a whole new set of problems into the mix.

Who’d of thought you could make a movie with hot girls wearing next to nothing fighting monsters so boring?

1 star.

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