Sucker Punch, 2011.
Directed by Zack Snyder.
Starring Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Oscar Isaac, Carla Gugino, Jon Hamm and Scott Glenn.
Locked in an institution against her will, a young woman fights for her freedom in a vivid dream world that blurs the boundaries between what is real and what is imaginary.
Bringing us visual delights such as 300 and Watchmen, director Zack Snyder transfers another epic green screen production into theaters. This time around our heroes are not muscled warriors nor do they have super powers. Well not unless you consider the ability to fight giant samurai and even bigger dragons while wearing tiny outfits a super power. Sucker Punch tells the visually-powered tale of a young girl desperately trying to escape an institution that her step-father admits her to against her will.
Emily Browning plays the lead role of Baby Doll. Following the death of her mother, she is placed in an all girl institution by her step dad. While there she meets four other young girls whom she befriends; Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), her sister Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung). After struggling at first to deal with being locked away, Baby Doll is able to retreat to a type of alternate reality within her imagination which allows her to cope with her troubles. During these trips into this reality, she comes across a Wise Man (Scott Glenn) who instructs her that she needs to find five things in order to escape her prison.
She decides to include the other girls in on her plan to earn her freedom. They all agree to help her in hopes of also finally being able to put this place behind them forever. Their journey’s into this fantasy world pits them against random virtual enemies. Warriors, Nazi soldiers and fighting robots all attempt to prevent them from reaching their ultimate goal: to set themselves free.
Along with his wife and production partner, Deborah, Zack Snyder really goes all out when it comes to creating this world projected from the imagination of Baby Doll. “Over the top” is probably the best way to describe the visuals on this film. But in this type of film, the all out special effects are expected and much welcomed. Seeing this movie in IMAX probably fulfilled the effect that Snyder, who also helped write the screenplay, was originally going for. It had just the right mixture of super-slow motion and sparkle-dazzle to make it impressive.
It’s quite obvious that the majority of the effort put into this project went into the special effects because no one will win any acting awards here. Especially not Browning even in the lead role. She’s nice to look at in her school girl outfit battling mythical foes but she spares us of displaying any kind of actual acting talent. The rest of the cast pretty much follows suit. Only Carla Gugino who plays Madam Gorski really used any skill by throwing on a Russian accent for her character.
The costumes were well placed for a PG-13 rating, having sex appeal but being very tastefully done. Everyone was wearing some obvious pretty heavy make-up throughout the film, even Browning’s character before she had even entered the institution. Another plus for the movie, however, was the music used to fuel the fantasy world and fight scenes. Hearing, no not hearing, but feeling the score pound through the speakers in IMAX surround sound was a pleasure. Decent story with a couple of unexpected turns here and there, Snyder put in some work writing the story. But I did feel like the ending was kind of rushed.
The combat and gun fights alongside the special effects were the best spectacle of the film, if you weren’t able to already guess that from all of the trailers. Although we’ve no doubt seen bullets fly in slow motion, it was still good to see in this one. That and witnessing swords slowly slice their way through opposing enemy robots were all pretty well done. Chock up one more fantasy thrill ride for Mr. Snyder. I give Sucker Punch “3.5 much needed escapes into a violent fantasy world in order to deal with your problems out of 5”. Try it some time, it might even help you too.
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