If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Now, before going on with this review, I would first like to state that this had to be one of the more frustrating theatrical experiences in a long while. The reason for saying this was that the director had obviously had something personal to say with this film—which had vanity project written ALL over it! For those that are not in the know, the director that I speak of is Zack Snyder, the man that brought the world a more gritty interpretation of Dawn of the Dead (2003), in addition to the evocative adaptation of a comic book classic Watchmen (2009). What these two films have in common, was that they were already established properties. The difference between those aforementioned films to the one under review is that this was based on an original story from Snyder himself. Which begs the question: can a director like Snyder really tell a coherent story that can stand on its own two feet?
The film starts off with a mood that is as dull as a rusty knife and as creepy as a Marylyn Manson music video. On top of the creep-factor, which is set to the music of "Sweet Dreams" (are made of these), the audience is introduced to Baby Doll (Emily Browning) and her little sister, who are suffering the tragic passing of their mother. To makes matters even worse, the both of them were left in the custody of their evil stepfather (Gerald Plunkett); and as soon as he makes the discovery that the children would inherent ALL of their mother’s possessions, the stepfather goes into rage—up to the point where makes the decision to rape Baby Doll—then changes his mind, and tries to rape her younger sister. In a scramble, Baby Doll climbs down into the pouring rain to search for a weapon. Just as the stepfather was about rape the younger sister, Baby Doll and the Stepfather engage in a brief scuffle that ends in the accidental murder of her own sister.
What had just unfolded, which happens in the first five minutes, was supposed to create this atmosphere of menace and horror. What was the intention of the scene in the first place? Was it to be an action set piece or whimsical musical number? The point of the scene was to show the horror and the threat of rape—which there was nothing; hollow, in which this one scene truly defined the movie. Oh, and another thing. The film didn’t even address in what time period that this story takes place. The architecture, the clothing, and some of the various vehicles seem to suggest that this takes place in the late 40s to early 50s.
Anyways, after the accidental death of her sister, the stepfather sends Baby Doll to an institution for the criminally insane. At this point in the story, Snyder seems like he has no idea what he’s doing as a storyteller—a narrative storyteller. For instance, when baby Doll finally utters her first words, the dialogue doesn’t seem to have the impact that it wanted to have. Her first words didn’t pop out, in other words. After spending just a few minutes in this world, we are given an introduction to Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino), a sympathetic therapist who uses unorthodox methods of treating her patients by going on a stage. In addition, we are given an appropriate introduction to a slimy orderly (Oscar Issac), who is a character that the audience can truly hate. Finally, we’re given an introduction to Baby Doll’s allies Sweet pea (Abbie Cornish) and her sister Rocket (Jenna Malone), who proved to be one of the stronger characters in the film. The other two characters, who later proved to be mere token and pointless characters, were Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung). In an all too brief appearance, almost reduced to a cameo really, was the Doctor (Jon Hamm).
After spending a brief time in the first layer—the real world—the audience is introduced to the second layer, which was Baby Doll’s fantasy world; and in this fantasy world, she views this asylum as a brothel or burlesque house, and the characters are a mere employees. The slimy orderly becomes a sleazy pimp who runs the place. The sympathetic doctor Gorski becomes a prostitute turned dance instructor and the rest of the inmates were turned into prostitutes. As for Baby Doll, she sees herself as an object high desire that is to be sold by the end of the week to a “Hight Roller.” Now, before she is to be sold to this High Roller, the house wants to know if she can actually dance. As soon as she musters up the courage to dance, the audience is slammed into this third layer, a completely different fantasy world altogether. In this world, she meets a wise man—yes, that is his actual name in the movie (Scott Glenn) who tells her that she would need four items: a lighter, a knife, a map, and a key.
For second there, I thought that this film, for like the first time in this movie, finally has a bit of a narrative that we can finally follow. What, What? Wait a sec! Slam on the brakes for a second. How is this third layer justified in the overall perspective of the narrative? The third layer of her fantasy world, which contained high-powered actions sequences that have no real purpose whatsoever. It’s as if the third layer uses the violence to represent her “dancing.” After the action sequences had concluded, people around her would clap, cheer, and even cried. Why? We haven’t even seen her actually dance. All she did was nonchalantly swaying back and forth, which was excruciating. That being said, Warner bros had to cut the actually dancing sequences after a few failed test screenings.
To answer the question on the first paragraph is a heart-wrenching "NO." Scratch that, the true answer is a hard HELL NO--Snyder can't even tell a coherent stroy to guard his cajones. I get that that Baby Doll was a flimsy metaphor for what Sweet Pea had gone thorugh. No really, think about it for a second. BD and SP pretty much have similar histories, but so fucking what. And this film doesn't even work as this thinly-veiled metaphor for feminism; it really works as a 13 year-old kid's mastabatory fantasy on an ultra-sugar binge.
Sadly, this film was a victim of total autonomy—a mere project that served the ego of the director. Directors like Richard Kelly (Southland Tales), M. Night Shyamalan (The Last Air Bender), and Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil: Afterlife), is that they generated enough clout at some point in their careers and decided to make their personal projects and FAIL miserably in the end. I do realize that there are few—and I mean very few exceptions to where directors have produced successful personal projects. Take for example James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic), Christopher Nolan (Inception), and Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings). In contrast to those failed films, this one was not a total bomb, meaning that the usual Snyder trademarks were there, the slow so what. After that frustrating experience, I was forced to do what I thought I would never do: reevaluate a director’s filmography. Again, after a little soul searching, I realized that this one film made his body of work look worse—worse than originally thought.
As to the explanation of the title of the article, was that this movie ripped the balls, and melted my eyes--as far as the meticulous visuals were concerned. Story Wise, this has to be one of the piece of shit films ever commited to film--though this is not an indication of the end of cinema as we know it.
FUCK THIS MOVIE TO THE BOWELS OF HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
While I don't share your vindictiveness against Sucker Punch, you nailed the major problem with this film. I wouldn't tell the movie to go fuck itself ('cause it already does that for 2 hours), it's still amazingly stupid. In fact, that amazement is what kept me going through the film. It's a master-piece-of-shit. No matter how anyone feels about the film however, the tagline is unanimously true: you WILL be unprepared.
Here's my 100 word review: http://100wordmoviereviews.blogspot.com/2011/04/sucker-punch.html
To me, my problem with the film is that first, the tone is dark for only the beginning and the end, causing the film to feel disjointed at points. Also, I did not mind the flaw of the fantasy-action sequences, but what bugged me was the fact that there were points when the second layer of reality looked just like the first, which was also disorienting. Finally, the film is like Slumdog Millionare where that film will have moments where it will rip your heart out and you feel sorry for the lead, but here those moments are so drawn out that you end up sympathising with the main character, who is not as good of a character as Jamal Malik.
My Rating: MAMMA MIA (Which means that the film is a plain bad film but is worth a look at as a Rental).
If you read my blog, where I plan to review films and use my own rating system, I have changed the "Mama Mia!" rating to something closer to "Some Ole Bull****!," so to me, the film is now a "Internet" overall because it is a bad film worth watching because it could be the film version of "two girls, one cup," where we want to know how everyone else reacted to it, but this is a "Mama Mia!" (bull****) to me while it is a "TV Showing" to young nerds or those that are very drunk (I'm being Korey here).
The worst part is that I've seen this in Digital IMAX (which is more like a giant HDTV), so ain't I a stinker?
It could have been rental or low matinee if Amy Lee sung this song for the film:
"SuckerPunch" is about showing us the mind and dreams of someone who may or may not be completely insane. The whole movie is not set in any reality All three layers(including the supposed real world) are set in the usual Zack Snyder hyper reality. Right when Babydoll goes into her first fantasy world, that is just her way of learning to deal with her new suroundings. When she goes into the realm where she is a warrior. That is her way of trying to forget that she is being sold for sex. But lets not forget the fact that she is in an Asylum. This movie could have been great if they were going a Hard R with this one and I would have like to see some of the dance numbers. And I gotta praise Zack for at least trying something new in this age of remakes and reboots. This was a 2 hour music video with great visuals and that's it.
I love this review and not because she is pretty damn cute. She also has some good points.
If this was a hard R, this would have been much better.
Also, I think that Mario should have had a cameo like this.