Zack Snyder has described “Sucker Punch” as “‘Alice In Wonderland’ meets machine guns.” The film’s tag line says “You Will Be Unprepared.” Hmmm…
I have nothing nice to share with you about Zack Snyder’s embarrassing and onanistic “Sucker Punch.” It is arguably the nastiest and most vile PG-13 film ever released and exists simply to give 16-year old boys something to occupy their “dreams.” Clad in bustiers, short skirts, whorehouse gear, and stilettos, the young
girls women of “Sucker Punch” are flying World War II bombers, slaying gigantic fire-breathing dragons, waging war against Nazi zombies, and taking part in countless other ridiculous duels and challenges.
But why? Isn’t that the ultimate? Hot underage-looking girls in next to nothing laying waste to everything in their paths? Can all the 12-20 year old boys put your hands up!!?!?!
Let’s talk about that why, shall we? And I will not try and spoil things, but part of me wants to. In my heart of hearts, I really find “Sucker Punch” deplorable and contemptible.
The premise of “Sucker Punch” focuses on a teenage girl, identified only as Babydoll (Emily Browning), who survives a horrific attack by her stepfather. On this fateful night, Babydoll loses her mother and sister and while she retains her life, she is framed for the murders by her stepfather and sold to a mental health facility known as the Lennox House.
The Lennox House is home to the most dangerous female criminals, and all of the girls are thin and pretty size zeros, with flawless hair and make up. But you see…they are actually there for another purpose. The Lennox House is, truth be told, a luxurious brothel with high-end clientele. So enter Madame Gorski (Carla Gugino), the woman tasked with making sure the girls are ready to dance, seduce, and entertain those clients. Babydoll’s arrival excites the john running the
whorehouse Lennox House, a peculiar figure named Blue (Oscar Isaac). He loves his girls but sees Babydoll as perhaps his hottest acquisition and instructs Madame Gorski to get her “ready” as soon as possible.
At this point, let me remind you that this film is PG-13!?!? The Ratings Board, in all of their infinite wisdom, have deemed this film appropriate for middle school aged children. For comparison purposes, the Academy Award winner for Best Picture of 2010, “The King’s Speech” – the beloved story of a King overcoming a lifelong stammering and stuttering problem to rule his country in a time of war, was rated R and not suitable for children under 17 without a parent or guardian.
But I digress.
Babydoll’s dancing abilities are apparently mind-blowing and to get through the performance, she is told to allow her mind to take her to another place and time in these encounters. When she starts to dance, she awakens in an alternate series of universes where her fellow strippers/dancers/co-workers/prisoners join her in fantastical battle sequences, all designed to forge a plan in escaping the Lennox House. Meeting up with the comically named Wise Man (Scott Glenn), the girls are given instructions prior to each battle and nonsensical advice such as, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Gee, thanks.
With those words of encouragement fresh in their minds, the ladies push on to the next round – laying waste to bad guys, bosses, creatures, and whatever else Babydoll can conjure up in her mind. Each fantasy sequence has the look and feel of a really expensive video game. So while initially the visual style feels impressive, this all wears out its welcome so fast that the film devolves into literally one of the most exhausting experiences I can ever recall sitting through.
To escape the Lennox House, Babydoll is told that she will need 5 things to escape the Lennox House/fantasy worlds. The Wise Man instructs her to steal a map, a knife, a key, fire, and naturally, the fifth item will be known to Babydoll when the time is right.
Sure. Fine. Whatever.
Babydoll convinces her fellow hookers/dancers/mental health patients to band together and so Babydoll and… (get ready for these empowering character names…) Rocket (Jena Malone), Amber (Jamie Chung), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), and Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) work together to escape Lennox House…or the fantasy world…or both…or does it honestly even matter?
“Sucker Punch” serves no purpose other than to objectify women and titillate young male viewers. It’s as empowering a statement on feminism as the 2 Live Crew’s “As Nasty As They Wanna Be” was back in the day. No rational argument can be made for why these characters wear what they wear, do what they do, and behave in the way they do. This movie has a very driven focus and one that is frankly disturbing and rather dangerous.
Zack Snyder has freefallen off of a cliff here. “Sucker Punch” is the by-product of an ego unchecked, a hack filmmaker who has finally crossed a nasty and troubling line. Whatever novel and unique approach he thought he had come up with here is misguided, misogynistic, offensive, and insulting. Save one dark and twisted and extremely well-made opening montage set to a creepy and disturbing remake of the Eurythmics classic, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)”, “Sucker Punch” is a disaster, worthy of any and all consideration for the worst film of 2011.