Saturday, 23 April 2011

Film Review: Sucker Punch

Rating: 4.3/10 - Bad

Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) is back with another film containing eye-popping visuals and eye-popping babes to boot. Question is: Is there any real content to go with the eye candy or are we just going to be bombarded with cool imagery with no proper story behind it? Find out after the jump.

Director: Zack Snyder. Screenplay: Zack Snyder and Steve Shibuya. Producers: Zack Snyder and Deborah Snyder. Executive Producers: Wesley Coller, Christopher DeFaria, Jon Jashni and Thomas Tull. Cinematographer: Larry Fong. Score: Tyler Bates and Marius de Vries. Editor: William Hoy. Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures. Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Scott Glenn and Jon Hamm. Runnning Time: 111 Minutes. Age Restriction: 13V.

Sucker Punch tells the story of young girl named Baby Doll (Emily Browning) who, after the death of her mother, is left with no option but to live with her stepfather. Like most stepfathers in Hollywood films, Baby Doll's stepfather is slightly overweight and more than slightly abusive towards her and her little sister. On one stormy evening, the stepfather tries to force himself on Baby Doll's younger sister and Baby Doll tries to kill him before he gets to her. Unfortunately for her, unlike seemingly most Americans, she's never used a gun before and misses him completely and instead kills her beloved younger sister. Being the cunning man that he is, Baby Doll's stepfather uses this as an opportunity to get her locked away for good in a mental asylum where he bribes the asylum's director, Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac), to forge the resident therapist's signature so that Baby Doll will be lobotomised.

Faced with this terrible prospect, Baby Doll follows her therapist Dr. Vera Gorski's (Carla Gugino) advice and uses her imagination as a means of escape and visualises the asylum as a sort of brothel masquerading as a dance academy owned by an evil mobster, Blue Jones, who forces young girls like herself to dance for corrupt, dirty old men. Every time that Baby Doll has to dance she instead visualises herself in fantasy locations where she has to fight off dragons, Nazi's and all sorts of other baddies. She uses these fantasies as part of an elaborate scheme to escape the dance academy/asylum with the help of the other girls, namely, Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (a not so blonde Vanessa Hudgens), and Amber (Jamie Chung). And then the action begins.

Without a doubt the film's biggest draw is the action and the special effects but disappointingly they are nothing to write home about. They have this uninspired, video game feel to them and are repetitive to the point that once you've seen one action scene you might as well have seen them all. Think 300 with hot chicks in school girl outfits instead of Leonidis and the Spartans and dragons and Nazi's instead of Persians and you've pretty much got the gist of it. The backgrounds in the film's fantasy scenes all have the same barren, rocky-landscape, brownish tint to them which can only make you wonder if they didn't just copy and paste the background templates from 300 to use here as well. In fact, if you think about it hard enough, like I clearly have, the whole of 300 could've easily been a scene in this film although that wouldn't have made this mess of a film any less bearable than it already is.

This is undoubtedly the worst Zack Snyder film I've seen so far (I am yet to see Dawn Of The Dead and Legend Of The Guardians). Someone needs to tell him to go easy on the slow motion fights and that the best visual effects don't necessarily equate to the best action scenes. What makes an action scene truly stand out, besides being well edited, is that there must be a genuine sense of danger in it. Without this vital element, the action becomes just a gimmick that won't hold the viewers attention. He also needs to make his screenplays more engaging. The story needs to be the driver of the action in the film and not the other way around. Sucker Punch has absolutely no genuine character development to speak of and the plot itself is ludicrous beyond belief with a half-baked resolution in the end that leaves you wondering what exactly was the point of the preceding 90 or so minutes. This is one of the clearest examples I can think of where a director skaamlessly deceives his audience in an attempt to force through what he believes is a clever twist at the end. M. Night Shyamalan must be so proud.

Verdict: Never before has a film with so much action been so mind-numbingly unexciting.

Sucker Punch is out in cinemas now.

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