Movies

Sucker Punch

Worlds in collision

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If you had to explain Sucker Punch to someone—and I'd wish you luck in doing so—you might say it's sort of like Charlie's Angels, but with two more Angels added, as well as an infusion of Nazi zombies, airplane-eating dragons, various lumbering behemoths, and whole cities in flame. Which is to say, it's not really like Charlie's Angels at all. Or anything else I can think of offhand.

Few directors throw themselves into computer-generated fantasy with quite the wild-eyed abandon of Zack Snyder. (No, not even James Cameron—no hippies were employed in the making of this movie.) Snyder cooked up the story here (and wrote the script with a friend, first-time screenwriter Steve Shibuya), and it's every bit as twisty—or possibly baffling—as Christopher Nolan's fractured narrative for Inception. There are faint echoes of two of Snyder's previous films, 300 and Watchmen, but otherwise Sucker Punch is a notably original vision.

The suckers put on notice are us, of course, and as the action whips back and forth between strange, fearsome worlds, we think we get it—who knows what'll come barreling toward us next? At the movie's conclusion, though, we're told that we didn't really get it at all.

The story begins in Vermont in the 1960s. (A notional 1960s, anyway—many of the environments to come suggest much earlier decades.) A young girl (Emily Browning) is committed to a dark, forbidding insane asylum by her evil stepfather (Gerard Plunkett). For dastardly reasons, he wants the girl out of the way, and he bribes an attendant (Oscar Isaac) to ensure that she will be lobotomized as soon as possible. The movie now becomes a ticking-clock thriller.

The girl—now called Baby Doll—quickly bonds with four other inmates: the beautiful Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish); her spunky sister, Rocket (Jena Malone); Amber (Jamie Chung); and Blondie (the oddly raven-haired Vanessa Hudgens). Among the regimens to which the women are subjected are dance-therapy classes overseen by a doctor named Gorski (Carla Gugino). Baby turns out to possess an otherworldly terpsichorean talent, and we soon find ourselves transitioned into a nightclub/brothel run by a creep named Blue (Isaac again), overseen by a semi-sympathetic madam (Gugino once more), and patronized by an exclusively scumball clientele. All of these characters are mesmerized whenever Baby takes the stage, and her dancing (which, amusingly, we never see) shifts the story into strange new precincts.

First, there's a temple in what appears to be medieval Japan, where Baby encounters a wise man (Scott Glenn) who provides her with a sword and gun and tells her she'll have to fight to be free. In fact, her first big set-piece battle happens to be waiting right outside the temple doors. It's pretty wild.

Back in the bordello again, Baby tells her four friends they can all escape if they find five items the wise man advised they acquire. Most seem gettable. The fifth, though, has been described to Baby as a mystery, and when she finds it, she'll be set free. Baby continues dancing at the club, transporting herself into alternative realities where she and her four friends—who've been transported, too—do all manner of battle with all manner of bizarre opponents. Much impressive weaponry is brought into play, and several tons of butt are kicked. Although it's not really possible to fabricate never-before-seen digital wonders anymore, the acres of astonishment paraded before us here are at least consistently rousing.

It's too bad that most of the characters undergo very little in the way of development—although given the tight little dance outfits in which the five girls are agreeably clothed, that might be beside the point. More troublesome is the ending, which presents us with a narrative flip that doesn't really stand up under contemplation and is in any case willfully ungratifying. Still, when the dragons and the Nazis are weighing in, and the girls wading into their endless opponents, there's really not a lot about which to complain.

Kurt Loder is a writer, among other things, embedded in New York.

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149 responses to “Sucker Punch

  1. This was my pick for worst film of 2011. I suspect that I am correct.

    Another candidate:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1529572/

    (the trailer really is amusing)

    1. I suspect you are correct too. However, I don’t quite see why you would nominate “Trust” as one of the worst candidates. There are so many crappy movies made in any given year (isn’t there another Tyler Perry movie scheduled this year?). Trust may suffer from some over-bearing fear mongering, but it seems like a decent, if not relevant, film.

      1. Have you seen the trailer? It has that tragic combination of hilarious ineptness and clumsy, desperate striving for gravitas that often marks the truly awful.

        1. Surely, David Schwimmer can’t ruin something all by himself though. It should have a stron enough cast to overcome even his reverse-Midas touch.

          1. You’re joking, right? Schwimmer could make Boardwalk Empire suck.

            1. Then Schwimmer must have made it, because I thought Empire did suck. And I so wanted it not to.

              1. Uh, what about BE sucks? It’s so solidly made, it’s like a brick shithouse.

                1. Lacked focus for a lot of the season. Improved though.

                2. I felt the story line was too scattershot. I thought the language and dialog was unrealistic for the time in which it was set. And as I get older (and in my own mind, more sophisticated about these things) I’m becoming really sensitive to that. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love me some four letter words, but sometimes the use of certain four letter words just weren’t in vogue during Prohibition.

                  Aside from that, I didn’t find the dialog as punchy as I had expected. To me, it seemed as if it were a production that had all the elements: Good direction, good production, actors, but like many big projects, something got lost and they ran into scripting problems.

                  Imagine my disappointment. When I saw the previews, I was all “Steve Buscemi as a gangster… this is gonna be great!!!”

                  1. I find your lack of enjoyment confusing. The writing is excellent, the acting is excellent, the sets and costumes are excellent, the direction is excellent. As for the swearing thing, they swore plenty, just usually not around women. If they’ve slightly modernized the swearing, I have no problem with that as it makes the dialogue smoother for the modern audience.

                    I was eagerly awaiting each new episode, especially as the season went on. Realize that nearly all the important people in the show, from Johnny Torrio, to Capone, to Luciano, to Rothstein, were all real people and the show is amazingly accurate as to their real history, down to Capone’s kid being deaf or Rothstein being accused of fixing the World Series. And Nucky is based on a real person too.

                    These guys have done their homework.

                    1. Is it out on DVD yet, because I’ve been wanting to see it so very badly. Buscemi is one of my favorite actors and Sopranos one of my favorite shows.

                      I did not watch it though because under the evils of our imperialist capitalist system one must pay for HBO in order to do so…

                    2. You know that you can get HBO for about the same price as your Netflix account each month, right?

                      Not having HBO just feels so…poor.

                    3. What exactly is there on HBO that you can’t get elsewhere for less money?

                    4. Some of the commercials might be hard to find a good torrent for.

                    5. No, you gotta buy a shitload of crappy channels before you get to buy hbo.

                    6. MNG — there’s this nifty new invention called amazon.com that sells stuff that you want at prices you value less than the stuff you get, thus making your life better (aka evul, evul capitalism).

                      You should tamp down your revulsion at said capitalism and check it out.

                    7. @Episiarch
                      How was the cinematography?

            2. You’re joking, right? Schwimmer could make Boardwalk Empire suck.

              C’mon, now. Schwimmer was in Band of Brothers, and I for one thought that was amazing!

              1. C’mon, now. Schwimmer was in Band of Brothers, and I for one thought that was amazing!

                Luckily, he only had a small part in Band of Brothers. He didn’t produce and direct it.

        2. It has that tragic combination of hilarious ineptness and clumsy, desperate striving for gravitas that often marks the truly awful.

          A true libturd production.

    2. I rise you yhis movie as worst of the year

      http://rubberthemovie.com/

  2. When I first saw the poster for this movie, my first thought was, “This is going to either be really bad, or really good.”

    Loder’s review left me with a bit of a “huh” feeling, so I guess I’ll have to see it for myself.

    1. Unless you’re the sort of person who loved, loved, loved 300, it’s really bad.

      1. I’ve only seen the trailer, but I really can’t see the connection to gay orgies for this movie.

      2. I make no excuses for my horrible taste, but…my wife and I saw ‘300’ on our wedding day, and we both loved it.

        1. Consider the context. My wife and I smiled all the way through Romeo and Juliet (1968; Leonard Whiting/Olivia Hussy) right after we told our parents we were engaged.

          1. You did see the end of the film, right?

            1. You should check out the last track on Anthony Jeselnik’s comedy CD Shakespeare – topical and amusing.

            2. I never understood why people consider it such a great love story. As I interpret it, the play isn’t even about love. It’s about adolescence.

              1. My English teacher taught it as a horror story.
                He was pretty sweet.

                1. That sounds like one bad ass English teacher.

        2. Sweet story, bro. But you have to have considered the fact that your wife will spend the rest of your married life at least a little concerned about your sexuality… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

          1. He probably gets laid for it

        3. There are 300 reasons why your wife, and all women, liked “300.”

        4. “I make no excuses for my horrible taste, but…my wife and I saw ‘300’ on our wedding day, and we both loved it.”

          lol, the scene where missus Leonidas bends over for the senator while he’s out giving his life for the both of them must’ve been pretty awkward. I’m sure you both loved every second of it, though.

          1. “he” being her husband Leonidas of course, not the senator. Grammar fail.

      3. Hmm, I liked 300 better the third time I saw it.

        Now ask me why I’ve seen it three times if I didn’t like it that much the first time.

        I have no logical explanation.

        1. Now ask me why I’ve seen it three times if I didn’t like it that much the first time.

          I have no logical explanation.

          The cynic in me is guessing that you don’t have enough interesting stuff happening in your life to occupy your spare time and prevent you from such heathen abominations as watching 300 more than once.

          1. The Fuck is wrong with you people!?! 300 is amazing!

            1. I watched about the first 15 or 20 minutes of 300 before I yanked it out of the DVD player in disgust. I could see it was awful and decided not to waste any more of my life sitting there watching it. I’m presuming it didn’t get any better as the movie went on.

            2. I totally agree Cytotoxic.

        2. Complete opposite. I used to think I liked 300. But I noticed that I really only paid attention in the first battle and the second battle with the immortals. I just don’t care for the rest of the movie.

      4. I liked 300, but after that amazing trailer it was still a major letdown.

        1. It was okay, if you like men in that way.

          Just kidding. I liked it, but I’d still prefer a Gates of Fire flick–more historical, less comic book.

          1. Gates of Fire pretty much ruined 300 for me. That and the horrible and unnecessary narration throughout the movie.

          2. This right here. After Gates of Fire, it was a huge let down.

            And Gates is practically begging on its knees to be made into an awesome blockbuster movie, although our current crop of leading men/action heroes leaves me wondering which sensitive metrosexual could possibly play any of the three leads.

            1. heh heh heh, we bagged Dean.

          3. This right here. After Gates of Fire, it was a huge let down.

            And Gates is practically begging on its knees to be made into an awesome blockbuster movie, although our current crop of leading men/action heroes leaves me wondering which sensitive metrosexual could possibly play any of the three leads.

      5. It looks like 300, except with 20 year old chicks instead of a sausage fest. Sounds like win to me.

    2. My comment was “This is either the greatest thing I will ever see, or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 2”

      I have yet to see Sucker Punch.

  3. Oh yeah, and review something like Carlos instead of this sort of shit. Red Riding Hood from the director of Twilight anyone?

    1. I thought Carlos dragged a bit. Good production, acting, but it never grabbed me.

      1. 3rd part was a bit slow, but I really enjoyed that bit actually. Can see how it was quite a change in pace from the other parts though.

        1. Doesn’t that star Vincent Chase?

          1. 🙂 I will kill you slowly for that.

            1. Yes, of course you will. So will Ari.

              1. Gawd. Last year I had some australian idiot in my home who introduced himself by asking “Ah jeez have you watched an awesome show called Entourage?”

                Excruciating.

                1. That’s like going to Canada and asking if they’ve seen this great show called The Kids in the Hall.

                  1. The really tragic thing was the look of shocked incredulity on his face when I responded with “Ah, I don’t really like that show.”

                    1. I will kill you slowly for that.

                    2. Did you just equate Kids in the Hall with Entourage?

                      You deserve every shitty stalker you attract; may you spend an eternity in hell, eating deep dish pizza, and drinking non-alcoholic beer…with rather…naked!

                    3. He’s grudge-fucking rather right now.

                    4. No. But I will equate you with ProL, because you have driven me to such insults.

                    5. You’re deflecting, but we all saw what you did.

                    6. Maybe I equated Entourage with The Kids in the Hall instead? Huh? Wrap your tiny little mind around that, buddy.

                    7. Upright Citizen’s Brigade is better and 47% less Canadian.

                    8. You deserve every shitty stalker you attract; may you spend an eternity in hell, eating deep dish pizza, and drinking non-alcoholic beer…with rather…naked!

                      Eating frozen supermarket pizza with a bad case of freezer burn — and not currently frozen pizza, either, but pizza overcooked by exposure to the hot air surrounding you.

                2. My brother-in-law is Aussie. When I first met him about 5 years ago his favorite show was just starting it’s second season down there. It was Seinfeld. So, I took him to Best Buy, and he bought all 9 seasons on DVD that day.

                  1. He’s gonna be real shocked in eleven years when he finds out that Kramer is a big ol’ racist.

  4. Seems pretty obvious that she winds up getting lobotomized, and the action was all a weird fantasy/dream by-product of frontal lobe destruction.

    I’m going to go see if my guess is correct this weekend.

    1. I guarantee you you’re correct. I have not seen it, so this is merely a guess.

      1. Spoiler Alert!

        I was right. And your word is as good as Billy Mays’, Epi.

    2. Why would someone go see a hot-chicks-kicking-ass fest if they wanted to see depressing shit like lobotomies? Hopefully the writers realize that they’re writing for two very different audiences and will only end up pissing off both of them.

      1. This! A thousand times, this! Sadly, there are people I that I call ‘friend’ that enjoyed this move, so I have some insight.

        Those that went for explosions and T&A pretty much just gloss over the rape of lobotomized women-children. I didn’t go with them, so I can only imagine that their eyes glaze over and they actually don’t register/feel anything during these parts of the movie.

        I don’t think I want to know if any of them actually contemplated those aspects of the flick and still reported back to me with breathless enthusiasm about how super-swell it was. 😐

    3. That’s what I think too.
      The only question I have is if it will be as fun of a reveal as the ending of Brazil. (greatest movie EVAH!)

  5. Nazi zombies, there is no way any movie with them could ever be bad.

    1. This

    2. I don’t remember the name of it, but that Norwegian movie with the Nazi zombies fucking sucked. It was basically a teen slasher pic with a Nazi zombie instead of Jason/Freddy/Chucky, etc.

      1. I think the movie was called “Dead Snow”, as I already said anything with Nazi zombies is good, even that movie !

        1. I had one major problem with Dead Snow. Zombies freeze solid. Everybody knows that!

          1. That was your major problem? How about the fact that they had voices?

            1. I don’t remember that. I missed a lot of dialogue. I couldn’t hear over the sound of myself cursing at the film makers about zombies freezing in winter.

              1. The head zombie was shouting signals to the other zombies. I don’t remember if it was talking per se, but there was definitely a part where he lets out a loud scream to gather all the other zombie Nazis to him.

    3. Nazi zombies, there is no way any movie with them could ever be bad.

      American Werewolf in London! Shit yeah it’s cool!

  6. Let me just say, that any movie that has a character that looks like this just has to at least be seen.

    1. Only if she is wearing considerably fewer clothes than that.

    2. I’m going to see it just to check that smokin’ hot babe out. Shit, she’s fucking hot in that poster.

        1. Holy shit, I did not realize she was in the live action Dragonball movie. I was unable to get sufficiently drunk to make it through that piece of shit.

          1. Heroin is the only way to get through that pos. You still hate it, but you just can’t move.

  7. My friend and I were discussing this movie. It appears to be drawn directly from the brain of a 14 yo male. Hot chicks! With swords! And machine guns! And dragons! And giant explosions.

    I cant tell whether I’m fer or agin it.

    1. Michael Bay will option the sequel.

      1. Zach Snyder is already the next generation of Michael Bay.

        The only difference is his tendency to lean on the slo-mo button, and his frustration with having to put all those yicky girls in his movies.

    2. OTOH a kiddie football coaching colleague in Texas was dragged to see Sucker Punch by his wife, and reported it to be a long snooze.

      I liked Limitless. I’m guessing the character names van Loon and Eddie Morra allude to Scrooge McDuck and Buddy Love, respectively.

  8. I don’t expect it to be The Godfather, or even make all that much sense.

    All I do expect are a bunch of hot chicks in fishnets fighting dragons and giant robots with miniguns. If they deliver on that then I’m in.

    I watch a lot of Japanese movies, and they don’t generally make a lick of sense, but still manage to be fun.

    Check you brain at the door and enjoy the spectacle.

    1. It’s PG-13. What’s the point? There won’t even be tits or gore, let alone a story.

      1. Oh, that is disappointing.

      2. That was a strong indicator of probable ‘suck’ for me, too. How can you have a chicks-and-‘splosions flick and land a pg-13 rating? Really? What the HELL, man?

    2. Check you brain at the door

      No no no. This is just the knd of movie they used to show at the campus theater the middle of finals week.

      Brain cleaner.

      1. ooooohhhhhh…. ting tong ling long ding dong….. oohohhhhhh

  9. When I saw the trailer for Watchmen I thought it looked terrible.

    When I saw the film at the theater I walked out kind of liking it but also a bit disoriented and upset with its overly polished presentation.

    Since then though I’ve come to really like the film.

    Thanks for letting me share my feelings!

    1. Most people can’t get past the blue dong.

      1. “Most people can’t get past the blue dong.”

        Dude, walk around him, not under his legs.

    2. Well it was as good an adaptation of something as magnificient as the Watchmen series as I could have hoped for. You really just got to set your standards low with these kinds of films.

      1. Why set standards low? The credits sequence, done by another prod’n co., was a terrifically good adaptation of Watchmen (and one of the best passages in a movie, ever) so why couldn’t the rest of the movie have been?

        1. I mean the opening credits.

  10. Free minds and free movie reviews.

    1. Waiter, more whine?

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  13. The name has to be one of the lamest I’ve seen. It says lame B movie.

    1. That’s not always a bad thing…

  14. Girls just want to have gun.

  15. the tight little dance outfits in which the five girls are agreeably clothed,

    Way to bury the lead, Kurt.

    1. The sucker punch is that they stay clothed.

  16. Every time I see the title, I think of Sucker Punch Sally, the motorcycle shop in Ohio.

    And the trailer then reminds me how fucking AWESOME “Sin City” is, so I go watch that instead.

    Everyone wins!

    I’ll watch this on The Cable when it gets there…

    1. I’m sure I’m in the minority, but I found Sin City to be unwatchable because of the dialogue and delivery. I love hardboiled and film noir, but for me Sin City hit that sour spot between parody and authenticity that just makes you cringe.

      Maybe I’ll get slightly drunk and give it another try. Something tells me I would like it (for the visuals if nothing else) if I could get into the right frame of mind.

    2. When I think of a cycle shop in Ohio, I think Wrights.

    1. Oh, it’s “Sucker Punch,” for relevancy.

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  19. Wow, I thought I didn’t care for most films and even less television shows, but there’s some folks on here with some strong opinions.

    Not that anyone cares, but 300 was ok (like the effects and production values, plus big d&d geek, so swords and shields are cool), I don’t really care much for fiction lit, mostly all sitcoms suck, and even a TV series like Deadwood just drags on too long for me.

  20. Kurt’s synopsis makes it sound to me like Suddenly Last Summer meets Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! meets The Neverending Story.

    (Gah, not I can’t get that Limahl song out of my head.)

    1. (Gah, not I can’t get that Limahl song out of my head.)

      Dammit! Now I can’t either, you son of a bitch!

  21. I loved 300 and Watchmen and his version of Dawn of the Dead, but I just am not very excited to see this.

    The really horrific reviews it’s getting make me want to see it more, though.

    1. If Ebert hates it then it’s a go for me.

    2. I also often find I enjoy movies that get really bad reviews. Either they’re unintentionally hilarious, or far better than they got credit for.

      1. I find a lot of movies that have the reputation for being really awful are just bad, sometimes almost mediocre.

        1. like Battlefield Earth. it is at least watchable. i just didn’t get why it was supposed to be SO awful.
          it wasn’t GOOD, don’t get me wrong

          also, i give you credit for referring to “movies” not “films”. the latter always sounds pretentious to me

  22. and… there has to be an asian one…

  23. They looked pretty good in their tight outfits, I’ve gotta say. But the thing with them is that they miss the “beautiful killer” mark by a wide margin – and I’m really starting to grow way past the “hot, but not beautiful” type.

    Megan Fox, for example, made me laugh -I could go to the local mall and find a girl in every other group of shoppers many times more sexually attractive than her.

    Sin City sucked because I cut my wrists after Bruce Willis shot himself. Fucking depressing shit. And he DIDN’T FUCK Jessica Alba. The guy’s gay.

    I don’t know why her in particular, but I have a thing for 18-to-25 year-old Reese Witherspoon (Election, and Cruel Intentions, and that other movie with Paul Rudd).

  24. Just saw it and I thought it was fairly amusing watching four girls dressed as strippers fight fantastical creatures, but there was such a mood of gloom and sadness that it completely spoiled whatever kicks I derived from watching the fantasy scenes, and the ending just flat out sucked.

  25. Movies like this are why I watch cartoons, at least I know I am getting mindless entertainment.

  26. Dammit! This review convinced me to give it a shot and it was one of the worst 10 movies I’ve ever seen. I want my $10 back!

    For a magazine named reason, you certainly have poor taste in movies.

  27. With respect to Kurt & his fine piece above, I’d like to add my own impressions of Sucker Punch, for those who are still undecided.

    First off, it isn’t nearly as inane as you might fear based on the trailers. The Razzie awards will likely escape this production. Up until the end, you can even watch it without the aid of liquor or heroin.

    I really tried to check my brain at the door & enjoy this movie for what it is. I did. The action scenes are epic, beautiful, ridiculously entertaining without being altogether ludicrous; & they’re the ENTIRE REASON this movie was made.

    It is not enough. Even for those who’ve severely lowered their expectations.

    The characters in Sucker Punch are clich?s; the frustrated fantasies of every acne-faced Anime fanboy & CosPlay-fetishist who still lives with mom, who wouldn’t have the slightest clue how to interact with an actual live human female. The Sucker Punch girls were written specifically to fulfill their most nerdly desires. Mission accomplished.

    The girls in this movie are simply generic, interchangeable objects of deepseated shame-lust, inspiring virtually no emotional investment in the viewer (beyond the obvious). Sure they’re sexy, that’s their purpose, but does anyone really care when they appear to be killed off one by one (& with a plot this convoluted, who the hell can say if they’re actually killed, or even if they ever lived in the first place)? Not really.

    Which brings us to the one irredeemable failure of Sucker Punch: its story.

    I wish I could report that the director is able to pull off the whole world-within-a-world dynamic, as a kind of kick-ass hyper-sexual Alice in Wonderland meets Inception, (a cool concept, execute poorly) but that vehicle falls apart before it even gets moving. The transitions from one level-reality to the next are at first confusing & then inexplicable, & in the end we’re left to wonder if they served any real purpose at all.

    In her dream within a dream, our petite pigtailed protagonist, Baby Doll, is informed by a seemingly bored Samurai Sensei, John Glenn, of the five objectives of her ensuing fantasy quests. Apparently these objects are required for her & her four femme-fatal cohorts to escape the battlefield/bordello/insane asylum/whatever.

    Why they need a map, fire, a knife, a key, & some mystery artifact, & how they indeed implement them in their (sort of) escape, is only sloppily inferred at the very end, making the entire adventure through multidimensional fantasy-land seem almost superfluous. 

    Beyond the studio’s cynical & barely-justified excuse to portray 5 skimpily dressed hotties sexily kicking the various magnificently rendered asses of giant Samurai demons, Nazi zombies, airplane-eating dragons, & armies of evil iRobots, there is little point to Sucker Punch. Or rather, the point of Sucker Punch IS said scantily clad hotties kicking said ass, & separating male viewers from their $13.50 for the enhanced Imax viewing. Imagine my surprise. 

    Now the ending in a way lives up to the name. I sure felt suckered into shelling out $27 for me & my girlfriend to sit through 100 minutes of this Hentai inspired insipidry. I won’t spoil it for those solely interested in Sucker Punch’s unmatched levels of hottie-kickassery, but suffice it to say, a more thoroughly unsatisfying ending would be hard to imagine. When the credits pop up unexpectedly you’ll feel thwarted & ripped off. Despite anticipating Sucker Punch to be a suckfest, I was unprepared for its vastly & inexplicably shittier ending. 

    I’m a writer, so perhaps I’m significantly more sensitive to bad story-telling than others. I figured I’d enjoy Sucker Punch with all its glorious T&A at least a little more than my beautiful, insightful girlfriend, but it’s she who’s pointing out that it’d be fairer to grade the movie on its more appealing aspects.

    So for a broader picture, I’ll give Sucker Punch a letter grade as follows:

    Action: A+. Never unbelievable enough to take you out of the experience, almost every second of action is exhilarating. Completely over-the-top in just the right ways, Sucker Punch’s combat is some of the best I’ve seen. As viscerally satisfying as a big-budget silverscreen version of the God of War video game franchise, complete with boss battles. It’s really hard to come up with truly never-before-seen digital wonders, but Sucker Punch is somehow able to flaunt action scenes so new & imaginative they could have been transposed in full from James Cameron’s most dynamic lucid dreams. You can tell the actresses have had expert training in the many weapons they wield. Assault Rifle handling seems especially authentic. 

    Cinematography/Setting: A+. Absolutely stunning. From Medieval Japan to Fantasy Orc Stronghold to Futuristic Rocket Train, each environment has its own uniquely sinister beauty. Even after all the overblown CGI blockbusters, Sucker Punch manages to bring a new life & feel to each of its scenescapes. Many worlds unto themselves, & no mistake. 

    Music/Sound FX: A. As others have mentioned, Sucker Punch has an excellent & memorable soundtrack. & if you love to be immersed in huge action exploding all around you in the theater, the sound mixing for this movie is superb. Seeing it at home in stereo will not at all be the same.

    Characters: C-. The actresses seem to view their performances in Sucker Punch as a contest to see who can play the sexiest, most emotionally damaged female  Rambo. Or perhaps they see it as career credits for future mascara commercial casting auditions. I swear there’s enough makeup on set to make Joan Rivers look vaguely human. The characters are utterly one-dimensional, but this is hardly a surprise as almost all the screen time for character development is taken up instead by the ridiculous plot & superbly choreographed combat sequences.

    Plot/Story: D. So convoluted as to be nigh on meaningless, Sucker Punch leaves huge ambiguity in the viewer’s mind as to what is real & what is dream & what is merely stylistic eye-candy. Hardly anything connects more than tangentially, & the continuum completely collapses under concerted contemplation. Bad movie! Bad!

    The Ending: F. Is F- a real grade? 

    As any author will tell you, a great ending will save an otherwise mediocre story. A terrible ending will utterly destroy an otherwise great story. But what do you get when a fairly dreadful story gets an abrupt & immensely unsatisfying ending that makes no sense & absolutely obliterates the very reason you sat through the whole story in the first place? You get Sucker Punched. 

    The ending is so horrendous that I’d almost advise you to get up & leave after about 90 minutes into the movie. For wouldn’t it be better to imagine on your own, any number of reasonable explanations that could tie together such potentially compelling narratives, rather than suffer through a writer’s self-sabotaging mental clusterfuck that is so insulting to your intelligence, it lays waste any desire you may feel to reconcile the until-now mildly fascinating inconsistencies?

    Whether through laziness, sheer incompetence, or utter contempt for his audience, the writer’s ending to Sucker Punch is so terrible it’s as if he’s metaphorically slapping you in the face with one hand & flipping you the bird with the other, before turning dismissively to get in his Limousine & peeling off down the road, while you’re standing there on the sidewalk in stunned disbelief, thinking ‘what the FUCK just happened?’ 

    Who knows. The movie’s over. There are no refunds.

    Maybe that’s a little strong but you get my point. The ending is so paradoxically awful (just wait till you see it) that it brings an otherwise decent action flick from a solid C, all the down to a D-. That’s what an atrocious ending can do. Trust me.

    Final Grade: D-

    See it in an Imax theater for the incredible Cinema experience & thundering sound effects, but leave right when it looks like everything is about to make sense. It won’t. There is no epiphany, no clever burst of insight, in fact quite the opposite. So make up your own. Anything you can come up with in your head will be better than what comes out on the screen. 

    Bad disappointing movie. Bad!

    You may say that I’m taking this silly schoolboy sex-fantasy of a movie too seriously, & you may have a point, but people should at least be warned. Whatever enjoyment you get from watching beautiful women in combat bras & thigh-highs kill cool looking monsters is likely to be ruthlessly crushed by an ending that doesn’t make sense & doesn’t give the slightest damn.

    1. Perhaps the ending can be made palatable by thinking of Sucker Punch as the Finnegans Wake of CGI action flicks. If Joyce can take such liberties and call it art, why can’t Snyder?

    2. One of the interesting things coming out in the reviews, and it appears in yours above, is this hatred of teenage boys. It’s quite fascinating. It’s like, as soon as anything might be something they like, it is instantly despicable.

      Seems to be a result of our society’s absorption of feminist terror of male sexuality, and the male “white knight” compliance with that, which collaborates in denigrating the male in the vain hope of earning brownie points.

      Bit sad, really.

  28. Don’t listen to the detractors. It is a work of genius. Pure genius. So good, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since, and even downloaded a screener from usenet so I could check back through in order to clarify it in my mind.

    The genius of it is, it opens and closes the book in one movie on hot-chicks-with-guns. The mini-movies within- the Ring 2 fantasies- would be lightweight on their own. Given the astonishingly good framing story, they are justified both as great action and as a deeper narrative.

    This movie has profoundly upset Progressive Puritans. Shock! Scantily clad chicks! Thighs revealed! This shouldn’t be allowed! That’s what they’re saying.

    On that level it’s a libertine, libertarian movie- and I suspect Snyder has decidedly such tendencies (he already upset the Proggies with his politically incorrect 300, oh how they whined about fascism and multicultural insensitivity!). Snyder put hot dangerously young looking chicks in a movie because it was cool, and that is a daring and revolutionary act in these moralist, constrained times. Kudos!

    But the making of the movie of course is the bleak framing story, and the incredibly daring sucker punch to us all, the audience, at the end. The whole thing ties together on multiple levels. It’s a work of pure art. Pure popular art, at its absolute finest.

    I can’t say enough nice things about this movie. It’s up there with how I felt about Blade Runner, all those years ago.

    And hey, nobody recognised the greatness in that either, at the time.

    Oh, and all you saying it doesn’t make sense, sorry. You didn’t understand it. Try downloading that screener I mentioned and watch it again. And, never complain again that modern movies are just lightweight pablum, if you’re going to get lost in anything a little more involved.

    *spoiler*
    The brothel tale is a retelling of what happened in the asylum over the past five days. The items needed were the ones needed to effect the asylum escape. Baby Doll’s dances are a metaphor for submitting to rape. She gave herself up to distract the guards at the end so that Sweet Pea could escape. The last sequence is Doll fantasising that escape.

  29. This movie has some nike sb skunk dunks for sale of the same flaws I saw in another attempt at a faithful adaptation of a work of fantastic literature long thought unfilmable, Zach Snyder’s 2009 version of Watchmen…That is, it kobe 7 for sale struck me as a series of filmed recreations of scenes from the famous novel

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