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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Vanessa Hudgens
Abbie Cornish
Jamie Chung
Jena Malone
Emily Browning.
Directors
Zack Snyder
Deborah Snyder.
Screenwriters
Steve Shibuya
Zack Snyder.
Running Time
110 minutes

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Sucker Punch
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in suspenders...


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Plot
Vermont, the 1960s. Babydoll (Browning) has been interred in a mental institute for young women after attacking her evil stepfather with a gun, and accidentally killing her younger sister in the process. Together with four fellow inmates, Babydoll plans an escape which, via the power of her imagination, involves battling zombies, dragons and robots.


Review
Sucker Punch
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From debut Dawn Of The Dead to last year’s Legend Of The Guardians, working exclusively in adaptation has played to director Zack Snyder’s greatest strength: fashioning impressive and distinctive visual constructs from rich source materials. With Sucker Punch, though, we finally get to see what Snyder can make with self-mined ore. In some ways, this is his own Inception (although Christopher Nolan, of course, had also self-penned his debut, Following). And the results are… Well…

A charitable view is that Sucker Punch is Moulin Rouge refried as an action movie. It even opens with a red curtain — suggesting that the opening ‘reality’ scenes, which play out a melodramatic montage in silent semi-slo-mo, are themselves little more than a performance. Then, once Babydoll’s (Emily Browning) perception has mentally tweaked her grim surroundings from asylum to bordelo, we have a faintly titillating milieu of mascara and fishnets giving way not to inventive song-and-dance numbers, but to furious action sequences which throw just about every fantasy/sci-fi/war cliché at the screen. This happens almost literally: each set-piece (there are four) is framed within a dance, which begins with Emily Browning’s Babydoll stiffly swaying her hips as we dive into her eyeball and the action, then pulls out again to find her sweaty and exhilarated while her astonished male audience pant almost post-coitally. (We mean her male audience within the film, although after each of Snyder’s dervish whirls, you wonder if he’s hoping the the same will be true of the kids in the multiplex.) As in Moulin Rouge, anachronistic cover versions — selected for the signpost-value of their lyrics — dominate, and some of these are even (as in Moulin Rouge) sung by a cast member, albeit only on the soundtrack: Browning trills The Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), The Pixies’ Where Is My Mind and The Smiths’ Asleep.

One could alternatively describe Sucker Punch as Brazil for teenage videogamers. Similar to Terry Gilliam’s dark, fantasy satire, a significant segment of the film plays out in a character’s mind during its traumatic dissolution, fragments of memory and conscious impression melting like snowflakes (a favourite image of Snyder’s) in the blast of a broiling, vivid subconscious. Snyder even brazenly echoes one of Sam Lowry’s demons in Brazil, here triplicating that movie’s giant samurai and having it bleed light rather than fire. But while, for his own dream sequences, Gilliam drew on the kind of broad mythic imagery with which you’d have expected this main character to be familiar, Snyder indulges his love of Heavy Metal magazine, also drawing from manga (Browning fights in a pleated skirt so short it barely covers her butt-cheeks), Tolkien (orcs and dragons feature), steampunk (clockwork steam-powered World War I German zombie-cyborgs!) and high sci-fi (gleaming killer robots on speeding bullet trains). None of which particularly feels like the sort of thing you’d expect to find whizzing round the head of a young woman in the ’60s, but hey, you never know.

The result, as encouraged by the (double) framing device, the soundtrack and Snyder’s own journeyman years in promo-making, feels less like a stream of dream sequences and more like a series of preposterously overblown music videos, thick with the heavy desaturation and pitch-bend slo-mo that dominates all Snyder’s other pictures. Which is fine, but to truly blow us away, all this sense-assaulting pizzazz requires both strong connective tissue and an emotional anchor.

Which, sadly, it lacks. The story, it turns out, is so dizzied by the artifice of its construction (be that Snyder’s film-making technique or Babydoll’s fevered Rabbit Hole-digging) that we’re encouraged to treat nothing as real, and thus feel no sense of jeopardy — only urgency. Unlike, say, The Matrix (you die in The Matrix, you die in The Real) or Inception (you get killed, you get trapped in Limbo), there’s no reason to fear death in Babydoll’s battlegrounds.

And it doesn’t help that each of the characters is only a sketch, both in terms of writing and performance. Abbie Cornish’s Sweet Pea is The Reluctant Cynical One. Jamie Chung’s Amber is the Dim Sweet One. Jena Malone’s Rocket is The Young Enthusiastic One. Vanessa Hudgens’ Blondie is The Other One. And Babydoll is, as the name suggests, little more than a petite mannequin, a mere plot facilitator who even has to delegate the exposition, such as it is, to an avatar (Scott Glenn’s grizzled Wise Man). If only as much attention had been lavished on the characters themselves as on their combat training and costume design.


Verdict
Ambitious and visually impressive as a pop-video mash-up, but, lacking a strong emotional core, it doesn’t quite cohere as a fully satisfying movie.


Reviewed by Dan Jolin


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Sucker Punch
Empire Star Rating

Sucker Punch To Your Senses

i cant believe this movie didn't get 5 stars! it is the most inventive and outside the box movie i have seen for a long time, It stays true to the Manga style and it has an unpredictable plot that leaves you thinking, its not a boring predictable mainstream movie. Sucker Punch had me on the edge of my seat the whole time and gave me the 'wow' shivers not to mention the awesome soundtrack. i left the theater feeling like i had just witnessed greatness and i would gladly pay to this move over and ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jacksoha at 13:14, 13 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Zack Synder wanted to destroy something beatiful

I don't really know where to start with this one.  I really hated it, in fact I class this as one of the worst films I have seen of this year (or many years for that matter). A lot of people have criticised the plot or lack of it (and I'll come to that) but in my opinion it is the failure by Snyder to come up with a single three dimensional or interesting character which really kills this film.  None of the five girls have much going for them other than the ability to stand aroun... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Groovy Mule at 21:54, 10 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Zack Synder wanted to destroy something beatiful

I saw this, and have already reviewed this on Empire's forum, but would like to say once again I found it very original, and simply excellent I will definitely buying the Blu-Ray HD once released :) ... More

Posted by hampstead bandit at 20:05, 10 April 2011 | Report This Post


Zack Synder wanted to destroy something beatiful

A visual spectacle with high octane action unparalleled by anything else Iv'e seen before and likely to see again. It seems the burden of following up such a awesome movie was too much for Mr Snyder show by the part 2/3 into the movie where not only does he kill of one character and cut all the glorious momentum the film had built, but then to destroy his masterpiece by killing two more, lobotomising the main character and having a cheesy unsatisfying message shoved down our throats at the end. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Zayd Awan at 21:42, 09 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

I liked Sucker Punch, it wasn't Snyder's best movie but it wasnt that bad either, it did feel repetitive by the third fantasy where it just zooms into her eyes but the action scenes themselves were decent. It is a fanboy fantasy movie young women with skimpy outfits manga style fighting killer robots and mechanical Nazis, however I would have liked to see Babydoll's dance (just to see why all the men were going gaga over it) 3/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MI Cruise at 19:26, 09 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: Spaldron L: Bluehawk It looks bloody good. Like Scott Pilgrim vs The World an awesome film, only understood by gamers. 'm a gamer and Scott Pilgrim was shit. do agree. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by GarminForerunner at 09:11, 09 April 2011 | Report This Post


AWSOME

All i can say about the film. this is how action films should be and can i give a shout out to the main villian who gave a standout performance. Zack Syder has done it again and created an amzing world that pushes boundraies and those that are saying the plot is week well A it is depp and b sometimes all you want in a film is girls guns and great visuals. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bigollytg at 23:16, 07 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Thank god for tasha57, Emidb, sparkwood, captainrentboy and Ralncian are here - I though it was just me. There's a hell of a lot going on in this film that quite a few of the reviews I've read seem to have missed. And I'm baffled people found it hard to fellow - the structure's pretty episodic and even if the sub-text of what's actually happening in the real world may not be initially obvious, the disparate dream realities are pretty clearly defined. I was put off at first by some of the r... More

Posted by horribleives at 23:07, 07 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

I went and saw it last night. Always really impressed with Zack Snyder's action sequences, always so picture perfect to look at. I just wished he spent a little more time going over the script which I thought lacked a certain something, The film kind of reminded me a little bit of inception, but not as classy, I read the reviews before hand so purposely went in with low expectations so I wouldn't be as disappointed. And I wasn't with the action, thoroughly impressed. Took me a little while... More

Posted by jenhen89 at 22:29, 07 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

I've read some of the threads on here & one of the theories about Baby Dolls 'dancing' is that she was in fact shagging guys to distract them, I can see it from the point of view that she was certainly sweating and panting vigorously and it would also follow that the bordello dance dream and then the further action sequence dream layer was added to cover such a horrible experience for her But there's something that doesn't add up....if this is true then she shagged or was raped by 4 dudes ... More

Posted by 5panky at 20:20, 07 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE:

The trailer for Punch s a rather dark, menacing opening section followed by an hour and a half or so of women looking cool kicking arse in fantastical surroundings, and that's pretty much what the movie delivers.  Despite being mostly set inside the main character's head, and featuring two levels of dream state, it's no on it did remind me of s] and isn't really any more sophisticated than a t Evil ]Charlie's Angelse.  The action, with the girls battling anything from zombie... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 19:04, 07 April 2011 | Report This Post


I agree with a previous reviewer, it appears empire and many other critics have completely missed the whole point of the film. People who say it is 'sexist' and too 'self-indulgent' have clearly just sat and viewed the pretty colours on the screen. Sucker Punch is one of the best films i have seen in months, more pushy films such as the Black Swan and Inception shove the symbolism and meaning into your mouth and force you to choke it down so theres i nothing hidden to explore for yourself, but S... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tasha57 at 15:28, 07 April 2011 | Report This Post


I agree with a previous reviewer, it appears empire and many other critics have completely missed the whole point of the film. People who say it is 'sexist' and too 'self-indulgent' have clearly just sat and viewed the pretty colours on the screen. Sucker Punch is one of the best films i have seen in months, more pushy films such as the Black Swan and Inception shove the symbolism and meaning into your mouth and force you to choke it down so theres i nothing hidden to explore for yourself, but S... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tasha57 at 15:28, 07 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: The sad this is, Empire *completely* missed the point,

WATCH IT AGAIN! No way it's about time Snyder used some of the millions Warner's have given him over the years & invested it in a writing course. It's one thing having a visual flair & an idea BUT it's another to get said idea on to the screen & this Sky Captain & The World Of Tommorow/Matrix/Moulin Rogue effort aint cutting it. Also box-office figures do not lie people are not as dumb as you make them out to be. ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 15:11, 07 April 2011 | Report This Post


The sad this is, Empire *completely* missed the point,

and as a result their entire review is off. Whoever watched this film, then wrote the review for the magazine, missed a massive part of the plot, and so ever since that their opinion was going to be geared negatively. This film *is* deep, in fact there's an incredible amount of depth to the plot, but you have to go looking for it. This isn't Inception, Snyder isn't going to hold your hand through the film like Nolan did. You've got to figure it out for yourself. The saddest thing of all is th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Emibd at 00:54, 07 April 2011 | Report This Post


The sad thing is, Empire *completely* missed the point,

and as a result their entire review is off. Whoever watched this film, then wrote the review for the magazine, missed a massive part of the plot, and so ever since that, their opinion was going to be geared negatively. This film *is* deep, in fact there's an incredible amount of depth to the plot, but you have to go looking for it. This isn't Inception, Snyder isn't going to hold your hand through the film like Nolan did. You've got to figure it out for yourself. The saddest thing of all i... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Emibd at 00:52, 07 April 2011 | Report This Post


Generous 3 stars

I like Zack Snyder's work. I am also fond of movies that are more "style over substance", such as Final Fantasy, Charlie's Angels and Machette. The problem with Sucker Punch is that there is tons of style, and absolutely nothing holding it together. Snyder is a great visual director of great source material (Romero's DotD, Miller's 300 and Moore's Watchmen). I don't know who wrote Sucker Punch. I don't really get what they were aiming for. The characters are so empty, just a bunch of ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danielthompson99 at 22:59, 06 April 2011 | Report This Post


File under 'Huge Disappointments'

This is the sort of film I hate the most. The major letdowns. The category that still has Avatar as the King of the Turds. Something that should have blown me away by a director that hs impressed with previous efforts.   I went in with my expectations set suitably low, because the trailer just ticked too many boxes and so couldn't possibly live up to those 2 minutes...and I was still gutted as to how poor this was.   Yes, it looks fantastic. Snyder knows how to do ott action. ... More

Posted by Vitamin F at 13:02, 06 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: BRILLIANT.

God what a load of old tosh this was i've said it before & i'll say it again Snyder is Mr Style Over Substance, as with his other fims looks good but the man can't write or direct for toffee as for the film like they say doesn't matter how much you try you can't polish a TURD! Lets hope he doesn't fuck up Nolan's script on Superman although I wouldn't bet against it. ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 12:57, 05 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

L: adambatman82 I was at a press screening this morning, and am surprised to announce that I actually really liked it. I'm not a gamer, not a big fan of the director, and wouldn't actually say I was a fan of action films, but this really impressed me. I was even really attached to the "emotional core" of the film too, by the end of the picture. It's Snyder's best after Dawn, and leagues ahead of 300 and Watchmen. agree with this Adam, including the ranking with Snyders other films.... More

Posted by sparkwood at 12:55, 05 April 2011 | Report This Post


Awful

I pretty much hated this. From the off it came across as a goth style music video and from that moment I was out. It gains an extra star for some brilliantly directed action scenes, but even these (and some very sexy women wearing very little) can't save the film. I've always liked Synders movies (loved Dawn Of The Dead and Watchmen, enjoyed 300), but this is by far his worst movie. 2 stars ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skeletonjack at 19:39, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

Thinking about the film a lot of the "dancing as sex" stuff does make sense, but I'm not sure if that's just a way of projecting meaning that ain't really there. then again maybe that's Snyder's point. There's still a lot that doesn't really hold up ... More

Posted by Scruffybobby at 18:48, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

Hmm, I like your thinking. It's good that, if you want to go looking for it, there appears to be even a little depth to this film, it's just a shame a few more of its detractors didn't pick up on that, rather than just coming up with the usual ''Annie Lennox covers?? Giant Mechs and Robots?? Within a film set in the sixties?? How bloody dare he!'' Hopefully Snyder will do a nice lil commentary, and clear up any of these potential story arcs, when its out on ... More

Posted by captainrentboy at 16:17, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

*SPOILERS* captainrentboy We could well be but further to your first post as I've been thinking. Of course the film is told by Sweet Pea (she's the narrator after-all) and is telling the story of the woman who saved her. Which is why the opening sequence goes to lobotomy but then cuts straight back with Sweet Pea saying it's not good enough and thus retells the story to make Baby Doll seams more glamours than the harsh reality of what actually happened. this is why the end sequence... More

Posted by Ralancian at 15:29, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

L: superdan ers**/b]  What was with the bus driver being the same guy in her dreams? Was she psychic or some shit? Or was it to do with the whole 'angel' thing mentioned in the beginning? sp; I thought the whole angel angle of the story, was that Baby Doll was ultimately Sweet Pea's by the end of it all. And the bus driver part might just have been how Baby Doll imagined Sweet Pea's eventual escape from the Asylum. Of course, I could very well be tal... More

Posted by captainrentboy at 14:51, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


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