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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

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


Related Reviews
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Sucker Punch: The Art Of The Film
 
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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Sucker Punch
Empire Star Rating

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


RE: Sucker Punch

I don't think were suppose to know but I believe she's is in Fantasy world at that point, what is really going on I'm not too sure I have my ideas though. ... More

Posted by Ralancian at 14:49, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

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? ... More

Posted by superdan at 14:29, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

L: captainrentboy For some reason it didn't dawn on me until this morning that dancing in the burlesque dream world, more than likely meant they were boinking the various men in the real world. God damn I'm slow.st I was watching it I assumed that the various 'layers' of the dreams, including the burlesque one, were all how Baby Doll saw it in her mind, to glamorise and cope with the shittiness of the actual reality. Yet, other folk are saying the whole burlesque side of it was actually how ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ralancian at 14:20, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

How can you love 300 and care about the fate of its characters, yet feel the need to skip through the entire film whenever you watch it? pretty sure that's not the definition of loving a movie.   For some reason it didn't dawn on me until this morning that dancing in the burlesque dream world, more than likely meant they were boinking the various men in the real world. God damn I'm slow.st I was watching it I assumed that the various 'layers' of the dreams, inc... More

Posted by captainrentboy at 13:53, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

L: Gazme L: homersimpson_esq I kinda like 300 for what it is, and this is in the same sort of boat: shit, but entertaining shit. love 300, Ive never managed to watch it through (apart from in the cinema) without skipping through to all the action scenes...its similar in that the action scenes are awesome but sparse and mixed in with mind numbingly boring non action bits. I think its better than Sucker Punch, the fight scenes are far more awesome and believable...in th... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 12:54, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

L: homersimpson_esq I kinda like 300 for what it is, and this is in the same sort of boat: shit, but entertaining shit. love 300, Ive never managed to watch it through (apart from in the cinema) without skipping through to all the action scenes...its similar in that the action scenes are awesome but sparse and mixed in with mind numbingly boring non action bits. I think its better than Sucker Punch, the fight scenes are far more awesome and believable...in that they look more ... More

Posted by Gazme at 12:46, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

L: homersimpson_esq like 300 it is shit ixed that for you homer ... More

Posted by paul_ie86 at 11:09, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

Saw it last night and enjoyed it. Sure it was Snyder's worst effort by far, he's clearly more capable (at this moment in his career) at directing adaptations or basically someone else's story, than he is doing it all himself, from scratch. But this film wasn't awful enough to leave me wanting him banished from Hollywood and then killed, like it seems to have so many other critics. The story was admitedely dire and overly basic, although thankfully and unlike Battle-LA, its well... More

Posted by captainrentboy at 10:23, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


Made me think Zack Snyder's never read a book

It was shallow nonsense and, essentially, shit, but the time did fly past (unlike 300) and the action sequences were great fun. The most frustrating thing really was that really it was a video game in the wrong medium so you couldn't play the awesome action sequences or skip the appalling cut scenes (about 70% of the movie). ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Wozza31 at 02:35, 04 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. egends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is Snyder's best, then t... More

Posted by homersimpson_esq at 00:56, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


Well, that happened.

"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." Which is a really nice way of saying it's shit, which it is. 3 stars just ain't what they used to be. Risible garbage. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sephiroth7 at 00:18, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

L: Ethanial Now well over 12 hours from seeing it, and some form of sleep, yet I'm still filled with as much violent rage and bile about the film as when I was sitting in the cinema, I can barely put words to it. Still. 'm the opposite. Completely enjoyed it when I saw it (last Tuesday), but now, less than a week later I can't really understand what it was that I liked about it. It was fine, that' about it. It's been completely shown up by a pair of genuinely amazing releases theatri... More

Posted by adambatman82 at 23:12, 03 April 2011 | Report This Post


Bad ending

I didn't expect good script ,good acting ,but expected like group of hot mindless girls blowing the shit out of everithing in their world imaginary world & I get it,but for what Snyder ended it with cruel truth of life,I expected fun to the end and got brain damage at the end,fow what? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sanya at 19:56, 03 April 2011 | Report This Post


Sucker Punch

SPOILERS As a trailer Sucker Punch is pretty awesome, as a film it's - well - not. It looks fantastic, with some truly spectacular visuals but it makes absolutely no sense. Even within the parameters of it's own fantasy universe(s) there's little or no logic to be found. We apparently see things from Babydoll's perspective - but there's plenty going on here that she's not witness to. Is all of the bordello/alien world stuff in her head? Are all the girls sharing the fantasy? That Sweet Pea... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Scruffybobby at 19:42, 03 April 2011 | Report This Post


As Expected

It was pretty much what I expected....it'll be popular with 14 year olds. Don't go in expecting Inceprion-lite...it's not that clever. On the positive side the action sequences were pretty spectacular - if only a story could have been written around them. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Guvnor at 03:57, 03 April 2011 | Report This Post


PART ENTERTAINING, MOSTLY POINTLESS

The visuals are striking, the soundtrack cool and actors pretty but Snyder has created something that's rich in ambition but ends up being completely pointless. It just doesn't work. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DMeister at 00:59, 03 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Total crap from start to finish

Shittest idea for a film ever. The real life...and the brothel bits were mind numbingly boring and ruined by terrible acting and awful one dimensional characters. The sorta make belief bits at least a couple of them were kinda cool, but utterly pointless. They didnt affect the plot at all, utterly pointless and impossible to care about...though cool. Some of the real life bits at the beginning which were essentially music videos were actually really good...as music videos, crap ... More

Posted by Gazme at 23:41, 02 April 2011 | Report This Post


Total crap from start to finish

An apt time to release Sucker Punch, as this film felt like one big April Fools gag. Burlesque chicks, cyborgs, dragons, steampunk nazis and minigun wielding samurais in one film may sound cool but in truth they're there to cover up a thin plot that's devoid of any genuine drama, tension, substance or purpose other than to solely satisfy the juvenile fanboy self-indulgance of Zack Snyder. Now I've been favourable of Snyder's films to date, but this isn't a film, its an incoherant 2-hour Nerdg... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alsybroth at 21:20, 02 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

Style over substance but i still found myself enjoying it when it descended into mindless action plus who doesn't like giant samurai with a mini-gun. Could have done a lot of things better. The story was utter trash but i didn't really expect anything less ... More

Posted by hairymonster11 at 17:17, 02 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

L: Tech_Noir I don't understand the hate this film is getting. ilm is subjective and not everybody shares the same opinion on one thing. It's not that hard to understand really. ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 17:16, 02 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

The negative responses here are giving me high hopes for the movie, i really think i'm going to love it when i pick it up. ... More

Posted by DONOVAN KURTWOOD at 17:05, 02 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

I don't understand the hate this film is getting. There are so many other blockbusters with less story and not even a fraction of the style of Punch I mean most people liked gacy visuals and music, why can't the same apply here? ... More

Posted by Tech_Noir at 17:03, 02 April 2011 | Report This Post


Sucker Punch

Snyder knows how to film a stylish action sequence, but based on this I think he should stick to adaptations. I get the feeling he had all these ideas for kick-ass set pieces involving dragons, robots and robot-zombies, then he realised (or someone told him) he had to actually fit them into a story somehow - which he did, but it was a silly one. It just felt so out of place every time Babydoll did her thing and was transported into this crazy world of kicking ass. I was sitting in the cinema... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Whistler at 16:59, 02 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sucker Punch

Now well over 12 hours from seeing it, and some form of sleep, yet I'm still filled with as much violent rage and bile about the film as when I was sitting in the cinema, I can barely put words to it. Still. ... More

Posted by Ethanial at 14:33, 02 April 2011 | Report This Post


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