Bad ass girls, steampunk Nazis, fishnets, Don Draper, an awesome soundtrack, these would make for something that I would enjoy yet it somehow would not work.
I was wrong.
When I saw the previews for this film, I didn't have high hopes. Knowing Zack Snyder's previous works, I knew it was going to be a visual masterpiece, but everything else would fall so short.
Again, I was wrong.
I might be losing my cinephille street credibility by saying this, but I enjoyed Sucker Punch. In fact I liked it a lot.
I initially dismissed this film as a fanboy's wet dream and I didn't really high hopes for it, so I made no plans to see it. But then I heard about the steampunk Nazis and the awesome soundtrack, suddenly, my interest piqued.
The film in many respects does give fan service to those horny fanboys out there, but there is a complexity to it that many critics may have missed.
Subtlety is not Snyder's strong suit, but this film has it. I know it may be hard to believe but the film has a lot of subtext and subtlety behind all of the guns blazing and sword fighting.
The film is about a young girl named Baby Doll (Emily Browning, who you may remember as Violet from Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events) who tries to kill her very evil stepfather in a fit of rage and tries to protect her little sister from him, but ends up accidentally killing her instead. In the first few minutes alone it is implied that Baby Doll was raped on several occasions by her stepfather and was trying to protect her little sister from that same fate.
Poor Baby Doll gets sent to the insane asylum and plots to escape from there with the help of sisters Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) and Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens, who is trying to escape from the evil clutches of the Mouse) and Amber (Jamie Chung).
I can understand why a lot of critics would not like this movie. It is confusing when you first see it because you can't really tell which is the reality and which is the fantasy. Throughout most of the film, the viewer will be in the brothel sequence and as such is where the subtleties begin to come into place.
In Baby Doll's head and through her imagination it is obvious that all of the girls in the asylum have been raped, sexually, physically, mentally and emotionally abused. The film is using that brothel sequence as a means of showing the actual horror but in a symbolical manner.
Even in the other realities that Baby Doll imagines, there are many implications as well and she is using her imagination to hide the horrific reality of her situation and the insane asylum.
If anything, this is the only way that Snyder can be subtle. Subtlety through noise and visual vibrancy. I know it doesn't make any sense, but this is Snyder's vision and this is his way of being subtle.
With that said, the acting in the film is great, but at times it can get over the top, in the case of Blue Jones (Oscar Issac), the fighting choreography is one of the best I have seen in a long time and at times is pretty inventive and impressive, especially the acrobatics, which is something that you don't see much in action films these days.
The story seems pretty straightforward, but with the lines of fantasy and reality blurring, it can be complex and it will either confuse you or it will make you think and even ask questions of what is real and what is not.
The pacing of the film is just about right but it does go a little too quickly at times when it needs to slow down, but it manages to do a good job of not slapping the audience with an action sequence every five minutes or so, the film at least gives the audience a chance to breathe a bit and try to take in the information before moving on to the next action sequence. Although, admittedly the lack of transitions and explanations in the film will annoy and confuse a lot of viewers.
As I mentioned before, the soundtrack to this film is phenomenal. Most of the music used are mostly covers and different variations of those songs, but it works extremely well with the tone of this film.
This film in many aspects is a departure from Snyder's previous works, but his signature style is there. This is a film in which there is a lot of style and not much substance on the surface (the previews and the commercials for this film isn't really making the film look any better), but it is a lot more complex than that. The complexity is hard to see at first because it is loud, bombastic and visually stunning, but on a deeper level it does explore some very interesting points and ideas.
Overall, this film is by no means an Oscar masterpiece and it shouldn't be seen as that type of film, for the kind of movie that it is and to the audience its catering to, it does its job and then some. Sucker Punch tries to actually challenge the audience and even explore some complex ideas that would interest a lot of film theorists out there. It may not be the best approach, but the effort is there and it is genuine.
I will have to give credit where credit is due, at least Zack Snyder attempted to do something different. I personally enjoyed the movie, but I can also see how many people may not enjoy this film that much due to the complexity of the plot and the difficulty of understanding what is going on, due to how the film is presented.
My name is Maricruz Gonzalez and I'm The Movie Bitch, because somebody has to be.
Stay Sassy Planet Earth!