30 March 2011

Sucker Punch Review.

"There was a time when reading wasn't just for fags. And neither was writing. People wrote books and movies. Movies with stories, that made you care about whose ass it was and why it was farting. And I believe that time can come again." - Joe Bowers, Idiocracy.

I was genuinely excited for Sucker Punch when I heard that Zack Snyder, director for 300 and The Watchmen, was doing a triple (writing, producing, directing) for this film. Girl gets put in an insane asylum and has to escape before she gets lobotomized by her stepfather after her inheritance. It sounded like the perfect vehicle to tell a visually engaging story. Unfortunately the film does not deliver.

Sucker Punch was boring. That's the cardinal sin of movie making. I struggled to find why I wasn't engaged in the film. Hot looking chicks kicking ass in a beautifully rendered world. I really shouldn't have been bored. I came to the realization that I didn't care about any of the main characters. Sucker Punch is similar to the movie within Idiocracy. There's an ass on the screen that farts for 2 hours.

Spoilers ahead

The film starts in the 'real world' when Baby Doll's evil stepfather (presumably) murdered Baby Doll's mother for inheritance. Turns out the mom left everything to her two daughters. Angered, the stepfather decides to go and molest Baby Doll, but when Baby Doll fights back, he goes after the younger daughter. Baby Doll gets a gun and fires at the step-dad, but she misses and hits a light-bulb. The shrapnel from the light bulb apparently kills the younger sister. The stepfather puts her in an insane asylum and pays Blues, the orderly, to arrange for her to be lobotomized. This will happen in five days. The film then does a cool-guy montage and skips to day 5 when she is getting lobotomized. Wait a second. We are suddenly placed inside of a whore house where the mental patients are now suddenly whores. The Insane Asylum runned by Blues is now a Burlesque owned by Blues. In this second world, Baby Doll's virginity will be sold to the "High Roller" in five days. She intends to escape before that happens. She is joined by two sisters named Sweet Pea and Rocket, and two interchangeable characters named Amber and Blondie.

At every major plot point, Baby Doll goes into a third world that is filled with CGI. Once there, she and her team fights demonic statues, Nazis, dragons, and robots to fetch an item that will help them escape. Things go wrong for some of the characters so that in the end only two girls remain. Baby Doll chooses to sacrifice herself so the last girl can escape. That's why she gets lobotomized. At the end we see that events in the Burlesque world pretty much all happened. Blues, the main antagonist of the movie, gets what he deserves.

So, why didn't I care about half the scenes in this movie? Let's start with the third tier worlds. They are entirely formulaic. The characters are briefed by a 'Wise Man' who tells them what they need to do for the mission. They then do the mission. There's absolutely no jeopardy in these scenes because we see these girls do absolutely unrealistic moves. When the robot Nazi punched one of the girls, she was fine. When the girls fall from a plane 200 feet high, they were fine. Once it is clear that the characters won't get hurt at all and that they would (probably) obtain the object that they need, I lost all interest.

Another problem is that the third tier worlds are supposed to represent them doing something in the Burlesque world. For example, one girl is supposed to lift a lighter off of a fat guy. In the dream world, they're fighting dragons and hordes of monsters for magic stones that can create fire. It feels like there's such a huge disconnect between world two and world three that I couldn't care. What does it mean when the bridge fell in the dragon world? What do the monsters mean? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Five seconds in the burlesque world is stretched into 10-15 minutes in the cgi worlds.

"A while ago I had written a script for myself and there was a sequence in it that made me think, 'How can I make a film that can have action sequences in it that aren't limited by the physical realities that normal people are limited by, but still have the story make sense so it's not, and I don't mean to be mean, like a bulls--t thing like Ultraviolet or something like that... It's as crazy as anything else that I have ever done. It's a movie that nobody can get made with the ending that it has and the subject matter." - Zack Snyder

I think that's where the main problem lies. The plot was just a vehicle to have these action scenes and those scenes are in a reality where the characters can't really get hurt. Having the burlesque world just puts another barrier to my caring for the movie. I'm not even looking at what 'actually' happens. The real version to the story is similar to the burlesque but with minor differences. So if what I'm looking at isn't what actually happened, why would I care about the events in burlesque world? I don't. What does dancing mean in the burlesque world? Heck if I know. What happened in the real world when Blues shot/raped those girls? How can an orderly have that much power?

What's the solution? Merge the insane asylum with the burlesque world. They're similar enough that the story doesn't have to change much at all. Have Baby Doll take some 'medication' which causes her to imagine the world around her as a burlesque. Have characters/elements phase back and forth from their counterparts in the two world. It would have been interesting visually at least.

This film is bad. Easily one of the worst films I've seen this year. I'd rather re-watch The Last Airbender than see this again. The CGI fights are good, but becomes meaningless. It is like watching someone play a video-game with god mode turned on. Cool man you just killed all them monsters, congratulations on your hard work.

Possible Plot hole: Why didn't Baby Doll just tell the female psychiatrist that Blues was planning on forging her signature to lobotomize? Baby Doll was present when Blues and the stepfather were talking about it. That's why she was planning the escape. The least she could have done was raise the concern to the psychiatrist that she doesn't want to be lobotomized and maybe the psychiatrist can stop it. Can anyone explain?

3 out of 10

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