Sucker Punch (2011)

A high octane special effects film on acid!

Can anyone remember why Zack Snyder was once considered one of the best up and coming directors of our time? Wasn't he supposed to become the next special effects visionary on par with Stephen Spielberg and James Cameron? However, after seeing how poorly his film "Sucker Punch" was made, I'm starting to wonder if maybe...just maybe..he might actually be another M. Night Shymalan. Where sure he'll direct a few good films here and there but in the end, he's nothing more than a one trick pony. Granted, he's a much better director than Shymalan ever was, and I'll admit to liking many of his films such as "Watchmen" and "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga' Hoole." Hell, I even found "300" to be halfway decent; in spite of how silly it was to see half naked dudes die in artistic slow motion. However, "Sucker Punch" really underwhelmed me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this film is freaking terrible, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

According to Zack Snyder, the film was inspired by the cult "Heavy Metal" cartoons. For those that are unfamiliar with "Heavy Metal" (Not the music, but the cartoon), then I should tell you it's an adult magazine featuring mature science fiction/fantasy based stories; with loads of violence and sexual portrayal of women. Anyways, this movie is sort of a homage to that series, as Zack put it; which would explain why it's a film featuring scantily clothed women kicking a** in a sci-fi/fantasy based universe.

The film essentially follows a young adolescent girl aptly named Baby Doll (Emily Browning), who gets institutionalized after her abusive step father frames her for the murder of her sister. Trapped inside the insane asylum, where she's scheduled to undergo a lobotomy in five days. Faced with unfathomable odds, she escapes into a fantastical world within her imagination where she and four other female inmates at the asylum, plot to escape the facility. The lines between reality and fantasy blur as Baby Doll and her four companions, as well as a mysterious guide, fight to retrieve the five items they need that will allow them to break free from their captors before it's too late. Will they succeed? Or will they all go down in flames? Who's to say, as you'll just have to see the film to find out.

Before I get into exactly why I didn't really care for this film, I want to point out some of the positives first; along with how this story could've worked better as a Japanese anime. Okay, lets start with the positives of this film. I liked how Zack Snyder was able to blur the lines of reality and fantasy so seamlessly that the audience could barely distinguish what was real and what wasn't. In fact, I even loved how the special effects, and the action choreography meshed so well together, as it made it almost impossible to tell where the CGI ends and the real actors begin. Although, the slow motion choreography does become borderline annoying halfway through the film. Honestly, can Zack Snyder direct one action sequence that isn't in artistic slow motion? Seriously? However, all gripes about Snyder's patented lust over shooting every action scene in artistic slow motion aside, the film pretty much delivers on visuals quite well. In fact, I don't think I've seen too many films that feature better CGI than "Sucker Punch" has. However, that's pretty much where all the positives end.

To be honest, I think had this film been shot as a Japanese anime, then it might've worked a lot better as a story. Unlike live action films, the audience for a Japanese anime isn't too caught with concepts of reality, as it's more about telling a great story with amazing visuals. Again, this is where having "Sucker Punch" being a anime movie would've worked a helluva a lot better. Not only would it allow for a deeper exploration into the characters' psyches using broad expressions to convey the emotions of the characters, but it would've also made it easier to blur the lines of reality and fantasy much more believably than this sad incarnation.

Granted, I know I said earlier that it does a great job blurring those lines, but what purpose does it serve? Does it give us a deeper insight to who Baby Doll truly is psychologically? Do the events that transpire in her fantasy world parallel the events that happen in the real world? Or is she just completely insane, as she imagined it the whole time? Sure, the film does a great job making the audience wonder if the events that transpired actually happened or not, but what purpose did it serve? How is Baby Doll imagining herself fighting a fire breathing dragon parallel to how her friend seduces an old fart out of his lighter have any meaning? Or any sort of significance? Is this to show how truly out of touch with reality that Baby Doll is that her only means of escape is through this imaginary world full of possibilities? And, how the hell was Baby Doll's fantasy world even necessary in telling an effective story? I could delve into my theories on this, but I don't really want to give away the ending for those that want to see this film. However, I will say this. I wouldn't pay to see this in a movie theater. Seriously, even if you're into the whole hot girl kicking a** concept, then you'd be wasting your money on this film. No, if I were you, I'd wait for the DVD, or until it comes out on basic cable, as this film isn't worth the price of a theater ticket.

By the way, speaking of other reasons why I think "Sucker Punch" would've worked better as an anime movie. Unlike live action films, in a Japanese anime, you don't necessarily have to explain everything, as that's part of it's allure. Just take a film like "Spirited Away", for instance. In "Spirited Away", it's never fully explained as to how long the protagonist and her family were inside the spiritual world. Nor was it ever explained why the scrupulous hell would the spirit world need a bathhouse, or why every inhabitant of the spirit world would need a job in the afterlife. However, since part of the allure of anime is the mystery behind some of it's symbolism, the viewer naturally just accepts this with very little explanation necessary.

Whereas in a live action film, the same mysterious allure behind the story doesn't exactly work. Like I said before, you can get away with it in a anime film. But in a live action film, it just comes off as a cheap way to tell a effective story. However, for what it's worth, I do think it paints a faithful live action homage to the cult "Heavy Metal" series.

Overall, I'm not saying "Sucker Punch" is a bad film, but I do think it leaves a lot to be desired. In the end, I would have to give this film a two out of four. I'm sure some audiences might find this amusing, as it truly is a visual treat for anyone to see. However, I wouldn't expect much out of it if I were you....

Distant Planet- Short Sucker Punch Animated film

Feudal Warriors- Short Sucker Punch Animated film

Sweet Dreams Music Video

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Comments 13 comments

satomko profile image

satomko 5 years ago from Macon, GA

My hope is that Christopher Nolan is given enough authority so that his sensibilities can override Snyder's when it comes to the Superman movie they're working on.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago Author

I agree with you there. The only reason why I'm even giving Snyder a chance right now for Superman is because of Nolan's involvement of the movie. However, as I said on another review of this film, the next superman movie is going to make or break snyder as a director. From what I've been hearing since "Sucker Punch", WB hasn't been too happy that all his films since "300" have under performed at the box office, so I shutter to think what will happen to Snyder's career if his upcoming Superman film fails to deliver....

Anyways, thanks Satomko for stopping by, and sharing your thoughts with us again. :)


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

One of those visually interesting films with a substandard plot/characterization/theme treatment. It happens all the time, unfortunately, even more so since the spectacular developement of CG in film. I still wanna see the Superman movie. I may be a "Sucker" though.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago Author

Yeah, I kind of feel the exact same way to be honest paradise, as I hope Nolan has been giving Snyder a lot of great advice on how to improve as a director, as I know supposedly WB wanted Nolan to mentor whoever got the job to direct Superman. Therefore, I hope it pays off. Anyways, thanks paradise for stopping by again to read on my hubs. :)


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Steven-you are an amazing reviewer. I don't know if anyone really appreciates that about you, but I want to point that out to you. I think you should write reviews professionally-send them in to mags or get yourself out there in Hollywood, LOL and do your thing! Rated it up.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

I am thinking he is turning towards being more like Night , than more like Nolan....granted I have not seen this movie yet....but 300 blew me away on the first viewing.....not so much on repeated viewing.....The Watchmen was just bad....and now Sucker Punch....seems to be OK....not what you expect from a great director.....as always a great detailed review...and judging by the crashing box office numbers not many people are thinking this is a great movie....voted way up


The Taco Tagger profile image

The Taco Tagger 5 years ago

I know with Watchmen and 300 he was trying to mimic the actual panels of the graphic novel, thus the slow mo and what not. However, this is his own original movie and I don't think the slow mo should have been done as much as you are saying. I typically like his movies, but I think I'll wait until this hits netflix and then I don't have to pay for it :P Also, I hope they "Nolanize" the new Spiderman movies as well. I'm tired of people not taking their superheroes seriously.


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 5 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

Great expose on Sucker Punch. I am seeing it this week! Now I am nervously anticipating if it will deliver! :)


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago Author

@denise

Wow, thanks Denise. That's probably one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. I appreciate you saying that, as that means a lot coming from a lovely lady such as yourself. ;) Anyways, thanks for stopping by again.

@Cogerson

Thanks Cogerson, I appreciate you voting this hub up! Yeah, I agree with you there about both Snyder and "300." I think the main reason why "300" was so successful was because of how different it was in terms of style; compared to other epic war based films that many people were used to seeing. However, when you watch it more than once, the flaws of that film become ridiculously obvious. The only reason why I brought up Nolan in one of the comments is because I know Christopher Nolan is allegedly supposed to be mentoring Snyder on the Superman film; according the WB studios. Therefore, I think it'll be interesting to see if he listens to Nolan. If not, then I have a bad feeling about the upcoming Superman movie....

@taco tagger

Well to be fair, I know Snyder admitted publicly that "Sucker Punch" was sort of a homage to the cult adult comic, "Heavy Metal", so he can probably argue that the slow mo cinematography was useful in the same way to mimic the actual panels of the graphic novels of that series. However, I get what you're getting at, as I think Snyder is starting to become a one trick pony now with his style of directing. If he's not too careful, he could end up being another fluke like the Wachowski Brothers and Shymalan, at the rate he's going.

As for Spider-Man, I just hope they give us something a helluva a lot better than the crap we got last time with "Spider-Man 3." Don't get me wrong, it wasn't anywhere near as bad as it could've been, but it wasn't anywhere near as great as it should've been. Seriously, with the amount of material at their disposal, you'd think we'd be treated to another great sequel, but it didn't turn out that way. Oh well. Here's hoping that the Spider-Man reboot does well. Anyways, thanks for stopping by Taco Tagger.

@cheeky girl

That's cool. I appreciate you stopping by Cheeky Girl, and thanks for reading my hub. Well, hopefully you'll enjoy the film far more than I did. Don't get me wrong, I think it had a lot of potential to be something great, but I think Snyder kind of fell short on execution if you ask me.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Well three months later and I finally saw this movie....thank you library and thank you library for carrying blu rays.....I am very happy I paid zero for the pleasure of wathcing the movie....I agree with you that computer graphics were impressive, however after the first dream/dance sequence I was not impressed with action dreams that followed....I think for me....the only character I liked in the whole movie was Scott Glenn....I liked his part and wish they would have given him a little background.....other than that.....I did not like or root for any of the characters....which a movie has to have somebody for you to root for.....it makes watching it much more enjoyable. Anyway....great review....and even better after seeing the movie.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago Author

Thanks Cogerson for the nice compliment, and sorry that you had to endure watching that movie to begin with. lol. Yeah, it's kind of a shame they didn't develop the script a bit more. It seems like the premise was there to create a great movie, but they just couldn't deliver on the potential. Kind of sad if you ask me. Anyways, thanks again for stopping by. :)


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada

I'm so glad that I didn't go to the theatre to watch this one. I was very disappointed with this film -- no depth, visuals get boring, and enough of the slow mo!!! Ugh! Now, I agree with you that if this was done as a true anime, it would have been more plausible and the slow mo effects would have been quite acceptable.

I couldn't help but laugh when I saw Baby Doll's Sailor Moon outfit. This had to be the most unoriginal part of the movie.

Still, your review was bang on -- as always!

Much love! xoxo


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago Author

Aw thanks Beth. That means a lot coming from you. :) Yeah, it's a shame this movie had such a weak story that couldn't match up with the visuals. Oh well. I just hope this isn't some sort of weird sign on how he'll be handling the new superman movie, as I'll be disappointed if that one bombs. :( Anyway, thanks Beth for always supporting me, as it's always a pleasure seeing you. :) xoxoxo

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