Movie Review: Sucker Punch

I went and saw Sucker Punch with my friend Nick (@hawzzy) this weekend. It was bad. It was so bad that I found myself repeatedly looking at my watch throughout the movie, wondering not only how the plot would resolve itself (hint: it didn’t, at least not in any sort of satisfactory way) but also how much longer I’d have to sit in my seat watching it.  I went and saw it at Cinebarre in Mountlake Terrace (which is a totally rad place to see a movie/have a couple of beers/eat some food all at once), and if I didn’t have to drive home to Issaquah and work in the morning, I would have drank much more than one beer to get through it.

Describing exactly how and why it was so bad is kind of difficult, because there’s so much to talk about. We’ll start with the plot. Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is admitted into an insane asylum so that her stepfather can have her lobotomized under false pretenses. Shortly after being admitted, however, we get into her head where she’s recast as an orphan being introduced as the new girl at a brothel. She quickly hatches a plan to escape, and enlists a few of the girls at the brothel to help her in her task and ultimately go with her. Being an action movie, getting the key items to make this escape requires some ridiculous fantasy-within-a-dream action sequences which feature the girls fighting giant samurai, steampunk undead zombies, orcs, and robots. Unfortunately, I’m not making this up.

All of this is supposed to evoke some sort of female empowerment revenge fantasy, but all it evoked for me was a mix of boredom and revulsion. In the brothel, the girls always seem to be on the verge of being raped, abused, or otherwise in peril. Casting them as total badasses in Baby Doll’s fantasies doesn’t change this fact, and if anything kind of trivializes the idea that they really could be such heroines. It’s the opposite of empowerment.

It doesn’t help that the action sequences are incredibly formulaic and basically play out the same way each time. It becomes more and more grating, to the point where start to wish they’d hurry things up by the time the last sequence starts. The only positive thing I can say about them is that the music that bookends them works pretty well, even if some of the covers used are awful (the entire soundtrack is nothing but).

On top of everything else, the acting is pretty wooden. Nobody is going to win any awards for their work here, and everyone has done much better work. Director Zack Snyder seems to think that extreme close-ups of his actors can make up for his inability to get much emotion out of them. He’s wrong.

Really, that’s the weirdest thing to me. Snyder has made a bunch of movies that I really like (although I’ve liked them to varying degrees). I kind of had an idea what to expect out of Sucker Punch, and I read some bad reviews before I went and saw it, but even with tempered expectations and as a fan of his previous work, I was severely let down.

Here’s hoping his Superman reboot is a return to form.

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