Midway through the film, Babydoll (Emily Browning) is mowing down robot solider after robot solider in a spectacular action scene, a thought quickly went to my head….I stopped caring.
Before I get into that, let me give you guys my expectation on the film.
I knew going in that this was going to director’s Zack Snyder’s “Get it out of his system” film. What does that mean? It means that he most likely wanted to make the following films: A fantasy film, a samurai film, a futuristic film, a musical, a war in the trenches film, a steam punk movie, and some kind of animes style film. He wanted to make films using all those great iconic images, but he figured it probably take him forever to make all those films.
His solution? Make it one movie.
I was down the moment when I heard about the film back in 2008. I was even more excited when I saw the footage at Comic Con, BUT, I was apprehensive about it. It looked good, but will the narrative work? As much as I love Snyder’s other films, I won’t deny that his story sensibilities and characterization tend to fall short.
Sadly, Sucker Punch, more then anything he’s done before, accidentally highlights those flaws that he has as a filmmaker.
The film’s characters are lacking. They’re idea’s of characters. Concepts, not fully fleshed out characters. It seemes like the film’s idea of fleshing out a character is to have them cry. In my opinion the only character with any spark of life is Rocket. Rocket has the clearest motivation, and the clearest character traits. Jena Malone does a lot to bring out that charisma in the character, but I do think she’s the best written one.
Actually, the whole cast of girls I will say did their best to bring the characters to life. It was only because of the fact that Emily Browing, Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens and Jaime Chung were good in their roles did I start to notice that they didn’t feel like they were fully written. Hudgens and Chung actually brought a good amount of charm in their parts in which I started to like them, and that is when I noticed that I actually don’t know their characters at all. Those two in particular were mostly left in the sidelines while Babydoll, Sweet Pea and Rocket does most of the heavy lifting both in the action scenes and in the story.
Going back to not knowing the characters, lets look at Babydoll. Babydoll is the lead in the film, and while I knew the reasoning of why she’s in the mental institution, and why she’s in the mental state that she’s in….I don’t know HER. Why does she have these dreams? Why is it both a brothel, and then a crazy mixmash of a teenage boy fantasy? Why those images?
That becomes the issue with the story. There is no reason any of these “worlds” that Snyder sets up, the mental institution, the brothel, and the world of fantasy, has any reason for being in the same film. Snyder’s rules of the film aren’t really defined.
The truth is, these aren’t Babydoll’s fantasies….they’re Snyder’s. The whole conceit of this being his “Get it out of my system” film kinda backfires because he didn’t make a strong enough story and characters to justify this whole film.
But in that regard, the film can work as pure eye candy. If you want to be dazzled by great, stylish film-making, then Snyder does that well.
I can certainly say that I didn’t get BORED while watching this. The interesting use of covers of popular music (the brothel sequences are so clearly MOULIN ROUGE inspired I’d half expected Nicole Kidman to walk in.), the cutting, and the imagery and yes, …the action is great. Every single action sequence is pure Snyder, and if you still like his style, then your won’t be disappointed. The action is fantastic, with the World War I/steam punk sequences being my favorite.
I certainly hope Snyder got out whatever he had to get out of his system. His next film is Superman, and hopefully this time out he can focus on the story and characters just as much as he focuses on his visuals and action.
In the end, I define Sucker Punch for me like this. If I end up getting the DVD, I will just jump to a sequence in the film to rewatch. But will I sit down and watch the whole thing again? Probably not as much. It’s a misfire…but it sure is an entertaining one.