Thursday, March 31, 2011

Movie Review: Sucker Punch

I haven't got much time for movies lately. If anyone can believe it, my last movie was Inception. And I can't even remember what was the one before it. Possibly Ironman 2 if my memory serves me right. So, the movies that I do get to watch in the theaters in full HD and surround sound glory are the ones which I really want to watch badly. Inception was one, and so was Sucker Punch. I wrote a lengthy review of Inception back then, and I believe Sucker Punch deserves one of its own.

As usual, it's not going to be spoiler free. If you haven't seen the movie yet and plan to do so, please go now and come back once you're done. I will be referencing the movie itself a lot, and chances are that you're going to get lost and lose me. So I say again, stop reading if you're going to watch the movie. Instead of a normal review, I'm actually taking up more of a crtitic's role instead. I'll voice my opinions of the movie, rather than explain about the intricacies of the plot, and of course, it is going to be subjective as well.

The story revolves around protagonist Baby Doll, who was sent to the asylum for the criminally insane, after being framed by her step father for killing her younger sister. There, the orderly Blue Jones gets paid by the step father to arrange for Baby Doll to be lobotomised, so as to prevent her from saying anything against him to the police. As you can see, the world's not treating Baby Doll very well, and the only way her mind can cope with this reality is for her to escape to one that is more...... acceptable. This is where she creates an altered reality, where she gets sold to a brothel instead, where exotic dancers ply their trade and sell their bodies under their mobster manager, Blue.

From this reality, Baby Doll can enter a third reality when she dances. Anyone who watches her dance will enter into a trance, and basically all the action fantasy scenes take place here. In this reality, Baby Doll dresses up like a Japanese school girl, gets armed with a Katana, a handgun, and kicks everythings' ass. From here, plot doesn't really matter anymore, because not many things will make sense and the more questions you have, the less you're going to enjoy the show. It seemed as though Zack Snyder was just listening to fanboys and otakus talking about their dream action scenes, and put them all together in one movie, complete with girls in short skirts and machine guns. The very first time Baby Doll dances, she gets a welcome fight with 3 huge ass demon Samurai, complete with gatling guns and all. This fight alone (my favourite by the way), kicked so much ass it really set my expectations high for the rest of the movie.

The rest of the scenarios created in the 3rd reality were outrageously fun too and had the best of everything a comic book fan wanted. Zombie WWII soldiers, human piloted mecha, knights in armor, orgres, fire breathing dragons, machine gun mounted planes, cybernetic robots, rocket packs, exploding trains, etc. Really, everything that spells action can be found in this movie. The special effects and CG were done really well, and so is the awesome music. Everything fits in and it's exactly what you'd expect from Znyder. I thought the fights could have been better and perhaps more Matrix inspired, but then again it wouldn't have been too original. I'm not talking about slow motion stuff, but really just more kung-fu stuff. No complains about the visuals and it's pretty much the best of what Hollywood has to offer, period.

Some how, the rest of the girls in the brothel who were conspiring with Baby Doll were able to enter this 3rd reality as well. At first I thought it was all in her mind and she imagined everything, since the girls were still doing other tasks in the second reality, which is part of Baby Doll's figment of imagination anyway. But later in the film, there were incidents which showed that the girls knew what was happening in the 3rd reality. For example, Rocket's conversation with sister Sweet Pea back in the train scenario. This really just complicates the issue without giving any actual explanations. In The Matrix or Inception, part of the fun of watching the movie was trying to comprehend how reality is fabricated in that universe. In Sucker Punch, don't think too much cause it's not going to make too much sense. The dots are there, but it's not connected. There are too many questions to raise about the connections of the different realities, such as the existence of the man who gave Baby Doll the weapons. Is he real..... or not? Does dying in the 3rd reality mean you die in the other realities as well? But isn't everything just a imagination in Baby Doll's mind? Well, I'm not sure whether we'll ever find out the answers but I guess it's not that important.

I do like how the various realities are connected to each other though. For example, the doctor performing the lobotomy coming in 5 days time becomes the High Roller, coming to claim Baby Doll's virginity instead. The therapist becomes the dance instructor, and a splendid performance by Blue who transforms from the orderly to the brothel running mobster. The 5 item checklist thing did seem a little cliche to me, but perhaps keeping that part simple was key in connecting the realities together. However, the tragic side is that there's a huge chunk of wasted potential here. What could have been polished into a gem was somewhat neglected. The plot ended off too abruptly too me, and I was expected Baby Doll to dance again in order to find out the last mystery item, instead of the sudden realisation that it wasn't her story. I was disappointed to say the least. Another complaint is that the movie, already not friendly for the young ones to to its themes, would really have benefited if it was rated R instead. Instead of trying to appeal to a wider audience for the money, an R rating would mean more blood, sex, violence, and it's sorely missing in this movie. It has everything in place, but you don't even see the scenes where Amber and Blondie get shot in the head. The only heads you'll see being cut apart are the samurai and the robots. A huge disappointment in my opinion. I'm not a violent freak or anything, but appropriate violence can be very entertaining, especially when you're already talking about a movie about zombie killing french maids/school girls/military women from a brothel. Oh I love the girls' costumes by the way. You can see how each of them differ according to popular male fetishes. Nice.

To sum up, I'd give the movie a 6.5 out of 10. Entertaining yes, but ultimately falls short due to the wasted potential and the gap filled plot. Granted, I'll pay the full price just for the Oni Samurai scene. If only more development was given to the other girls they won't appear so flat and forgettable. Other than Baby Doll and perhaps Sweet Pea, the other girls were really there just for eye candy. One last thing I'd like to add is that the movie reminded me a lot about Final Fantasy VII. From the theme about altering realities to self sacrifice, it just screamed FFVII to me. FFVII main character Cloud had a traumatic past and altered his own memories. Crisis Core FFVII main character Zack sacrificed himself for Cloud because like Baby Doll, he realised he wasn't the story to be told. Really, the similarities don't end there. The train which was heading to the city, was almost exactly like the train to Midgar in the opening sequence of the classic PS game. Perhaps I'm thinking too much, but it just shows the gaming fanboys will totally dig this movie. 6.5 isn't a high score, but I'll most likely get the Bluray disc when it gets released. Just for those kick ass moments. :)
By the way, do click on the images you see on this blog post to download the wide screen wall paper or the posters of the leading ladies. If you're visiting from Facebook, you can check out the direct page via the link below. Thanks for reading! "If you don't believe in something, you'll fall for anything."


M. said...

The train scene reminded me a lot of FFXIII as well. I enjoyed reading the review!

Dan Dan said...

Super well written review. I did not notice the confusion by the same actors over different characters. LOL!

Totally agree with you on "not many things will make sense and the more questions you have, the less you're going to enjoy the show."