Most of you probably saw the previews for the movie Sucker Punch. After seeing the previews most of you probably decided you weren’t going to waste time on it. The previews showed a movie that was obviously geared towards a male audience and, in my own defense, I have to say that it was not the women cast for the main parts that caught my attention…although they certainly didn’t hurt any. I decided to see this movie when I saw the giant samurai wielding a gatling gun. Yes…I am a nerd, and I do want to point out that there was actually a lot less fanservice in this movie than I was expecting. While it is not for the young it fits well within its PG-13 rating.
That being said this movie is an excellent example of what you can do when all limitations on reality are removed. The central plot of Sucker Punch is the story of a group of young women attempting to escape from a home for the mentally insane. However, the story itself is told through their imaginations. The mental home, and all its ugliness, quickly disappears and is replaced by a burlesque house, with its own attendant ugliness. The girls imagine their prison in this way and use the movie’s main character, Babydoll, to distract the officials of the mental home turned burlesque house so that they can gain access to the tools they need for their escape.
First of all let me say that this movie has incredible production values. The movie hasn’t come close to breaking even*, but it is a visual masterpiece. The one thing that Sucker Punch demonstrates for me is that anything can be combined if it is done well. The movie is a vast mix of mind-bending genre blends reminiscent, in some places, of some of the best video games of the past 10 years. The girls’ attempts to purloin various items are told through the imagination of Babydoll. So instead of tricking security guards and sneaking through hallways they wind up in a variety of fantastic circumstances. The quintet fights giant demon samurai in an abandoned temple, assaults WWI trenches filled with Nazi zombies, uses what I think is supposed to be a B52 Bomber to assault a medieval castle filled with orcs and fight off a dragon, and then uses a Vietnam era helicopter to fly across the surface of Titan (I think) to board a futuristic train and take a bomb from a group of killer robots.
Needless to say, the movie is a trip, both visually and in its storyline. However, since all of this is taking place in Babydoll’s imagination it makes sense. Various elements from both the asylum and the burlesque house are worked into these adventures, which gives them an added degree of believability. Though so many random, and normally contradictory, genres are worked into a single movie the premise that none of it is, was, or is even supposed to be real allows the viewer to suspend disbelief and enjoy the amazing special effects.
All of this being said, Sucker Punch is not a good movie. Though it is a fascinating storytelling style combined with solid acting, quality scripting, and incredible special effects, it has no point. There are some very light themes of female empowerment and humanism, which is kind of odd in a movie so obviously aimed at a male audience, but they feel almost tacked on to give the stylistic elements of the movie some kind of purpose. In my opinion, any movie that is termed ‘good’ must have a purpose. Sucker Punch has no purpose. While it is visually wonderful, and shows obvious talent in every area, the movie is decidedly pointless and is worth watching only for the visual quality and performance. In my opinion this movie, while enjoyable, shows a sad waste of talent, not to mention that $82 mil, that could have been put to much better use.
*The movies budget was $82 million and so far it has made a little under $36.9 million.