Saturday, March 26, 2011

Movie Review: Sucker Punch

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If you got out to the web and look up the definition of sucker punch you'll find the following, "A sucker punch is a blow made without warning, allowing no time for preparation or defense on the part of the recipient. It is usually delivered from close range or from behind." Zach Snyder who gave us 300 and The Watchman gives us this green screen computer animated fable called Sucker Punch. The question is whether a sucker punch was pulled on the characters in the story or on us.

Sucker Punch Movie Poster
The story stars Baby Doll (Emily Browning), a girl who has long blonde hair and doe eye just like Amanda Seyfried who was also considered for the role. Baby Doll has lost her sister and mother and in a twist from a typical Disney story she has an an evil wicked step father. He commits her to the Lennox House for the mentally insane in Brattleboro, Vermont as shown in two lingering shots of the signage. Why showing these signs was so important, your guess is as good as mine. Once inside she is to receive a lobotomy so he can get his hands on the family wealth.

Of course the incarceration is illegal. Dad has paid off one of the staff, Blue (Oscar Isaac) for the committal. In a special type of therapy given by Dr Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino with a really bad Russian accent) the patients are given theater therapy. The patients will act and dance out on a stage to try to get to the root of their problem.

When Baby Doll dances, it mesmerizes everyone. Actually when Baby Doll dances she creates an alternate reality for herself where she meets a wise man (Scott Glenn) who guides her in a plan to get four known and one unknown item in order to escape before she is to be lobotomized. Each time she dances she goes into a new world and with fellow patients Sweet Pea, her sister Rocket, Blondie and Amber (Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung). Battling in a Japanese temple or against futuristic robots, a dragon or steam punk soldiers the girls attempt to get the objects that will unlock their future.

There is no question that the visuals are incredible on such a large scale. The term visually stunning was pointed out on my Facebook page as being "waaaaay overused description" in reference to this film. But they were. And I can understand where if you saw the 3D version of the film the effects could have been used positively. For the guys, having the ladies running around kicking butt in midriff bearing outfits and thigh high socks was an added bonus. Ladies, you get a few moments of Jon Hamm screen time.

The sound track was pumping and thumping with versions of Sweet Dreams are Made of This originally from the Eurythmics and a mashup up of Queen's I Want it All and We Will Rock You. If you stay to the end of the movie, all 109 minutes you'll receive a music video of Love is the Drug as performed by Carla and Oscar.

So you have a good sound track and great visuals. But the story was lacking. When the plot sucker punch was delivered I asked myself, did they really have to do that? I won't say what it was but the base premise really angered me. Since we're talking about lobotomies in this movie, it was rated PG-13 for thematic material involving sexuality, violence and combat sequences, and for language. Personally, I think with a bit more clean up of the plot it could have been a much better movie. In the mean time I'll head off to the doctor and have him make sure that my kidney is ok from the blow that Sucker Punch delivered.

The Movie Monkey

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