Published Mar 24, 2011Sucker punched is likely how you'll feel after watching Zack Snyder's ham-fisted fantasy opus. Sure, it's brimming with raw images of awesomeness, but no amount of eye candy can distract from how silly and nonsensical the story, dialogue and most of the acting are.
A brief voiceover at the beginning yammers on about everyone having a guardian angel while the camera sweeps over a theatre stage. Ditching vocal exposition, the first of many awkwardly overblown cover songs bubbles up, "Sweet Dreams," and a slow-motion sequence lasting around ten minutes sets up the story.
A young woman, who'll come to be known as "Baby Doll," is wrongfully committed to the Lennox House for the Mentally Insane by her evil stepfather after her mother passes away. The stepfather pays an orderly with delusions of grandeur to have Baby Doll scheduled for a lobotomy in five days via forged authorization. With such slim hope, she retreats into her head to find the strength to survive.
Here's where the story really starts to crumble. There are multiple layers of fantasy at play, none of which make actual sense. The first layer is especially poorly integrated. The asylum becomes some sort of burlesque theatre/brothel, the inmates the performers, the bastard orderly the pimp and Dr. Vera Gorski a supportive dance instructor.
Most of the story plays out from this setting, but to further confound, Baby Doll sinks into a deeper fantasy world when she dances. Everyone is mesmerized by her raw, passionate performance ― not that the audience is given even a hint of what her dancing is like.
When the dance begins, Baby Doll closes her eyes and she's suddenly in a ridiculous fantasy world battling giant Shogun warriors who inexplicably pack Gatling guns and rocket launchers. A white dude in an oriental temple gives Baby Doll a gun, a samurai sword and a list of five items she'll need in order to escape, after spouting groan-inducing fortune cookie clichés.
To point out all of the poorly conceived elements of Sucker Punch would be a painfully long process. Each of the differently shot fantasy sequences contains very little that's analogous to what's supposed to be going on outside of Baby Doll's head, making it extremely difficult to even enjoy the flashy violence or awesomely animated dragon. Nothing can feel cool when all the characters speak in stilted dialogue that'd embarrass Paul W.S. Anderson.
Jena Malone (The Messenger) as Rocket is the only young cast member that displays any acting ability. The rest of the cast, save for Carla Gugino, in the thankless role of Dr. Gorski, and the stunt casting of Jon Hamm (Mad Men), have little to do and display even less talent to do it with.
Most frustrating in a picture riddled with problems: why the hell would a mentally troubled young woman retreat into fantasy worlds so specific to adolescent boys? Because Sucker Punch is bullshit male wish fulfilment that insults the intelligence of its audience, or reveals a fundamental lack of brains in its creators.
Only the most ADD-afflicted viewers stand a chance of enjoying this disconnected orgy of images. (Warner)