It looked good on paper.
A young woman, Baby Doll, is committed to an insane asylum after she accidentally kills her sister trying to protect her from their abusive step-father. Once there she submerses herself into a dream world, blocking the harsh reality of an equally abusive warden called Blue. She only has a few days to plan and execute her escape before a local doctor comes to perform a lobotomy, thus silencing her forever and her step-father inherits her mother's riches bestowed to her and her sister in her will. In her dream worlds she is given a multitude of tasks that will help her and four new friends- Blondie, Amber, Rocket and Sweet Pea - escape from that place. No one has ever escaped and the punishment for those who try and are caught are extreme.
There are reasons to like Sucker Punch. Five of them are the five girls. All of them attractive in their own way. But then you deck them out in bondage clothing and combat webbing then arm them to the teeth with an impressive arsenal and you're suddenly tapping into the collective wet dreams of the fanboy nation. If you can move beyond that there are the four missions that Baby Doll and her crew embark on in her alternate realities. Each one pushing our nerd buttons even further. Schoolgirl versus demonic samurais. Girls versus Steampunk Nazis. a B-25 bomber versus a Dragon. Girls versus military androids on a train. This is the stuff of cinema popcorn induced comas! During each one there is an object that they must obtain to aid in their escape. Yet the fifth and final piece of the puzzle is unknown but Baby Doll's oracle, Glen Scott, tells her that it will involve a great sacrifice.
And because you will have already predicted what he meant by that you get an idea how paper thin this movie really is. And how could it not be? To expect anything more out of Sucker Punch other than a weak script and plot that exists to string together four better than average action sequences would be doing it a disservice. We would be simply fooling ourselves to expect anything bigger and grander than that. Is it a complete failure? No. Not at all. If there is something that Zack Snyder has proven himself to be it is that he is really good and strong at visuals. In that regard he is amongst the top in his field. What he is proving is his weakness is everything else apart from the visuals and design. His story and screenplay, written with university friend Steve Shibuya, is weak and at times laughable. Riddled with clichés I thought that the line that best summed up the experience came from Rocket. After the discussion about breaking out leads to the inevitable if they get caught they're dead comment she simply has no other choice but to say 'We're already dead' . Yes. You're already dead. Just as Sucker Punch was already dead before it hit the screen.
The production and art direction are top notch. With that Snyder has made young men's wildest dreams and fantasies a reality on screen. The action sequences do tend to get lost in their own energy but they are also of a high caliber. Little else has to be said about the design of the film. It is the draw. It is the reason to go see it. The reasons to stay however, are few to none.
Zack Snyder's stock at Warner Bros. is dropping faster than a 14 year old boy's jaw will when he sees the five girls stride into the trenches during the WWII dream sequence. He has not been able to repeat the unprecedented success of 300 and he is walking on thin ice as it is. Superman: Man of Steel is his last great chance to work on large budget productions. Sucker Punch is not going to help his standing. I predict a strong opening weekend bolstered on the backs of pubescent males who will repeatedly deny throughout the film that 'the girls on screen are prettier than their girlfriend's so will they please shut up they're trying to watch the movie!!!' ... ... ... cough ... but after the crash from the sugar rush and the realization that the film has no staying power Warner's return on their investment will be small once again. The purse strings will tighten and Snyder will find himself working with smaller budgets, if at all. I echo the suggestion made by Peter K last night at the same screening. Snyder should stick with what he knows. He knows glossy production values and art direction. He excels at it. His weakness is evident in the story telling and actor directing department.
Focus on your strengths Zack.