Sucker Punch Movie Review–Four Movies In One, None Very Good
Join me for a thought experiment, if you will. Imagine that you bought a ticket, for some reason, to a movie called Women’s Prison Nightmare. Then about twenty minutes in, the house lights came up and an usher announced that there’s been a horrible mistake and you should be watching Zombie Nazi Revenge instead, and your ticket will be comped. Twenty minutes into that one, the lights come back up and the usher comes in and says you really should be watching Women’s Prison Nightmare after all. Twenty minutes later the usher comes back in and says there’s been yet another mistake and you should be watching The Siege of Castle Dragonorc. Now you’re watching that one, getting a little annoyed, and the usher comes back in–about twenty minutes later, too–and says that you really should be seeing Women’s Prison Nightmare. And then, twenty minutes later, the usher comes back in and says what really should be showing in this theater is The Great Saturnian Train Robbery. You start watching that one and, once again, the usher comes back in to say that you really were supposed to see Women’s Prison Nightmare after all, and that’s what you watch until the end.
Now imagine all that, but this time, you don’t get a free ticket at the end. That’s how I felt watching Sucker Punch.
Sucker Punch follows a girl in the 1950s with the bizarre name of Babydoll. Get used to bizarre names–there will be plenty of them by the time we’re done. Anyway, she gets sent to an insane asylum by her family, mostly because she has lots of bizarre dreams, mostly involving mass murder. Babydoll secretly longs for freedom, and thus joins up with cohorts Amber, Rocket, Sweetpea and Blondie in a bid to escape. But first, she’ll drag those cohorts through a series of hallucinations in which she kills everyone in sight, acrobatically.
Watching Sucker Punch is pretty much how I described it above, so there’s not much in the way of focus or character development here. Basically, this is the kind of thing that a twelve year old might fantasize about: hot chicks, dragons, and explosions. Lots and lots of explosions. And while the experience is reasonably entertaining, taking such refuge in the preposterous that it might as well be screaming “Sanctuary!” at the top of its lungs a la Hunchback of Notre Dame, it’s so disjointed and unfocused that it’s hard to get into any of the distinctly different parts because we’re not there nearly long enough to actually get into any of it. It was as though Snyder (and Shibuya, adding insult to injury in the fact that it took two people to generate this massive tribute to schizophrenia) had half a dozen scripts lying around and couldn’t do anything with the lot, so he just strung them together and wished real hard that no one would notice.
Since you’ll probably be coming for explosions and attractive women causing them, Sucker Punch will not disappoint on that level. But only on that level. The rest of the movie is probably what people see right before they have a psychological breakdown. It looks beautiful, but it has so little holding the various threads of the plot together that, ultimately, it all falls apart. The pieces look amazing, though.
The Screenhead Ten Scale gives Sucker Punch a five out of ten–this unnerving and thoroughly baffling experience hits all the notes they think their audience will want to hear, but puts entirely too many notes in one performance. I can’t tell just what tune it is they’re playing because they’re playing four of them at the same time.