Fishnets? Check. Leather? Check. Three-inch heels that are in no way practical for anything, let alone fighting fantastical creatures? Check.
Warner Brother’s “Sucker Punch” features all of the above and then some. Director Zach Snyder, known for his previous blockbuster hits “300” and “Watchmen” takes a different approach in his latest film, which features a nearly all-female cast.
Emily Browning, who is perhaps best known for her role as Violet Baudelaire in 2004’s “Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events,” stars as Baby Doll, the film’s main protagonist: a petite twenty-year-old with doe-like eyes and an air of innocence. After witnessing the death of her mother and the accidental murder of her sister, Baby Doll is committed to a mental hospital by her abusive father. She is scheduled to have a lobotomy five days after her arrival at the asylum. To deal with her tragic reality, Baby Doll creates an imaginary world in which to battle her fears.
Four other inmates at the asylum accompany Baby Doll through her journey in her imaginary world, played by Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish and Jamie Chung. Outfitted in revealing leotards and fake eyelashes, the women fight their way to freedom in a series of epic combats.
The plot draws on an obvious “Inception” influence, incorporating the cliché dream-within-a-dream. Unfortunately, the film’s transitions between dreams and reality are choppy and confusing. A woman’s voice narrates the film, leaving little to the imagination.
Filled with dragons, orcs, robots, larger-than-life samurais and steampunk zombies, the fight scenes are so numerous that they become routine and predictable. Snyder’s obsession with slow-motion cinematography monopolizes the film, leading to a sense of inescapable boredom. While the special effects are certainly amazing, the $82 million production budget would have been better spent on a well-developed narrative.
Marketed as empowering to women, “Sucker Punch” proves to be just the opposite — Lolita-esque characters prancing about in tiny skirts and fishnets seem to be more about fetishism than empowerment. Baby Doll and her fellow femme fatales appear weak and one-dimensional, much like their dialogue. Little to no background story is given to the supporting characters, which is a shame seeing as their grim past is made evident through incarceration in a mental institution.
Snyder’s pursuit of originality ends up falling short. Even the soundtrack, featuring covers of classic songs like The Stooges’ “Search and Destroy” and The Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” is made up of lackluster remixes better reserved for video games and not feature films.
“Sucker Punch” appears to be the ultimate fanboy dream: combining a mix of eroticism, action and violence. Unfortunately, what was intended to be a cerebral mind-bender turned out to be just a bad movie: The characters are vapid and the entire film is devoid of any substantial storyline.