The imagination is where all our wildest dreams come true; it’s a place we go to when we dream. We go there for many reasons: boredom, creativity, relaxation and pleasure. Sometimes we go there to escape. In that reason alone there are many more variables; many reasons why one would need to escape. Zack Snyder brings us into the world of “Sucker Punch,” where our heroine has plenty she needs to escape from in order to be free. This movie will make you question what is real and what exactly it means to be free. There is a lot of subtext and you will need an open mind to enjoy it all.
It is really hard to know where to begin with this movie. You have a nameless young woman who loses her mother and then loses her little sister to her abusive stepfather. The shock of the double loss makes her temporarily go mute and since she fired a shot at her stepfather, this makes it easy for him to have her committed. The problem is that he knows she will eventually talk. To prevent this, he conspires with Blue, the shady intern at the facility, to have her “silenced.” That is all the spoiler you get from me as the rest of the film is one trip after another that you literally just have to see and hear. Part of the trip is that our six heroes remain nameless for the entire movie.
For her pale blonde hair and tiny 5’2” frame, Emily Browning earns the moniker “Babydoll,” a fiercely deceptive title. She gets her instructions from the Wise Man, played by Scott Glenn and she enlists the help of Rocket (Jena Malone) through a chance encounter. Together, the two explain their escape plan to Blondie and Amber (Vanessa Hudgens & Jamie Chung) and once Rocket convinces her sister Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), the team is born. With the exception of Rocket and Sweet Pea, our characters do not speak much so the chemistry amongst the ladies is mostly body language and cooperation, which works particularly well in this film. I would have liked to see more in terms of who these girls were before the asylum because we only get to know about Babydoll. At times it seems like her friends are expendable cannon fodder for her to achieve her goal, but I think that is done purposely to throw the viewer off.
From the moment that I saw this trailer last year, I knew this movie was going to be heavy on the visuals. With Zack Snyder in the director’s seat, you had to expect something…out of the ordinary. You can clearly see the influence of 300 in this film as the backgrounds look like something out of a comic book. Babydoll’s world is full of imagery we have seen in other movies, but it is put together in a way a person would really only see in their own imagination. Everything is over the top and done that way on purpose. With extensive wire fighting and special effects that make an $82 million budget seem cheap, Sucker Punch is a feast for the eyes. The real beauty of the film is that both storywise and visually, each viewer can find their own meaning. So much of the movie is left to speculation and imagination that (in a good way) I doubt anyone will be completely satisfied.
Sucker Punch comes at you from all sides. First you have a story that is to the point but still has you wondering; visuals that make you wish this were blu-ray so you could watch them again right now and then there is the music. Choice songs were picked and remixed to fit the action scenes. The movie opens to a slowed-down rendition of the Eurythmics' “Sweet Dreams” sung by Emily Browning and you just know that you are in for two hours of madness. Cut to the first action scene which starts, stops and then restarts with a remix of “Army of Me,” by Björk. If you are unfamiliar with this song, please pause here and go listen to it on YouTube while imagining a 5 foot tall girl fight 20 foot tall monster samurai. Yeah, that’s what I said – it’s nuts like that. Don’t leave the theater until the credits finish or you will miss Blue and Doctor Gorski’s duet performance of “Love Is the Drug,” a very standard fare scene, but it is really disturbing within the context of the movie. Just another aspect of this film that will get stuck in your head.
One quick rant: I am so glad this movie was not shot in, adapted for or had anything else 3D done to it. Alright, I am back from the dark place. Now, my feelings for Sucker Punch are mostly good so I want to get the bad out of the way quickly. The first gripe is really weird. I left the theatre feeling that a nearly 2 hour long movie was too short. I really wanted more from it and I feel like the movie was rushed in some ways because of it. The film was intelligently made yet still felt a little bit dumbed down. That will probably make it more money in the long run though as movies that require too much thought tend to be lost on the masses. I can still hope and pray that Zack Snyder has a special director’s cut somewhere that either gives background on the other girls and/or tells more of Babydoll’s story. There are also the animated shorts that you see on the movie website and YouTube. There is just a lot more to explore with this title. I am not asking for a sequel or anything, just hoping for a heavily feature-laden blu-ray release. The bottom line is that this is the first film you could call a “blockbuster” of 2011 and you should absolutely be going to see it. Decide for yourself exactly what the “Sucker Punch” is. I would tell you what I think it means, but I promised not to spoil any more of the film.