This was an awfully lean week for new movies. My choices were limited to Roderick Rules, which I could only be induced to suffer through in exchange for a large pile money, and Sucker Punch, which was greatly anticipated by comic book nerds but looks retarded. Stupid won out over torturous, of course. Sucker Punch is Zack Snyder’s third blowout action movie, the other two being 300 (dumb) and Watchmen (decent). It looks like another comic book movie, but actually it’s not. He made up the whole thing and it goes like this:
A young woman finds refuge in escape plans and fantasy worlds after she is committed to an institution for the criminally insane.
The thing about his making up the whole thing himself is that there’s no one else he can blame when the movie turns out badly. I’m guessing a lot of people will be sucked in by the trailer’s visuals forget to think about that crucial, make-or-break element: story. I’ve watched the movie. I’ve seen the visuals. I know the story. So I can now tell you that my suspicions were correct. Sucker Punch is retarded.
The movie begins with a song. Underneath the song there are some pictures, mostly of a girl (Emily Browning) who will later become known as Baby Doll but for now has no name. Her mom dies, it’s very sad, her and her sister inherit the money, so her stepdad’s genius plan to get around it is to rape the sister.
Fee Fi Fo Fum, I’m sure this is the best way to steal your inheritance.
The girl tries to shoot him with a gun that just happened to be lying around I guess, but somehow manages to completely miss the bad stepdad from 3 feet away and hit both a lightbulb and her sister, who were nowhere near each other at the time. Then without being interviewed, arrested, or otherwise given a chance to tell her story, she is sedated (while she’s sitting quietly) by some people in an ambulance and spirited away, still in her pajamas, to an insane asylum.
Which is apparently the Battleboro (not a made-up on-the-nose symbolism
name but a real place) branch of the Arkham Asylum from Batman
Call me crazy, but isn’t there supposed to be some sort of court proceeding before a legal adult (she’s 20) can be committed against her will? Even in the 30s or 50s or whenever this movie takes place (even it doesn’t seem to know) I’m pretty sure that was the case. Upon arrival at the asylum, bad stepdad gives the girl into the care of a greasy, slimeball orderly named Blue (Oscar Issaac).
Who is obviously just a lackey and cannot possibly have authorization to accept patients.
There’s no interview, no assessment, just a checklist for stepdad where he can mark off that she’s violent and delusional and they’ll just take his word for it. The whole thing takes about five minutes. No doctors seem to be bothered by this. Neither are they concerned by the fact that Blue and the stepdad then discuss the girl’s imminent illegal lobotomy right in front of her.
Sure, I’m the psychologist, but I’d much rather let uppity greaseballs run my ward.
This is apparently because Lennox House isn’t so much an insane asylum as it is a brothel for kidnapped girls, which explains why all the staff members an institution for females except for the supposed doctor, Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino), are all men. Except it doesn’t, because the brothel thing is a fantasy, as evidenced by the fact that Blue has a mustache when we abruptly switch from asylum to cabaret. So now the girl’s not a mental patient, but a hooker, which I’m sure makes her feel a whole lot better (not).
If she’s a girl, why are all her imaginings MALE fantasies?
The girl gets the nickname Baby Doll and is made to dance, because her impending lobotomy by the traveling icepick hack is now a fancy stage show for someone known as ‘The High Roller.’ So they put on the music, and then the movie shifts into a fantasy land that’s more obviously a fantasy land (apparently flopping and moaning like a pole-dancing porn star is the gateway to imagination). From then on, whenever Baby Doll dances the movie flips to from hooker-fantasy to battle-fantasy.
What she’s doing in the insane asylum reality, I have no idea.
These shifts sort of makes a little bit of sense, because if you were being degraded you’d want your mind somewhere else. Each dance sequence is like a level from a video game. The first one is the intro where she learns what it will take to break out of the asylum/brothel: a map, fire, a knife, and a key, and the rest of the sequences pertain to obtaining one of the items.
Here is my plan. Let me write it where everyone can see it and stop us.
From a screenwriter’s point of view, this still makes sense, because watching a fantasy-action mission is probably more interesting than watching someone photocopy a map while everyone else is distracted. It gets a little improbable when everyone who is not a hooker is so riveted by Baby Doll’s dancing that they just stand there and drool while their pockets are picked or whatever.
In the fantasy land Baby Doll and her hooker friends Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jenna Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgins), and Amber (Jamie Chung), are all superheros who are armed like Navy SEALs and dressed like Sailor Moon. I’d mention how degrading it is to women that all female superheros have to dress like hookers, but Zack Snyder cleverly made sure his characters actually WERE hookers so we couldn’t complain.
That’s probably the entire reason behind the brothel fantasy: to explain away the retarded outfits.
In each battle-fantasy segment (or level, if you will) the wise man (Scott Glenn) is there to meet them with a description of what they have to steal and who they have to kill in order to do it. He’s also got lots of nonsensical life advice for them that’s probably supposed to be deep but just comes off retarded, like: “Don’t ever write a check with your mouth that you can’t cash with your ass.”
Thanks, Yoda, I’ll be sure to file that one away with my fortune cookie collection.
What follows is a huge, bombastic battle sequence in which everyone jumps too high, doesn’t get sliced open by swords, and wrecks everything they touch. It’s supposed to be exciting, but it would probably be better if you got to play it rather than just watch it, because with all the slow-motion and fancy camera tricks, it gets quite boring after a while. If all the scenes reverted to regular speed, the movie would probably only be about 25 minutes long.
Jump! Wait for it… wait for it… wait for it… slice!
The great thing for Zack Snyder about having most of the movie take place in a fantasy is that he doesn’t actually have to do enough work to make his movie make sense. If you complain that he had uniforms, equipment, and settings with mixed up elements of World War I, World War II, the 1930s, prohibition, Vietnam, the Vikings, ancient Japan, gansters, steampunk, Batman, Harry Potter, Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings, MechAssault, and that level in Call of Duty: World at War where the Nazis are all zombies, then he can just go “but it’s her IMAGINATION!”
It’s HER that’s not very original, not ME!
In the first level Baby Doll visits an ancient Japanese dojo filled with those candles that Catholics light for dead people, where she meets her mentor and gets her special samurai sword and fuzzy dice pistol (don’t ask). Then she has to fight some giant samurai/Vietnamese peasant monsters with Viking horns Soul Calibre style.
One of whom is John Lampshadehead, winner of this year’s Least Practical Hat award
Then there’s the level where Baby Doll and her fightin’ crew have to run around in some trenches outside the ruins of what looks like Westminster Abbey, having a Gears of War style chest high walls gunfight with some zombies clad in a mixture of WWI and WWII German uniforms while Amber buzzes around in a steampunk mech suit dogfighting with ancient German tri-planes amid WWII barrage balloons so they can steal a map before the courier can get onto the Hindenburg.
Are you rolling your eyes yet?
I’m pretty sure this exact thing happened in the Goblet of Fire, except on a broomstick
And finally there’s the one where they’re pulling a Firefly style train job in the Halo universe where they have to steal a bomb out from under the noses of some Cybermen from Doctor Who using their Vietnam-era Huey helicopter.
Sure it LOOKS, cool, but it looked cool before when other people did it the first time.
And it made more sense then too.
Sucker Punch is such a mess of ripoffs from other stories and elements from different time periods that it reminds me of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and not in a good way. The stupid, unbelievable setup in the real world, the pointless, exploitative brothel fantasy, and the messy, boring video game levels in the battle fantasies combine to give an overall effect of complete retardation. If your sense of disbelief suspends itself all the way to Masagascar when you watch movies and you just want to see scantily clad ladies blow things up, you might enjoy it. But I didn’t.