After doing some spring cleaning of our bookshelves and having a good brunch at Zaftig’s Delicatessen in Natick, Mass., Janice and I met Thomas K.Y. and his friend to screen Sucker Punch. Despite mixed reviews, we enjoyed the crossgenre action movie.
Director Zach Snyder has faithfully adapted other people’s works, such as 300, Watchmen, and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, but Sucker Punch is his first original work. He’ll also be directing next year’s Superman: The Man of Steel cinematic reboot. The script/dialogue and plot could have used more polishing, but the acting and cinematography were solid.
Emily Browning plays a young woman who’s institutionalized after a family tragedy. In a 1950s American gothic asylum, she befriends characters depicted by the attractive Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jamie Chung. Carla Gugino, as a Polish psychiatrist, teaches the girls to dance and escape their unpleasant reality into shared dreams.
They’re menaced by orderly Oscar Isaac, who appears in the alternate universe as a pimp, and Jon Hamm as a lobotomist/”high roller.” From the first-level dreamscape of the burlesque show, the girls descend into a world where their obstacles are represented by giant samurai, World War I zombies, orcs, robots, and a dragon. Scott Glenn appears as an old man who guides them on their missions to find clues to escaping their multilayered prison.
Snyder isn’t bashful about alluding to his inspirations, which include Heavy Metal, Brazil, and Kill Bill, all of which I also like. In fact, I enjoyed Sucker Punch more than similar movies such as What Dreams May Come and Inception. The skimpy costumes notwithstanding, the movie isn’t as exploitative as I had feared, and the fight scenes are well-choreographed, if sometimes hard to follow.
I was also favorably impressed with Sucker Punch‘s soundtrack, which includes Browning covering the Eurythmics, as well as Bjork, some metallic tracks, and “Love is the Drug” sung by Gugino and Isaac over the credits.
Overall, I’d give Sucker Punch a 7 or 8 out of 10, a solid “B,” or three or four stars out of five. The film is rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality, and language. Fans of high fantasy, dieselpunk, or psychological thrillers who keep their expectations in check should enjoy the visuals even if they recognize most of the story.