Chicks With Guns
Girls, girls and more girls, decked out in cleavage bearing, tight fitting outfits wielding assault rifles and swords, slaughtering enemies in their way without batting an eyelid, false eyelashes and hairdo all in place, with nary a sweat broken in the process. Welcome to Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch, which played out like a typical Otaku's wet dream chock full of loud action sequences, sizzling sensuality and a narrative that's an action oriented, narratively poorer cousin to Christopher Nolan's Inception.
Yes boys and girls, it's back to imaginary worlds and landscapes all coming from the depths of one's mind and imagination, where these environments are shared with those in the same boat, with the dreamer wielding ultimate power to do almost the impossible within, in a quest to seek that elusive escape back to the real world. Only that it comes with easier kicks based on the end of some pulsating music, and filled with 4 distinct missions to fulfill in order to impact their real world flee from the mental institution they find themselves confined in, with the usual corrupt caretakers at the helm making it more like a prison than to help in rehabilitation.
If you've seen Zack Snyder's live action films, then you'd just about know what to expect from him, with slow-mo signature sequences and an eclectic selection of pop music peppering the background, with Emily Browning doing an excellent cover of Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams, which becomes the film's prologue introducing Browning's Baby Doll, a girl who thwarted her stepfather's attempted rape of her and her sister, but an intervention resulting in her sister's injury meant having the tables turned and thrown into a mental institution, with the warden Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac) bribed to keep her inside long enough to get an unsanctioned lobotomy to keep her quiet, permanently.
So begins a plan to escape from her unlawful detention before the High Roller / Doctor (Jon Hamm) arrives in a few days for the procedure, and we begin that descend into Baby Doll's mind, imagining and painting a landscape that makes it a lot more interesting to look at, since it's a brothel rather than a madhouse, with its predominantly female inmates being exotic dancers with exotic identities trained to gyrate by Dr Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino), who finds a gem in the raw newcomer, and Baby Doll soon hatches a plan to escape based on the retrieval of 4 items to aid in her escape mission as guided and introduced by Wise Man (Scott Glenn), with peer collaborators in tow such as Abbie Cornish's Sweet Pea, Jena Malone's Rocket, Vanessa Hudgens' Blondie and Jamie Chung's Amber.
If this is done by a sleazy director, then you'd have plenty of sexy gyrating sequences with the characters decked in various states of undress, but under the hands of Zack Snyder, this spells opportunity for some heavy and very detailed set action sequences, sort of like a Charlie's Angel episode with plenty of amped up ass-kicking and attitude. Despite everyone fawning over Baby Doll's incredible dance moves, they get translated to action, set against various dreamscapes as we descent into yet another layer of the imagination (told you this was a poor cousin to Nolan's Inception), filled with giant Samurais, steam-punked and clock-worked soldiers in war torn Europe with Zeppelins decorating the gloomy skies, Orcs and dragons from Middle Earth and a race against time mission set in a speeding train. Thematically, it advises females to seek and allow that inner self of strength to take charge, but frankly we rather see the visual manifestation of that.
They are all played out like an exaggerated video game, with Snyder at the game controls as he moves the characters like those you see in any typical anime, slicing, dicing and shooting their way through enemies. In fact he fills up the screen with so much details, it deserves a second look just to allow your eyes to roam the background, as the camera moves about in dizzying fashion, usually making the heroines look good as they dispatch the usually faceless villains. While Snyder always speeds up and slows down motion in alternating fashion, at least it's less of that shaky cam BS that's becoming a bad unhealthy trend, allowing you to gawk at (ahem) the intricately designed action piece at hand.
As a guilt trip, Sucker Punch delivers that knock out blow in having found the right mix of eye candy cast after some musical chairs casting with actresses dropping out and others back filling, and ultimately it's a job well done. This marks something original that Snyder has done for the first time in his career - his other film projects have always been adaptations of sorts - and while he had created an imaginary world, it's the stunningly beautiful flowing visuals that create more of an impact than the strength of the story, but kudos though that he had the guts to turn things around in the final act which does surprise a little instead of being the all protective creator unwilling to let go.
Just as a side, for some reason I'm seeing a lot of Superman potential in this one that reminisces of the Max Fleischer animated series, with the kinda kinetic energy that Snyder is known to pump up his action sequences, and the narrative design to tell the story of the Last Son of Krypton and frankly I'm a tad bit excited to see Snyder's print over a Christopher Nolan-David Goyer story idea.