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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.54%
Worth A Look: 12.68%
Just Average: 1.41%
Pretty Crappy: 22.54%

6 reviews, 35 user ratings

Sucker Punch
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Just let it flow over you like lava."
5 stars

Pity the poor workaday film critics who have to make sense of something like "Sucker Punch."

They have to stand and deliver a logical assessment of this crazed, three-headed Ghidorah of a film; they have to persuade their editors that they aren't immature enough, attention-deficit-disordered enough, to fall for such heavy-breathing juvenilia. Perhaps the majority of critics are simply being honest when they say that they feel battered and annoyed by Sucker Punch, that it portends the death of movies, that its hotshot director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) should be sent to his room without supper. I, too, must be honest, and I can opine with very little reservation that Snyder has constructed a right-brain classic, a coruscating work of pure cinema that, at times, plays as though some brave loon at Warner Brothers handed Snyder the keys to an $82 million art-house oddity.

The story is a wheel within a wheel within a wheel, and I can imagine fans and non-fans alike working earnestly to parse the levels of reality and fantasy — what "really" happened, what "real-life" event has a "fantasy" analogue. The easy answer is that nothing in Sucker Punch "really happened." It's a movie. Duh. From there we can simply read the film as Snyder's riff on themes of freedom, escapism, and institutional (the pun is and isn't intended) sexism. In the run-up to the film's release, Snyder went around saying things like (regarding the heroines' peekaboo techno-fetish garb) "I didn't dress them that way. You did." The girls are dressed that way because ass-kicking girls in action movies have to be hot, as per the demand of the audience. Thus Snyder has made, in part, a movie that critiques other movies, just like Godard advised us to do. You don't like Sucker Punch? Direct your own answer to it.

Godard's confrere Truffaut also said, "The film of tomorrow will not be directed by civil servants of the camera, but by artists for whom shooting a film constitutes a wonderful and thrilling adventure," and Sucker Punch is that, if nothing else. The quintet of girls flip in and out of massive set pieces resembling nothing so much as a boy's epic combat play with a wide assortment of action figures from a dozen different toy lines. The girls are plunked into that universe like Barbie dolls, except they're lethal Barbie dolls. The lead character (Emily Browning) is even named Baby Doll, and the others have names like Sweet Pea and Blondie. Nobody except Snyder named the girls; nobody except Snyder put them in the situations they're in, so the movie is also a gigantic critique of Snyder's own ain't-it-cool aesthetic.

The girls, on a videogame-like mission to find various objects that will earn their freedom, don't seem to feel much terror or joy in battle. They are emotional only in the setting of the burlesque house and brothel they're "really" in, which may be a fantasy extension of the asylum they're "really" in. What they're "really" in is a movie called Sucker Punch that conceptually robs them of their dignity and humanity much as the male-fronted brothel/asylum does. But Snyder has cast the girls shrewdly, and the near-wordless Emily Browning, eyebrows perpetually knitted in anguish, compels us to lean forward and know what she's feeling. Her cohorts — tough-minded Abbie Cornish, sympathetic Jena Malone, conflicted Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung — breathe life into their archetypes.

There's a final betrayal of complacent audience expectations — the twist that gives the movie its name and probably served as the straw that broke the critics' backs. Zack Snyder is wading deeply into meta-fiction here, toying roughly with storytelling itself. But always, always he seeks to entertain, to mount dazzling sequences set to the heavy insistent march of Björk's "Army of Me" or various rock-classic covers. I've run hot and cold on Snyder; Watchmen impressed me, his other stuff didn't. But this wild beast, whether he even fully understands it himself, is indeed the death of a certain kind of movie — the death and ne plus ultra at the same time, the apocalyptic orgasm that kills everything.

How can we take action cinema, or babes-with-guns flicks, remotely seriously (if we ever could) after Sucker Punch? Snyder has created a monument to entertainment that he loves but, presumably, hates himself for loving. It is both a guilty pleasure and the original wellspring of guilt, plumbing the melodramatic Prozac-porn of Sylvia Plath and Girl, Interrupted and 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up" to remind us of what Swoosie Kurtz had to tell us in The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom: "Crazy women are made by crazy men."

Crazy movies are, too. And sometimes great movies.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18899&reviewer=416
originally posted: 03/27/11 21:05:42
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User Comments

5/03/15 Chilly Dong Thornton did I really just read someone call this movie a right brain classic? 1 stars
3/21/14 gc Critics need to lighten up! Cool music, unique plot idea and kick ass action scenes. 4 stars
2/07/14 zeng8r terrifically awful, but mainly awful 2 stars
8/24/13 Yourmom Amazing mind twister movie i loved it:) 5 stars
4/03/13 Michael Fiddes I dont know why people think this is bad Agree with Stephen, visually and mentally stunning 5 stars
6/05/12 Amy I have the purest pity for Peter, Erik and brian but glad Rob has eyes to see, entertainme 4 stars
1/04/12 Jake To those who gave this more than two stars: Did we watch the same film? 2 stars
12/24/11 debbie hodgdon not really a good plot, only a little eye candy, bad ending 2 stars
9/08/11 Pret Solidly entertaining, as long as you get on board in the way you are supposed to 4 stars
8/11/11 larsen A-List grindhouse; This is a guilty pleasure, not high art! Get over yourselves! 4 stars
7/16/11 Faraz The sensual dance in front of the fat guy was good. Otherwise sucked. 2 stars
7/02/11 othree Sexy, visual, girls w/ guns to music! oh & bad guys! *wheee* 4 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles Visually and mentally stunning 4 stars
4/15/11 LadyGrinningSoul It wasnt as bad as everyone made it seem. People need to chill out 3 stars
4/02/11 Man out 6 bucks Unwatchable schlock which makes by comparison any 50 Cent video into a Tchaikovsky ballet. 1 stars
4/01/11 William Hrt Yes a bad film, for IQs lower than 110 4 stars
4/01/11 Steve A Wip flick sanitized for todays market wrapped around crazy over the top action. Winning 4 stars
3/30/11 artemi great film- wish all the critics would just pull the fingers out of their asses like you :) 5 stars
3/30/11 Sean It’s a visual feast with a script just good enough to stay out of its way. 5 stars
3/30/11 CruZControL Great review for a great movie. Kudos from us *crazy* greek folks @ themoviescult.gr 5 stars
3/29/11 Fil great movie, interesting review. 5 stars
3/29/11 cooler awful film, just terrible 1 stars
3/28/11 JL My mouth was agape at how ridiculous and BAD this was. Plot=Showgirls-in-a-video-game. Nuf. 1 stars
3/28/11 Koolaid I disagree .entertained the whole time. Don't see how anyone can say worst of all time 5 stars
3/27/11 Wil Original? No. The movie was an adaptation of One Flew over the Cuckoo's nes. 1 stars
3/27/11 Retribution Inc. I am stupider for having seen this shit. 1 stars
3/27/11 Reason Prevails Wow. This is one of the worst so-called reviews I've ever read. Ever. 4 stars
3/27/11 Alfonso Hill I appreciate all the references in the review. 5 stars
3/27/11 Peter Coulter 5 stars
3/27/11 JC Hey, at least it wasn't in 3-D. 1 stars
3/27/11 sisterHood i believe this movie is about how sisters love each other 5 stars
3/27/11 Fully Thank you for authenticating my misery watching this film. 1 stars
3/26/11 Quin Browne The film produced something excellent--one of the funniest reviews I've ever read. 1 stars
3/26/11 Jack Great review Erik. 1 stars
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  25-Mar-2011 (PG-13)
  DVD: 28-Jun-2011


  DVD: 28-Jun-2011

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