When I first saw the trailer for Sucker Punch last year, I was definitely intrigued. As a guy, it definitely had appeal…in many regards, it looked like a stylized video game filled with crazy action sequences and sexy female protagonists….so as a guy, what's not to like, right?
The movie opens with gorgeous cinematography…the drawing back of some old style theatre curtains, grainy and cell-shaded imagery, eerie music played under an introductory narration. The opening scene continues with no other dialogue and presents us with the initial premise of the film through powerful and emotional actions.
And then, we go along with our main protagonist Baby Doll to the mental institution where the rest of the movie (sort of) takes place. From that point on, the movie just sort of fell apart…either from trying to do too much or not doing enough or in some cases both.
After our initial introduction to the asylum, we get thrown into Baby Doll's fantasy/escapist world. To an extent, it seems as though we (the audience) are supposed to try and determine what's real and what's fake. And yet, there isn't any real "playing" with reality-vs-fantasy…rather, everything is presented as reality, though it's obviously fantasy.
What was especially confusing (*note - this is a slight spoiler*) is that in Baby Doll's fantasy, she escapes from the mental asylum by imagining she's in a brothel that's set up like a prison? And in this brothel, all of the girls are prostituted out and spend the days strutting about in sexy little outfits. Now, I can see where there may have been some reality-vs-fantasy overlap there (perhaps in the asylum, the girls were truly pushed into sexual favors with bigwigs for financial benefit of Blue) but we're never given a glimpse into the full reality of the asylum and thus her fantasy prison is very confusing.
Further confusing are that in the action sequences, she carries over the sexy/slutty dress of the girls into Japanese/WW2/medieval/futuristic/etc action scenes…where a more stylized costuming would've been more effective (and could have been done with better sex appeal than cat suits and stockings).
While some of the scenes had very cool effects and were visually enticing, I was largely left confused at the oversexualization of these girls for (apparently) no other reason than to flaunt their sexuality and draw in a male audience to the film. This especially seemed contradictory to some of the movie's underlying theme of the atrocities and abuses towards women (note - this should have been a PRIMARY theme, but it was so muddled that it fell into the background).
The plot/story had a lot of potential but instead was totally muddled and lost amid big explosions and scantily clad women. I would have liked to have seen more exploration of the "reality" of things…or at least, a more realistic fantasy for a girl in her situation. Don't get me wrong, I think the crazy/outrageous/video-game adventures were great, but aspects of the presentation didn't jive with Baby Doll's state of mind as otherwise presented.
Unfortunately, this movie didn't live up to my expectations. The story meandered without really doing anything. The messages were muddled and confused. The potential for thought provoking segments was lost on the desire to flash big explosions and scantily clad women around the screen. Frankly, the trailer was more entertaining than the movie.
The one redeeming factor was the music…the music was engaging. From the opening rendition of "Sweet Dreams" to the wide variety of melodic tracks counterposed against blaring rock beats, the music was pretty fun.
My advice…check out the soundtrack, watch the trailer and then go find something better to do with your time and money.
1.5 out of 5 stars
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