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A Sucker Punch to common sense, decency, taste



By Anthony Lauriello     4/7/11 7:00pm

In Zack Snyder's (300) newest film Sucker Punch, blonde bombshell Baby Doll (Emily Browning, Ghost Ship) and her posse of attractive young friends need five items to escape their wrongful incarceration in a draconian insane asylum. Similarly, five elements are key in accomplishing the seemingly impossible task of earning zero stars for a movie involving beautiful women clad in schoolgirl outfits wielding machine guns.

The first thing Snyder has is a terrible plot. The writer-director exceeds this benchmark with a storyline that would make even Michael Bay (Bad Boys II) cringe. It begins when Baby Doll's cruel stepfather commits her to an insane asylum after she witnesses him murder her younger sister. Strangely enough, exceptionally attractive women populate this hellish asylum. While experience has taught me that the crazy girls tend also to be the good-looking ones, I still doubt that the denizens of an inpatient mental hospital look like those residing in the Playboy Mansion. While the movie takes place in the asylum, the audience perceives it through Baby Doll's fantasy, in which she is held in a dreadful brothel instead of a dreadful asylum.  In this "brothel," Baby Doll and her friends make an escape plan, which includes performing erotic dances for their various captors. Baby Doll gathers inspiration for such dances from violent fantasy sequences such as a World War I battlefield with a robot and German zombies held together by clocks.  

 Second, the director utilizes utterly atrocious dialogue to communicate this plot. The beginning of the film opens without any dialogue, a trend that sadly does not continue throughout the movie. Lines such as "Don't write checks with your mouth that your ass can't cash" made me regret Geoffrey Chaucer's decision to begin the tradition of written English.

This brings us to the third thing Sucker Punch contains in order to clench zero stars: battle sequences that merely combine elements from other movies together in ways that make absolutely no sense. Examples include a futuristic world with a train, samurai robots and a dragon chasing a B-52 bomber. While anachronistic elements can create interesting and engaging worlds, Sucker Punch overplays its hand and simply amalgamates these elements at random.  Contrary to the beliefs of Snyder, this does not communicate imagination but in fact does quite the opposite.

Fourth, Snyder makes an R-rated movie and then at the last minute converts it into a PG-13 one for the sake of getting a younger demographic. At one moment, the villain of the film, an orderly of the hospital and imagined brothel owner Blue Jones, (Oscar Isaac, Robin Hood) threatens to "fu--" Baby Doll. I did not censor the f word for the purpose of the article: In the movie the swear word is only half said, as if I were watching cable television.

Finally, Sucker Punch has over-the-top preachy moral lessons that don't even make sense. The film has a twisted girl power message that involves the whores of the brothel using the power of erotic dances to escape the horrors of sex slavery. The audience learns the heartwarming message that, if being a desirable sex object gets you into a mess, then being one surely will get you out. Even worse, voice-overs teach the importance of the power of imagination, much like the end of a "Barney" episode.

Unfortunately, I fail to see how imagining yourself as a captive in a brothel or on violent escapades sets you free from your current atrocious conditions in a mental hospital. It is as if the little girl in Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth imagined she were in the U.S. Civil War rather than the Spanish Civil War.

Snyder's Watchmen worked as a film because it drew on the innovative mind of famed comic book writer Alan Moore. Sucker Punch shows that the director works well in coloring in the lines and producing established quality material, but his skill does not extend in writing his own films. For the good of the audience, and the director, I hope this is the last film he ever writes.

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