Sucker Punch is an epic action fantasy that takes us into the vivid imagination of a young girl whose dream world provides the ultimate escape from her darker reality. Unrestrained by the boundaries of time and place, she is free to go where her mind takes her, and her incredible adventures blur the lines between what's real and what is imaginary. She has been locked away against her will, but Babydoll (Emily Browning) has not lost her will to survive. Determined to fight for her freedom, she urges four other young girls--the outspoken Rocket (Jena Malone), the street-smart Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), the fiercely loyal Amber (Jamie Chung) and the reluctant Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish)--to band together and try to escape their terrible fate at the hands of their captors, Blue (Oscar Isaac), Madam Gorski (Carla Gugino) and the High Roller (Jon Hamm). Led by Babydoll, the girls engage in fantastical warfare against everything from samurais to serpents, with a virtual arsenal at their disposal. Together, they must decide what they are willing to sacrifice in order to stay alive. But with the help of a Wise Man (Scott Glenn), their unbelievable journey--if they succeed--will set them free. (from MovieWeb.com)
Zack Snyder has swiftly made a name for himself in Hollywood with his surreal, stylized films that often utilize the restricted film rating to allow for all kinds of violent and sexual content (like 300 and Watchmen, for example). Sucker Punch is Snyder's first PG-13 outing, offering a bizarre action/adventure film that was clearly intended for an R-rating before being cut down by 17 minutes for the theatrical release. Sucker Punch centers on a young, 20-year-old girl who is checked into a mental hospital after attempting to kill her abusive stepfather and accidentally killing her sister in the process. Once inside the asylum, the girl begins to envision the asylum as a brothel of sorts, with her caretaker being a sexually abusive pimp and the hospital psychologist being a trainer for the girls' exotic dances. Nicknamed "Babydoll" in this other world she's created within her mind, Baby finds confidants in four other girls who join her in an attempt to break out of this twisted prison. She devises a plan that requires the girls to steal four objects to escape. For each "mission," Baby envisions another fantasy (yes, within this whorehouse fantasy), and the girls are either fighting WWII zombies, dragons and knights, or robots. The action sequences themselves are the most uniquely orchestrated and most engaging parts of the film, but Snyder has otherwise created a rather disturbing film that is kind of like Girl, Interrupted and The Secret Window meets an action film done in the style of a music video.
I'll be honest, the subject matter and resultant content of the film kept me from seeing it in the theaters, but upon receiving the film to review on Blu-Ray, I figured I'd check it out for the purpose of reviewing it for the JFH readers. After watching it, it felt like I'd just viewed a semi-edited R-rated film with pretty mature or disturbing subject matter that you wouldn't normally see targeted at young audiences. But with a PG-13 rating and a core cast that involves young, scantily-clad girls in outlandish fantastical action sequences, it wouldn't be too surprising if a bunch of young guys had wanted to check out this movie. Aside from topics that include abuse, molestation, lobotomy and prostitution, there's a great deal of reality-twisting that happens within the film that make it a bizarre experience and one that shouldn't be too appealing to the average or casual moviegoer. The whole plot taking place in an imaginary brothel makes this a sexually charged film in that sense. While there isn't anything explicit when it comes to sexual encounters, there are a lot of implications, especially sexual abuse (and especially if Babydoll is imagining her asylum superiors as pimps?), and the main characters dress like hookers in the movie.
The bottomline is, Sucker Punch is a truly dark and twisted film. While the visuals - the action and special effects - are often stunning and imaginative, it doesn't make the core subject matter any less... icky, really. It's a deep film while also being a popcorn film, but in the end, you will have good reason to wonder just what in the world Snyder must be "on" to make a movie like this (and the fact that he's been chosen to direct the next Superman movie is unnerving). Along with the sexual content, however, is a handful of swearing, including the character Amber screaming at a dragon, calling it a "mother--" with her mouth clearly saying the following strong expletive, even if we don't hear it. There is also a great deal of action violence that involves the girls shooting up and slicing up all kinds of imaginary creatures with various guns and swords throughout the film. Some of the violence spills into Baby's brothel fantasy which turn out to be a version of what really did happen. A few surprise character deaths happen on and off screen, including one character dying from being stabbed, one being shot in the head just off screen, and another shot ambiguously to death just off screen. The finale has some disturbing imagery and ideas that will be unsettling to some viewers, including the lobotomizing of a character.
As a movie, Sucker Punch was well acted and intriguingly directed, but the subject matter is disturbing and pretty twisted. There's nothing about the movie that merits recommending it, so I suggest steering clear from and altogether avoiding Sucker Punch.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 6/25/11)
I didn't see the movie in the theaters, but in its Blu-Ray presentation, the high definition format really is ideal for the crazy visuals in the film. In the Blu-Ray "Extended Cut" package are a PG-13 Theatrical Version Blu-Ray disc, a rated R Extended Cut Blu-Ray disc and a DVD/Digital Copy Combo Disc of the PG-13 version of the movie.
Sucker Punch Animated Shorts - These are animated shorts/promos for the film that give a little back story to each action/adventure fantasy that Babydoll dreams up during the movie. For example, the first one tells of how the evil Samurai warriors that Babydoll encounters on her own came to be. These cartoons are interesting for anyone who might want to delve a bit more into the mythology of the story.
Sucker Punch: Behind the Soundtrack - This is a brief featurette that talks about the music featured in Sucker Punch. It's a little too short in length, but Snyder and some of his production team share some thoughts on how they chose music for the film and had Emily Browning, who played Babydoll, provide some of the vocals for the songs.
The Extended Cut Blu-Ray disc includes a never-before-seen rated-R version of Sucker Punch that includes over 17 more minutes of bonus footage added back into the film. In addition to the extended film is a picture-in-picture commentary of the Extended Cut provided by director Zack Snyder and includes all the behind-the-scenes type footage that is absent from the first Blu-Ray disc (Personally, I decided to pass on watching the rated-R version of the film for this review).- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 6/25/11)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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