Saturday 17 September 2011


Out now on DVD and Blu-ray is Zack Snyder's latest action 'spectacular'. Watch the trailer and read my review, next...

Faced with five days to go before an unnecessary lobotomy, Baby Doll (Emily Browning) creates a series of elaborate fantasy worlds to deal with the dangers of her current surroundings. Along with the rest of the girls who are residents of the Lennox asylum, Baby Doll must battle gigantic monsters and enter war zones to find five secret items, as well as try and find a way past the orderly/crime baron who’s threatening her life.
When a film starts off like it’s in a competition to find the world’s most depressing EMO music video, complete with mind sapping soundtrack to boot, it’s almost too easy to judge what the next 90 minutes of your life are going to be like. To be fair to Sucker Punch it's certainly unique, but also a bit of an odd one. The story of… well, I suppose the best way I can think to describe it is as Inception taking place in the mind of a weapons trained burlesque dancer.

Snyder’s influences seem to be drawn from Manga, video games and a dog eared copy of Razzle. As for the action sequences where, for example, Babydoll has to face off against a 30 foot tall Samurai with a phallic shaped mask, they’re a mess of undeveloped enemies, dodgy slo-mo (a directorial trait of Snyder’s) and the most soul crushingly bland EMO soundtrack imaginable. I would consider myself to be a fan of Zack Snyder's previous work, albeit one who's getting more and more concerned about where his directorial style is heading. His 2004 Dawn of The Dead remake succeeded by being a stripped back version of the original, and even Watchmen (for all its flaws) was an interesting entry into the Superhero genre.
Of course, a film taking place in the troubled mind of a young girl was never going to have the greatest grip on reality, but when the environments look like they’re from Sky Captain and the lead character is a virtual mute, it’s hard to find any attachment to the film. There’s so many periods of the film that are nothing but soundtrack, comprised of EMO covers of classic 80’s pop, I found myself questioning at the end of the film whether Baby Doll actually had any dialogue at all (she does, but not much). As for the rest of the female cast (including Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hugens and Carla Gugino), they’re not called upon to do anything other than look sexy whilst holding big guns. Yeah, difficult.

A lot has been said about the over-sexualisation of Snyder’s lingerie clad female characters, but to be honest, what else would you expect from a film that aims to be nothing more than a lusty, pubescent boy’s wet dream? I can only imagine Zack Snyder was forced to concoct this story whilst undergoing some sort of Verbal Kint style cross examination, sat in a teenage boy’s bedroom gleaming a storyline by looking at posters for Halo, Mortal Kombat and Nuts Bedroom Babes with a DVD of Girl, Interrupted playing in the background.
I don’t mean to be too negative as there is an interesting idea here, but it’s overshadowed by far too many long, drawn out action sequences and a frustrating lack of direction; and by that I mean a clear focus, as if anything Sucker Punch has a little bit too much ‘direction’. Given that two of Zack Snyder’s previous films have been based on “graphic novels”, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Sucker Punch looks and feels like it is also. In fact this is Snyder’s first attempt at an original screenplay, although it’s clear he’s not travelled too far from the comic book well he often plunders.

It may leave you scratching your head trying to find some deeper meaning to it all, if by the end you still find yourself remotely bothered about what the Zeppelin’s and Steampunk Nazi’s actually mean. The film, just like its lead character Baby Doll, is certainly pretty to look at and at first seemingly complex, but take a closer look you’ll see she’s hollow on the inside and in dire need of a bit of help.

Special Features
Languages, Scene Selection, 4 animated short films that further explain the thinking behind each world Baby Doll creates and a short Behind the Soundtrack documentary


  1. I am in total agreement with your review. Although I don't regret watching this film, once is definitely enough.

  2. After many a mediocre review, I decided against watching this film. No regrets.