By Caitlin Gardner
Sucker Punch marks the first time director Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) ever used an original idea of his own. After seeing this film, you will either wish he returns to just using other people’s stories or that there was an actual story to follow in this film.
Sucker Punch is a basic story that applies many tropes, ranging from classic children’s tales to pulp fiction. This is the story of Baby Doll (Emily Browning) who is put into a mental asylum under false pretenses by her evil stepfather and under the control of the asylum’s orderly Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac). Baby Doll needs to escape or she risks getting lobotomized.
The story is complicated by having Baby Doll substitute her asylum world for fantasies. The first fantasy appears to be some burlesque outfit complete with the inmates wearing skimpy clothing of different fashion styles.
Baby Doll’s fantasy world takes her to feudal Japan, steampunk trench warfare, killing a baby dragon in a castle, and disarming a bomb from a train that looks straight out of the Jetsons. But Snyder never has time to explain how Baby Doll imagines these images. What could have inspired her to see these things as she dances? These fantasies feel closer to a service of appealing to all corners of Comic-Con than character catharsis.
Even so, these scenes are more like a depository of half-baked ideas than a clever mash-up of genres. Add in terrible song covers to the non-existent coolness of these scenes, and it becomes redundant and boring. Nothing in these fantasies are ever explained or balanced within the real world of the film to be considered coherent.
Snyder’s visual eye cannot be understated. The CGI is sleek even though the sepia colors undersell it. But as a storyteller, Sucker Punch is all show and no tell. There is only so much Emily Browning can do when she is given too few lines or chances of real expression to carry this film.
Ultimately, you feel like Sucker Punch was money washed down the drain, be it Warner Bros. distributing this garish mess or what you spent on your movie ticket.