“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
This is what the main character’s, Babydoll, David Carradine-esque wise fairy godfather tells her midway through her pointless journey to find a map, a knife, fire, a key and… something else (which *spoiler alert* is when Babydoll realises the story is not about her, but Abbie Cornish’s Sweat Pea, and sacrifices herself to what is alluded to as gang rape in order for Sweat Pea to escape. On a side note, WTF is Cornish doing in this movie? She’s, like, a serious actress and stuff.).
Well Sucker Punch didn’t stand for anything (if you exclude the exercise in how bad movies are made, and the kinder-whore schoolgirl images in director Zack Snyder’s spank bank, which I have), and fell for every gratuitous slow-mo’ up-skirt shot in the book.
The film commences with an attempted rape scene, a trademark of Snyder’s. (Pop culture website The Vine suggests that Carla Gugino, who plays Polish psychiatrist/burlesque madame in Sucker Punch and the Silk Spectre in Watchmen, look into “an AVO against Snyder, given she has appeared in two of his films and her characters sexually assaulted in both”.) Babydoll is framed for the murders of her mother and sister, and is dragged away to an insane asylum in “skin-coloured, rain soaked PJs”.
There her father requests a lobotomy, which will go ahead in a few days. During that time, Babydoll escapes to the Inception-like double dreamland in her mind, where the asylum and its exclusively female inhabitants morphs into a burlesque club.
The only way she can—again—escape this fantasy land (if it’s Zac Snyder’s your fantasy, why would you want to escape it?) and entrance her subjects is by dancing, which then turns to a post-apocalyptic “ancient Japan (or maybe China; all look [the] same, right?)” where Babydoll and her insane/burlesque/warrior troupe meet the wise man espousing useless proverbs at every turn as they accumulate the four items they need.
Sucker Punch actually has potential; if not for the excessive violence, hideous sexualisation and the non-plotline, it could have been good.
The story eventually returns to the real life of the asylum when the lobotomist/High Roller (an out of place Jon Hamm) “comes for” Babydoll, which is the most interesting five minutes of the film.
The Vine says, “We don’t really give a shit about any of our heroines [three of which *spoiler alert* are murdered], because neither does the film: they have no inner-life, no story beyond ‘they are sex slaves in foxy pin-up outfits’.” I found myself daydreaming about an alternative mask I could wear to a masquerade party a few nights later; to me that was more interesting than sitting through the pointlessness.
Give me a pen and a copy of the script and I think even I could do the remnants of an okay storyline and Abbie Cornish justice. I will now be boycotting all future Snyder efforts. No emphasis on “effort”.
Images via The Vine.