♣♣♣♣ out of ♣♣♣♣♣
Zach Snyder’s Sucker Punch, in theaters now, is simply one of the greatest visual achievements on film to date. It’s been said before, but I will say it again- we’ve reached that point in special effects where we can make anything happen on the screen and make it believable. We know that we are seeing something created by a computer, but it’s so well done that, to our brain, it doesn’t matter what our eyes are seeing. Sucker Punch, through the use of CGI, manages one of those rare movie moments when story and style come together perfectly to create a world we are transported to, where we can get lost in the sights and the sound and the story, and in Sucker Punch’s case, THE GIRLS.
Firstly, I got to see Sucker Punch in glorious IMAX… It was my first IMAX experience over at Regal’s Valley River theater, and I couldn’t have asked for a better movie to see. The IMAX theater is roughly the same size as Regal’s other big stadium, it just goes down into the ground more… Even when you sit at the bar near the front, it still seems to dive down out of sight. The screen size is amazing, I could see every detail on the screen without straining, and boy oh boy the details in Sucker Punch are endless. The sound in the theater is exactly how loud a movie like that should be watched as well- almost too loud. Every explosion, gunshot, or line of dialogue came across perfectly. Believe it when they say, it puts you IN the movie!
Starring Emily Browning (The Uninvited), Abbie Cornish, and Jenna Malone (who currently lives in Eugene and goes to the U of O!), these bad-ass chicks are as close to anime as the costume directors could get without ink. The acting is solid for the material, and Emily Browning is stunning as Babydoll. Zach Snyder has previously directed March blockbusters Dawn of the Dead, 300, and Watchmen, known for his slow-motion action and use of only sound stages, his visual style is as hi-tech as it gets. Sucker Punch is definitely not perfect, but it is the perfect movie at the perfect time, a breath of fresh air into a genre that has suffered in recent months. After a season of award-winners and slow-moving (whilst great) British films, Snyder and crew kick off the early spring movie season with a dead bang.
Sucker Punch is the story (yes there is one) of a young girl (Babydoll) in the early 60s who is institutionalized for accidentally killing her sister after their mother dies. The real reason, given in the first few minutes so no spoilers, is because her stepfather wants mom’s fortune… So he pays off an orderly to lock her up and get her added to the Lobotomy list for the following week, essentially giving her 5 days to live. She retreats into a fantasy world of her own creating, and as soon as the key clicks, the movie suddenly turns into what the director calls, “Alice In Wonderland, with GUNS.” Babydoll jumps feet-first through the looking glass, and things start to move very quickly. She devises an escape plan in her fantasy world that will allow her and the other girls to escape in reality. I can’t tell you any more of the plot, or it will start to give it away. Suffice it to say it takes place on many different levels of reality and fantasy at once, so remember that while you’re in captivated awe of the visuals alone. All of this happens in a gorgeous rain-soaked style that becomes a feast for the senses.
I’ve read a lot of negative reviews about Sucker Punch, and most of the critics seem to be focusing on the “lack of story” and how it’s a mish-mash of action-sequences with no coherent thread between them… and I can see where they are coming from, however I can’t help but disagree. I’ve also read a lot about how they trimmed over 20 minutes from the movie to get a PG-13 rating, and it shows. The way the beginning of the movie jumps into the middle is jarring- and it just feels like it was edited a few cuts too much. On the flip-side, this movie isn’t about the intricate plot devices or the deus ex machina (“Out of the blue comes the monkey with the bomb”). It’s about the dark world that we are literally thrown into (like Babydoll), and our ability to cope and understand with what’s going on in our own dark realities, just as much as it is for the characters. It’s best to go into Sucker Punch without expectations, because they will be shattered. Snyder has melted down a brainy action movie, dumped in some half-naked girls, and poured it into the frame of a musical. Often the music, a mix of re-imagined songs everyone will recognize, plays a key role in the film, the story, and the characters.
In closing, Sucker Punch is a treat. A movie I haven’t gotten out of my head in three days. In fact, I want to see it again, I know I missed at least half of all the details going on in that movie. Zach Snyder has continually made movies that have defied expectations, and they are for the most part all on his terms since that’s what’s made the most money anyway. Sucker Punch is no different. It’s a movie about how we the mind deals with the stress, abuse, and pressure in this harsh life, and how it can be our greatest asset, or our worst enemy. See it in IMAX, or regular, just go see it!