Sucker Punch was one of the movies that my brother and I wanted to see in the cinema but refrained from doing so because of the bad reviews. It wasn’t really a sucky movie per se, but I was glad that I didn’t see it in theaters. It was in a word — slow.
The movie stars Emily Browning (The Uninvited) as Baby Doll, who accidentally kills her little sister while trying to save her from her stepdad’s abuse. Because her stepdad wanted to take control of the money left to the girls by their deceased mother, he brings Baby Doll (real name undisclosed) to a facility for mental cases specializing in torture and lobotomy. While there, Baby Doll, in the hopes of escaping her scheduled procedure, undergoes a journey in her mind, a quest to gain freedom from the hands of Blue, who runs the facility. In her fantasies, she is the new girl in a prostitution den, and will be the main attraction to draw the attention of the “High Roller,” played by John Hamm. She recruits her fellow captives — Sweet Pea, Rocket, Blondie and Amber– in embarking in an escape try which would need four main elements — a map, fire, a knife and the key that opens all the doors of the joint. As a distraction while her friends acquire the items they need, Baby Doll dances her special sultry dance. While she does this, her action mission takes place in her imagination, where they are fighting off a myriad of foes in different scenarios (dragons, robots, henchmen) under the direction of the Wise Man.
What I found problematic with the entire thing, really, is the casting. Emily Browning, while she may be a nice fit for roles of innocent little girls, is not sellable as the exotic sex kitten she wants to portray as she dances. Her body, while mostly clothed in short skirts and tight fitting bodices throughout the movie looks like it belongs to a 12 year old. The girls, who should have looked sultry looked dirty most of the time with their greasy hair and updos. And while some guys might appreciate their sexy outfits, I for one, felt that the actresses looked too young to be consorting with overweight old men and seedy rich gentlemen. I also felt that the action stunts, while commendable, did itself a disservice by overutilizing the Matrix slowmo, thereby killing the momentum of most hand to hand combat scenes that had the potential to be great.
Another thing was the overuse of montages. It seemed that the musical scorer or the director was having too much fun selecting songs that should be included in the sountrack that they wanted to use the entire length of the mixes for scenes that were either portrayed in sepia treatment or noir, again in slow motion. It kind of gets to your nerves after a few.
To its credit, the special effects team did a great job with the CGI, and perhaps the cinematographers need a pat on the back for some of the shots in the movie. All in all, I think Sucker Punch was trying to achieve a Machine Girl/Blood the Last Vampire effect for the movie but what it managed to deliver was a film which focuses on torture, harassment, and molestation at the core instead of an action packed offering featuring girls in short skirts and tough attitude.