Saturday, 14 April 2012

FILM: Sucker Punch (3/10)

Graphic novel style action film based on an original screenplay from director Zack Snyder. Babydoll (played by Emily Browning) is sent to a mental institution for teenage girls and visages her escape from her captors through a series of fantastical quests. Although clearly inspired by Kill Bill, Inception and a host of modern day video games, credit has to be given to Snyder for the film's creative context but unfortunately that's about all it can be given for.

The fantasy within a fantasy concept does allow Snyder license to create some stunning looking fantasy backdrops and action sequences ranging from fighting giant samurai in feudal Japan to mechanical Nazi soldiers in a WWII bunker. The action sequences are visually stunning as you would expect from the director that delivered 300 and Watchmen and renowned for his graphic novel and video game style imagery. Although why a teenage girl would choose to invent such fantasy situations to serve as replications of the quests undertaken, except for the obvious reason of serving up gun-totting chick action for the likely audience, is unclear.

The all-action girl heroes attempt to complete a series of simplistic quests, dubbed 'the plan' and actually just involving obtaining several objects, to escape from their prison. Perhaps Snyder felt that the fantasy within a fantasy premise was as much as his target audience could handle, especially with all the teenage girls running around, and dumbed down 'the plan' to the point of having Babydoll write it down as a reference for the audience to understand the progress achieved. The quests are completed and ticked off, for the audiences benefit, with tedious repetition.

Snyder breaks the stereotype of the female role in action films and it is refreshing to see a team of girls manning machine guns, flying helicopters and fighting dragons, however the film is conflicted in its attempts to portray a spirit of female empowerment, which is relevant, when the female characters breaking out from their male oppressors are a group of nubile teenage girls scantily clad in school uniforms.

The fantasy within a fantasy premise and impressive visuals are not enough to cover the hollow and humourless characters and abysmal script. The rush of deaths in the film's final act feel too contrived as if Snyder realised with 10 minutes to go that some quick emotion was required in order to set up an attempt at a profound ending. The narrated dialogue over the final scenes is hard to appreciate after the previous ninety minutes which really did nothing more than serve up the literal definition of a teenage nerds wet dream. 
Imagine if MTV remade Inception crossed with Kill Bill for the video game generation and avoid.

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