Monday, 27 June 2011

Film Review: Sucker Punch

Synopsis: Therapy sessions save a troubled girl from her woes, with guns and swords and explosions.

Zack Snyder's (300, Watchmen) new film, Sucker Punch, has the stylised hallmarks of his previous work while also trying to stay outside of the box. He succeeds. This film has divided critics and viewers because it is a story shown rather than a story told. This means every individual can get something different from it depending on how much they are willing to think about it.

If you follow the visuals and plot loosely, then it is about Babydoll (Emily Browning) who is institutionalised after an accident shown at the start of the film. The rest that follows is either a straight forward escape story with fantasy fight sequences, or an analogy of the various therapy sessions that Babydoll undertakes, depending on how you view it. One issue is that Snyder doesn't give the viewer the 'payoff' like at the end of, say, Fight Club, when we get to see Norton and Pitt at arms. Snyder is asking us to work it out ourselves.

So it is for you to decide how much you want to take from it. That's not to say it is an amazing film even if you can and do work it out. Visually, the girls are pretty and the action sequences are top-notch and play to modern notions of popculture with nazi-zombies, orcs and artificial intelligence. These action sequences, on the surface, do not further the plot or characterisation, so at first you might wonder what their purpose is. It's open to interpretation, but is probably a therapeutic device used by Babydoll to escape her reality. However, when these sequences appear, Babydoll is already in a 'dream' she is using to escape her actual reality, so these then become 'dreams-within-dreams'. One interpretation is that these are used to escape the physical abuse of the institution, and not only is she escaping the abuse, but so are we, the viewer, preferring instead to watch the exciting popculture action.

Carla Gugino, who plays the therapist/dance instructor, is the best actress in the film and lends her character sympathy when she realises she is just as trapped as the other girls. Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung are all convincing as the girls who join Babydoll's crusade, and the fun they're having is especially evident in the action sequences; one of the most enjoyable being the crushing of the nazi-zombies fuelled by steam. The imagination evident in this film makes it worth watching, even if you're not looking to think too much.

7.5 / 10

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