Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

It probably would help your enjoyment of director Zack Snyder’s ‘Sucker Punch’ if you have some kind of schoolgirl fetish going on. Or better yet a tight black leather schoolgirl fetish. And if you have a gun / sword tight black leather schoolgirl fetish you’re not even reading this but you are probably on your fifth viewing of ‘Sucker Punch’. It’s almost as if somebody gave my fifteen year old son or one of my freaky uncles a piece of paper and asked them to design their ideal movie.

So what exactly is ‘Sucker Punch’ about? That’s a damn good question. Emily Browning plays the character of Babydoll, though I’m pretty sure that’s not her name in Reality Number One. In reality number one, a dark, brooding and depressing world, this woman, the smallest twenty year old woman you would ever want to see, is grieving over the recent death of her mother, she’s dealing with the evil step-father and attempting to deal with the death of her baby sister which I believe she is somewhat responsible for. Through some shenanigans the wicked step father has the woman committed to a mental facility where she will be lobotomized in five days time.

To get out of this crap reality Babydoll has created crap Reality Number Two in which this mental institution is now a… geez… I think it’s a burlesque show / slave quarters / whorehouse? Maybe? Regardless the inmates of this facility put on burlesque shows and satisfy the fat cat customers for the evil owner of this place, Blue (Oscar Isaacs), in return for… nothing. The rules of this house seem simple enough. Do what Blue says and wear next to nothing all of the time. One would think that performing kitchen cleaning duties in a bustiere and fishnets would be damned uncomfortable but this is the reality that this twenty year old woman has created for herself. As if. She’s also created a set of smoking hot fishnet burlesque queens for her to associate with. When someone of the caliber of a Carla Gugino is presented as the ‘old whore’ of the group then there must be some serious hotties on staff. There’s the angry Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), her spunky sister Rocket (Jena Malone), tough girl Blondie (Vanessa Hudgins) and the sweetheart Amber (Jamie Chung). These girls have to dance to survive but Babydoll doesn’t dance. Until the old mistress Gorski (Gugino) tells her she had better start dancing if she wants to continue breathing.

We don’t get to see Babydoll dance because when Babydoll dances she transports us into Reality Number Three in which she is a schoolgirl outfit wearing ninja who does battle with giant samurai warriors, zombie Nazis, dragons, orcs, and robots, alongside her fishnet and leather clad girlfriends all under the guide of some wise dude played by Scott Glenn. Oddly enough I think her girlfriends are actually wearing more in leather and fishnets in this reality than the burlesque outfits in reality number two. Regardless the warriors in Reality Three have a mission which relates back to the burlesque slaves of reality two getting themselves free which will all circle back to reality one and Babydoll’s efforts to avoid getting lobotomized. Something like that.

Since ‘Sucker Punch’ is a Zack Snyder joint it almost goes without saying that the visuals are amazing. I don’t know if there’s a film director working right now who can combine live action chaos and computer generated mayhem as well and as seamlessly as Zack Snyder can. The movie looks great, but this we knew going in. But as far as the overall movie itself goes… what the hell? I’m almost speechless here because I don’t know exactly what I just saw. On the surface I know I’ve just seen a collection of spectacular action set pieces and violence featuring scantily clad young women wrapped around the safety of a PG-13 rating, but that’s about all I got out of that.

Perhaps there’s the subtext of empowering young women. By completely exploiting them. There’s a precedent for this kind of thing you know since I’ve seen it done before in a couple of those Emanuelle exploitation movies from the 1970’s where Emanuelle battled rape by getting raped repeatedly. Nope, that didn’t work all that well back then either. I don’t know how many young women dream of escaping bondage by dressing up like a schoolgirl and doing battle with zombie Nazis, but just because I’m not aware of it doesn’t mean there aren’t a bunch of young women out there dreaming of slaying orcs in fishnets.

But then maybe there is no real point to it at all. ‘Sucker Punch’ could be just some good old fashioned PG-13 exploitation. I realize that ‘PG-13’ and ‘exploitation’ don’t go together all that well but I’m thinking this is what you have here. It’s not a good movie considering it’s far too incoherent and scattershot, even for a fantasy, to be anything close to a good movie, but it is certainly something to see. I imagine Zack Snyder was sitting around one day and thought of everything he could think of that would be cool to see in a movie and he had the juice to make that happen. And even though he’s a couple of years older than me, in making this movie Mr. Snyder has probably connected with the majority of teenage boys on the planet Earth. But as an idea for ‘Sucker Punch 2’ Zack should make a fantasy movie for older boys like me. Have these same women dressed up in snug business suits coming over to my house, serve me a beer in my favorite recliner, then show them getting in their cars and going home. Oh… heaven.

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