Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: Zack Snyder, Steve Shibuya
Stars: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn, Oscar Isaac
RANT: Went to my first IMAX experience on Long Island today. It wasn't at the Westbury Theater that I have been raving about the last two weeks. Instead, I went to the Deer Park outlets Regal Theater with a guy from work, splitting the driving distance to be fair. $18 a piece later, Zach Snyder's new film illuminated the over sized silver screen.
SYNOPSIS: A young girl is sent to a mental institution after her mother's death and her step-father's abuse. In order to cope, she retreats into a fantasy world where she is a warrior on a quest to escape to freedom.
Zach Snyder brings his highly surreal style to the screen with his latest effort, Sucker Punch. Director of 300 and Watchman, Snyder is a virtuoso at adapting graphic novelizations into cinematic eye candy. This time, he takes a new direction by creating his own world of fantasy, femme fatales and firepower.
Sucker Punch focuses on a young woman, nicknamed Baby Doll (Emily Browning) by the other women in an institute for the criminally insane. Baby Doll finds herself committed by her stepfather who was after her mother's estate after she finds him attacking and killing her sister. Once on the inside, she concocts a plan of escape using symbolic and literal objects - a map, fire, a knife, a key, and a sacrifice. A la Inception, Baby Doll builds a fantasy reality with deeper fantasies whenever she and their cohorts - Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung) - need to find and secure one of the artifacts imperative to their escape.
While the plot may be a little on the weak side, Sucker Punch is a Matrix- and Wizard of Oz-inspired visual spectacle. Loaded with references and homages to Sin City, a slew of Japanese anime like Dragonball Z, The Wizard of Oz, and Girl, Interrupted, and his own canon of work, Zack Snyder builds a world - several worlds, in fact - for his femme fatales to battle in. Baby Doll and her friends square off against steam punk, clockwork zombie Nazis in World War II trenches, battle against medieval knights, dragons and LOTR-style orcs in chain mail against the backdrop of a stone spire castle, and rage against mechanized i-robots guarding a bomb on a bullet train to ignite once it passes into a skyscraper city - and more!
Snyder mixes so many different eras into the film. While in the trenches of World War II, Baby Doll and pals have samurai swords and new millennium firepower. While in medieval times, they fly around in a B-52. On their way to catch the futuristic bullet train, they pursue in a Vietnam era chopper. Even the fantasy world that Baby Doll creates to deal with the everyday of Lennox House recalls an era of the 40s and 50s with splashes of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest.
But even the more subdued scenes are rich in cinematic style. One in particular - the dressing room scene - is distracting and marvelous as the camera pans from the players to their reflections, to reflections that become the players, to reflections again - all with a single rolling 360 degree pan. Excellent work.
The battles make great use of music, as if Tarantino lent his ear to the scores. The film and soundtrack boasts eerily re-recorded tracks like Sweet Dreams, White Rabbit, and a I Want It All / We Will Rock You mash up - perfect fodder for the ears while Snyder invades our eyes with full-on cinematic whipped cream.
The geeks will be impressed and satiated. They will probably go see it twice, I know I will. But Sucker Punch is not for everyone. "Girl Power" will draw some young women to the audience. Scantily clad women with over sized guns and swords will bring the 15 to 30 year old males. The aforementioned and everything else will bring the comic book readers. And while I loved it, I can see patrons with more discriminating tastes may be disappointed.
WORTH: Matinee and Blu-Ray