Film Review: Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch is a typical Zack Snyder film in that style is heavily favoured over substance. For all its veneer, the film is severely lacking in the narrative department.

Following the death of her mother, a young girl is institutionalised by her cruel and abusive stepfather. To cope with the traumatic situation, she creates an imaginary world. Baby Doll and four other young girls plot to escape their surroundings by collecting the five items necessary for them to complete their mission…

The plot of Sucker Punch is as flimsy as some of the girls’ outfits. The film is really not much more than an excuse for beautiful women to kick ass in revealing costumes. This may have been passable if there had been a decent storyline, however the narrative is lamentable, with very little plot or character development. The plot is very simple, with all the clichés of a platform game rather than a feature film.

In creating a multi-platform vehicle, it is easy to see what Zack Snyder was aiming for. However, the allegory is astoundingly obvious, leaving little room for alternative interpretation. Those hoping for more depth from Sucker Punch are likely to be disappointed. The epilogue at the end sums up everything that is wrong with the film. There are pretensions of something grander and more profound. Yet there is little more to the film than surface polish.

There will inevitably be some debate as to whether the main characters are positive feminist role models or exploited females who serve the sole purpose of providing titillation. On the one hand, the girls are empowered enough to fight for themselves without having to rely on anyone else. Nevertheless, the young women all wear ridiculously skimpy outfits, totally inappropriate for the combat scenes. Furthermore, Baby Doll and her cohorts are not above using their feminine wiles in order to distract men, who are depicted almost entirely in a negative light.

The action scenes in Sucker Punch are a lot of fun. The high-energy set pieces are bravura, and by far the most entertaining moments in the film. The effects are good, with the highly stylised visuals having become a Snyder trademark. Similarly, the soundtrack is great, totally in keeping with the attitude of the film.

Emily Browning is beautifully striking as Baby Doll, but the actress is given little opportunity to show any range. The other young girls in the film are just as limited. Oscar Isaac is suitably one-dimensional as Blue, and the same can be said for Carla Gugino’s Dr Gorski.

Sucker Punch is an aural and visual feast. It is just a shame that Snyder did not put as much effort into making the script compelling.