SUCKER PUNCH (2011)

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SUCKER-PUNCH
SUCKER PUNCH

Sucker Punch was met with great interest and even greater expectations from the very beginning. It couldn’t be otherwise, after all, this picture was supposed to be the original, uncompromising vision of Zack Snyder, the guy who gave us one very good and one brilliant adaptation of the comic book, in an impressive and crazy style. When the first trailers appeared, I became very concerned. The exaggerated action scenes in a console style worked well, but I didn’t feel any emphasis on the substantive aspect of it all. The closer to the premiere, the more and more my hope for intriguing entertainment faded away, and ultimately I knew that all that awaited me was an impressive blast.

Sucker Punch begins with an interesting scene in which the main protagonist, a 20-year-old girl, is forced to defend herself and her younger sister against the attempts of a sleazy stepfather who is hunting for the inheritance of their mother, who died a few days ago. The young woman fails to save her sister, and to make matters worse, she is framed by her stepfather for the girl’s murder and then placed in a suspicious psychiatric facility for women, where she is to undergo a lobotomy procedure in five days. Baby Doll (this is her nickname), like four other girls, will be the main attraction of the place of crime and enslavement into which Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac) has transformed the hospital. They satisfy wealthy clients by presenting them with a sensual, erotic dance. Baby Doll has no intention of waiting for Sharp Player to perform the procedure on her, so she plans to escape from the hospital with her new friends, and according to the plan, she will need five items: a map, a lighter, a knife, a key and one more thing.

Sucker Punch disappoints in almost every respect. First things first. The structure of Snyder’s new picture is as boorish as a group of “men abusing alcohol” at a grocery store. This story has a message that will only impress the audience of Sesame Street. What’s worse, it is contained in two monologues by one of the characters, at the beginning and end of the film. In addition, it is being shoveled into our heads with the grace of a drunken gravedigger. Someone will say that I’m nitpicking, because if it’s an action movie, why do we need any depth, “there has to be action and atmosphere”, as my friend says. So let’s assume that I agree with this and let’s go further.

There are four action scenes on which the film is based. They follow the same pattern every time. Our Baby, who has an incredible talent for attractive dances, charms the audience, while one of the girls is tasked with stealing one of the items I wrote about earlier. This happens in real time, but we do not watch the tiny Doll dance, but follow her “experiences” in an alternative reality to which the other four women also have access. And what’s the funniest about it all? Well, in fact, all these fantastic Sucker Punch sequences have no real justification in the script. We might as well be watching a girl’s choreographically interesting dance at this point, rather than a digital mess. In a movie where these scenes are supposed to be the main attraction? That’s right, that’s the paradox.

I think it won’t be a big spoiler if I outline the realities of each of the worlds that we will visit with the heroines of Sucker Punch. In the first one, we will see Baby Doll herself, who will face four-meter high-tech samurai in a Japanese temple. Then we will visit Paris, destroyed by the Nazis, where the heroines will have to take over the enemy’s plans. We still have to fight an army of orcs and a huge dragon (actually a dragon) in a dark fantasy setting, as well as a battle in a futuristic future full of aggressive droids (that’s my name for these types). As for these sequences themselves, I have very mixed feelings. Actually, there are two problems. The first, absolutely fundamental.

Since the dramatic layer in the real world was screwed up, the protagonists’ struggles are not emotionally engaging at all. All these crazy images, at the level of production, design and atmosphere, concern us as much as used toilet paper, which makes the whole thing look more like a high-budget music video than a full-fledged feature film (after all, the technical level here is amazing).

Finally, we come to the problem of big, i.e. “gaming” style. Personally, I am a fan of this young medium and I have nothing against such solutions in cinema films, but here it was clearly exaggerated, and it mainly concerns episodes with Nazis and droids. For ninety percent of the duration of these scenes, scantily clad women fight with melee weapons and firearms against swarms of identical opponents. Although the Paris thread is saved by a kind of sub-boss at the end, the overall impression is that, apart from the delicately used slow-motion, the creators ran out of ideas for fight sequences. Fortunately, this does not apply to the confrontation with samurai and the dragon – what is impressive here is the scale of the staging, the fast pace and the variety of opponents – both of these threads are the strongest point of Sucker Punch.

The characters of Sucker Punch are walking clichés, they all have stamps on their foreheads, from which we can read already in the first scene who will act in what way until the end of the film. The taciturn, modest, but most knowledgeable heroine is; a good-natured friend who is ready to go to hell in the name of friendship – she is an inaccessible tough girl who will turn out to be okay in time – of course. The weakest in this entire group is the main antagonist.

Zack Snyder’s cinema is characterized by several characteristic measures in terms of production itself, and Sucker Punch is no different. Slow-motion turned up to the nth power, “comic book” flavors, intentional exaggerations, frequent close-ups, and a camera fetishizing the faces of most characters. Special effects are the highest level in this field, this time it was decided to combine photos with ready-made scenography with shots on blue screens, which of course dominate. This does not make it feel like the whole thing is confined to a studio, and the word “epic” that is popular for this type of cinema fits here like a glove. It’s even more of a pity that the fate of the girls in these fantastic settings is either not engaging or some of them lack imagination.

I approached Sucker Punch in an “evolutionary” way. At first, I expected a visually stunning thriller. Then I revised my expectations to a decent action movie, and a few days before the screening – only to an action movie. My disappointment is even greater because even with such a tolerant approach to Snyder’s youngest child, the film is extremely disappointing.

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