Sunday, 3 April 2011

FILM REVIEW: Sucker Punch

I feel like I need to review this film alongside my other trip to the cinema this weekend: Source Code. One film and one director so uproariously canned, and the other positively shoved in line for the next Honour's List. And yet I feel like I'm living in a parallel universe: Source Code, which I'll get onto later today, is a gigantic pile of tripe. Sucker Punch was gratuitously, insanely awesome.

It's all insane, every inch of it. Sustain your disbelief and rank up your octane gases and listen up: Babydoll (as christened at birth) is sent away to a mental asylum by her evil stepfather after a revenge attack on him ends in the death of her little sister. Confined to the menial jobs of the asylum she is told she has five days before the high roller comes, and a lobotomy. Desperate to escape she enlists the help of four other 'inmates' to follow the plan the Wise Man told her: collect five items, and then win your freedom. The girls must do this under the guise of their burlesque employment and the omnipotent eyes of their seedy and cruel watcher Blue.

Did I mention there's fire-breathing dragons, undead Nazi soldiers and sci fi killing machine robots, too? HELL YEAH!

Okay, so this isn't normally a film I would go to see, but for whatever reason this just won me over from the get-go. The most uber powerful girl posse ever, and there's so much going on, to look at. The visuals are absolutely breathtaking - no review can dismiss that. I don't get the Zack Snyder bashing at all: there's such a confidence in the way he uses colour and motion that makes his imagery striking, and above all, absolutely him. I've been a fan since 300 (a film which blew me away for its 3D element, before 3D was ever on the scene) and one of the reasons I went to see Watchmen was because he was directing (fyi, sexy lowls aren't my thang). The main gripes with this for the majority of people is his absence of source material - he has always had another person's vision and story to work from, but this time Sucker Punch is all his, a true original and he's getting torn to shreds for it.

Why? The characters are paper thin, there's no emotional heart, it's all exploitation and no plot. Well, IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE THAT WAY. Jeez if you want a messed up girl in an asylum who has been abused, misunderstood and neglected then go watch Girl, Interrupted - a film I may add that did nothing for me whatsoever (probably an Angelina Jolie thing, but meh, still rubbish). Sucker Punch isn't supposed to make things relatable, understandable, make you want to cry for the sheer bleakness of the girls' predicament (however the scene where Babydoll is crying in the bathroom and Rocket goes to sit next to her made me well up a bit. It was SAD, OK?) It's supposed to present you with a background, some characters, a target and then - bam, enjoy the ride. And to be fair I thought Abbie Cornish was brilliant as Sweet Pea, along with her sister Rocket (Jena Malone) and although the handover towards the end where it suddenly becomes her film rather than Babydoll's - yet she is the narrator throughout - was a bit heavy handed, it still worked as a movie. It's predictable that the great sacrifice - Babydoll's freedom - will be death, but also more interesting (and less all-encompassingly depressing) that everybody's freedom is different. Without the outcome for Sweet Pea I think the film would have felt very hollow indeed and I probably wouldn't be as nice as I am being now!

Long stretches of the film, and in particular the opening sequence, felt like an overblown manga music video - more style over substance which didn't help pander to the critics. But again, I enjoyed this - too much of it and it would have got a bit samey - God I can hear people chastising me now - but I didn't get bored. Not once. And that's a lot more than I could say for Source Code...zzz. And I bloody loved it when DON DRAPER turned up as the high roller. Awesome cakes.

Obviously there's a lot of short skirts, leery rapey men and the whoring out of young girls (although it is stated Babydoll is 20 years old) but the film isn't sexist. How can it be? The men fight, the girls fight back stronger. They just look sexy whilst doing it. Which isn't a bad thing, is it? If you're going for this style then go for it full steam. The girls weren't wearing pinafores in Sin City, were they? I have to admit the gyrating to conjure up the world of machine guns, bullet trains and samurai swords was beyond ridiculous, but at least the tone never strayed from being consistent.

This is Zack Snyder's own graphic novel, that comes from his own mind, and marks an original appearance on the big screen. Critics hate it because it's offensive and pointless. Culturemouse loves it because it's an insane explosion inside her mind. I saw this on Friday evening after I'd had a beyond stressful day at work, and I needed something that would just zap all those worky cobwebs away ahead of the next two free days. Sucker Punch has been severely sucker-punched and undeservedly so: take your popcorn and your bored self and go get woken up.

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