“Sucker Punch” (2011)

sucker-punch

★★½☆☆

In a word: “Huh?”

Some reviews of this one have been pretty downright awful … to the point of being almost poetic in their disdain for this movie. So I was expecting to be completely underwhelmed. To be fair … it wasn’t all that bad.

Not that it was good, either.

OK … so the basic plot is this girl tries to kill her child-molesting step-father, screws up by not killing him, and ends up in a hell-hole of an institution where young girls must dance for sleezy dudes. The girl wants to escape … and she’s going to be lobotomized too … and somewhere in there is this weird quest for five items which will set her free.

As Mr. Mackey would say: “Mmmkay?”

On the plus side, the girls are hot and so are their outfits. The sound track is surprisingly good – including a redux of “White Rabbit” which surprised the hell out of me. The Queen remix … not so much. The acting is OK and at least believable. The bad guys are as sleezy and slimy as possible. And the interior sets of the institution are very well done and almost dungeon-esque. They could have gone further, it’s a pretty disturbing subject matter and the director could have made something that would have really made people uneasy – but didn’t – he focused on special effects instead.

On the really minus side: “Huh?” The battle scenes are bizarre. 12-foot Samurais wielding gas-operated Mini-Guns? Zeppelins and biplanes sharing the same skies with rocket-powered robots? M4 assault rifles on the same WW1 battlefield as a Lewis Gun? A flying dragon chasing a B-25 bomber over a medieval Japanese(?) castle? German soldiers being reanimated with steam and clockwork? Say what? It kind of reminded me of Terry Gilliam’s penchant for pulling together weird visual references – but without the style or whimsey … or grounding in some flavor of plausibility.

Maybe the battles are supposed to represent some kind of dream world, but come on. And if it is a dream, where would this orphan girl have seen these detailed references to warfare through the ages? I mean, it’s visually awesome and all but it makes no sense. It’s an orgy of special effects with no real meaning or purpose other than to … uh … hell, I don’t know … I guess to showcase “chicks with guns” and have the CG artists be able to win a few awards.

This could have been something much better than it ended up being. The movie looks awesome but it never really pulls you in. The ending is pretty decent, if only they’d put that much humanity into the rest of the film. Wait for it to come to DVD or NetFlix or whatever … it’s not worth the price of admission to a movie theatre … unless you’re into “chicks with guns”.