By: Jacob Bloodee Jacob Babcock
My first time watch! Sucker Punch released in 2011, it remains one of the most divided films in the filmography of Zack Snyder who I’m a big fan of. Nearly everything he’s done from the Snyder Cut to Man of Steel, Watchmen and 300, love him or hate him he’s left one of the most unique stamps in cinema in the past two decades. He’s a great visual director and story teller but know how to deliver some fulfilling character work when he tries and Sucker Punch contains some of his most intricate and at times unconventional efforts on that end.
It follows a girl who is brought to an institution where she lives out a fantasy world in her head that both distracts from and symbolizes the terrors she faces in reality. I’m glad to finally have my take on this as I’ve seen it have mixed views of it for quite some time. I watched the extended version which I think is the only way to go as the theatrical takes out a couple big action scenes but also bits of character that flesh things out just a little more. Emily BrowningI thought was excellent and so wonderful as the lead. She is so naturally emotive and a joy to watch on screen, I really need to watch more of her work. She is joined by Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone and Jamie Hung all of whom served their roles fine though I did find them somewhat forgettable and could have been played by others. Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm and Scott Glenn round out the cast in more notable fashion.
I’ve seen some accuse this film of being misogynistic, etc but they clearly missed the point of what Snyder was trying to communicate with shining a light on tropes in movies as well as leaving the message more than once that it is ourselves that can take ahold of our own lives, harness it & make of it what we will and or be your change if that is what you are wanting. I’m sure there are others who can better word what he was going for, but this was clearly meant to be a dark complex tale of empowerment. Browning herself has even defended Snyder and was upset with how much the MPAA removed, showing that it’s unlikely Snyder had any poor hidden agenda with this movie. It is a dark adventure don’t get me wrong with plenty of depressing elements and scenes that were uncomfortable but towed the line well.
The film is a complete visual spectacle in the dreamworld with plenty of crazy action to keep us genre fans entertained. There’s some seriously pretty good choreography here despite how fast everything moves you can still make most of it out. The film is definitely a visual feast and thus CGI heavy but it all looks fairly good and I think it worked being most of this takes place in a heightened dream reality. However on that same end I feel like both the real world and dreamland needed more time spent as I kind of felt at arms distance with the story at times. I sort of wish I got more focus on either the isolated character driven institution story or the batshit crazy world we see Browning’s “Babydoll” put herself into. Give me the creepy doctors, give me the undead nazis, giant samurais and dragons!….I want it all! That said I thought it all meshed surprisingly well and the pacing never felt very sluggish despite the extra 17 or so minutes of the extended cut, the runtime was justified.
There was an overuse of music at various points as I found myself wanting to just take in the atmosphere and listen to the characters without music blaring, but I loved Browning’s cover of “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” and Yoav’s cover “Where is my Mind?” which also featured Browning. Those hit all the right notes for me and added to the scenes.
Overall while some components could’ve used more focus than others, I got a lot of love for this movie and think it deserves a better reputation. It is intriguing almost nonstop and just a really unique flick to sit down and watch, even though I know it’s not a film for everyone. I do fully believe it’s worthy of discussing what it all meant and keeping an open mind.