Monday, 23 July 2012


Sub-consciousness and reality are becoming the new big thing for modern movies. Most notably, Inception. It blew everyone away, and proved that this kind of film can be constructed to an astounding level. Also, around at the moment we have Source Code, which travels back and forth between modern reality and the past. Source Code only operates on two levels, (past and present) whereas Inception operates on three (all of which are in a dream-state). Suckerpunch follows the same course, with three layers. Reality, Sub-Reality and then the Dream-states. It's being compared to all sorts of films, both good and bad, but is Suckerpunch capable of operating as a standalone movie? 

"Suckerpunch" opens with a slow motion sequence. It shows our protagonist (Emily Browning's yet un-named character) being informed of her mother's death. Soon after, her stepfather attempts to violate the girl, but she defends herself, and he instead goes after her sister. Browning's character attempts to defend her sister, but accidentally kills her whilst trying to shoot her stepfather. She is then taking to Lennox Insane Asylum; "For the Mentally Insane" (as opposed to?). She is to be given a lobotomy in five days, giving her five days to create a plan and escape. With the help of a wise man, her and her four fellow inmates attempt to escape using four items; a map, something to start a fire, a knife and a key. Can she escape in time? 

I know what you're thinking; why is she soon fighting dragons and German mechanical zombies? Well, it's simple....sort of. Upon arrival, the asylum (the reality) suddenly turns into a brothel (the sub-reality), where the inmates, under the orders of the villainous Blue (Oscar Isaac), dance for the customers. As it turns out, Baby Doll (the now named Browning) is astonishing, and can stop any man in his tracks. So her and her fellow inmates use this to their advantage. Whilst Baby Doll performs, they steal the items they need from the people who are watching the performance. But, we don't see this. We see the five girls kicking ass, and fighting other items (this is the dream-state). As they successfully take each item in the dream state, we then return to the sub-reality (the brothel) to find everyone astounded by Baby Doll's performance, and the items successfully stolen in this world as well. 

But was the film actually any good? Simply put, yes. Yes it was. 

I'll start with the characters. Our other kick-ass inmates are Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jaime Chung). Out of the main five characters, I liked three. Baby Doll was magnificently portrayed by Browning, showing off her capability with tremendous success. Cornish played Sweet Pea well, being reluctant and wiling at the same time, but in two different levels of state. Malone also passed well, and made Rocket my favourite character. She was reliable and trustworthy but had an edge to her that made her someone we can associate with. However, Chung's Amber rarely spoke, she just flew things and made the occasional mumble and/or grunt, and Hudgens' was laughable as Blondie. 

Now, the visual effects, without doubt the best aspect of "Suckerpunch". We have four dream sequences. A samurai-like temple, a burning, German WWI setting, an old-fashioned, dragon-containing castle, and a speeding train heading for a futuristic city on a different world. All of these settings were full of mind-blowing visual effects, and utterly stunning cinematography. I can't see this getting a nomination for anything else, but this is still set to be the Visual film of the year! 

The action sequences were another highlight. With director Zach Snyder using his trademark slow motion to the extreme, they did get quite tiresome towards the end. The best scene would have to be the map stealing from the WWI battle, with the predictable and un-necessary Train sequence trailing at the back. Overall though, they were thoroughly entertaining, and contain some of the most memorable scenes of cinema I've seen in a long time. 

Now, it pains me to do it, but I have to list the negative parts. "Suckerpunch" contained no emotion whatsoever. Whilst we know the back story of Baby Doll, and can sympathise with her, we know nothing of the other four. Sweet pea and Rocket, who are sisters, constantly mention their past, and the negativity about it, but we don't get told anything that we can sympathise with, leaving their characters slightly undefined. We learn nothing at all of Blondie and Amber, so whatever suffering they go through in "Suckerpunch" means nothing to us. Neither of them could act either, which is probably why these two hardly spoke. In fact, one scene where Blondie is crying was laughable. Also, whilst the plot and story is there, it's not quite substantial enough to carry the weight of three levels of reality/dream. By the time it's over, you'll probably feel slightly disappointed that it didn't complete everything, and still leaves unanswered questions. Although, I must add, the end twist is satisfying, and very clever. 

Basically, when I look at this through a critical angle, i can find too many negatives that put this film in a bad light. However, if I look at it from my 15-year-old-boy mode, it's the best film ever. I've settled somewhere in between. This didn't deserve the bashing it received from the critics, it's far better than 20% positive on the Tomatometer. Do me a favour. If you decide to go and see this, just for once, turn your critic mode onto silent. It's still there, but on a lower scale. Forget all these aspects that you "need" to make a film great, otherwise "Suckerpunch" could drag for you. Look at it normally, and from an angle that just wants fun, decent entertainment, and you'll find the biggest guilty pleasure out there. 

To Summarise: It lacks emotion and a completed story, but with heart-pounding action, passable acting and stunning imagery, "Suckerpunch" is an undeniably entertaining visual treat.

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