‘Sucker Punch’ a visual treat but lacks substance

Julie Tran

The movie poster for Zack Snyder’s action thriller, “Sucker Punch” uses the tagline, “You will be unprepared” and the film lives up to the expectation in more ways than one.

“Sucker Punch” is Snyder’s first film that he created with an original story in contrast to the comic book adaptations of “300” and “Watchmen”. For his film, Snyder relied on female protagonists instead of the typical male heroes prevalent in most action genres. The main protagonist of the film is a girl dubbed Babydoll (Emily Browning) who is sent to a mental institution by her father.

Babydoll is sent to be lobotomized in five days and she goes under grueling treatment in the asylum. However, Babydoll recruits the help of sisters Rocket (Jena Malone) and Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Amber (Jamie Chung), and Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens). The five girls go on a surreal adventure to find five items that will help unlock their freedom from their tragic fates.

One surprising aspect of “Sucker Punch” is its usage of music to transport the girls into their alternate universes. Madam Gorski (Carla Gugino), psychologist at the institution, uses music and dance to help the troubled girls communicate their emotions. When Babydoll performs to the music, the audience is instantly transported to different worlds based on a certain fantasy aspect. From a snowy Japanese landscape to a war-ravaged medieval kingdom, Snyder is a master when it comes to utilizing special effects.

However, with all of the visual drama and musical numbers dotting the film, “Sucker Punch” lacks a cohesive plot that can sometimes be lost during the movie.

For example, the film jumps between the mental asylum, a cabaret bar, and the alternative universes and some people may be confused as to which is real and which is only the character’s imagination. In terms of characters, most of them fall flat, especially Amber and Blondie, who carry a very humdrum persona.

In contrast, the dynamic between Rocket and Sweet Pea is an aspect people can relate to because it displays the love and connections siblings have with one another. Sweet Pea is the cool and level-headed older sister in contrast to Rocket’s feisty and optimistic attitude. Both Cornish and Malone play off each other in a way that makes their relationship seem like family.

On an aesthetic note, one of the standouts of the film is the costumes worn by the characters. Each of the girls carry a specific style according to the universe they fight in, with Babydoll donning a sexy Japanese sailor school uniform redolent of an anime heroine. Amber’s outfit is also striking as it pays tribute to the World War II uniforms, except with cutouts and cleavage exposed to cater to the male demographic.

“Sucker Punch” is not a movie for those who are interested in a riveting storyline or rounded characters. The movie should be enjoyed as a high-octane action-packed thriller with stunning eye candy all around.

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