Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Jim Release date: March 25, 2011 Released by: Warner Brothers
Zach Snyder goes from a Lord of the Rings-styled epic in the Australian-based Legend of the Guardians (with those talking owl warriors) to a female-empowered action fantasy that tries to thrill (mostly fanboys) while cleverly inserting digital effects into a disappointing adaptation of a graphic novel.
Sucker Punch is what some viewers may experience (preferably on the giant-screen or IMAX format) as it is dominated by magical/dream-like use of the green screen, which may draw in more of The Last Airbender crowd than the director and co-writer, co-producer's more adult Watchmen.
Like that long, but more emotionally relevant sweeping tale, there is a neat umbrageous opening for a picture with the feel of a more distant era as familiar music from The Eurythmics plays.
Of the five curvaceous young actresses slated for some erotic airbrushing by Snyder (who leaped to fame with 300), the maturing Emily Browning (remember Lemony Snicket) leads a group as a young heiress. An unnamed, loathing guardian remands her to a mental facility (Lennox House) setting her up for the death of her sister.
A certain burlesque therapy comes by way of a mysterious Polish psychotherapist, Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino of Faster with a broad accent), as Browning's assertive Baby Doll retreats to an alternative reality as a coping mechanism. She unites (after some initial conflict) with four other young women/inmates - Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens of Beastly), and Amber (Jamie Chung) - envisioning the means to flee the facility.
Scott Glenn turns up as the Zen-like "Wise Man" who puts her on a quest where she must obtain stuff like an igniting device, a key, a knife and a map as the quartet end up varying war zones. If they don't complete their imaginative mission in five days, a lobotomy awaits courtesy of "High Roller" (Jon Hamm of The Town as well as the hit original series Mad Men).
So, the stylized action appears when "Baby Doll" charms patrons with money. But, the filmmakers Some cineastes will be captivated with imagery that invites memories with films ranging from Metropolis to Robocop. There are strangely graphically-augmented sights from the likes of medieval as well as World War I and II epochs, with bombers, dragons and zombies in the mix as the scantily-clad bad-ass mortally-endangered pugilists have high-tech automatic weaponry and cool swords at their disposal.
Sucker Punch seems like a vivid fever dream of a not-so-state-of-the-art video game that calls to mind more unified, over-the-top cinematic extravaganzas, Sin City and Kill Bill, to name two. There just seems to be "no purpose" as the morally ambiguous Dr. Gorski refers to the performance of those imprisoned whom it's hard to really hard to heed their plight. Browning obviously commits to an intense part, but is more of an opaque than a compelling presence, while Cornish (who had her moments in Limitless) arguably shows the most personality as Rocket's older sister. Obviously, Snyder has loosened up on his virile reputation, but arguably with an ebullient and exploitative (there is a gangster on the fringes) exercise that is really "out there."