“Sucker Punch”: short on the punch

Since the weather has been in the extreme temperatures this week, I skipped my usual Tuesday movie outing and opted instead for staying inside and entertaining myself with the wonderful world of On Demand film. After skimming over my choices, I settled on Sucker Punch, which seemed to have an interesting premise.

Sucker Punch is described as an “action-fantasy thriller.” And although it is very heavy on the action and fantasy, I felt it was a little lacking in the thriller department. Probably because there was entirely too much fantasy.

But let’s start from the beginning: the plot. The film takes place in the 1960’s. A 20-year-old young woman, nicknamed Babydoll (Emily Browning) is institutionalized by her abusive step-father after her mother’s death. One of the asylum’s orderlies is bribed by Babydoll’s stepfather into forging a psychiatrist’s signature on the forms to have Babydoll lobotomized.

Babydoll’s fantasy world begins just before she undergoes this surgery and involves turning the world of the asylum into a brothel, where she and the other girls work. Babydoll begins to plan an escape from the asylum/brothel and as the plan begins to come to fruition, other fantasies begin to form over this one.

Yes, it is slightly confusing, but you catch on by the end of the first action sequence, which is a fantasy within a fantasy. The plot is actually more entertaining than it sounds until we get to the action sequences. These sequences, unfortunately,  feel like extended music videos without much of a point, but to show off some pretty visuals and fight choreography.  The scenes really drag the film down.

The action and additional fantasy sequences occur when the girls attempt to get some item they need in order to aid their escape attempt. Each sequence takes place in a different setting: a samurai temple, a World War 2 battlefield full of zombies, a medieval dragon lair and on a train headed towards a futuristic city.  Again, these settings are visually stunning, but don’t really serve the film in any other way unless of course, you’re a teenage boy (the girls are dressed in skimpy clothes while they’re running and jumping and shooting guns during these sequences).

I’ll admit that I fast-forwarded through the last two action sequences.

There’s also admittedly a problem with the acting. There really isn’t much of it in this film. Sure, the girls can look like they’re killers in the action sequences by giving us stereotypical grimaces and eye glares, but beyond that, I was not impressed. But then again, this isn’t a film one expects to be nominated for Academy Awards.

The only thing I really like about this film is the end, where we’re back in the real world (or are we?) and we see what’s happened there as a result of the fantasies. I actually think this might have been a more interesting film had we stayed there all along.

To sum up, Sucker Punch isn’t really worth a DVD rental. It might be pretty to look at, but there is no substance underneath.

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