Despite an eye-candy overload, this action-fantasy-musical-thriller lacks substance.
Director: Zack Snyder Rating: PG-13 Studio: Warner Bros.
What a sugary, violent, sexy confection Zack Snyder’s action-fantasy-musical-thriller Sucker Punch is—even though it is ultimately empty calories. We’re talking eye-candy overload with otherworldly CG-enhanced sets peppered with badass babes: Babydoll (Emily Browning), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Vanessa Hudgens (Blondie) and Jamie Chung (Amber).
The film opens in the 1960s with 20-year-old Babydoll being wrongly blamed for her sister’s death by their abusive stepfather. Babydoll is institutionalized and scheduled for lobotomy, so the young woman escapes her prison by playing out an elaborate escape fantasy in her head. Instead of an insane asylum, she envisions herself in a seedy brothel where she uses her hypnotic dance moves to distract her captors so that her girl posse can collect the items needed for their escape. Each dance sequence launches into a new fantasy mission in which the women battle giant samurai, steam-powered WWI German soldier zombies, dragons and robots on their path to freedom.
Sucker Punch arrives on DVD and Blu-ray with both the PG-13 theatrical cut and the R-rated extended version with over 17 minutes of additional footage. The latter is definitely an improvement over the theatrical cut because a movie with this many guns and scantily-clad women shouldn’t aim for the tween-friendly rating.
Although some might feel sucker punched by the movie’s premise because most of it takes place in one character’s head, many elements of the imaginative dreamlike sequences are unlike anything you have seen before on-screen. In addition, all of the young women went through boot camp to toughen up for their roles, and it shows. As for the rest of the cast, Carla Gugino stands out as Madam Vera Gorski/Dr. Vera Gorski as does Mad Men’s Jon Hamm as the High Roller/Doctor.
In the end, Snyder’s so-called “Alice in Wonderland with machine guns” is a fun escapist treat for those that put aside any preconceived notions and get onboard for Babydoll’s fantastical inner journey.
Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain four animated prequel shorts and “Sucker Punch: Behind the Soundtrack;” the BD contains a two-hour-plus “Maximum Movie Mode” with director walk-ons, picture-in-picture commentary, storyboards and an interactive gallery.