Sucker Punch review (Blu-ray)

Can you imagine a pop video crossed with a computer game crossed with a teenage boy’s wet dream? If you can, you’re well on the way to knowing what to expect from Sucker Punch, the latest fantasy action-fest from Zack Snyder.

In an extended pop promo-style prologue we see Baby Doll (Browning) conned out of her inheritance by an evil stepfather. In a fit of fury she shoots at him but accidentally kills her younger sister and as a result is carted off to a mental institute. A mental institute peopled by ridiculously hot women, obviously. It soon becomes apparent that Baby Doll is going to be lobotomized within a week unless she can find a way out.

The film then moves into fantasy mode as our heroine meets and joins forces with Sweet Pea (Cornish), her sister Rocket (Malone), Blondie (Hudgens) and Amber (Chung) in a bid to escape. Her best bet seems to be dancing because when she does everyone in the vicinity is so distracted that the other girls can collect a map, fire, a knife and a key – the tools required to get out. But we don’t see this because while Baby Doll gyrates we are transported to a series of fantasy worlds where giant warriors, killer robots, Nazis, orcs, dragons and bombs all threaten the safety of our machine gun-toting, martial artist girls.

If this all sounds totally preposterous then I’ve done my job properly. It is utter nonsense and unashamedly so. Snyder seems unable to make a film without swathes of slo-mo and to be fair, the CGI is so expertly done and the action so wonderfully choreographed that it’s hard not to be at least a little bit impressed.
Unfortunately, in between these intense action sequences (during which, by the way, your eardrums are in serious peril) comes the drama. While none of the actresses are bad as such, the script they’ve been given and the notion that this could in any way be moving means that these sections fall flatter than a pancake run over by a steamroller driven by an obese elephant.

It’s not a dull film by any means and if you like watching young women in sexy outfits shooting shit up to a pumping soundtrack then this may well tickle your fancy. It’s a case of style over substance to such a degree that it’s ridiculous but then sometimes we want something that’s the very definition of escapism. That’s not to excuse the lack of depth – in theory both a vivid imagination and some sort of emotional involvement should be possible. But there’s no doubt that this will entertain as many people as it will irritate.

EXTRAS ★★½ The Blu-ray has both the Theatrical Cut (109:36) and extended Directors Cut (127:21) of the film. There are also four animated Sucker Punch shorts: Feudal Warriors (2:38), The Trenches (2:54), Dragon (2:54) and Distant Planet (2:49); a featurette about the film's soundtrack (2:41); plus  Maximum Movie Mode, a picture-in-picture feature where direcotor Snyder pops up from time time time with behind the scenes info on the film, as well as storyboards, gallies etc.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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