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DFI Film Review: Sucker Punch

Apr 07, 2011

Written by Ben Robinson, Education, DFI

Film: Sucker Punch

I have a confession to make: I am a self-confessed film geek. Have been since I was 5 years old and my parents took me to see ‘Flash Gordon’ at the local Cinema. That ridiculous slice of multi-coloured hokum warped my brain forever, and transformed me into….something weird. That is the inherent danger of bad or weird cinema: it changes the way you see the world.

To be a film geek is to embrace and meditate upon the most weird, outlandish and downright ridiculous elements of cinema (and the related subcultures of comics, cult literature and obscure music), such as monsters, aliens, superheroes and alternative universes (all, incidentally, ingredients to be found in ‘Sucker Punch’). Once they have embraced these topics, in as serious a manner as the average humanoid would discuss world politics, the geek then talks and fixates about them endlessly with his/her fellow geeks, far beyond the normal post-cinema babble of “yeah that was alright, do you want Nando’s or Pizza Hut?”. To be a geek is to make an emotional and intellectual investment in a bizarre, fantastical reality, and then buy the t-shirt, DVD box set, boxer shorts, and comic book adaptation. Put it like that, it’s mildly embarrassing…

The arrival of ‘Sucker Punch’ had been on my geek radar for some time. It tells the story of Babydoll (the titillating name alone should be a warning to the casual cinematic passer-by), an orphaned teenager who accidentally kills her kid sister whilst trying to defend her against a malevolent stepfather. For her crimes, she is incarcerated in a mental asylum, wherein she rapidly descends into a fevered dreamscape of alternative realities and imaginary adventures. Which is all you really need to know about the plot of this film, before I begin my barely contained evisceration of Snyder’s cinematic crack-pipe of a movie. In a nutshell, imagine everything you love about ‘Inception’, take it all out, replace it with French fries and ketchup, stir it together and simmer for 90 minutes with the latest, cutting-edge computer graphics, then serve lukewarm in a big steaming pile of sub-Lord of the Rings spaghetti. That sentence made almost as little sense as ‘Sucker Punch’, and so is entirely appropriate!

On the surface, this movie has everything a self-respecting, socially inadequate, trash-hound would want to see: starlets wielding high-powered machine guns and razor-sharp swords as they fearlessly dispatch giant samurai warriors; lethal killer-robots, and ferocious fire-breathing dragons. Coming from the ‘visionary’ mind of director Zack Snyder (‘300’ and ‘Watchmen’), one would assume we’re in safe hands. The trailer sure made it look like a sure-fire smash, compressing 110 minutes of CGI-popping mayhem into 2.5 minutes of adrenaline-amped trash. But sadly…that’s about all ‘Sucker Punch’ adds up to. It’s a greasy cheeseburger and Redbull chaser of a movie. While your eyes binge on this fast-food flick, you feel giddy with the glee of computer generated gluttony. Once it’s finished, you wish you hadn’t eaten so much, and search longingly for a slice of social realism to balance the scales of your overdosed brain.

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