Well, Sucker Punch isn’t technically a video game, but it’s clearly inspired by video games – it’s for this reason that I’m allowing a movie review on Kotaku – just this once! Especially given that it’s as well written as this one – great job AmbroseIV.
And thanks to Madman, the best review of the month receives a Blu-ray pack.
Take it away AmbroseIV
Sucker Punch After being derided by critics as a hedonistic movie that demonstrates the worst of an ever-expanding videogame culture, I decided to check out Sucker Punch. Interested but preparing for the worst, I grabbed my 3DS and Pokemon, paid my $22 for a ticket and walked in with few expectations…
Loved The Music: From the opening scene, set to an eerily creepy rendition of The Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams”, to the booming and psychedelic cover of “Army of Me”, the soundtrack makes this movie. It’s relentless and perfect, with the most intense moments coming when it’s scaled back to convey some genuine sense of emotion (rather than trying to obliterate your sense, as in the action sequences) – something that is otherwise missing from the film.
The Story: While the plot is admittedly thin, the simple game-inspired narrative works well and I found it an interesting experiment. It’s not perfectly consistent or integrated throughout the film, but it’s an ambitious effort and more than I expected in a film where girls fight off Nazis, dragons and robots, all without wearing any pants. And, despite marking a sudden shift in tone, I thought the ending was brilliant.
The Fights (+ Visuals): Just as impressive as I expected, Sucker Punch really only marks an evolution of Snyder’s work on 300 and Watchmen. What is real and what is computer-generated doesn’t matter because this completely blurs the lines – the movie looks awesome and that’s pretty much all that needs to be said.
The Girls: Let’s just clear this up straight away – if you like boobs and legs, you’ll love this movie. If you find that all a bit shallow, I’m sure there is something to be said about feminist undertones (focus on the girls, but it’s really all about men; empowered only in their dreams and even then it’s framed as a male fantasy, etc.) but overall, despite nothing too demanding being asked of them, they’re well cast and suited to their roles. What more can you ask for?
Hated The Girls: Strutting around in skin-tight clothing for the majority of the film, it’s initially hard to empathise with a gang of gorgeous, arse-kicking girls. For the first half of the film I was too distracted by the visuals and music to really care too much about their plight and, in hindsight, that’s a little bit disappointing because it undermines most of the effort made to tell the story through the girls. It’s also unfortunate that (with the exception of two or three characters) you really don’t know anything about the characters, so even if you want to care there really isn’t any reason to do so before the film reaches its climax.
The Fights: The fights in Snyder’s movies are typically impressive but his trademark slow-motion and physics-defying stunts are starting to feel a little bit tired and overdone so by the end of the film I felt like I had seen everything on offer multiple times. The action sequences probably could have been shortened by a minute or two and the movie would have been all the better for it.
The Pacing: Coming in at just under two hours, the movie – surprisingly – doesn’t feel long, but it does have some issues with pacing. With the film driven by the music and action sequences rather than the characters, it starts to crumble whenever the actors are really given a chance to earn their keep: with the acting. It’s not terrible by any means, but the dialogue sounds awkward and there’s a significant disconnect between the fantasy world and the fantasy-fantasy world they actually fight in – it’s probably more a result of the script than the acting, but there’s no standout performance either.
You can definitely see a videogame influence on this movie (mostly in the fantasy of it all), but it’s significantly overstated and to consider it a flaw seems a fairly arrogant and elitist indictment on gaming – in an industry where a haunting drama or black comedy are the only vehicles for critical success, I don’t think it’s a surprise that a film attempting a slight difference in formula is denounced for being different. The execution isn’t perfect and it feels unfocused at times, but Sucker Punch is undeniably fun and has more depth than it would be fair to expect.
All that being said, this movie far exceeded my expectations. The visuals were stunning and the soundtrack is the most memorable of any movie that I’ve seen in the last few years. Ultimately, despite some missed potential, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Sucker Punch and I feel like it could be on the verge of becoming a pop culture icon – even if you leave the cinema disappointed, I suggest checking it out because there are much worse ways to spend your money. Oh, and there are cute girls wearing very little clothing – did I mention that?