When the end of humanity rolls around, and the world finally gets around to deciding which movie had the greatest looking trailer of all time … Sucker Punch may just be in the Top 10.
There was a famous skit on SNL where President Bill Clinton (played by Hammond) informed everyone that he was using the country’s budget to make the greatest movie ever. That’s pretty much what Sucker Punch looks like from the trailer. Dragons, samurai, hot girls, explosions, re-animated Nazi zombie cyborgs … it’s all in there and then some.
The action looks great, as promised. If you’re wondering just what happens? It’s fairly simple. A young woman is committed to an insane asylum after accidentally becoming trapped in a music video which ends with the death of her sister.
It was clear from the very beginning that Snyder was going to muck this all up, and the first five minutes proved it. You have to be careful when jamming a lot of emotional content into a musical montage. And if my eyes are rolling when someone’s crying over a dead girl, you’ve messed up.
It only gets worse a few moments later when the entire sinister plot is laid out to us within earshot of the main character Baby Doll. Her evil step-father is paying an orderly $2,000 to sneak her into the lobotomy chair in five days. Baby Doll has to find a way out before it’s too late.
Just when you’re expecting things to get real, you get sucker punched. More accurately, you get Inceptioned. To cope with her surroundings Baby Doll imagines the asylum is a seedy dance club. So even more accurately you get Showgirled.
Baby Doll befriends four other girls early on, and they work together to try to escape.
The plot is sketchy at best. It feels ripped out of a video game, as most of the movie deals with collecting five items needed. Each item is collected in an action sequence. They might as well have been called levels. Heck, wait a year, and this could’ve been the plot to a very dark Scott Pilgrim spin-off.
The problem is that all of those wicked cool action sequences are meaningless. There’s no real sense of danger. We’re never really worried that Baby Doll is going to get shot or hurt by imaginary monsters. All we know is that a sucker punch is probably waiting at the end of the movie. (And it is).
There were some gigantic missed opportunities, because there really is good groundwork for a powerful story. The story is so tragic that whatever actually happened to Baby Doll would have been 100 times more suspenseful to watch than a sky full of digital Zeppelins or a fire-breathing dragon.
I know. I know. The premise is she uses her imagination to escape into a world of fantasy. But it never feels like it’s her imagination at work. It feels like a horny, creepy guy wanted an excuse to watch girls in skin-tight outfits and short skirts shoot stuff and flip around with swords. I’m not against that at all. But when the credits rolled, I didn’t feel like I knew anymore about Baby Doll than I did in the beginning.
Her four friends are only vague sketches of human beings. Amber and Blondie barely exist. Sweet Pea and Rocket are a bit more fleshed out, but save for a few late moments in the film, the girls are there to look good and provide exposition.