INTERN’S VIEW: I Hated Every Moment Of ‘Sucker Punch’

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by Philip Benais

Sucker Punch; Directed By Zack Synder: Starring Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Oscar Isaac, Carla Gugino, Jon Hamm and Scott Glenn.

Critical consensus is a concept that should be disregarded in terms of enjoying a film. I know this sounds strange coming from a critic, but speaking as a film lover first and foremost, when you hear the term ‘critical consensus’, that should not sway your opinion on whether or not you want to see a film. According to Metacritic, one of the largest compilations of critical views on the Internet, Superman II is a better film than Metropolis. It sounds absurd I know, but if you just go by the average that’s what you’ll find. Furthermore, sometimes having a different opinion than the majority can be dangerous. I for one, loved the Green Hornet film and even got kudos from the film’s director for the nice things I said. Just going by what everyone else said however, that film was in the same league as one of the Saw sequels or The Flintstones movie, even though we all know that’s nonsense.

Speaking personally, I have a whole laundry list of films I love that have been tossed aside by just about everyone else; I think Equilibrium is a woefully underrated masterpiece. I really enjoyed Cool World. I also don’t care what anyone else says, Hudson Hawk is priceless.

Where am I going with this you may ask? Although I hate to admit it, sometimes the majority of critics are right. Sucker Punch is one of those times. Just judging from the previews, I assumed I’d have another film to add to that laundry list, but instead what I saw was juvenile, exploitative and not fit for anyone. Whoever described this film as ‘Alice In Wonderland with machine guns’ has either been huffing too much gas or is on Zack Snyder’s payroll, if not the mouth breather himself.

It pains me to say it, but now I can’t look at the Watchmen film the same way ever again. If this is what Zack Snyder brings us when he’s in full creative control, I’m frightened by what his Superman project will bring. Maybe that one will be described as ‘The Brothers Karamazov with General Zod” It would be just as ridiculous as this ‘film.’

About here is usually the part of the review that I recap the plot for those interested but unfortunately dear readers I’m not sure what, if anything happened in Sucker Punch besides a metaphorical shot to the nether regions. What I can be sure of is there is a girl named Baby Doll (Really? Really Zack Snyder?) whose mother dies and whose stepfather kills her sister. (All in Slow Motion too) Doll is then locked up in a mental hospital and awaits lobotomizing. Somewhere in that skeletal outline, Snyder managed to fit in seventy-foot samurai, glass robots and steampunk nazis. Congratulations Zack, you managed to combine the degradation of women in sick rape scenarios with a horrible numetal/00’s MTV soundtrack and so much slo-mo that I nearly threw up.

Truly a visionary. Much in the same sense as M. Night Shyamalan or Catherine Hardwicke, except I think I enjoyed The Last Airbender more than Sucker Punch, and more condemnation I could not possibly give to any modern film.

Let’s start with the most immediateproblem; the story. (Or rather, the lack thereof) We know Baby Doll has lost her mother and sister, but is there any reason to care? Of course not. They were merely machinations to advance the CGI effects driven ‘plot’. The stepfather then calls for her to be put in a mental institution and lobotomized…but what a minute, where in the hell are we? Is this a city, a town, a hillbilly hoedown? What time period is this taking place in? The past? The present? The future? (Godforbid) Can we know anything else about Baby Doll than the excessive opening where she not only fails to save her sister, but also doesn’t kill the man responsible? Of course not, we’re too busy establishing a fantasy world that has NO impact on the real world whatsoever. I won’t spoil what happens out of the decency in my heart, but let’s just say that evil triumphs over good, and all of the fantasizing about Baby Doll and her fellow inmates as warrior chicks is useless. The point that the film was sold on actually doesn’t matter one bit. You know what does matter apparently? The actual reality of the film where women are raped, beaten and then lobotomized. By the end of the trite narration that permeates this festering corpse of a film you’ll feel as if you’ve been living in a dumpster for three weeks; sullied, disgusted and hollowed out.

It doesn’t help that the actresses they picked wouldn’t be able to convince you to fetch them a glass of water, let alone that they’re tormented women locked away in an evil place. It’s quite fitting that the lead actress from the High School Musical series has a role in this film, as that’s an accurate description of the amount of talent you’ll find here. Carla Gugino is by far the worst, making Ayn Rand sound like Audrey Hepburn with her tooth gratingly bad accent. It wasn’t enough for her to be one of the weak links in Watchmen I guess, because now she’s managed to beat women with lines like ‘If we get caught we’re dead.’ ‘We’re already dead.’ Which brings me to my second point. Don’t expect any of the quality writing you found in Watchmen, because all you’ll get is a sickening combination of every cliché that directors can scrape from the bottom of the barrel. Not only could I predict almost every line of dialogue once I figured out the formula, but every action scene as well. When you’re film has steampunk nazis, I expect originality to follow, but I suppose ripping off The Matrix for every fight scene is back in style. By the time the fiftieth dive in mid-air happened when Baby Doll was fighting the samurais, I thought I had reached a point where I would no longer enjoy any film with any trace of slo-mo. If you thought 300 was ridiculous, try a movie where a woman of 5’2 kills a dragon in the longest five second stab of your life. I guess that’s Snyder’s idea of ‘progress’.

Perhaps I could have forgiven a lot of this if the soundtrack was decent, or at least included one hard, grooving metal song. What was I treated to instead? A butchering of a Eurythmics classic and ‘rock’ that was popular when Limp Bizkit were the hottest item around. Thanks Zack, for bringing me back to a time where people actually listened to Evanescence and called it dignified. It wasn’t enough to set the women’s rights movement back more than Bella Swan, it wasn’t enough to betray the remaining trust anyone had in you, but now you have to remind me of girls who smell like old meat and write Naruto fan fiction. You had better count your lucky stars that I don’t know where you work, because I’d sure as hell stop you from destroying Superman the way you took my expectations and crushed them under-heel like a cockroach.

In short, I hated this film. I hated every moment of it. I expected a fun two hours where I could turn my brain off and enjoy warrior women beating up awesome bad guys, but what I got was one of the worst films in recent memory. This film was so bad that it has forever colored my perception of other films Zack Snyder has directed, films that I actually enjoyed on some level. I wanted to call the rabid anti-Snyder people fanboys, but now I feel their pain. This film is the equivalent of a bizarro Inception, but whereas Christopher Nolan is a genius, Zack Snyder is in the same boat as people like Richard Kelly, the man responsible for Southland Tales. I fear The Man Of Steel’s future as much as I fear the movie going public’s future. If this or worse is what we can expect from Zack Snyder, then consider me infuriated. By the way, Snyder should also feel very lucky that Alice is not a real person, or she’d take a machine gun and make him her first target, along with everyone involved in this wretched visual torture.

Rating:   / *****


[EDITOR’S NOTE: Philip Benais is our newest Intern, a 16-year old student at Big Picture High School in SeaTac. He’s an aspiring Writer who loves movies, so we let him write reviews for us.

Read more of his work here.]

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6 Responses to “INTERN’S VIEW: I Hated Every Moment Of ‘Sucker Punch’”
  1. ed says:

    Amazing to me just how naive and willfully narrow-minded those in the media choose to be. The number 1 comedy in Amercia ( or close, not sure because I don’t watch the brainless programming on Fox or any other network) is about a low-life womanizing addict who runs a half-way house for his equally stunted brother and child; this is allegedly charming and witty. Amazing that critics who are feeding their families by supporting this and other exploitation mediums/products ( ie most “romantic” comedies, anything on the CW, reality tv, Adam Sandler movies, Matt McConnaghey movies, magazine racks at the store, most video games, really it’s everything we see and hear) didn’t stop to listen to what Snyder was saying or realize the daring brilliance in baiting the audience withe fetish based objectification so prominant in the entertainment industry and our daily lives. Brittany Spears launched a career based on teen fetish. See any current or ex-Disney starlet and how popular they are with people twice their age and you’ll see the message and purpose of Sucker Punch. You were supposed to feel uncomfortable. The objectification of women (especially age 15-30) is an emotional imprisonment; from skinny jeanz to Victoria’s Secret. EVERY woman has experienced the power she wields with her sexuality and every women has used the that to feel powerful and gain the upper hand on the prison guard, sometimes simultaneously. Sometimes simultaneoulsy loathing and enjoying it. If you don’t know that then you might not know the one your with as well as you think. Sucker Punch is mindless, challenging, thought provoking and threatening all in one breath and Snyder should be applauded for daring to make a movie that he knew would be misunderstood and villified and strikes right at the heart of some of the thrill of his prior endeavors. Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) said it best; (paraphrasing) “this isn’t titillating, this is sick”. He’s calling out the audience.

  2. Mike says:

    Well you’re obviously not very deep, or rather, deep at all. It’s supposed to show how strong these girls are, how they can overcome an oppressive and abusive freak, and how they can find freedom. However, I can understand why you hated it: you’re an internet blogger and a critic. So, now with this knowledge, try watching the movie again you moron.

  3. TcB says:

    Resist the temptation to reply at all

  4. Coverofnight says:

    The wretched visual torture was reading that long-winded review! Could have made the same points with 50% less. But keep at it; you learn by doing…

  5. CJ says:

    I gave up reading this review 1/4 the way through. Sounds like a reviewer with a case of narcissistic self-importance: “I’m the only one in the world with any taste and a few million people can often be wrong”.
    I imagine I will at least get to the end of Sucker Punch without giving up.

  6. Mark says:

    I too was once a beginner critic. I too thought it was more important to be snarky than to deliver something enlightening. This is bad part of what blog culture hath wrought; the idea that the writer is more important than what is being written about.

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