"Sucker Punch" Review — 5 out of 5 stars
Mon, 28 Mar 2011 11:07:37
Cinema will never be the same after Sucker Punch.
Director Zack Snyder is the architect of a riveting, raucous, and roaring masterpiece by bending and breaking all film boundaries. It's the first classic of 2011. There aren't any rules in Snyder's bullet-riddled psychedelic head trip, and that's the most beautiful thing about it. Most directors try to make films this unique, and their aspirations usually become promptly squashed by studio executives, money guys, and any other squares who tend to rear their ugly heads in the process. However, Snyder hearkens back to the golden age of the auteur when Martin Scorsese could make a film like Taxi Driver, Stanley Kubrick could make stomachs turn and heads tick with A Clockwork Orange, and Francis Ford Coppola could give audiences the gift of Apocalypse Now. This is first-class, maverick filmmaking from Snyder.
The film follows Baby Doll, an enchanting and ass-kicking, Emily Browning. She's been thrown in an institution by her nut job stepfather, and all she cares about is escaping. Joining forces with the reluctant Sweet Pea [Abbie Cornish], eager Rocket [Jena Malone], tough Amber [Jamie Chung], and sweet Blondie [Vanessa Hudgens], Baby Doll devises an escape plan that involves finding certain puzzle pieces that'll unlock the door to freedom. She's advised about all of these pieces in a dream, and that's where the real fun begins—Baby Doll's tripped-out alternate reality.
This "reality" is a rather wondrous place. Either Baby Doll is duking it out against machine gun-toting giant mechanical samurai or she's in a dojo receiving her marching orders from a mysterious old man, and the visuals prove gorgeously haunting in both. The colors practically pop off the screen, a combination of bright tones and lush textures. Snyder's most interesting innovation comes in the alternate reality scenes. In order to access this other world, Baby Doll usually begins dancing and singing for some nefarious character and then the girls are either battling a breathtakingly brutal fire-breathing dragon or trying to stop a futuristic train from exploding. They're locked and loaded with a bevy of machine guns, and Snyder blends John Woo-style bullet ballet with old school Kung Fu movements for a style of action that's often been tried but never executed this perfectly.
The standout set piece comes during a WWI flashback that pits the girls against Nazi zombie cyborg soldiers. Explosions abound and our femme fatales kick ass the best they can utilizing everything from a giant mech to fully loaded machine pistols. Given all of the dance sequences, the film blends the best parts of Moulin Rouge, The Matrix, and Kill Bill Vol. 1 with a soundtrack that'd make Beth Gibbons scared to pick up a mic again.
Browning's voice takes over on covers of The Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?" and Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" as they add aural color to the film's backdrop and heighten the experience tenfold. It's that one-two punch of music and visuals that make this like The Crow with hot chicks.
It's not only one of the best movies of 2011, but also one of the best action-adventure films of all time. An elegant, enthralling, and explosive epic, Sucker Punch will knock you out.
Have you seen Sucker Punch? What did you think of it?
Check out our exclusive playlist interviews with the film's cast here!
Check out our review of the soundtrack here!
To see Zack Snyder talk about Nine Inch Nails alongside Korn, Skrillex, Godsmack, Sasha Grey, and more click here!