AccessReel Reviews – Sucker Punch

AccessReel Reviews – Sucker Punch

Close your eyes. Open your mind. You will be unprepared. “Sucker Punch” is an epic action fantasy that takes us into the vivid imagination of a young girl whose dream world provides the ultimate escape from her darker reality. Unrestrained by the boundaries of time and place, she is free to go where her mind takes her, and her incredible adventures blur the lines between what’s real and what is imaginary. Together, they must decide what they are willing to sacrifice in order to stay alive. But with the help of a Wise Man, their unbelievable journey—if they succeed—will set them free.

Zack Snyder is a director who needs little introduction, particularly in pop-culture circles having achieved so much early on with his remake of ‘Dawn of the Dead’, followed up by an adaptation of Frank Miller’s mythological take on the battle of Thermopylae ‘300’, and then by achieving what some said was not possible, an adaptation of Alan Moore’s ‘Watchmen’ that wasn’t a convoluted mess and honored the source material.

In recent film news it has been announced that Snyder has been tasked with tackling the next Superman feature film which is currently scheduled to see a release in 2012 however before this we have his latest film ‘Sucker Punch’.

‘Sucker Punch’ was without a doubt one of my most highly anticipated films for the year, with Znyder’s involvement, such attention grabbing previews, and the steampunk/anime style look being such a rarity in high budget cinema this is a film I was very much looking forward to. Unfortunately, ‘Sucker Punch’ is a real mixed experience.

Addressing the more obvious appeal of the film first, it is without a doubt visually impressive. The visual effects definitely fit within a certain style and it is one that is not uncommon in recent years. The look is definitely not striving for realism but for something far more fantastical and exaggerated purely for the highest level of “cool” factor it can achieve. Without a sense of realism the images of the girls fighting their way across a variety of landscapes and against a mixture of enemies perfectly complements the context of the film.

Given this heightened sense of action however it’s difficult to ever feel a great sense of peril for the characters. It is quickly articulated that they are capable of such great feats, the risk of injury or failure in achieving an objective never really manages to heighten the sense of danger on screen. To some degree it very much feels more like watching a video game cut scene than a feature film, despite this however (or perhaps because of it), it is without a doubt highly entertaining.

The story behind Sucker Punch is a fairly straight forward concept but is interesting in how it explores the power of the mind and the ability to retreat within one’s self as a survival tactic to help manage a devastating or hostile reality. Consequently ‘Sucker Punch’ is highly dependent upon the characters to provide some depth, and substance for the film. Unfortunately this is an area where it fails to deliver.

We are introduced to the characters in quick fashion and before we really learn much about them they are quickly thrust into elaborate action sequences before we have even developed much of a connection to any of them. By the end of the film with the exception of one or two characters we barely know anything more about them. They remain mostly generic and where there is some sense of depth introduced it is mostly in a clichéd manner that adds to the predictability of what twists might be in store for the audience.

The cast of the film all deliver sound performances particularly Oscar Isaac. With relatively little substance to work with the main female actresses all managed to capitalise on the fairly one note characters they have to work with.

The soundtrack has been well selected and really amplifies the urban fantasy nature of the film, with some sequences playing like a musical video clip relying more upon the soundtrack rather than the dialogue. It’s also worth mentioning the costume design on the film. One of the appeals of ‘Sucker Punch’ is no doubt going to be the attractive leading ladies that take centre stage, and without revealing anything more than what you might see on a ‘G’ rated free to air television program the costumes definitely highlight the sex appeal in the film.

‘Sucker Punch’ is a difficult film to rate, there’s definitely enjoyment to be had here, the film is entertaining with its amped up action sequences, fantastical visual effects and a steam punk feel that is difficult to find elsewhere particularly which such great production values. However it’s hard to overlook such inadequacies in the story and such shallowness of the characters all of which unfortunately detracts from the film.

It does all make for an interesting viewing experience, with both such likeable and yet unforgiveable aspects to it, without giving it some decent thought it can be difficult to know quite how to feel about the film.

I am giving Sucker Punch 2.5 out of 5 stars, it is released in cinemas on Thursday 7th April 2011.