Year of release: 2011
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn, Richard Cetrone, Gerard Plunkett
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
Synopsis:Zack Snyder is a director who has had a consistent output of films since his debut in 2004 with the remake of George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead". He followed that film with the successful "300" who allowed him to tackle "Watchmen" and last year's animated tale "Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole". If his films thus far have been met with different levels of success, both critical and of audience, one thing remains undisputed: his visual flair and visual detail are impressive and effective. The major flaw that somehow is also the common thread to all his films seems to always be the same: the screenplays are usually thin as far as character development is concerned.
"Sucker Punch" follows the story of Baby Doll. After the death of her mother, the young woman is left by herself with her younger sister. Both of them are left at the mercy of a monstrous stepfather, who tries to abuse the younger girl, upon which Baby Doll attacks back and is placed against her will in an asylum for mental patients, where she is going to be lobotomized. Before that procedure takes place, Baby Doll has a week to devise a getaway plan. She enlists the help of other young women who are also patients in the asylum. Escaping from the grim reality through her imagination, the young women slowly but steadily try to achieve their goal.
Zack Snyder with "Sucker Punch" tries his hand at writing an original story - one that is about female empowerment and the capability to find your own voice even in the harshest environments. The main problem with this story is how little his main characters are developed. You never understand where they come from, why they are in the asylum, not to mention characters who seem to exist without any purpose besides giving away plot points. To anchor the story in the domain of one's mind is no easy feat - Christopher Nolan did achieve it with "Inception" - but Zach Snyder seems to have forgotten that in order for the viewer to get invested in what's happening, there has to be more than beautiful visuals: there has to be a soul.
The film has a certain depth mostly thanks to Abbie Cornish's performance and character, who seems to be the only one who is trying to give her character some more dimension besides the cliches that seem to populate the story. Visually the film is impressive and beautiful - the cinematography of Larry Fong is stunning and the soundtrack is well chosen. A mixed experience, this is a film that would largely benefit from a far more developed screenplay.