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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Sucker Punch’ should knock itself out

    (L-r) JENA MALONE as Rocket, ABBIE CORNISH as Sweet Pea and VANESSA HUDGENS as Blondie in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ epic action fantasy “SUCKER PUNCH,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
    (L-r) JENA MALONE as Rocket, ABBIE CORNISH as Sweet Pea and VANESSA HUDGENS as Blondie in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ epic action fantasy “SUCKER PUNCH,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

    “”Sucker Punch”” seems to have the perfect equation for a blockbuster. A beautiful protagonist? It has five such ladies, complete with guns and miniskirts. Fighting sequences? You betcha. A decent director? Only the powerhouse that is Zack Snyder, the director of “”300″” and “”Watchmen.”” What else is missing? Oh yes, a plot.

    The movie starts strong, but the potential is ultimately lost amid the tangled storylines and shallow characters. “”Sucker Punch”” operates on three different levels, each plunging deeper into Baby Doll’s subconscious as she avoids the bitter realities of her increasingly crappy life. With such an unreliable protagonist/narrator, “”Sucker Punch”” forces the audience to choose which layer is the “”real”” one, or rather, the least boring one.

    Level #1 primarily takes place at Lennox House, your standard dark and dreary mental institution in the mid 1900s. Boohoo. Following Baby Doll’s mother’s death, her stepfather frames Baby Doll for the murder of her little sister. Baby Doll (Emily Browning) has five days to escape before a doctor comes to stick sharp metal into her frontal lobe.

    Level #2 is an alternate reality of Level #1, where the characters and places of the institute are transformed into that of a brothel. It’s really an excuse for five hot actresses to walk around in skimpy outfits and have catty power struggles. This is the stratum where the tiny bit of plot really occurs and the characters reveal their one-sided personalities. Here, Baby Doll has five days before her virginity is sold to the High Roller (Jon Hamm). Every time Baby Doll begins to dance in Level #2, she enters:

    Level #3 — an alternate universe, where the five girls battle everything from knights, to dragons, to dead steampunk Nazis. Think Hugh Hefner’s version of Nancy Drew. The fighting is undoubtedly brilliant, but the search for the five elements to escape the fantasy world/brothel/institution becomes a tedious routine, despite the fantastical situations in which the skirmishes take place.

    Confused? No wonder the producers chose “”You will be unprepared”” as the tagline. No kidding.

    There’s no denying the stunning cinematography. It’s an in-your-face, provocative conflagration of animation and green screens. The fighting sequences are also something to take note of — the first time you see them at least. Digital effects aside, the performances are lackluster. Browning has the same blankly beautiful expression on her face the entire movie. Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung as Blondie and Amber could be cardboard cutouts placed in scene. Rising star Abbie Cornish plays Sweet Pea, who is sometimes the main character and is quite adept at moving her facial muscles. The best performance comes from Jena Malone, who plays Rocket with a spunky tenacity that’s entirely refreshing.

    There’s enough miniskirt twirling and sword spinning for the average male, but the plot ends there. Aside from some half-hearted titillation, “”Sucker Punch”” flounders in its quest for a solid performance or plot. Snyder said the film is in part a critique of geek culture’s objectification of women. Sorry, I didn’t see that amidst all the unnecessary cleavage and slow-motion strutting scenes.

    Like the sparkly eyeliner of the characters, the stunning technical effects can only cover up so much. By the time the credits roll, you’ve lost interest in which version of reality is the “”real”” one, much less who you’re supposed to care about. “”Sucker Punch”” proves sexiness in itself can be utterly boring.

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