2.5, United States/Canada

Sucker Punch

2011 / Zack Snyder > Never in my life have I so strongly felt the need for a film to be a video game—and just that. Snyder’s first attempt at original material shows his lack of storytelling prowess, as Sucker Punch somehow turns glorious visuals and sexy schoolgirls with cleavage into something that’s only a notch better than a mindnumbing bore.

Maybe I’m extra underwhelmed because the initial teaser was one of the best I’d ever seen. Expertly composed, it promised a fantastic adventure into the mind of a young girl in her fight for survival. A combination of dragons, samurai and zombie Nazis on a foundation of steampunk whetted our appetites for an exciting genre-bender. But Sucker Punch ends up failing for the same reason Snyder should be given some credit: He made it into a personal film instead of one that audiences would enjoy. One could argue that his intention was to combine his trademark visuals with the philosophic backbone of Bergman, but he simply didn’t have the vision and/or chops to execute that effectively. Instead, it’s predictable until it becomes silly. Emily Browning, who was excellent in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, is very much out of her depth here. Jamie Chung is wooden. Vanessa Hudgens has no lines worth repeating. Scott Glenn is a joke (though possibly on purpose). Abbie Cornish and Jena Malone are too good for the script. And as one of the most well-known contemporary, mainstream auteurs, Snyder has to take the blame for this mess. Still, if there’s something of value here, it’s that he was able to get a big budget film onto screens with his vision mostly intact, even if it depended on some of our basest fetishes for its appeal.