Hey Geeks! A long time friend of ours and a reader of this blog, Chris, sent us a review he wrote up of Sucker Punch. Neither my brother or myself have seen the film yet, but after reading this I think I’ll have to go check it out. Read what Chris had to say about it and let us know what you think.
I just watched Sucker Punch.
First, a bit about me. I dislike carbon-copy flicks. I don’t like to recognize a plot point or a setting from some other story. I inherently scorn sequels; they have to try much harder to impress me, since I have seen the original, and there are so few sequels that hold up their end on their own. (Honestly, it should be much easier for the sequel to be a decent movie, since the characters have been detailed, the underlying worldview has already been partially explored, and people who are coming to watch this movie usually have the correct assumptions about tone, setting, and mood. I have, however, rarely found this to be the case.) It seems that the highest praise I can give a film is that it is innovative. I love it when movies take a chance, since it means that new things are tried and people whose work we might not have gotten to know are brought to the forefront (and promptly glutted upon until we lose track of them by willful decision).
In short, I love New. New is good, because without it, all things become stale. In fact, the only thing I like better than New, is Free. Without Free, when I try a film that takes a new direction, I risk losing $10 or more, and I’m not much of a gambler. It might help Sucker Punch’s review that the film was both New, and Free (since my little brother decided to pay).
Now, by New, I don’t merely mean that it was still in the theaters when I saw it. I mean that I haven’t ever seen anything like it before. I used to joke that the only way a chick-flick could get me to watch all the way through was by cutting to the Normandy Invasion every time someone started talking about their feelings. Honestly, I never figured that someone was listening.
Now, there are parts of this movie that feel familiar. The film starts out with a woman dying, and what are obviously her two daughters crying. Then, we see the step-father, who gazes at the girls a bit too longingly. Just as he begins to adjust his tie (a symbol if ever I saw one), the older of the two flees for her continued well-being. She gets the door closed, barely, but then she hears a horrible sound: her door locking from the outside! She sees the old man decide to go after the younger of the two, and deciding that she has to save her sister from what is obviously going to be a bit of a rough ride (yeah, I know, poor taste), she makes her way outside, down a drainpipe, through the front door, where she gets her hands on a pistol.
Cut to the step-dad kicking down the little sister’s closet door. He’s looming over her. The elder daughter comes at him, holding the pistol. There’s a struggle, the man cowers, the gun goes off. The little sister doesn’t have to worry about any more bad days.
In shock, the older daughter flees the scene, dropping the gun. Cops find her. The step-dad’s with them, telling them about what she did. Cut to an asylum.
So, yes, before you ask, this is Girl Interrupted. This is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The heroine is a nut. Just ask her dad.
Before you judge it, though, the movie has some of the most brutal combat scenes I’ve seen in a long time. When she is given her katana, her master says that she will need to defend herself. Across the snow-covered dojo’s front lawn, walk some of her aggressors; samurai armor, twelve feet tall if they are an inch, cobbled from what looks like wrought-iron. The second of which wields a mini-gun with the aplomb of a twelve-year-old playing Black Ops. Also, rocket-propelled grenades.
Here’s the thing: Over the course of the movie, you will see the heroines dispatch dragons, spray Orcs with a door-mounted mini-gun, take to the sky in a jump-capable powered exoskeleton painted like the Easter Bunny, charge an entire trench full of clockwork Germans, steal a lighter, dodge flying monstrosities in a bomber that looks straight out of Crimson Skies, and when all is said and done, even lob a Molotov cocktail.
Yeah, they steal a lighter. I said that.
They totally go there.
Yes, there’s a metric ton of CGI in this one. It’s everywhere. But it’s used intelligently, and it sets apart the multiple frames of reference in the film beautifully. In short, it’s actually done well, and in my opinion, shows other action films how to use it correctly. Listen to Zack Snyder, darlings, he’s blended CGI since it was spelled that way.
Onto other important considerations. The cast is gorgeous, when they need to be. Seriously, Google the cast. This review isn’t going anywhere. We’ll still be here after your cold shower. When needed, though, the cast is in turns pathetic, cowardly, and despicable. Vanessa Hudgens is adorable, believable, and tragic as Blondie (good to see her stretch her wings a bit). Oscar Issac (who, you might remember as Prince John from the latest Robin Hood flick) was one of the few bad guys that were so rotten that I couldn’t support him, which was refreshing, since the last time I saw a bad guy that off was in Rob Roy. When needed, the actors were refreshingly honest with their portrayals, and the interactions between the characters felt very real. The dialogue was solid. And the film wasn’t afraid to kill off characters when needed.
Guys, see this one in the theater. It’s really something.
Especially if you can get your brother to pay.