A new age of filmmaking –  For those wondering where Hollywood is going the next 10 years, just watch any Zack Snyder film. Here’s a guy that on the surface is extremely inexperienced, yet you watch one of his films like “Sucker Punch” and come away with a big smile on your face.  His films may not be perfect or what you think you will get before watching it, but that’s the beauty of Snyder and why his own style is like no one else’s right now.  

What’s it about? It all starts rather abruptly with a struggle and shooting, but for ‘Baby Doll’ (Emily Browning), that was just the footnote to what would come later. You see, unlike other 20-year-olds, Baby Doll had never had a chance to explore and “find” herself as most of her time was spent running from her abusive stepfather. So, after accidentally killing her sister one day with the bullet meant for her stepfather, Baby Doll is institutionalized and shipped off to the Lennox House to be lobotomized.  But, as we quickly found out, this was no ordinary mental hospital. It was in fact a brothel owned by the mob, which controlled anything and everything that went on, so naturally, Baby Doll’s only escape was in her mind. There she built worlds like no other, as it was the only way she could cope with knowing what was about to happen to her in less than a week’s time.  Travelling in and out of fantasy worlds became a daily routine, so naturally, Baby Doll brought in a few other fellow patients of the house like Amber (Jamie Chung), Rocket (Jena Malone), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) and Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) to fill in where needed. It was then this story of sorrow turned to payback, as Baby Doll devised a plan to escape leading to a wild and somehow heartfelt conclusion.

A cast of nobody’s – Outside of a brief and absolutely pointless cameo by TV’s favorite Mad Man, Jon Hamm, this case is relatively unknown. Sure, Vanessa Hudgens has been around and certainly for those obsessed with High School Musical from Disney, you know her. But, for the rest of us, she just is another face in a long list of actresses that look like someone we have seen before.  Same could be said for really anyone else in this film, but the one actress that peaked my interest was the one at the center of it all, Baby Doll. That’s right, Emily Browning, was actually very refreshing in this film as she was asked to carry this story from start to finish. Having never seen her before, I didn’t know what expect, but she had the perfect face and demeanor for the role and the longer you watched, the more enjoyable it was to see the young Australian work within the dynamic story on screen. Without her and that face, I doubt this film would have made it this far, so credit Zack Snyder for pulling her out of the woodwork.

Escapism at its core – When it comes to any film based around some “fantasy world,” no one really knows how it should look or feel.  So, all we can do is trust the director and with any luck, he won’t screw it up by going too far with everything.  To me, Zack Snyder did his job and despite a script that could have been a bit cleaner, this film was extremely entertaining.  Yeah, it was a bit erratic at times, but Snyder was able to dial it up or down at the precise moment so that you never felt unengaged. That’s crucial, for anything else would have resulted in a giant waste of time given the type of film this was. And that’s simply a good old fashioned popcorn flick that felt like a video game at times with all of Snyder’s super slow motion, but without the cheese.  Add in the extremely dynamic soundtrack and this film goes from just O.K. to quite good in an instant.  I just wish Snyder would have stood his ground on keeping it R-Rated, as I can only imagine how brutal this film would have been with actual blood and guts being flung around. But, I guess that’s what the DVD is for, as I fully expect an entirely new director’s cut for this film in a few months.   

Bottom Line – At the end of the day, “Sucker Punch” is no more than a big fantasy action flick with women wielding guns in little to no clothing. For that, this movie fulfilled any expectations I had. Was the story great? No. Was it like something else we have seen? Probably. Do I care? No, and that’s the beauty of what Snyder did with this film, as you simply don’t care about anything but what is right in front of you at that precise moment on the big screen. It was like one distraction after another all tied into a nice bow.

B-

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