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Reel Views: Sucker Punch is nothing you haven't already seen

Alison Gaze | Interrobang | Culture | April 11th, 2011



Sucker Punch (2011)

If the over-stylized Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and the classic drama One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest had a film child, Sucker Punch would be it.

The film's plot is fairly straightforward: a young girl upset by her mother's death and motivated by revenge for her murdered sister attempts to kill her abusive stepfather. He in turn institutionalizes her and pays a large sum under the table to a hospital orderly to arrange for the girl to be lobotomized.

Baby Doll, as she is called, learns she has only five days until her impending surgery and escapes into multiple fabricated worlds to escape the pain of her life. The first is a brothel wherein Baby Doll is taught to dance for gentlemen, among other things. It is in this world that Baby Doll meets her companions, all other girls from the institution: Sweet Pea, Rocket, Amber and Blondie. While dancing, Baby Doll escapes into an even deeper level of her imagination into a world where she must fight for her life and complete a quest to find five items (map, key, fire, knife and the fifth thing is a mystery) that will enable her to escape the institution. Baby Doll and the others fight stone giants, Nazi zombies, dragons and time itself in an ill-fated attempt to escape the institution and lobotomy in the real world.

The cast is full of female talent, some giving stronger performances than others. Baby Doll is played by Emily Browning, who often appears in horror and science fiction flicks. Browning gives an action-packed performance, but her emotional performance is more whiny than anything.

Sweet Pea is brought to life by relatively unknown Aussie actress Abbie Cornish, who is forgettable in every scene.

Indie favourite Jena Malone takes on the role of Rocket, but has given much better performances in other works.

Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung play Blondie and Amber respectively, neither particularly stands out in any way.

The female psychologist/dance teacher is played by the talented Carla Gugino, and the orderly/brothel owner, Blue, comes in the form of Oscar Isaac.

The highlight of the casting for me was John Hamm as the doctor who's set to perform the lobotomy as well as the heinous "High Roller" in the brothel. Hamm is a true presence on screen, and the five or so minutes that he graces the screen with are by far the most enjoyable of the film.

Over-stylized doesn't begin to describe the amount of post-production CGI that went into Sucker Punch, and it seems to distract from the storyline and acting. With a soundtrack that is cranked all the way up, your ears will be hurting by the time you leave the theatre.

If you've seen Cuckoo's Nest, you cannot expect a different outcome from this film, and unless you are looking for a CGI display, this flick is not worth your time or money.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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