SUCKER PUNCH - Eye Candy Inception
SUCKER PUNCH (fantasy adventure)
Cast: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Jon Hamm, Oscar Isaac, Scott Glenn and Vicky Lambert
Director: Zack Snyder
Screenplay: Zack Snyder and Steve Shibuya
Time: 119 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: In boxing, a 'sucker punch' is one that you don't see coming, a sudden illegal blow for which you have no defence. If you have not seen the trailer for this movie, then you may very well be unprepared for what you are going to see. If you have, however, then you may feel like a sucker - for falling for its lure of nubile starlets set against ridiculous odds and come out with nary a scratch.
But then most of its target audience would have known about this kind of eye candy and go for it anyway!
THE SKINNY: Set in the 1950s, a young girl (Emily Browning as 'Baby Doll') is sent to an asylum for the insane by her wicked stepfather (Gerard Plunkett). The institution is actually being used as a private strip club for the town's elders and the young inmates - like the outspoken Rocket (Jena Malone), the street-smart Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens, below), the loyal Amber (Jamie Chung), and the protective Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) - are being trained in seductive dances by a Nazi-styled Dr Vera Gorsky (Carla Gugino).
Scheduled for a lobotomy in five days, Baby Doll is determined to escape the prison with her four friends before the ordeal. But first, they must flee reality and plunge into a fantasy world where they battle samurai warriors, Nazi troops, flying serpents and even robotic monsters just to collect five everyday objects.
HITS AND MISSES: In one of the fantasy scenes, Baby Doll's spiritual guide (played by Scott Glenn) says: "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." This must be aimed at the audience considering that they have plonked out good money for this prurient and exploitative cinematic cocktail (read: punch).
According to the background notes, director Jack Snyder had been working on this movie since 2007, aided by co-writer Steve Shibuya. The project was put aside while Snyder made Watchmen (2009). Sucker Punch, however, is shallower than Watchmen in plot and narrative depth. It is just about five girls in sexy costumes doing crazy stunts in five action set pieces - none of which held any sense of danger or suspense for the audience (since they are all imagined collectively, quite like the stunts of Inception). Unlike Inception, there isn't any logic involved - and the lines the cast are made to mouth are just plain dumb. Secondary stars like Jon Hamm and Oscar Isaac ham their way through while the starlets, in heavy make-up, go through the paces trying to look fetching and striking cute, sexy poses.
THE LOWDOWN: See-and-forget guilty pleasure.