Sunday, 10 April 2011


Warner Bros. Pictures
Now Showing

One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter, and according to Zack Snyder, one man's sexual fantasy is another's feminist warrior. Or at least that's what the director (and his leading ladies, sadly) has been trying to convince us of in promoting his latest feature, Sucker Punch; suggesting that his 'girls with guns and swords' action flick is about female empowerment.

Whatever! Sucker Punch is as empowering for women as is Ralph Magazine. Snyder's quintet of lovelies may not pose in bikinis but what little they do wear is hardly a practical wardrobe choice given that they're doing battle - in World War I Europe and other hostile terrains - where bare skin is not the ideal camouflage.

Those battles occur in the mindscape of our heroines led by Baby Doll (Emily Browning), newly arrived at the asylum for women, Lennox House (no relation), and desperate to escape the evil warden (Oscar Isaac). Baby Doll is especially keen to fly the cuckoo's nest as she's scheduled for a lobotomy in five days' time, which is ironic given that Browning's bleach blonde, piggy-tailed, short skirt-wearing character is already lifeless. For Baby Doll is a cypher; a blank slate upon which men's (and teen boys') sexual fantasies can be projected.

As Baby Doll's accomplices, Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone and Jamie Chung don't fare much better. When they're not battling dragons and German robots in the dreamscape (somehow accessed when Baby Doll performs trance-inducing gyrations, which for better or worse we never witness) they're learning sexy dance routines under the tutelage of Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino rolling her r's East European style).

You see, the asylum is actually a Moulin Rouge-like whorehouse, or at least it is in one of the three realms in which I think the storyline of Sucker Punch takes place. I suppose that's what Abbie Cornish, who addressed the preview screening I attended, meant when she said the film was “layered”? But Inception it's not.

Ironically, Inception director Christopher Nolan has given his blessing for Snyder to helm the Superman re-boot, planned for release in late 2012. Sucker Punch should have taken the wind out of any excitement that earlier announcement may have generated – Lois Lane packing heat and sporting a two-piece? – so, too, Nolan (who helped pen the screenplay for the new Superman) handing full artistic control over to Snyder.

Working from his fist original idea after the mixed results of Dawn of the Dead (2004), 300 (2006) and Watchmen (2009) – all adaptations – Snyder has, with Sucker Punch, proven himself incapable of restraint. Like a boy discovering his father's copy of Playboy, he's more concerned with the images than the articles – the substance, if you will.

Fellow man-childs, teen boys and gamers (for Sucker Punch plays more like a computer game than a film) will be similarly titillated; feminists, discerning film goers and the non-lobotomized are advised to avert their gaze.

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