Sucker Punch

It's as I feared. I still don't know why it's called Sucker Punch. People do get sucker punched, but it's hardly a major focus of the film. Actually, there really isn't a major focus. I'll try to explain, though I'm pretty sure it won't help.

It's set in the 1950's. I think. See, I'm not even sure on that. It seemed like it until the guy with the ear buds. Anyway, a poor little rich girl (Emily Browning, The Uninvited) who still can't afford an actual name for some reason, is left to the "mercies" of her stepfather when her mother dies. Then her little sister -- she's also not only nameless, but doesn't even get any lines -- also ends up dead, and big sis gets to take the blame.

She's brought to the Lennox House for the Mentally Insane, in Brattleboro, Vermont. I still don't know what other kind of insanity there is, either. Is it possible to be physically insane? Did I miss that memo? Anyway, I stand by my original theory, namely, that if it's a home for any group, it isn't insane people, but rather scantily-clad orphaned nymphets. Some of them might be insane, too, though, at least after they've been there a while.

Few people have names, at least normal names. For instance, Abbie Cornish (Limitless) plays Sweet Pea. Her sister is Rocket (Jena Malone, Pride and Prejudice -- not the good version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, the icky one with Kiera Knightley). Someone calls the new arrival Baby Doll and it sticks. Vanessa Hudgens, of the High School Musical franchise, has black hair, so naturally she's called Blondie. Amber (Jamie Chung, Sorority Row) is the only inmate who has a name that's actually usually a name.

The people in charge of the place -- which is either a mental hospital or an exclusive brothel, depending which angle you're seeing it from -- are Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino, Silk Spectre II from Watchmen) who is either a psychiatrist or a dance instructor; and Blue (Oscar Isaac, Prince John of Robin Hood), who is either an orderly or the owner of the aforementioned exclusive brothel. Both places are equally bad, though the brothel is cleaner, at least in places.

Baby Doll dresses like a sort of Goth version of Sailor Moon as played by Alice in Wonderland. She has dreams or visions or something that feature Scott Glenn (Secretariat, and of course Silence of the Lambs) as a sort of guru who offers to help her find Freedom. It just felt capitalized somehow. The banners in his Chinese temple-ish place feature a quote from The Art of War by Sun Tzu: "Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain." Well, I thought it was cool.

But finding freedom involves a lot of weird stuff. There's a sort of Steampunk version of World War I; a fantasy sort of version of World War II, complete with dragon; a high-tech monorail thing with a funky bomb; and a bunch of strange, giant Samurai. They're scary-fast, but they have maybe ten hit points because it only takes two hits to bring them down.

I knew explaining it wouldn't work. I wondered why the previews seemed so disjointed, and now I know. It's one of those films where you either have to explain everything or stop right after, "She gets locked up in a mental institution and things turn weird." Apparently, while Zack Snyder was pitching the idea, he called it "Alice in Wonderland with machine guns," and bizarrely, that's a pretty perfect summary.

I've been dreading having to rate it all this time, and it hasn't gotten any easier for the wait. Everyone who sees it will either love it or hate it, and I can't predict which way you, gentle reader, might fall. I think I liked it. I'm still not quite sure. All I can say is that I want to see it again just to try to figure out what in the world I just watched, so I guess that's good? Three and three-quarters out of five. There, I've typed something, and I'm not going to change it. Now I think I'll rechristen myself Honey Bunny and see if I can find myself a nice samurai sword. Some of that jumping around looked fun.

Baby, Sweet Pea, Rocket, Amber, Blondie, Mme. Gorsky, Sneezy, and Doc.


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