“Who Honors those we love for the very life we live? Who sends monsters to kill us… and at the same time sings that we’ll never die? Who teaches us what’s real… and how to laugh at lies? Who decides why we live and what we’ll die to defend? Who chains us… and who holds the key that can set us free? It’s you. You have all the weapons you need. Now fight!” – Sweet Pea
Watching this movie doesn’t require a lot of knowledge of the movie business to know that is something pulled off by the genius mind of Zack Snyder. It takes about 2 minutes into it that you realize this is his doing. I’ll get back to that.
What does it take to gain freedom?
Tossed into despair due to the death of her family, Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is put to a mental hospital by her step father. Unlike any other mental institute, this one constantly wavers between reality and fantasy. Because of the traumatic events, the mind of Baby Doll creates a fantasy world in which she has to find five items in order to regain her freedom. For this quest, she recruits four other girls; the strong willed Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), tech-smart loyal Amber (Vanessa Hudgens), street smart Blondie (Jamie Chung) and the straight-forward Rocket (Jena Malone).
Blue (Oscar Isaac), the maniac institute manager rule the place with iron hand making the girls feel more than prisoners of their own minds. With the help of Wise man (Scott Glenn), Baby Doll and her companions battle their fantasies filled with orcs and dragons as if they took place in the magic world of Tolkien with a touch of steam punk. And that is what this movie is. It’s what Snyder fans would call art, is what steam punk and pin up mashed together would look like in his head.
Throughout the movie, I was constantly amazed of how Snyder manages to excel himself with the special effects. We all know Snyder does not chicken out when it comes to this and Sucker Punch is probably a personal record for Snyder’s brilliant signature talent.
Although most of the movie is Baby Doll’s fantasies, you’d think everything is perfect. Think again. Not even the fighting skills or the choreography is at the same level as Kill Bill (yes, I compared Tarantino to Snyder). One might think that it would be perfect since it is a fantasy; I mean who wouldn’t imagine themselves being able to use katanas, machine guns and hand guns at expert level? Even in the fantasies, the girls are clearly new to all their weapons and yet it doesn’t disturb the viewer to the extent where one wonders what the choreographer was thinking. The visual effects and the fighting scenes were as any of my childhood fantasies. When watching people play Counter Strike, I always thought of how nice it would be if it was chicks slaughtering each other á la Battle Royal. Soothing it was when Resident Evil came out with Milla Jovovich but this clearly raises the bars.
As for the characters, there were two things that bothered me. Firstly, I never really managed to grasp whose story it was really about. It was Baby Doll’s fantasies but did she tell her own story or did she tell someone else’s through her mind?
Second, what was Vanessa Hudgens doing in the movie? I never watched High School musical and I probably never will but I couldn’t help but not like her acting. Somehow it was bothering me and sadly but true, I wondered when they’d kill her off.
I loved how Sweet Pea was the strong and wiser girl, how Baby Doll held on to her belief and how Rocket wanted to pursue the freedom presented to her by Baby Doll. Somehow, I’d like to think the characters delivered hints of what it’s like living in the world today. It’s hard; you don’t know why you’re here, why you’re living the life you lead but yet you are doing it. For some, every day is a struggle and for others it’s a breeze. No matter what your day looks like, it’s still you who are the one that can make the change of your life. Although it never was made clear who was fantasy and who was real, I think there is one of each in all of us. There is a tech freak, one that only hopes, one that has one thing to hold on to and one who’s the reminder of the bad past.
The character that made most impact throughout the movie has to be Blue. Weird as it seems, Isaac manages to deliver the despair and struggle of an institute manager. With great power comes great abuse of power (thank you, Twitter).
The soundtrack, the oh so bittersweet soundtrack was perfectly merged into every scene. By combining Mozart, Björk and oldies like Queen and Lennon/McCartney to the melancholic scenes between the cruelty of reality and the hopeful fantasies. Beautifully composed and mashed up, it is surely an ace and deserves attention outside the movie.
All I have left to say is go see this if you’re curious of what happened in the mixer when Snyder threw in steam punk, pin up, girls and weapons. Also, the make up – fucking brilliant!
//c_Cae; I forgot, there’s also zombies in this movie…