Zack Snyder must have a lot of friends in Hollywood. Who else gets to write their ultimate mash-up of child hood fantasies and a secret ‘Spice Girls’ adoration into a script then apply a healthy dose of CGI to breathe life into the concoction? The next Superman reboot director, has definitely played all four aces in this offering and this review will tell you if the recipe fits in the fast food section of the food court or the french cuisine restaurant in Parnell.
The heart of Suckerpunch captures three essential themes in empowerment, survival and sacrifice for the sake of a friend. The underlying story of Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is a journey to freedom via extreme fantasy, with the accompaniment of her gun slinging compatriots of Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung). We haven’t seen a lot of the Australian actress Emily Browning since she shared the screen with Jim Carey in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. While she has handled the lead role of this psycho melodrama in a way that definitely captures your attention there wasn’t quite the pull of heart strings as much as soulful glances of the eye that would entice. Another Australian, Abbie Cornish provides an anchor point in the movie as the solid member of the escape team a similar strength she brought to her recent role in Limitless. Supporting roles from Malone, Hudgens and Chung felt more like parts in a girl band than solid characters.
Carla Gugino as Dr Vera Gorski and Oscar Isaac as Blue Jones seem to get more depth of character development and their roles define the journey on a number of levels. Without their roles this would have been a Spice Girls World Tour, however with them this becomes closer to the cerebral maze that Snyder would have wanted.
So what holds this eclectic cast together? The three key ingredients that spring to mind are headed first by the cinemagic feast of fantasy that leads you to meet, a Japanese Darth Vader, dragons and warlocks, then ask yourself how a Mech Warrior ended up on a World War I battlefield? Secondly, the added story thread of Scott Glenn as a Wise Man is a nice link that also adds comic relief with a healthy dose of one liners that are worthy of memorising for that next party scene when you need something profound to say that can’t be questioned. Finally, the soundtrack rocks from the moment the Eurythmics song Sweet Dreams breaks upon the stage to the final rolling credits.
Of course the merit badge that Zach Snyder wears to this performance is as “CGI Employee of the Month” with his performances on 300, Watchmen and lately the dark animated ‘kids’ movie ‘Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole’. This was where the DVD was given its free reign into Snyder’s teen land of fantasy. You enter the video games he played, the dungeons and dragons models on his bookshelf come to life and the model planes he built roar past the screen. You can’t help but think that the female characters were taken out of Dead or Alive to give them a new lease of life in this cinematic composition.
So what does this DVD leave you feeling? Firstly it appears you are forced into a space where you are asking was this Vaudeville or Pleasantville. Was Snyder trying to give us a movie to help us forget with a heavy dose of distraction or to provoke a philosophical dialogue over an espresso? My gut feel is the latter and a spoonful of sugar did help the medicine go down. All up a great use of the this media we call home cinema to ask your eye to take in the whole screen and try not to blink. Answering my own question from the start of this review. It was fast food in the food court but the company was great, the variety met a range of tastes and the experience was great value for money.
Reviewed by: Andrew Pitchford