By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood March 24, 2011 at 4:40AM
Judging from early reviews (below), if Warner Bros. has any hopes of luring a female audience to Sucker Punch, they may be in trouble. It looks like plenty of red-blooded American males will soak up the latest hyper-stylized entry from writer-director Zack Snyder (300, The Watchmen) which critics are variously describing as "spastic," "humorless" and "psychosexual." TOH will weigh in tomorrow. (Check out the trailer below.) The film stars Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jenna Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, and Carla Gugino.
Jake Coyle, AP:
"Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch feels like one…The question naturally arises: Just what kind of gyrations is Babydoll doing to effect such awe and conjure such imaginary garbage? Is it like Beyonce's 'Single Ladies' dance? Because that was pretty powerful…No, instead, it's merely a lazy technique for Snyder to reduce his already exceptionally thin story to its lowest plane. Why shoot for meaningfulness or subtlety when a narrative can — with the lamest of ploys — simply be turned into a bloody video game level?…One feels for the talented actors swept into such hokum…This is the filmmaker who has been entrusted with the next Superman movie?"
Nick Schager, Slant Magazine:
"Barely legal hotties in stripper-schoolgirl outfits, colossal samurai statues wielding chain guns, Nazi zombies, Orcs, steampunk mech suits, assault rifles, WW II trench warfare, mobsters, rapists, and dragons are merely some of the myriad fanboy fetishes Snyder indulges throughout his latest, which claims too many superior ancestors to actually bother itemizing. The 300 and Watchmen auteur's distinctive style remains the same,…ultra-violence with more than a hint of psychosexual sadism…It's a random mishmash of juvenile ideas without a single lucid thread to hold them together, except for both the incessant CG bombast ripped off from video games and the works of Peter Jackson, the Wachowskis, and Quentin Tarantino,…All bloodless, weightless, inconsequential sound and fury, these dynamically composed but masturbatory centerpieces are cast as the reveries Baby Doll experiences while she performs dance numbers…As a tale about tough chicks revolting against uniformly misogynistic guys, Sucker Punch posits these hypnotic routines, which we never see, as examples of female sexuality's defiant power. Yet Snyder's conception of his heroines—who are asked to do little more than pout, strut, glare, and look fierce—is pure nonsense."
Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel:
"Snyder rounded up five of the most buxom young actresses in the biz, women who give five of the flattest performances ever in a humorless quest fantasy about Pussycat Doll inmates trying to escape from an insane asylum. I’d quote a witty line or two, if the script (co-written by Snyder) had any. I’d mention the emotional peaks if the movie managed one…The only Sucker Punch here is to your wallet if pay non-matinee prices for this. Just be grateful it wasn’t in 3D."
Ben Kendrick, ScreenRant:
"Unfortunately, despite a few visually striking action sequences, Sucker Punch is a soulless film which comes across as little more than an excuse for Snyder to showcase a series of striking fantasy worlds in rapid succession…Despite the filmmaker’s attempt at an overarching story of self-empowerment, as well as the imaginative dream-worlds, Sucker Punch is one of the most formulaic films to hit the screen in recent memory…even in the closing moments of Sucker Punch, it’s unclear whether anyone has actually been empowered."
"The movie’s incoherent, both ideologically and thematically. For all of his considerable talent for constructing imposing or startling imagery, Snyder appears dangerously uncertain what to make of the cumulative power and radical possibilities the form is capable of. The movie is meant to invoke a dream state, but the narrative line is too cluttered and spastic to locate the necessary rhythm and shape…Worst of all, Snyder explicitly turns the viewer into sexual voyeurs, hypnotically leering at his cast of young actresses. The women, to be sure, are astonishingly beautiful, but they’re also ornate and never fully individuated to emotionally connect the material to the larger architecture of the story…Given how fully Sucker Punch is steeped in the meaning and history of Hollywood moviemaking, it rings as particularly depressing how that history is debased and made small…Cornish is the only actress who survives with any real personality intact."
"A sensibility that blends comic books and video games - then invests it with an operatic grandeur and a seriousness that gives it surprising emotional weight."