Before tackling the world’s greatest superhero, Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) spends a bit more time playing in his hyper-realized world, but this tale of imprisoned young girls who have to harness the power of their own minds to free themselves from oppression looks and feels like a visual mash-up of everything from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to The Matrix and Kill Bill without an ounce of narrative coherence or a desire to create truly three-dimensional characters.
When Babydoll (Emily Browning) is institutionalized by her evil stepfather, we are clumsily introduced to an alternative world where she meets a cliché-spouting Wise Man (Scott Glenn) and hooks up with Rocket (Jena Malone), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung) to begin a quest for freedom.
But it’s never clear where said freedom truly lies. Is it in the dream world that she enters through her “supposedly” hypnotic dancing (which from the brief glimpses Snyder allows us seems to be little more than imagining a 12-year-old working without a stripper pole) or the real world beyond the drab walls of the mental institution, a place we see so little of it is hardly worth considering?
Snyder cares for nothing more than the fantastic realm, the shifting battlescapes where his grrls kick, cut and shoot soldiers, suits of armor and dragons with no real consequence. Sucker Punch is a video game, a visual marvel with absolutely no resonance or depth. Game over. Grade: D