This is a hard review to write, both because I really wanted to see this movie and because it is hard to explain. The long and the short of it is that Burgandy and I went to a midnight showing of Suckerpunch with some of our geekier friends, all of us super-excited to see the anime girl-izing/post modern sci-fi version of 300. Thing is that the movie both delivered and didn’t, which sounds weird but is basically true.
The thing to understand is that the special effects are good, but still have that bit of CGI sheen to them. Plus you realize pretty early on that the fight scenes are all in imagination continuity where people are super powered and nothing goes wrong. So you have both the removal of ‘this isn’t happening in the movie’ and ‘this all looks sort of fake’. Plus some of the later sequences are incoherent – the girls drop down into a castle being attacked and start shooting people. Then they get a magic crystal. Then for some reason Babydoll knocks the crystals together to make a fire. This seems to do nothing but wake up a dragon. So they try to escape, on the way killing all the people attacking the castle, then killing the dragon. So you watch something that isn’t real to start with but you hope to get immersed in. Then, the main character starts having a fantasy about being in a brothel. OK. Double movie. Then, the brothel version of the main chracter starts pretending to be a commando. OK, triple remove. Then, you get into the cgi, the unrealistic physical feats, and the overly-careful editing that bans all bad language and blood, even in WWI. Then the dream sequences stop making sense plot-wise. It was just too far gone for me – who cares about an obviously fake and sanitized fantasy of an imaginary character? I started to feel like the movie was wasting my time.
OK, there was definetely a cool factor. You get some panty shots / fan service, there’s some cool backflipping, a dragon fights with a B-29. Nice. But you know it isn’t happening even in the movie and it’s the third over the top scene and it gets sort of long. I mean, probably 95% isn’t real. And the story you sort-of-get on the periphery is A) ungodly depressing and B) Actually fairly over the top, assuming the brothel-world events at least sort of resemble the real world.
PG13-izing really kills this movie, I think – I hate to be gauche about it, but honestly if the movie was actually showing the implied stripper scenes and sex scenes and girl-girl makeouts from the brothel world and then actually showing the blood and guts and boen breaking implied by the ‘nymphet commandoes invade WWI’ scenes, then the spectacle might be enough to distract me from the stuff that was actually happening (as seemed to be the intention).
There are twists towards the end, but I just have to think that anyone surprised by it isn’t a very sharp-minded movie goer. I think half an hour into the movie I had it all mapped out – ‘dammit, they sold me on girl power awesome commandaoes but this is actually some unbelievably bleak story that they’re trying to distract me from, isn’t it?’ What’s weird is that they tried to take it back to an extent, by giving the main character some kind of vaguely allegorical ending and tossing in a ‘guardian angels are real’ bit with a bus driving off into amber fields of grain all Americana style. Plus the most annoying voiceover in recent memory – ‘just in case you missed it, this was all about self empowerment!’
I mean, long and the short was that this was exactly like playing a videogame, except between the cut scenes you watched a mini-movie about a brothel. if you told me yesterday I would watch a movie with a diverse group of hot girls destroying steampunk WWI Germans in hand to hand fighting that included a scene with Vanessa Hudgens killing a bunch of cyborgs with a hatchet but would be really bored, I would have thought you were crazy. But, in this case, it’s true. Odd, but true.
I think to an extent my extreme disappointment with this movie colors my perceptions of it. If I hadn’t been looking forward to it so much and if there hadn’t been moments of real brilliance I would have liked it a lot more. It’s just knowing just how good of a movei Zack Snyder can make makes my expectations really high. I guess I just wish he had made the movie within a movie (within a movie) about bad ass girl commandoes and made it gritty / extreme enough for an R instead of the weird mish-mash he actually made, which I think compromises too much and tried to do too much.