Imagine a building where one side is a dark, dreary insane asylum populated by sadistic guards, doctors and attractive female inmates, and the other side is a popular brothel and speakeasy. Sounds like the heart of a b-movie exploitation film and that's what Sucker Punch, the new computer-graphics filled cinematic graphic novel from Zack Snyder, turns out to be.
Unfortunately, the film is also painfully juvenile with a target audience of adolescent boys who define their world as being surrounded by bullies and beautiful, unobtainable girls "in real life", and bad guys, dragons and demons to kill with various cool and hyper-aggressive weapons in their virtual, video-game-fueled lives. It's no surprise that the women in the film are all costumed in fetishistic outfits with plunging necklines, bare midriffs, über-short skirts and long stockings. They're all very sexy but, unsurprisingly, there's no actual sex in the film.
Sucker Punch starts out with a dark, moody sequence where late teen blonde waif Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is trapped in a gothic monstrosity of a house with her scary, leering stepfather (Gerard Plunkett). When she rejects his advances after her mom has passed away, he turns his attentions to her little sister, to which Baby reacts by finding a gun and shooting him. She misfires and her sister ends up killed and his revenge is to have her locked up in the home for the mentally insane.
And that's where it switches from a delightfully creepy horror film into an incoherent genre mashup. Baby Doll meets the other babes in distress that become her posse: Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung). They're all required to act out erotic plays in the speakeasy then entertain individual customers, through which we realize that all the women in Sucker Punch are victims of sadistic men, and that there are no bad women -- or good men -- in the entire narrative.
Sucker Punch is a mess. The storyline barely makes sense and the constant transitions from fantasy to "reality", era to era, genre to genre, left me asking "WTF?" more than once during the movie. By the end it was just exhausting and while the effects were splendid, the storyline was too weak to sustain it. I can only recommend this for adolescent men who want to see their soft porn mixed with a strong dose of video game visuals and effects.