Monday, April 30, 2012

Sucker Punch

For a movie about a lolita ninja squad fighting Nazi zombies and dragons, Sucker Punch is a surprisingly serious affair. Burrowing down deep into the psyche of the abused Babydoll, the film discovers a nesting-doll series of CGI fantasies, moving from mental asylum to brothel to bazooka-wielding shogun giants and heavy-metal riffs. Each wacko set piece is more ludicrous than the last, but the film is nothing if not sincere in its impassioned defence of escapism. This is surely the most ambitious piece of exploitive Hollywood trash since Showgirls, even if Zack Snyder lacks Paul Verhoeven’s sneering wit and cheerful willingness to stomp on the audience’s toes once in a while. If anything, Snyder is too obsequious towards his viewers, providing us with a litany of cringe-worthy clich├ęs and self-help homilies. The impossibility of this film is best summed up in one of its central devices: Babydoll, escaping from dingy reality through her dancing, which creates a vision so potent that all who watch her are mesmerized. It’s escapism in its purest form, a fantasy to hypnotize the world and then obliterate it. In the film, Babydoll shuts out everything and gives in to her own mad motion, free for a blissful moment; in reality, Snyder is peeking at his audience as he feverishly flails, anxious to please and desperate with the stink of sweat and failure. Shut your eyes and dance, fool.

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