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Cinematography makes fatally-flawed 'Sucker Punch' unforgettable

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Published: Mon, March 28, 2011 @ 2:33 p.m.

If you’re expecting “Sucker Punch” to offer much in the way of plot and/or character development, you’re probably going to leave the theater feeling like a bit of a sucker yourself.

But let’s face it. We all knew from the trailers that the film was going to be one of those refreshingly mindless, hyper-stylized action flicks.

And if it’s pure escapism that you seek, “Sucker Punch,” co-written and directed by Zack Snyder (300; The Watchmen), delivers with stunning cinematography, well-choreographed fight sequences and a high-octane soundtrack that puts a new spin on such classics as The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams,” Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

“Sucker Punch” begins as a 20-year-old girl known throughout the film only as Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is framed by her vengeful stepfather (Gerard Plunkett) after he murders her younger sister. The stepfather checks Baby Doll into an insane asylum and pays one of the orderlies to forge a doctor’s signature and have the young woman lobotomized.

With the doctor scheduled to arrive in five days to perform the procedure, Baby Doll takes refuge inside her mind, fantasizing that she is an orphan held captive in a mob-run burlesque club. The young heroine soon discovers that her dance moves (never actually shown in the film) have the power bend time and space and put men in a hypnotic trance.

Baby Doll hatches a plot to escape and enlists the help of four female patients/dancers. Throughout the course of the film, she unleashes her secret moves to transport the scantily-clad fivesome to alternate realities, where they engage in a series of epic battles. The women proceed to defeat demonic samurai overlords, slay dragons, vanquish murderous robots and annihilate an army of Nazi zombies, all while wearing three-inch heels and without breaking a nail or smearing their eye makeup.

Snyder has described “Sucker Punch” as “‘Alice in Wonderland’ with machine guns.” I think a better analogy would be “‘Heavy Metal: The Movie’ sans the animation, gratuitous sex and nudity and Sammy Hagar tunes.”

"Sucker Punch” is like a video game brought to the big screen. It offers a somewhat sexist portrayal of female empowerment, wrapped up in an endless barrage of violence that lacks any real substance or continuity. Even so, Snyder’s hypnotic cinematography makes this fatally-flawed film absolutely unforgettable.

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