Wait, whose subconscious are we going through exactly?
Zack Snyder, who is still regarded as a fresh face in the industry, is often, unfairly, criticised for his self indulgent approach to his comic book adaptations. As a huge fan of the source material he is reproducing it isn’t surprising that he sticks closely to the narrative. In his films 300 (2006) and Watchmen (2009) he often emulated the exact shots that were present in the panels of the graphic novels. At first glance Sucker Punch (2011) seems to be Snyder continuing his approach to films as a director who brilliantly turns drawings in to entertaining motion comic books. Therefore it was a surprise to learn that this film is not in fact adapted from a comic book, but an original idea created by Snyder. Sucker Punch may seem an attempt to respond to the critics by creating something unique; instead Snyder stubbornly sticks to his guns by moving away from the commercial by creating another completely stylised film.
You can spot a Snyder film, adaptation or not, without looking at the credits as they all conform to a similar comic book aesthetic. This style combines contrast rich images, non-linear editing techniques and framing that mirrors the panels of comics. Sucker Punch isn’t based on a graphic novel, but it may as well have been. It includes many references to some of the finest graphic novels and among them an establishing shot of the iron gates of the mental institute that looks better suited to imprisoning Gotham’s most fiendish villains.
Like Joker and his goons the protagonists institutionalised in Sucker Punch face a near impossible task of escaping, so impossible in fact that in order to escape Baby Doll (Emily Browning) must retreat in to an alternative world in her imagination. The narrative is by far the weakest element of this film and the main reason for this is that it has been released in the post-Inception era of cinema. Any film that dwells on the “dream-within-a-dream” plot will always fail in its wake. The plot is incredibly predictable, so much so that it seems impossible to imagine that Snyder was oblivious to this.
Snyder must have been aware of this as he dressed up the action sequences and dressed down the girls. Due to the fast pace of the edit and extraordinary vision of the art director the action sequences are intense and beautifully crafted; from the Steampunk Nazi-zombies to the dogfights in the skies above a medieval castle.
Sucker Punch does what great films do, allows its audience to escape from reality and be entertained for two hours, 8/10.