Zombie Germans, cyborgs on a bullet train, orcs guarding a dragon and giant robotic samurai. If these sound like the creations of a hyper-active teenager’s imagination; it’s because that’s exactly what they are. Sure Zach Snyder may be 45 but at heart he is still just as much of an excitable teenager as the people who will likely make up the majority of the audience for his latest film.
He’s a director with a deep affection for graphic novels and it’s been clear to see in his past films, 300 & Watchmen especially. Those two were based on pre-existing texts, but Sucker Punch is entirely drawn from his own staggeringly vivid imagination.
The film tells the story of a group of girls, led by Emily Browning’s ‘Babydoll’, attempting to escape from a 1950’s mental asylum, the escape shown through a combination of their real life exploits and fantastical dream sequences where the girls battle to acquire items they believe will lead to their escape.
It's a film about escaping from a dark and threatening reality, about hope and the way that sometimes sanity can be a very fragile and ambiguous thing.
The other girls are definitely lacking a little depth; Jena Malone's 'Rocket' and Abbie Cornish's 'Sweet Pea' are given some development as sisters, the younger, innocent one and the older, protective one respectively. Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung get very little to do apart from provide back up in fights and give pretty generic emotional reactions to the action around them.
The films strengths are in the dream elements, where Snyder’s full creativity is let loose in some of the most exciting and wonderfully excessive action sequences around. A fight with steam powered zombie German soldiers (yes you read that sentence correctly) in a World War 1 battlefield is a particular highlight, the combat frenetic and brutal. It's a scene which captures the love for spectacle which defines what makes Zach Snyder such an exciting director; a ruined cathedral amongst a bombed out and desolate landscape, zeppelins and bi-planes weaving in and out in a fascinating dog-fight and artillery thumping into no-mans land; all this is simply background action to the small group of girls fighting their way through the trenches.
The film has its flaws; the first two acts lack any real sense of peril, it’s questionable whether the girls being so scantily clad throughout contributes much to the plot and at times the whole film feels more like an extended music video than a feature film.
But what a music video it is, visually stunning throughout and has one of the best opening scenes i can recall; a darkly dramatic montage set to a melancholy version of the Eurythmic’s classic “Sweet Dreams”. It's intense, loud and visually arresting, setting the tone for the rest of the film.
The film is exciting and action packed, making up for what it lacks in character development with some stunning set pieces and a brilliant use of music.
To finish the blog i'll post that version of "Sweet Dreams", sung by Emily Browning.