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Sucker Punch

Zack Snyder, the director of the misbegotten film, “Sucker Punch,” often gets tagged with the label “visionary.” I happen to think this is incorrect.  A visionary – in my book, anyway – is someone who has a tremendous ability to imagine lives and experiences different than any we have ever seen before, and in doing so, sheds light on our own existence.

Zack Snyder is not a visionary, but he does have an incredible “visual” sense. He can compose elaborate shots, but he cannot tell a story to save his life.

“Sucker Punch” is an almost incomprehensible mess of a movie. Sure, it’s filled with lots and lots of eye candy, but there is nothing of substance to be found within its frames. There are no characters an audience can identify with. The stakes are so undefined that they barely exist.

The story, what there is of it, seems to revolve around a young girl named “Baby Doll” (Emily Browning, just waiting to be cast a the Dolly Parton biopic), who is sent to a mental hospital by her evil stepfather. Once there, she is scheduled for a lobotomy. Just as the doctor is about to slam the hammer, we find ourselves in a more colorful version of the same hospital. Only this time, it’s a sort of brothel, where Baby Doll meets up with a bunch of other girls with names like “Sweet Pea” and “Blondie.”

At the brothel, the girls dance for the customers, only in this movie, when they dance, they seem to generate visions of playable videogame levels. They are ruled over by a despicable man/pimp named “Blue Jones” (Oscar Isaac) and a tough-as-nails dance instructor, Dr. Gorski (Carla Gugino), who demands much of them.

Baby Doll and the girls want to escape this demented world, and since she is especially good at this talent, she develops a plan to dance and mesmerize the customers while the other girls run dangerous missions to retrieve the items necessary to make their escape.

Still with me? Yeah, it’s a mess.

This is film is nothing more than a videogame the audience can’t play. It consists of overblown set-pieces involving defusing bombs and stealing weapons. In between, we are treated to endless, pseudo-important scenes of dialogue that do nothing to propel the story forward. I seriously wished I could hit the “X” button to skip the scenes and just get to the next playable level.

Sadly, this is a movie, not a game, and you have to either walk out or suffer through it.

I took a bullet for you on this one, folks, and barely made it through this horrible mess.

If you must see the movie, though, be sure to stick through the end credits. Isaac and Gugino do a pretty spiffy song-and-dance remake of Roxy Music’s “Love is the Drug.”

You know it’s a sad day at the movies when the end credits are the best part…

SUCKER PUNCH, Dir: Zack Snyder; Scr: Zack Snyder, Steve Shibuya; Stars: Emily Browning, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac RATED PG-13