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Movie review: 'Sucker Punch' (2 stars)

Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch
2 stars
Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Carla Gugino
Rated PG-13

Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch” conjoins the two predominant stylistic influences felt in Hollywood movies these days — music videos and video games — into an intriguing but shapeless cinematic mess.

As the 1950s-set film begins, heroine Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is sent to an abusive mental institution and forced to undergo a lobotomy after accidentally killing her sister. Before long, the institution morphs into a high-end brothel — the psychiatrist (Carla Gugino) becomes the madam, an orderly (Oscar Isaac) a pimp, and Baby Doll the star of the show.

Baby Doll plots an escape and rounds up a group of fellow inmates (Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone and Jamie Chung) to join her. They gradually work toward busting out by completing military-style missions against mechanized villains in elaborate fantasy worlds.

Snyder (“300”), who co-wrote the film with Steve Shibuya, fails to give the narrative the grounded coherence required of a work that indulges in dreamscapes and complex imagined worlds. A blend of kinetic violence, over-the-top villainy and scantily clad women, the movie is a string of well-crafted sequences in search of a meaningful connection.

Burdened by one-dimensional protagonists and the mistaken belief that hyperactive cinematic flourishes compensate for the abandonment of storytelling basics, “Sucker Punch” is hardly the groundbreaking experience it thinks it is. 

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