Undead zombie Nazis. Giant red-eyed samurai. Hot chicks. Fire-breathing dragons. Evil robots on a train. Big Guns. Huge Bombs. Fancy Swords. Yes, it’s fair to say that Sucker Punch managed to put a little bit of everything that a Geek loves onto the big screen this weekend. After looking forward to this feast of over the top goodness for months, I finally went to see it on Sunday afternoon. I went all out and sprang for the IMAX experience, including the extra $3 for online order processing. (Why does it cost me more to buy tickets online than it does from an actual human?) On Friday I couldn’t wait to see it, despite critics giving it less than stellar reviews, but by Sunday, after hearing the opinions of “normal” folks I was bracing myself for disappointment. Did I waste my money on this movie? No, it was worth every penny. Did I love this movie? Well…..
I saw Sucker Punch with four guys who I’d classify as hardcore Geeks. They include an avid sci-fi and fantasy reader, a writer of a weekly newspaper column on all things Geek, a gamer with a LAN and custom built arcade cabinets in his basement and a guy who has a wardrobe consisting primarily of Geek t-shirts. We are talking serious Geek Cred. I’ve been going to movies with guys like this bunch for years, and when we see a Geek movie, typically we all leave the theater quoting lines, reliving scenes and generally oohing and aahing our way to our cars. That didn’t quite happen. We all left liking the movie and happy with the experience. Mr. LAN left loving it and wanting to see it again, mostly due to the hot chicks mentioned earlier. We all thought it was visually amazing with battles scenes that made you cheer out loud. I mean, there was a mech painted with a giant pink bunny, what’s not to like? But a movie isn’t all about the pretty. It has to have a story that connects with the audience.
This isn’t an Oscar worthy film with a story so touching Oprah will be singing it’s praises and hiding it under people’s seats when it debuts on DVD, and that’s okay. The problem? It felt like Sucker Punch desperately wanted to be that kind of movie. The intense action was mixed with a story that tried to make me look deeper and figure out what was really happening, to see the women for who they were in the real world. Unfortunately, the shoot ’em up glory just didn’t mesh with the story in a way that made me feel for the characters. Though the images are memorable, the characters are forgettable. Finally, it all ends with a message you’re left trying to piece together. Everyone has an opinion on what the movie “means”, what it was “trying to say” but no one has an answer. In trying to make us all think, it failed to connect on that gut level where you go beyond just thinking that the zombie Nazis hanging from zeppelins are cool and move on to loving the characters and their story. Without that connection even a beautiful movie falters. If you haven’t seen this, it’s definitely worth checking out in theaters as long as you go for the eye-candy. It’s a feast for the eyes, but a sucker punch to the head.