Girls With Swords Collide With Fire-Breathing Dragons

Snow falls from the gray sky as the doors close behind Baby Doll (Emily Browning), a young girl with golden locks and an innocent face. Across the snow-covered field stand three figures of awesome stature. The camera zooms in to

Courtesy of Warner Brothers

reveal that they are steel plated demon samurais with each wielding his own weapon: one a naginata (a spear with a sharp knife at the end of it), the other a mini gun, and the third a sword. The pike-wielding samurai rushes towards Baby Doll and strikes her through the doors of the vacant dojo. Baby Doll rises from the incoming blows, slicing his knee and throat. From the wounds escape an intense bright light.

Just when it looks like Baby Doll is in the clear, she ducks and rocket-propelled grenade narrowly misses her. She turns around and the second samurai brings out his mini gun and begins to shower her in a constant stream of bullets.

Taking inspiration from games and movies like Lord of the Rings, Final Fantasy XIII, and Call of Duty, Sucker Punch tries to take the aspects of a fantasy world and mix them with the tragedies of real life. Director Zack Snyder, known for previous hits 300 and Watchman, calls itAlice in Wonderland with machine guns.”

The movie starts with the death of Baby Doll’s mother and the introduction of her stepfather. After the stepfather finds out that all of his wife’s assets are to be given to her two daughters, he threatens the life of Baby Doll’s sister. To protect her sister, she aims a gun at him but misses. Her stepfather uses her failed attempt on his life as an excuse to have her placed in a mental institution. The film becomes the journey of Baby Doll as she attempts to escape with a group of girls: Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Amber (Jamie Chung), and sisters Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) and Rocket (Jena Malone).

The warden, Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac), introduces Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino) who uses theater and music to get her girls to let go of their pain and realize that the world is in their control. When Baby Doll has her first session with the doctor, she is instructed to dance. When she refuses, the doctor whispers to her that she (Baby Doll) has all the power when she dances and she alone has the tools to fight for her own freedom.

When Baby Doll dances, she entrances everyone. They are mesmerized and become unaware of their surroundings, and she escapes into a world of fantasy. During her first trip into that fantasy world, she meets the Wise Man (Scott Glen) who asks what she is looking for. She nervously answers freedom and he decides to help her on her journey. The Wise Man informs her for her journey she will need to find five items: a map, fire, a knife, and a key, plus one additional item. As these things always go, the last  is  deeper, more psychological: she needs to be able to commit to making the ultimate sacrifice, but doing so will yield her the ultimate victory.

After Baby Doll informs the other girls of her plan to escape, they all agree to help her steal the items they need. From there, the movie follows the girls’ real world and fantasy adventures during their journey for freedom. Baby Doll dances to distract the person with the item; meanwhile, the girls enter Baby Doll’s fantasy world where they go on a more elaborate and complicated journey to get the equivalent of the item in the real world.  For example, when they go after the map, they have to distract Blue in the real world, while in the fantasy world they go through the remains of a battlefield and fight zombie-soldiers to reach the captain’s quarters before the messenger leaves with the map.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie; it met my expectations of a tragic world mixed the beauty and dangers of a fantasy world. Even if some of the characters were a bit hard to believe, you still genuinely like and care for them. You want to see them escape their hell on earth, and you want to see them conquer the obstacles that await them in Baby Doll’s fantasy world.

The movie is filled with moments of edge-of-your-seat-action, and emotional moments, and neither of those ever feel like they drag throughout the entire hour and forty minutes.

It may sound like the movie is geared to a certain demographic, but if you go in with an open mind you will enjoy the movie — and it just so happens that people who play video games will probably enjoy this movie much, much more.