Got to see a preview screening of SUCKER PUNCH late last night (not since Ghostbusters had I been forced to sit this close to the screen though... front row, left side, sore neck). Here's my review... (with only very mild spoilers)
As you may know, the story has layers, and the dream within a dream is where all the action takes place... or rather parallels in a hyper-real fashion the action in the second layer (which may or may not happen in the first layer).
Got all that?
Basically, it's this dream within a dream (because I don't want to call it a world, it's more like a limbo, or dream-scape) where all the epic visual shit we see in the trailer takes place. If you've heard about the movie, or seen much of the previews, I don't think I'm telling you anything you don't know going in.
It's all of these layers that allow for the fantastic action and costuming etc.; the steam zombie Nazis, the giant rail-gun wielding samurai, the dragons, etc, and the outfits, the costuming gone wild, all the cool stuff. All the stuff everyone wonders if it will all work together. So that's the big question, does it?
The short answer, no.
Not to mention, the PG-13 rating, on a film that already traffics in some mature subject matter and themes of abuse (sexual, physical, psychological), as well as giant action set pieces centered around war and excessive killing, means it's all watered down, or sanitized. You have multiple sequences where these girls are fighting armies, with blades, semi-automatic guns, grenades, bombs, you name it, but with virtually no bloodshed (because the enemies are all conveniently non-human automatons).
I imagine it goes something like this. Zack Snyder directs 300 (an R rated bloodbath of a film), sets box office records, gets a blank check to do whatever... okay, Watchmen, full on, true to the source rated R adaptation. It stinks up the box office. Studio, "Okay Zack, you've still got some house money, but this time you play by our rules." And we get the homogenized studio treatment we have here. (Not really a good formula for a visionary work by a director, Snyder practically does everything here, soup to nuts.)
And because of this, you don't really get too invested in any of it. It's just pretty pictures, put together in what's meant to be a clever or mind-bending way, but it all collapses without the special sauces (actual character, gore, blood, or anything with substance).
Then there's the music.
So, song selection rant over, what's even worse about the soundtrack/score, is that the music is part of the visual/thematic formula that the movie settles into, and it's very distracting. Each action vignette is prefaced with the latest blaring cover track, which eventually fades to score, and the back to a reprise to tie up the scene. Nothing wrong in theory there, but the problem is they take the focus, there's too much emphasis on the music, it overrides the visuals, and again, the music is terrible. Zack's on record as being a Heavy Metal fan, so I'll assume that includes the movie, which is probably inspiration, to some extent, for this movie, as well as the soundtrack, the difference being, that was a really good and very contemporary soundtrack... again, this is neither.
I know I rant at length about soundtracks, but folks, think about it, sound and music are a HUGE part of good movie making. Name any classic or blockbuster film, 9 times out of 10 they have a great piece of music or score at the heart. Think Star Wars, think Jaws, or Psycho, etc etc, most likely you immediately think of their soundtracks, or at least tie those to your thoughts of the movie. Try and imagine Star Wars without John Williams’ score, if it had some lame synth space music of the era, it may still be a classic, but it’s an entirely different film. Go out of your way with the sound and miss, and you severely damage your film.
The good stuff?
It's pretty, and there's lots of cool stuff to watch (arguably most of which is in the trailer).
So, if you're really stoked by all the cool stuff that's teased, go see it on the big screen. There’s more of it, and it’s some damn cool stuff. Otherwise, Zack needs to stick to adapting strong source material, because Nolan he ain't.
Go and see it, have fun with it, just don't expect too much beyond the visuals.