The story centers on a girl nicknamed "Baby Doll", who finds herself framed by her evil stepfather and sentenced to an insane asylum, where she faces a lobotomy in 5 days unless she can escape. A matronly psychologist helps her and the other girls in the asylum, to cope with their situation by empowering them to retreat into an imagined world they create, in which they are powerful and able to bring about positive change in their circumstances.
As the story unfolds, Baby Doll leads a group of girls in a mission to escape the asylum, but we get to see their progress through the lens of Baby Doll's imagined fantasy world, a crazy blend of sci-fi, fantasy and steam-punk that propels itself with action visuals the Wachowski brothers(The Matrix Trilogy) would drool at.
The creative quality and almost relentless quantity of visual effects sequences has enough optical intensity to make this movie worth seeing. But the time spent on character motivation, though not a lot, is enough to help us invest in their struggle, especially in the second half of the movie. This is not a simple "eye-candy" visual effects film. It has plenty of heart and a few moments that left me leaning forward with a dropped jaw, not from some stunning CGI, but stunning tragedy inflicted on our heroes. I especially found the character "Rocket" to be compelling and for some reason very interesting to watch.
Another elements that might be easy to overlook is the costumes, which are almost a visual effect themselves. This is where the inspiration of "Heavy Metal" magazine and modern comic books makes itself most evident.
Although "Sucker Punch" is mostly escapist entertainment, it has some clear themes of overcoming evil and self-empowerment, with a healthy dose of self-sacrifice. From a biblical standpoint, we might support the first theme and automatically reject the second. This movie ultimately states (even literally through narration) that we are our own source of trials and victories in life. We are the ultimate power in control of our lives. Biblically, this idea doesn't fly. In fact, the movie itself is inconsistent on this point. In the last moments of the film, while this point is being made in narration, a main character is able to achieve her aspiration, though only because of the assistance of others, including a random stranger. In fact, other characters who wanted to achieve their aspirations much more strongly, failed in their attempts. This is in direct contradiction to the philosophy stated in the final words before the credits roll, leaving me a bit confused.
That said, their is room for some "self-determination" according to the Bible. Paul clearly struggles with conflict that he brings about in his own life (Romans 7:15-20) and David declares a determination to himself that he will choose to praise God. (Psalm 103:1-2) Messages inspiring self-determination on not by nature counter to scripture unless they promote self-determination as the ultimate source of strength. Sucker punch verbally validates ultimate self-determination but illustrates what might even be described as divine intervention or at least exterior supernatural aid. The movie doesn't beg for conversation, but it could be started fairly easily on the way home by simply asking out loud, "What exactly IS it about that movie that makes me feel like I can conquer the world right now?"
A mind-blowing, genre-bending experience that will likely be a benchmark for years to come. If you're a fan of sci-fi/fantasy action, you'd be crazy to miss this one.
Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving sexuality, violence and combat sequences, and for language.