In its opening weekend, Zack Snyder's latest ocular feast got its well-shaped tush kicked by a sequel to a kids' movie—and we can't help but think that the less-than-stellar reviews had something to do with that.
Here's a sampling of what the critical major leagues had to say.
THEM THAT LIKED IT
"I'd suggest the film is a wonderfully wild provocation—an imperfect, overlong, intemperate and utterly absorbing romp through the id that I wouldn't have missed for the world."
—Betsy Sharkey, The Los Angeles Times
"Sucker Punch doesn't all work by a long shot, but it confirms my sense that Snyder belongs near the top of a very short list of directors who are trying to reinvent a personal, auteurist vision of cinema at the most commercial, mass-market, attention-disordered end of the spectrum."
Andrew O'Hehir, Salon
"...A series of preposterously overblown music videos, thick with the heavy desaturation and pitch-bend slo-mo that dominates all Snyder's other pictures. Which is fine, but to truly blow us away, all this sense-assaulting pizzazz requires both strong connective tissue and an emotional anchor."
—Dan Jolin, Empire Magazine
THEM THAT DIDN'T
"The visual palette suggests the creepy pastel paintings of Guy Peellaert (Rock Dreams); the fantasy battles with monsters and samurais echo the muscular landscapes of Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo. The movie is like an arrested adolescent's Google search run amok."
—Richard Corliss, TIME
"The explosions, spearings, decapitations and all-out mayhem, much of it executed with the sort of elegant moves and delayed aerial suspension pioneered in The Matrix, will delight fans who crave this sort of thing from movies above all else. ... But the dreamlike or imaginary context in which these sequences are presented automatically drains them of any sense of engagement."
—Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
"Assaulted by the pounding, monotonous violence and derivative videogame scenarios of Sucker Punch, my hostage eyeballs began to flicker much like those of Babydoll (Emily Browning), the child-woman waif whose degrading travails provide this fantasy with its nonsensical action."
—Lisa Scharzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
"This is a green-screen, mash-up video game with an indecipherable plot; scantily clad, busty women giving flat performances, and the least interesting villains and monsters in recent memory. That it comes Zack Snyder, from the creative force behind 300 and Watchmen, only makes it that much more disappointing."
—Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
"Zack Snyder's imagination is certainly feverish, though not exactly fertile. Mr. Snyder, whose previous live-action films are, in ascending order of quality, 300, Watchmen and the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, specializes in recombining pulp pop clichés into grotesque and bloated spectacles that show just enough visual bravura to be disappointing rather than merely awful."
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times
"The women, as they do in so many superhero tales, lounge in tight blouses and tiny skirts—barely enough upon which to hang their ninja swords. Though that may delight comic book devotees (and fans of the Japanese animé story Sailor Moon, whose characters bear a striking resemblance to Punch's), it won't do much for fans of, say, narrative, plot or character."
—Scott Bowles, USA Today
"Looks aren't everything. Case in point: Sucker Punch, a dazzling visual design that goes tone-deaf every time it opens its dumb mouth or makes claims to profundity."
—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"So far, the raw material has been distinctive enough to camouflage Snyder's increasingly threadbare bag of tricks: toggling between slow and fast motion, extreme close-ups and vertiginous long shots. He feeds back the kind of bastardized cinematic effects that comic books, pop videos and games took from film in the first place. It's a high-impact, low-return aesthetic that promotes a tawdry gloss above character and story."
—Tom Charity, CNN
"Director Zack Snyder and his production crew clearly had great fun envisioning this swords-and-corsets fantasy. Few others are likely to approach their level of enjoyment."
—Mark Jenkins, The Washington Post