So I went and saw Sucker Punch; chances are that some of you all did as well. Let’s discuss. Spoilers after the cut.
There were several things about this movie that I can say, but I am going to be as polite as I can be. The first thing that I want to say is: it was terrible. Terrible. I can’t even begin to stress how glad I was to spend only 5 dollars on this movie, if I had spent more, I would have been pissed. From all the press surrounding it, I am surprised at the terrible development of the characters, the writing, the music, and the concept of “female empowerment.” Let’s get the low down of my dislike:
[spoiler] Let’s not forget what started this whole crazy terrible movie. The fact that her stepfather killed her sister and framed her for it, had her placed in an asylum, and, so that she wouldn’t realize it, has her lobotomized so she doesn’t get out and take the money her mother left to her. He has the main manager of the asylum, Blue, fake the doctor’s signature to have the lobotomy performed on her in five days. Let’s also mention that apparently the sole doctor that works there full-time is opposed to lobotomies, but apparently has never questioned why they keep being performed at the asylum when they have to be cleared by her? Yeah, plot hole! Anyway, instead of trying to figure out a way out of the asylum in real life, Babydoll retreats to some made-up land in her head, where all the girls are sex workers, to find a way out. Then when she dances for the first time, she retreats into her mind again! (Inception anyone?) There, she fights for what she wants and gathers the materials she needs to escape, even though we know she isn’t actually doing that, her recruited team is actually putting their necks on the line while she dances for the entranced men. Every time she retreats into her mind, the clothes get smaller, more transparent, and frankly disappear, because that is what the average 20-year-old girl in the 1950s always dreamed about. After they fight and do their sexy dances, they suffer terribly by being beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted, and killed (not Baby Doll, remember, she entrances the men). Only two survive to make it the outside of the building! Yes, the whole time they have been inside the building. At that moment, but not before when all the others were dying (literally) to follow Babydoll and get free, Babydoll realizes that she has to sacrifice herself to save the last girl and let her escape. She distracts the men outside in her Swarovski-encrusted sexy sailor costume, where you know she is most likely going to either be beaten up or raped, and lets the last surviving girl leave. Then you are brought out of her first dream and subjected to her quick lobotomy (performed by the visiting doctor, played by John Hamm) that apparently freaks John Hamm out because there was “something in her eyes!”, and finally she is almost assaulted again at the hand of Blue. She luckily is saved when the doctor finally puts the pieces together in her clearly inept brain and calls the cops on Blue and the corrupt people in the asylum. The movie ends with Babydoll being calmly out of her mind and no problems are solved. [/spoiler]
The characters are one-dimensional and, frankly, badly acted. I can’t even being to understand why they were made that way, I mean, the main character didn’t speak until about 30 minutes into the movie (or at least it felt like 30 minutes). I came into this movie hoping that there was going to be some kick-ass strong characters, and when talking to people who had already seen it beforehand about what they experienced, I was worried going into it. Turns out for good reason. I can’t even being to understand how Jena Malone could take on a role like this, especially as I think of her as the kick-ass protagonist in Saved. Vanessa Hudgens was terrible as I expected, and not surprised at all that she would take on any role that she would think could save her declining career. Girl realizes it is a hard knock life for a mediocre actress outside the Disney machine. Abby Cornish wasn’t too bad, but I expect better from her. Though to be honest, how much more could she do with a character like hers? Not much. Emily Browning, there isn’t much to say there. She was dressed in a stereotypical school girl outfit that must have titillated the 13-year-old kid sitting next to me who kept freaking out every time the girls came out less and less clothed. Frankly, it must have given a boner to every single guy in the audience there. I was also annoyed with the name of her character, “Babydoll.” Really? Really? We are going to refer to this young woman as a “young girl” and call her Babydoll, when it is clearly stated that she is 20?! I don’t understand, not at all. There is one other main girl, but she is so pushed to the side that I don’t remember her name. It frankly didn’t matter and I have an excellent memory. I feel bad placing blame on some of these girls for the horrendous portrayal of these characters when in fact they were just badly written. I guess this is why Warner Brothers let go of their “no leading ladies” policy, when the movie doesn’t do the characters justice. I also think that is why this whole theme of domestic and sexual abuse was allowed to never be resolved and solved in a rational manner, because Warner Brothers seems to have no concern shaming women completely. This movie is the furthest from the widely publicized “female empowerment” that it claimed to be. I would not be surprised if the actors pulled a complete 180 when they are done having to promote the film according to their contracts.
There is no way in the world that Zach Snyder could have thought that he could send a positive message with this movie. None at all. All he apparently knows how to do is shove all the aspects of anime and fantasy into one film and call it a masterpiece with a lesson. Seriously. I mean how did he think the audience wouldn’t recognize that he practically ripped off the orcs from The Lord of the Rings? Wrong, we did. The first thought of the one battle scene involving dragons was “WTF?! WHAT ARE THEY DOING IN MORDOR?!” It was that obvious. Don’t even get me started on the fact that the main character’s special skill is to dance so sexily, that men can be robbed by the other girls around them and not even notice because she is so “entrancing.” Annalee Newitz on i09 broke down the immediate metaphors perfectly:
It’s not hard to get the “incoming metaphor” message, so we’re obliged to use a couple of brain cells to figure out the symbolism of placing a young woman in a mental institution that becomes a whorehouse that becomes a series of increasingly cheesy action movies.
A few possible interpretations are:
1. Insane people and sex workers are interchangeable.
2. Women can only triumph over adversity in their dreams.
3. Action movies spring from the imaginations of enslaved, mentally unstable prostitutes.
This is literally all this movie is about, there isn’t anything beyond that. Somehow Zach Snyder thought that would apparently equal female empowerment. That you can survive your torture and terrible fate by having part of your brain removed. Yay! Zach Snyder fixed all women who have suffered! He has the solution! Just have yourself lobotomized! That’s the cure-all. Fail, Zach Snyder, fail. This movie might possibly be the furthest thing from empowerment. Frankly, if you aren’t insulted I would be bothered, though I can understand if you don’t look too deeply into it. Somehow her reality was inside a dream inside a dream, which you know you can’t take at face value, Inception taught us that and did it better. I AM NOT FOOLED, ZACH! You can’t add layer after layer of alternate reality and call it plot development. It just doesn’t work. Overall, this movie tried too hard and failed miserably.
So should you see it? If you want to see mindless entertainment and teenage boys getting boners, then yes. Otherwise save your money and download it eventually, or completely forget that it even exists. That would be the better option.