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Sucker Punch! A Non-Lifetime Movie Review

This weekend Chris, Qualler, and I joined some friends to see the new escapist action (does this count as action, Chris and Qualler?) flick Sucker Punch. I was expecting to really hate the 2 hour long Zack Snyder romp, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. Sure, it was problematic, and not at all empowering, but...it was fun, and pretty, and it did allow for that couple hours of escapism.

The movie was about a young girl who tried to defend her sister against her evil stepfather and landed herself in an old-timey (at least I think it was supposed to be old-timey?) mental hospital, five days away from a lobotomy. I have to say, at this point in the film, I felt uneasy, because I am really afraid of lobotomies. I don't want one, please!! At the mental hospital, she learns to escape her terrible life through her imagination (hooray! Kinda like Reading Rainbow) and so the movie jumps between different imagined worlds in which she is empowered--forget about the fact that she's still a complete victim in her real life.

One of the most problematic aspects of this movie was that most of it takes place in her sort of base level imagined world, and from that imagined world she goes even deeper into other imagined worlds. In this first world, her default mental escape, she's a captive prostitute held against her will and trying to escape with her four sidekicks. Now, why would she imagine this world in order to escape her real world? Is it because she is unable to really escape her situation as captive until she goes even deeper into her own mind? The suggestion of this escape might be something like "sure, it's bad to be a sex slave, but not as bad as being in a mental hospital!" or even "sure, it's bad to be raped, but not as bad as having a lobotomy!" There were a lot of interesting and, I felt, problematic parallels there. In this imagined world she had some agency, but only as enacted through her sexuality. Cause, you know...she's a woman. It wasn't until she went into her deeper fantasies that she could really kick some ass.

I do think that this movie had a lot of interesting things happening, especially in how it ended (I don't want to spoil things but let's start a comments conversation). Does this woman really have agency in this movie? Is it in any way empowering? How about the fact that in all her fantasies there is a benevolent male character who helps her out? Couldn't that have been a woman? Or is this commentary on the fact that we can never escape the patriarchy?

I'd almost recommend this movie, especially if you like Zack Snyder films (I thought this was way better than 300). Expect it to be pretty, have a good soundtrack, and some great fight scenes, but don't expect it to be much more than that. Oh, and if you're a high school pseudo-goth girl, you'll probably love it.

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  1. Blogger chris | 1:32 PM |  

    Very nice succinct rundown of Sucker Punch. I was actually way more bored with the movie than I thought I was going to be. I hate the "we have 5 things to do before this movie ends" trope of action/adventure movies. It totally sucks the fun out of wondering where a movie's going to take you. Most movies like this you can predict the ending of (even when there's a "twist" like this one, though it was made very obvious from the premise) but when I know it's going to go 1) mental hospital altercation, 2) brothel dancing/special item obtaining mission, 3) robot/creature battle, 4) repeat for its entire two hours, I got very bored somewhere shortly after the baby dragon was killed.

    To say something positive though, I hate "Sweet Dreams" and I hate how overstylized Snyder is, but I thought the first wordless 15 minutes were pretty astounding to look at/watch, despite how much it contributed to (shudder) Babydoll's lack of a voice.

  2. Blogger qualler | 3:46 PM |  

    In a way, Sucker Punch is already kinda like a Lifetime Movie. Albeit, with a lot more goth-girl stuff.

    I definitely hated this movie the least of any of Zach Snyder's movies and, in fact, kind of enjoyed it. I don't mind the "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" type of action movie, either, because it lets me know which parts of the movie to nap through. And I successfully napped through most of the action sequences, so I feel pretty good about that.

  3. Blogger chris | 4:28 PM |  

    Didn't you say in the theater that this was your first Zack Snyder film? Or just first Zack Snyder film in the theaters? Cuz I feel the Dawn of the Dead remake and Watchmen are both much much better movies, albeit mostly because of their source material, but still.

  4. Blogger qualler | 4:34 PM |  

    Ooh, I forgot about the Dawn of the Dead remake which I saw in theaters. That's far and away my fave Zach Snyder movie. I've seen 300 and Watchmen on HBO and thought they were irritating/snoozefests, respectively.

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