Why I’m torn on Sucker Punch

There have been reviews aplenty the past few weeks, both lambasting and praising Zack Snyder’s new film, Sucker Punch, which was released in cinemas across Australia last week.

I’d been meaning to put my two cents in for a little while now (since posting this especially), as I am very much in two minds about whether I want to watch it.

Reasons in favour:

  • It’s directed by Zack Snyder, and while he’s no Palme d’Or winner, when he gets it right, he gets it pretty damn right. His previous efforts include the remake of Dawn of the Dead, 300 and Watchmen. With a penchant for bringing to life graphic novels, in the most hyperbolic of fashions, Snyder’s films can sometimes embody everything you want out of a good action film.
  • I happen to be a sucker for a good action film. Anything with weaponry, fighting, combat, car chases and explosions (I’m hesitant to say ‘violence’, lest you think I have masochistic tendencies) that is well executed is generally something I want to see. I’m always intrigued as to how it will be coordinated, how far they’ll take it without just blatantly going for shock value. (I feel the need to repeat here: NOT MASOCHISTIC). (As my friend would say, it’s the teenage boy in me.)

Reasons against:

  • From what I’ve seen in the previews, it seems like Snyder’s trying to do too many things all at once with this film. It’s got robots, it’s got orcs, I believe there are samurais even, aspects of it look like they’re set in space… It’s a very Dungeons & Dragons meets post-apocalyptic, yet futuristic world he’s got going on and I for one, don’t know if it can all work in unison very well. I see what he’s trying to do; incorporate all these cool and interesting elements, but it’s somewhat a case of ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ and I don’t think there’s enough time, let alone much of a story to do it all justice.

See what happened the last time someone tried to merge all their favourite things into one.

He was left with an amalgamated mess. And happened to lose his only, half brother.

Okay, tangent approaching. Back on point…

  • There have been many arguments bandied about that are labelling the film sexist and offensive, while the actors on the other hand see it as an empowering film for women. While I’m hesitant to get into the minefield that is the former, I have to say I don’t think Sucker Punch can be heralded as ‘empowering’ for women. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for women being able to walk around in whatever the hell they want, and not fear aspersions being thrown in their direction. At the same time, I am very much for women being strong and being able to skilfully brandish a sword/use a semi-automatic/do a roundhouse, etc.
  • Key word: skilfully.

    But (and I may be alone in this), with names such as ‘Baby Doll, Sweet Pea, and Blondie, and when they’re dressed in skimpy clothing, you can’t help but wonder what they’re being portrayed as. It seems as if it becomes more about tickling one’s fancy then about ‘Hey, here’s a strong woman who can handle herself’.

    And I just don’t believe that they can.

    Look at characters like Sarah Connor (The Terminator and The Terminator 2: Judgement Day), Trinity (The Matrix trilogy), Beatrix Kiddo (AKA The Bride, Kill Bill Volume 1 & 2) and Ellen Ripley (Alien films).
    They could take on those girls any day.
    Those women are empowering.
    Not Baby Doll.

I could probably waffle on about this all day, but it’s about time I step down from my soapbox and give it a rest. Let’s face it, I’m probably going to end up seeing the movie anyway, as there’s really no point me casting aspersions if I haven’t even seen the film. Snyder’s films make for good escapism value, and I suppose aren’t necessarily trying to be anything more.

Having said that though, I still stand firm in my thinking that Vanessa Hudgens does not an empowering female character make.

Not in the slightest.

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6 Comments on “Why I’m torn on Sucker Punch”

  1. June 12, 2011 at 17:18 #

    Where have you been of late? we miss you!

  2. October 9, 2011 at 16:47 #

    So.. did you end up seeing it? I waited till it came out on DVD because I was similarly torn.

    • December 12, 2011 at 21:13 #

      Hey Omega, I’m so sorry for the ridiculously late reply! Yes, I did end up seeing it and, well, it was okay.

      I still don’t think it’s empowering, but it does fit the bill if you’re after a mind-numbing, (for lack of a better word) popcorn flick.

      What did you think of it?

      • December 12, 2011 at 21:44 #

        Well.. it looked like a music video. Beautifully shot. And the soundtrack is awesome. It’s a very troubling film from a feminist perspective though. It’s hard to say “Oh, hahaa, yes, it’s a huge rape fantasy, but the effects are great so just ignore that and enjoy the movie!”…

        Definitely not empowering, I don’t think 🙂 If you want an empowering stupid action hero movie about girls beating up baddies? Kick-Ass. 🙂

  3. Peter
    December 1, 2011 at 16:07 #

    Now you’ve seen the movie, would you change any of your comments?

    I didn’t know anything about the movie other than there being a group of “super hero” girls in fight scenes (does that make me sexist for wanting to see it just from that aspect?).

    I initially thought that the dance hall sequences were reality, but now I’m pretty sure that they were in Baby Doll’s mind too. That would mean that the fighting sequences were a fantasy within her dance hall fantasy, though.

    Apparently, on the DVD there is an extended version of the movie that explains more, and from what I’ve read, it suggests that at least some of stuff that took place in the dance hall sequences were reality. There was supposed to be five days between when Baby Doll arrived at the asylum and the lobotomy, so now I’m even more confused. Maybe Baby Doll really did dance.

    Anyway, I’m keen to know what you think about the movie now.

    • December 12, 2011 at 21:33 #

      Hi Peter 🙂

      In all honesty, I wouldn’t change my comments. I think it provides for good escapism value, and there are a handful of good scenes – particularly the scene choreographed to Bjork’s (and remixed by Skunk Anansie) ‘Army of Me’.

      Ha ha, no Peter, I don’t think you’re sexist 🙂
      In fact, I didn’t actually label the film sexist myself. I’m just opposed to it being described as ’empowering’.

      I thought the dance sequences were reality too, and from what I had heard of the film – it was only the fight scenes that were fantasy; Baby Doll’s means of both literal and metaphorical escapism from the asylum. It would be interesting though, if there were more layers to the film. Might have to give it a second viewing.

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