Ladies and Gents, this review contains SPOILERS.
Critics have slammed it, and the box office numbers are dismal in comparison to the $82 million budget. The former affecting the latter, I’m sure. But Sucker Punch has quickly become a polarizing film in pop culture fandom. I stand firmly on the side of the pleated skirts. Orcs, fishnets, and Steampunk Nazis? Oh, yeah. Baby Doll leads us on a physics-defiant fantasy ride within her two-tiered dissociative delusions, which are the movie.
The soundtrack is out-of-control awesome. Look, Sucker Punch is not exactly dialogue-heavy (you knew that, right?) The music is a driving force and works as a transition from reality to dream world. Grit and rhythm engage you in Baby Doll’s mental reality. It works. Soundtrack downloaded. The music must be experienced in an IMAX theater.
I have got to give it to these ladies; they pulled off some phenomenal fight sequences. I suppose 12 weeks of training and dead-lifting 200 pounds might get one in shape. Particular props go to Vanessa Hudgens and her super-sweet ass kicking of one steam-powered Nazi robot. I literally squealed when she was done. Aside from the combat scenes, the action sequences were just visually stunning. Scenes of dodging dragons in a fighter jet and exploding futuristic cities, were wildly amusing.
Since I’m on the topic of eye candy, those girls are hot to the tenth power. No one should be ashamed of saying so. Yeah, the costumes are clearly fetishist, but fetish does not equal “bad.” Personally, I can’t wait for the cosplay Sucker Punch will inspire. I’m looking at you, Dragon*Con.
The story does drag at the beginning, but who’s going to see this shit for the story? Seriously.
As is the way of Hollywood, Sucker Punch touts some major violence towards women, mostly in the form of attempted and implied rape, and a murder or two. The ladies do fend off the physical affronts, and the violators are shown reaping the consequences of their actions. But the “damsel in distress” is not just an emotional plot hook, it is the crux of the film. The reason the girls have to defend their person at all is because they are held against their will. In one layer of Baby Doll’s dream world, they are sex slaves and are fighting for their freedom. Ultimately, I’m not so much bothered that it is in the film, but because Sucker Punch garnered a PG-13 rating.
Snyder originally had a sex scene with Baby Doll and The High Roller (John Hamm), consensual sex where Baby Doll is enjoying herself. The MPAA ordered this to be edited. Their request cut the scene down to where it looked as if Baby Doll was not experiencing pleasure, thus it seemed as if she was being taken advantage of. The MPAA was OK with that version. Why would they want that in a film where the girls are fighting against that very thing? Snyder cut the scene all together.
I take issue with the MPAA and its culturally and politically skewed rating system. That is where the blazing misogyny dwells. Sucker Punch contains no blood and most of the more extreme violence is implied. There is still slavery and murder of young women. But it gets the studio-sanctioned PG-13 rating once the female pleasure portion of the show is cut?
I am a woman with a daughter, and I enjoyed this movie. The female characters have enough spit and fire in them, and ultimately they triumph. I also recognize it in the context of the 1950s setting. But the interwebs are alive with folks bitching about gender roles and vapidity of Sucker Punch. Do me a solid; direct your angst towards the MPAA. I don’t think this film should be accessible to the 13-17 crowd, but I guess the studio has to make their money back somehow.
Sucker Punch is a scantily clad acid trip, which may not appeal to everyone’s sensibilities. However, it is damn good time. If you expect this to be intellectual fodder for the ages, you’re an idiot. I’d really like it if everyone lightened the fuck up, let it be the cheesecake film that it is obviously meant to be. Pop culture has been graced with five new kick-ass ladies: Baby Doll, Sweet Pea, Rocket, Blondie, and Amber. Enjoy the view. I did.