Grim ‘Sucker Punch’ no lightweight fare


Before Sucker Punch, Zach Snyder had never quite made a bad film, his sense of style seeing him through even where the plot was confused (Watchmen) or absent (300). Sadly, even the technical showmanship he demonstrates in his latest film can’t save it – Sucker Punch really has no redeeming values.

The plot, such as it is, begins with Babydoll (Emily Browning), being framed for murder and thrown in a mental asylum. From here she escapes into her mind, first imagining herself to be in a brothel and then a world of samurais, Nazi zombies and explosions. Confused yet? The plot never rises above incoherent. The scenes of video game-like violence are thrown in with little to no context, and it is never made clear why Babydoll would choose a brothel as her place of mental escape, when the world she creates there is so much worse than the mental asylum she is leaving behind.

The real reason, of course, why Sucker Punch places its heroine in a brothel is to up the number of female characters on screen and drastically reduce the amount of clothes they’re wearing. The film pretends to be about female empowerment – in reality it is a fantasy for 13-year olds. Not doing anything to contradict this are the fight scenes, which are deliberately intended to feel as though they’ve come from an Xbox game.

The problem is that even Snyder’s target audience will be turned off by the film’s tone. Incomprehensible and even offensive Sucker Punch may be, but it could have still been a guilty pleasure along the lines of Crank. But Snyder gives his film a blacker than black atmosphere, piling misery on misery, tragedy on tragedy – simply put, Sucker Punch isn’t a whole lot of fun to watch. It’s a catastrophic miscalculation on Snyder’s part, and one that will prevent Sucker Punch from appealing even to those 13 year olds it’s thrown everything away to woo.

1 Star

8 thoughts on “Grim ‘Sucker Punch’ no lightweight fare

  1. This review could be compared to someone saying that an umbrella is a failure because it leaves you dry in rain.

    An incomprehensible plot is exactly what I would expect from a narrative in the mind of a girl in an insane asylum, who is dealing with the grief of losing her mother and sister, and the guilt of taking her sister’s life. If the plot were more lucid, it would be a failure.

  2. Shows the reviewer has no idea about the plot. He thinks the mental asylum is better than the brothel, when the brothel is a reflection of the tortures that she is receiving in the asylum, which is pretty clear that she is being raped by the orderlies. Instead of being raped, she is simply “dancing” for “customers”, and in this world is where she plots her escape from.

    Stick to simple minded plot movies like Paul Blart reviewer

  3. My word – I wish I had read this review before watching this tinker of a movie – my time and my money would have been saved. Even more funny are all the moronic studio plants like the two idiots who poster before me who praise the film and make fun of the reviewer for noticing how confused Snyder is while making something more complex than a video game – and this fool is supposed to be making Superman next!

  4. The fact that u don´t get it, doesn´t mean the movie has no plot. It’s a story inside a story. The asylum serves as a framing device/euphemism for the brothel.. and the surreal imaginarium narrates the emotions of the characters. Those “trips” are metaphors.
    Just ask: how would, an asylum, earn extra money? And this is real.. this has happened in numerous places… Prostitution… Now; how would u “manage” crazy girls to go through with this? A play. …get it? On the counterpart… u are the only sane person trying to get out, but u need aid from other crazy chicks… How would u manipulate them? …mmm… How about some crazy wild child-like stories to get the tools that u need? This is a linear obvious drama twisted through poetry in order to avoid being boring, sad and creepy.

  5. In my opinion, the film is about recovery from mental illness. We are told several times that the central persona is Sweetpea. The first time we see her Dr. Gorsky tells her “You control what happens in this world you created” and later she says herself “I’m the star of the show, it’s all about me”. She narrates the film – do we need to be told more clearly that the film is about her struggles?

    From this, and the “final sacrifice” near the end, we know that the entire story must take place in her head, right from the start. The other characters representing different aspects of herself. Baby Doll, the tiniest woman in the cast, in my opinion, represents Sweetpea’s couarge, which she is in constant danger of losing. First to a lobotomy and then to the “high roller”.

    The opening sequence sets up how Sweetpea lost her sanity. Her mother died leaving her at the mercy of her abusive step father. Baby doll, Sweetpea’s courageous self, tries to defy him, but he is too strong for her and goes after Sweetpea, here a child, who runs and locks herself in a closet. Initially safe, this closet becomes the place where she is found and trapped by her stepfather and where the child, representing Sweetpea’s innocence and sanity, dies. Late in the film, when all hope seems lost, Blue has Sweetpea locked in a closet. When Baby Doll rescues Sweetpea from the closet she then, symbolically, sets fire to it. If we look closer at the closet we can see that it is actually a padded cell. More evidence that Sweetpea’s sanity is being saved here.

    The Asylum “reality” is a result of Sweetpea’s acceptance that she has mental problems. The first step to recovery. The asylum is called Lennox House, but the key carried by the chief orderly, Blue, has the words Mt. Pleasant stamped on it, – a real Asylum which was burnt down. Another indication, along with the “theatre” setting, that this “reality” is not in fact real. As we find out later, the escape plan was attempted in the asylum reality, but Baby doll was sent to her lobotomy before Sweetpea could escape. At the last instant, before the lobotomy, we are then taken to the Bordello reality, presumably to avoid losing Baby doll. The scene switches from Baby doll about to be lobotomized in the asylum reality, to Sweetpea, onstage in the bordello reality, who is about to be “theatrically” lobotomized, which she calls a halt too.

    Clearly, the bordello is a reflection of the sexual abuse Sweetpea suffered at the hands of her step-father. Here again, we are told that Sweetpea is the “star of the show” and that it is all about her. Dr. Gorsky is here too, this time as a madam-come choreographer. She teaches Baby doll to, symbolically, bare her soul by dancing for the entertainment of others and to make this a fight for survival, instead of a humiliating surrender.

    These “dances” are the sequences where we are transported to the CGI-heavy, fight scenes. Those scenes are filled with a mish-mash of pop culture references, from Anime characters to Psuedo, Lord of the Rings style Orcs and I-robot clones. The sexy, Japanese, school girl uniform, representing both her lost innocence and the perverse demands of men. These sequences are straight-forward enough, she, Sweetpea, is struggling with her inner demons and must overcome them.

    After the escape from the closet toward the end, Sweetpea and Baby doll come up against another obstacle, which means that only one of them can get past. Baby doll sacrifices herself for Sweetpea. Sweatpea must give up all her delusions in order to recover, even the ones which protected and helped her, so Baby doll could not be saved.

    The bus journey simply represents the fact that there is “still some way to go” before full recovery, but that the hardest part is over and heads off into the sunrise, toward the “Paradise Diner” or sanity and, presumably, some kind of happiness.

    Of course this is just my interpretation and there could be many, equally valid interpretations.

    Maybe the “knee-jerkers” are right and this is just a “Maxim-culture inspired piece of misogyny”.

    I like to think not. –

  6. Oh, forgot to say; I loved every second of this film, which was not “miserable”, but a positive affirmation that any obstacle can be overcome. And it kicked some arse too.

  7. I love that people actually get this movie. I hate how the reviews are always so bad for it. I honestly question the minds of those who can’t grasp the movie. But Sucker Punch for me flows in a very clear path and though I didn’t expect everything that happened in the movie to happen I understood and followed it with absolutely no problems.

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