Friday, November 15, 2013

Sucker Punch

If you were to read my review of Limitless on Wednesday, you may get a slight sense that I do not harbor all of the world's best thoughts and feelings towards Sucker Punch, the 2011 movie directed and co-written by Zack Snyder.  It is about a girl who experiences some pretty severe trauma and is sent to a mental institution.  While there, she works towards an escape plan before her evil stepfather has her lobotomized.

Now, it sounds like there might be some female empowerment in that description, and I fully believe that Snyder was going for a movie about female empowerment.  Unfortunately, when you name your main character 'Babydoll,' you perhaps show a lack of understanding towards the matter of the empowered female.  Yes, I know that this movie is extremely stylized and that the names fit into that structure, but I plan to take a good look at the style used to show just how strong a female can be.

While Babydoll (Emily Browning) is institutionalized, she forms an alternate reality in her mind where she is the new arrival at a brothel (because that is where a woman's imagination would take them, and is not at all just a reflection of the male fantasy of where a woman's mind would escape to), where the other patients are 'dancers' and the staff are mobsters who run the brother.  Babydoll soon realizes that she has a very magical dance that can hypnotize the horny men.  While doing this seductive dance, Babydoll once again forms an alternate reality in her mind where there are always a lot of special effects, swords and explosions.

It is in these scenes of escapism that Zack Snyder goes totally off the rails with the special effects.  Whether she is fighting giant Samurai or battling against the Third Reich in steampunk WWII, it is a non-stop visual ride.  There were some moments where the visuals looked quite nice, but there were other times where the it fell apart and was unable to be consistent.  While some people may enjoy this, I found that it fairly quickly became way too much.  Fight scenes are great and fun, and so are explosions.  But when that's all you have, constantly bombarding you with no real connection to the characters or plot, it can become boring.  This is exacerbated by the fact that all of this action happens in a dream within a dream.  When the action is that detached to reality, it is hard to give a damn.

And this leads back to what I see is the biggest problem of the movie.  The premise seems to be that the strength of the female to overcome the nasty things in the man's world is to imagine they are somewhere else.  Seriously.... that is what this movie says.  That is Snyder's vision of the strong woman... someone who can create an alternate reality because they are too unfit to cope with real life trauma.  So, while we have scenes of Babydoll being brave and taking down mammoth sword fighters, we are also shown that this is the only place where she is strong.

This film, in all reality, is just a male fantasy of what a strong woman is.  She has to retreat into her mind when the men own reality.  She has to be identified by names like Babydoll, Rocket, Sweat Pea, or any of the other names that believe were being used stylistically, but ultimately just show the male fantasy side of this picture.  The strong woman also, while creating an alternate reality for herself, puts herself in a role where she is sexually subservient to men, and dresses in short skirts, short shorts, or any other sexy outfit.  Thank you, Zack Snyder, thank you for showing a generation of young woman that if they are ever treated poorly they can escape in their minds into a more degrading reality, and that is where their power is.

Rating - 1 out of 4 stars

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I'm smarter than a bat. I know this because I caught the little jerk bat that got in my apartment, before immediately and inadvertently bringing him back in. So maybe I'm not smarter than a bat.