Film Review: Sucker Punch
I don't think the movie Sucker Punch did that well in terms of critical reception, but I liked it. I can see some of the problems with it, but I think that the people who don't get this movie are probably just so sheltered that they've never known having an urgent need to escape the pain of reality by diving deep into the waters of their own mind and getting lost down there. I don't get how much different this movie is from Inception, and yet that movie is critically acclaimed and this movie is left in the dust? Because that has guys and this is about ladies? Because that has DiCaprio and there's no real famous name attachable to this one? I'd rather watch Sucker Punch than Inception any day of the week, especially with all the times Inception felt like a) the dullest dreams ever imagined and b) like the film was wasting my time.
So we start out with a little girl whose father murders her mother and blames it on her, getting her sent to the nuthouse. In the creepy insane asylum, they're going to lobotomize her in 5 days.
Enter a new reality. "Baby Doll" in this world is the new girl on the block at a brothel/dance hall, where girls perform titillating dances onstage for important clients. Baby Doll is going to be promised to a "high roller" who's going to pop her cherry in 5 days. Baby Doll has other plans. She organizes other girls there to try to see if they can break out of the place together. If they're discovered, they'll be killed. They have to steal certain items, which means Baby Doll has to dance sexily for guys possessing these items.
When Baby Doll dances, she enters a new reality. This one is empowering; like a video game character, she can wield a katana against foes, and her new friends become allies in her war against zombies, skeletons, robots, what have you, even a dragon. Basically, when she dances, she knows that while it just looks like she's objectifying and humiliating herself for men, she's actually doing it to set herself free, like its her secret weapon.
The movie has a twist ending I won't spoil, but it is probably a reason more people don't think highly of this film.
Themes and Ideas
- Fantasy and imagination: The film explores why people choose creativity as a kind of escapism in the mind. Baby Doll is a character who sets her mind free first, which is the key to freeing the rest of her.
- Women and sisterhood: The girls have to stick together in order to get out.
- Family: One of the main dramatic tensions in the movie is between two sisters. One doesn't want to go with Baby Doll's plan, afraid that they'll be killed, but the other is all for it, saying "We're already dead."
- Futility, hope, and despair: being trapped in a hopeless situation and using one's mind and willpower to escape are themes throughout.
This person agrees with me that Sucker Punch is greater than Inception. I honestly think two things are at play here with the film's reception:
- We're living in a puritanical culture that thinks anything sexy is bad writing, even though the point of the film is, as they say in the film, "A dance isn't just titillation, it has to mean something." And for Baby Doll, it does. Yet all people see about her character is what's on the surface, unable to see past the outfit she wears.
- Inception, a similar movie, was about the power of macho guys kicking ass, whereas this kind of mind-fuck movie, about vulnerable young women acting in self-defense, for some reason probably makes people uncomfortable.
- The twist. People probably can't forgive it for that, but I ask why they expected a happy Disney ending to a movie that starts out with homicide? American culture is too saccharine in its expectations. They want everyone singing and dancing and hugging and getting married at the end, or they call it a bad movie.
I think this is a deep, interesting movie about a journey into the mind of a character who is deeply suffering and very afraid. It might not be for everyone, and I'm not going to act like it's a perfect movie, but I enjoy it and I don't regret buying it and occasionally popping it in as a kind of guilty pleasure. Much of it actually is inspiring and meaningful to me, even though some people's experiences may not resonate as well with it.