*Warning: Here Be Spoilers for the movie Sucker Punch. Do not read if you do not want the movie ruined for you.*
|image source: Boom Tron|
Life intervened with Scott's plans for a night out at the movies. So the movie came and left theaters and I forgot about its existence. Then Sucker Punch came out on DVD. Thus began Scott's search of every RedBox we came across in the city of Pittsburgh for this particular film.
He finally succeeded in his search last week. At first I told him that I would pass on the movie. But he reminded me of its steampunk inspiration. It didn't take much prompting after that- I was in the mood for a movie, and I could always pull out a Sudoku puzzle if the movie became too much of a nerdy gamer guy's wet dream.
The premise of the movie is very simple- a girl is sent to a mental institution (that, oddly enough, looks like a spooky haunted Victorian mansion on the outside, despite the fact that the movie seems to be in a relatively modern setting) by her abusive stepfather. Moments before a scheduled lobotomy is performed on her (which her stepfather bribed the head orderly to arrange) she disappears into the recesses of her mind, altering the mental institution and the people in it to deal with the reality of her own grave situation. Here she has created her own dark Wonderland, where the head orderly is the owner of a club and prostitution ring, the head psychiatrist is the dance instructor of the club, and the girls she meets in the mental ward are performers/prostitutes in this club, all held against their will.
|image source: A.V. Club|
|image source: Entertainment Weekly|
This movie has surprised me. It wasn't good, but I can't say that it was bad either. There is no real complex plot. The movie does play out like a video game. It starts with a conflict, and then one big goal to accomplish. In order to accomplish that goal several smaller tasks must be completed to collect all of the items to complete the final goal. Add the impractical clothes of the female leads in the fight scenes and their superhuman ability to defeat scores of foes without obtaining so much as a scratch, it does truly deserve the label of a male gamer geek's wet dream.
Sucker Punch is not a girl-power movie in the least, although it tries so hard to be. Despite the five female leads working to escape the exploitation of the club owner, the women themselves seem to be exploited by the filmmaker by the garb they wear in the club and battle scenes. There's just too much that appeals to men that I cannot say with any certainty appeals to women. Sure, it's great to see women kicking ass in the style of King Leonidas in his men in 300, but I like that kind of a film, and most women I know do not.
What this movie did have, however, was a nearly flawless compilation of music and scenes that flowed easily into each other. It wasn't the confusion of "A dream within a dream within a dream" that Inception is mocked for. It is known that the head psychiatrist at the mental institution practices a sort of therapy where the patient takes herself out of the pain of the present world to create a new world for herself, which is precisely what Babydoll does in her most difficult moments.
But the very human repercussions of her playacting in her mind also have very real consequences for her in the real world, showing that one cannot escape their reality no matter how hard they try. In a way I was greatly reminded of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There as well as the psychological backstory behind American McGee's video game Alice. The comparison could not have been most obvious than in the first "battle" scene with all five female leads against the steam and clockwork powered knights, where a cover of "White Rabbit" played in the background throughout the entire scene:
The musical selections in this movie were excellent. Most of them were cover songs, but were obviously carefully chosen due to their lyrics. They all made sense with the various scenes, and most of them were by female musicians in an attempt to cultivate the "girl power" and the "escape from reality" themes the movie tries to portray. It was nice that the lead actress, Emily Browning, also sang some of the songs. My particular favorite was her cover of the Smiths' "Asleep":
There is no real deep meaning in this movie- it is mostly purely scantily-clad females kicking ass and taking names. But if you did like 300 or like video-game inspired movies I think it's worth a shot. It also helps if you're a heterosexual male.
FYI: Scott's opinion of the movie was that he had never liked watching such a sucky, plotless movie so much (i.e. he succumbed to the brainwashing caused by the wardrobe choices and flawless physiques of the females.)