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Why I Like: Sucker Punch

January 7, 2012

Yeah. I said it. I like Sucker Punch. That Zack Snyder film you all hated. Me, the feminist. Sorry, and all.

When people complain to me about Sucker Punch, I always want to say that hated phrase ‘I think you missed the point’.

The problem is that implies there’s some lofty One True Meaning intended by Snyder, which only a handful of snobby elites can grasp. And I don’t believe that about films at all. If you think a film is shite, then it was shite. For you. The point I picked from this film probably differs from the point you picked up from it. I just want to justify why for me this film wasn’t as terrible as everyone decided it was.

And yes, I’m talking about the outfits. The skimpy, skimpy outfits, the over-the-top displays, the pandering to fanboys worldwide. Because that’s why this film is called Sucker Punch – it panders to all those fetishes, and then punches you in the face.

Sexual attractiveness is obviously the goal, and the actors and their costumes definitely deliver – but for me, all the scenes in the frame narrative of the brothel were achingly uncomfortable. The clothes constantly reminded me that the characters were too young and too innocent for all the awful things they were being forced to do. After the Rule of Cool action sequences, fighting dragons and dodging explosions, we’re jerked back into this nasty scenario and reminded that young girls in short skirts is Really Fucking Creepy and not cool at all.

The stylised action sequences as symbols for the girls’ fight to free themselves was obvious, but even here they can’t escape the misogyny that surrounds them – they imagine themselves as super-sexy warriors because they seem unable to see themselves outside of the male gaze. Even in visualising their escape, they can still only consider themselves as sex objects. Badass, wise-cracking objects, but objects all the same.

It delivers on almost every geek fetish, and then brutally shows us the consequences – a true slap in the face to the view much of geek culture still holds of women (I love you guys, but you have to admit – the super-sexy hacker girl who loves video games and heavy metal as your perfect girlfriend is starting to get annoying).

There are reasons to consider Sucker Punch a weak film, but I don’t think misogyny or pandering to the fanboy market is one of them; and I urge people to give it another go. I think it does far more than it says on the tin.

On the other hand – I said I like the film, but I don’t love it. Directly after watching it the first time, I couldn’t stop raving about it, but on closer inspection I would agree that the acting isn’t fantastic and the plot feels quite contrived, trying to drag us from one gorgeous set-piece to another. It does, however, have a blistering soundtrack.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2012 10:28 pm

    I often feel I have to defend Sucker Punch as having more to it than people think it has. I know that most of that’s irrational because he didn’t build all these metaphors and stuff into it. BUT I think it’s a film that has lots of tidbits of his thoughts and feelings that he didn’t intend, and that what people read into it and is in itself very interesting.

    • January 8, 2012 6:12 pm

      Yeah – I certainly agree that if it says anything, it probaly says more than he meant it to. Even if we only read those themes into ourselves, surely it’s still worth the discussion, instead of disregarding it straight off.

  2. January 8, 2012 12:26 am

    Yes, everything you said. You phrased it well why the use of mini-skirts was actually a little more uncomfortable than just: it’s male fan-service.

    I think what I mostly enjoyed was, aside from the misogynistic symbolism, there was a lot of pyhsical strength in the characters, too. And what’s even more impressive is the actresses didn’t have stunt doubles. So not only did they kickass, but they can kick ass *off screen*. It was just nice to prove that glamorous women of today are capable of strength generally associated with men.

    Aside from all of this, it was an adaption of One Flew Over the Koo-Koo’s Nest and who doesn’t love adaptions or OFOTKKN? I enjoyed how the story was reinvented. I’d also disagree with you on the quality of their acting skills, but we also disagree on Daniel Radcliff (who is lovely, don’t get me wrong).

    • January 8, 2012 6:17 pm

      Yeah – the physical strength was a nice touch, but I feel that’s present in a lot of films of this genre. Like, in Aeon Flux, she’s definitely glamorous and definitely kick-ass, but as a character she leave me totally uninterested; so I think it needs to work with the other elements to be effective.

      And, not that One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest needed adapting, but this does it brilliantly anyway, even if it makes different points than the original. Still haunting, and still clever.

      It’s not their acting ability I take issue with, just parts where the plot or writing lets them down a bit and it turns a bit wobbly. The film is slick enough to carry it without you really noticing, but there are a few parts that glared out at me after watching it a few times. But I do think they’re all good actors (the pimp and the dance teacher particularly stunned me).

  3. Sam Kearns permalink
    February 7, 2012 9:53 am

    I think even if you don’t search for metaphor and hidden meaning the pulpy action is just incredible to view, even if its that same fixation he’s attempting to criticise. Wildly entertaining.

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