Sucker Punch | Fantasy Movie Review

I have read a few reviews panning this movie. They say it’s a geek’s dream and it’s like a comic book, and an anime, and a video game, and a music video. So? What’s wrong with that? I like comic books, anime, sci-fi, fantasy, video games, and music videos. Plus, I think a little kung fu makes everything better. You know what else? I’m a woman. This movie may not be for you, but it is definitely for girls and women like me. We’re the type that would rather watch Kung Fu action movies like Chocolate (about an autistic girl, whose savant ability is to mimic any style of martial arts she sees) online than pay one red cent to see some Rom-com garbage. We are the fan girls who wish there was a Blade IV coming out instead of more sparkle vamp bull$h!t. Do you see the correlation there? Kung Fu Vamp = Awesome :: Sparkle Vamp = Bull$h!t

I saw this movie in IMAX and it was gorgeous. The digital effects were excellent. They were so well done, as I watched it I forgot that some of what I was watching was CG. The fight choreography was good, not the best but respectable, especially when you consider the level of difficulty involved in choreographing a fight scene between a live person and a CG character. I imagine in some scenes they created a CG Babydoll similar to the CG Neo used in certain parts of Matrix Revolutions. The background scenery, from a design standpoint was breathtaking. I really give the utmost respect to the visual artists who worked on this movie. I loved that there were Robot Samurai, a Robot Zombie Army, dragons, a badass Gundam like power suit, and a speeding train with fighting androids in it. I like the characters: Babydoll, SweetPea, Rocket, Blondie (I love the irony of this name!), and Amber. (See that makers of Insidious? Memorable names!)

      I like the concept of retreating into a fantasy to deal with a painful reality. This is a very real thing. People who experience excessive trauma can even develop split personalities as coping mechanisms, so the concept of Babydoll imagining her daily struggles in the asylum as larger scale battles is salient to me. To the critics saying, “I don’t get it. Was it a dream within a dream?” Look Dbags, you’re just playing dumb ass to cover for your inadequacies about seeing women kick ass. I notice you can follow Inception’s dream within a dream, within a dream to the 8th power, and love it, but now all of a sudden you can’t follow this? I call bull$h!t on that.The plot is simple: girl gets locked up in an asylum, mentally retreats into a fantasy world in which she plots an escape, within that fantasy world, when she has to perform, she retreats into another fantasy world that allows her mental battles to play out as physical battles. Ultimately, she did do things in real life (stabbing someone, setting a fire, helping someone escape), we the audience just got to view those actions through the lense of the fantasy in her mind. Also the escaping before the “High Roller” comes for her was a metaphor for escaping before the lobotomy. In other words in both fantasy and reality she was trying to escape forced penetration.

See, that’s not so hard. Try explaining The Matrix. Ooooh, that’s two! Inception and The Matrix are understandable, plausible and cool, but Sucker Punch is confusing? NO. I guess I just have to accept the fact that some people don’t want to see women kick ass. These are the people who keep making crap like “Love Actually” and calling it a “Chick Flick”. None of the chicks I hang with watch that garbage. These are the same people who said “Deathproof isn’t good, because women don’t talk that way.” Bull to the shiznit, yes some of us do talk that way. You should be so lucky as to find yourself in the presence of one of us. We are usually the one’s taking pole dancing classes, and studying Kung Fu. We are the ones at the bar wearing 6 inch platforms taking shots of Irish Whiskey. We are the women who get mani/pedis on the way home from the gun range. (BTW, I love that Babydoll had cellphone danglies hanging from her gun.) We are the women who believe that our sexuality can be empowering, in the face of a world that wants to demean, devalue, and abuse it. Did you hear that? I think I just heard the sound of your mind being blown. We exist and I’m glad that Hollywood is finally recognizing this and giving us more of this type of movie to have fun watching.

Which brings me to the other criticism of this movie. “It’s sexist, because the women are scantily clad.” I’m not afraid of being sexy, I like it. I watched a vampire fight wearing a latex body suit and corset through 3 Underworld movies (Which by the way, suck. The fight choreography is bad and they’re boring. I caught a marathon on Syfy and 1/2 watched it while surfing the net.) I haven’t seen Tomb Raider, but I saw the trailer and Lara Croft is supposed to be sexy right? If it was fine in those movies I don’t see what the uproar was here. At least the costume designer/s in Sucker Punch is talented and I respect that.

Which brings me to my favorite element in the movie, the much criticized soundtrack. I fu¢king love this soundtrack. “Oh, but it makes the movie like a music video. Whaagh, boohoo!” So? I love music videos. I have wasted hours of my life watching MTV, VH1, FUSE, BET (RIP Video Vibrationz), The Box (remember that?), and of course the holy grail of music video watching; YouTube. Some of you will remember that Mortal Kombat was one of the first movies to use a techno score to enhance a fight scene. That was not a good movie, but I appreciate that one innovation they added to film making. Blade was in my opinion the first good movie to use this style of filming a fight to music you would hear in a club. I loved it then, and I love it now. It was also great to hear Björk’s “Army of Me” again.

I liked everything about it except one thing. They could have had a little more diversity. I guess Vanessa Hudgens is supposed to be our pseudo black character, but it would have been nice to have one character that was more phenotypically black. I’m not a person who needs a token just to have one, but this fact makes it damn hard for black girls/women to dress up for Halloween or cosplay. We can’t all be Storm every year.  (Not that it will stop me. Last year I was Gogo Yubari!)

So there you have it. I liked it. It’s not for everyone, but if you like Sin City, and Resident Evil/Resident Evil Afterlife (Those are the only ones worth seeing, even I can admit that RE:Apocalypse and RE:Extinction were garbage. Plus, I love the zombie dogs!) and you like Kung Fu, Dragons, Robot Zombie Armies (Feels good just saying that!), power suits, and great acting (except for Vanessa Hudgens who’s just treading water here) this movie is for you!

Edited to add: this behind the scenes reel. Much respect to the director, actors, animation team, costume designer, cinematographer, and music director.

Edited to add also: I am not alone. Here is a great take on the music in Sucker Punch and a list of other positive reviews of the film.

This interpretation was pretty cool as well.

Special thank you to the anonymous poster who provided images of the Katana Sword and hand gun.
Here is also a link to the Sucker Punch Art Book


© 2011 H.B. Walker All Rights Reserved

“and remember, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” – Wise Man 

31 thoughts on “Sucker Punch | Fantasy Movie Review

  1. This movie is one of the single greatest pieces of cinema ever made. It literally changed my life, improved it, affected my decision making process on practically everything. It emotionally ripped me apart and then brought everything into focus. I realized who I was as an individual, and a human being. I discovered what I could do for this world and set out to improve it, as I still am. I thank God and Zack Snyder for helping me through this every day now. My favorite movie is still Inception, but this film will never leave me. I watched it three times today. I too hope this can become a cult film, and that we can show the world its beauty. Maybe one day Zack will cease to be criticized and begin to be respected for the master that he is.


  2. The depth, complexity and undertones of morality, the human capacity to fight, the human mind's coping mechanism in the face of severe trauma and the selfless beauty of self sacrifice are all masterfully presented in this film. The bottom line is that the majority of this film's audience simply aren't intellectual enough to conceptually appreciate or confront the ugliness and harshness of the cinematic truths embedded in film. I've screened through all too many critiques fixating on visuals of the action or the aesthetic of the female characters. What they fail to realize is that the visual action sequences are ultimately insignificant to the film. Think of the obligatory sex scene found in most popular films that instead of showing the act of fornication, shift the camera lens to an alarm clock and thusly sparing us the ensuing 'awkward' scene. Sucker Punch does the exact same with regards the sparing us several acts of oppressive and sexual degradation starting with the lobotomy scene. The more fantastic the conjured action scenes are, the more horrendous the reality is for the lead female character. Think of it as a like for like substitution in terms of experiential intensity.In a nutshell, the masses are too dumbed down, too prudish and too docile to understand the profound sadness, beauty and love to be found in this film. Anyone walking away from this film feeling anything less than equal parts of inspiration and contempt on a humanitarian level simply aren't switched on.


  3. Great blog & excellent comments.I saw it yesterday and was blown away by the stylistic direction. Definitely agree we girls need more faux-anime action flicks like this.As to Halloween, my (male) friend immediately suggested I dress as BabyDoll this year 🙂


  4. actually got it off the art book here are the scans of the katana and gun engravings other funny thing the mech has some japanase lettering on it right under the bunny face which translates to Danger Woman Driver!which can be taken in two ways. I thought that was pretty clever.


  5. yeah the charms on her gun were a rabbit (her sister's), sand clock (time running out), skull (her's), baby bottle (also her sister), and bear (no too sure on that)you can also see the same skull on her gun and katana being penetrated by the lobotomy tool. if you can get a scan of the artwork on the katana it shows the whole journey from innocence to the death of her sister, being locked up, dreaming/fantasy, to the tip which is a her skull being lobotomized. pretty cool actually. lotta reocurring things like that. in the first scene with her step dad getting angry you see the letter opener which looks like a miniature katana, the flintlock pistols rocket uses hanging on the walls, the molotov reference throwing the booze in the fire. people being locked in closets (sweetpea, little sis) steam pipe/ nazi's steam. shattering light bulb/ shaterring robots heads. i could go on.


  6. @ Pinoy Direk Great interpretation! Especially since so many critics said that young people are watching and only enjoying the action. The conversations about this movie remind me of when the Matrix first came out. After repeated viewings people started to understand more and more about the movie.


  7. @ IdrissaIsTheTruthThe question is do you like anime and video games? If you do you'll love this. I agree with you about the soundtracks. I can hum the theme from Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones, Goonies, Back to the Future etc. Shoot it seems like Quentin Tarantino is the only one really trying to have a soundtrack. I just wish he would expand his record collection a little. Oh yeah, what was the theme from Inception? hmmmm I rest my case.


  8. Sounds like people are arguing this is another Legend of Billie Jean (female empowerment type film). I'll have to watch it tonight. Only problem is I hated Sin City. If I get that vibe I'm out.On another note, I'm glad the movie HAS a soundtrack. No one seems to have one anymore. Don't believe me. Humm the theme to the last movie you watched. Exactly.


  9. @ Anonymous, same here on growing up on anime. (I'm still pissed about them remaking Akira, but I'll talk about that later in the blog) I don't see how they miss little things like how the girls land with one hand down and even the speeding up slowing down as basically live action anime. Even in music, every time I see Katy Perry in a blue wig or Nicki Minaj in a pink one I think, they look so anime, and cute.


  10. Some people just don't know how to enjoy this movie; it probably wasn't made for them. Critics who believe this was made to appeal to "13 year olds" or the likes, shows that they don't get it.I grew up on anime and games and rpg, and this movie is extremely enjoyable. I appreciate how this live action movie so closely mimiced (and sometimes out-do) anime action sequences and game cutscenes. I don't listen to the type of music in this film at all, yet they were used so effectively I found myself loving the soundtrack. The production design, beautiful and creative.The film resonated with me in so many ways. I'm not surprised that most people don't know how to enjoy it, though. Most people aren't geeks well versed in otaku culture.


  11. I am so glad to find that someone other than me enjoyed this film. After I saw it I found out that it got panned by critics and also even most of my friends who'd seen it didn't like it, and I just had a really hard time understanding why the hate seems almost so universal. So thanks for presenting a positive opinion of it.


  12. @ Mike I missed the pink rabbit part, although I saw the danglies on Babydoll's gun. Great point! I want this on blue-ray yesterday! I was just telling my husband today that people didn't immediately get the message of Night of the Living Dead either. 40+ years later it is respected as a film masterpiece. Let's hope it doesn't take people 40 years to get this one.


  13. Did I like this movie? No I saw it six times on imax cause I had nothing better to do…. I LOVED IT. As a father of a daughter I can defiantly see how this could be viewed as a bad movie…THE GIRLS WON……the perfect victory. I remember back when we read books in school an had to read of mice and men….I still don't get the point of that book but i did get the point of Sucker Punch the first time out. By the way the pink rabbit metaphor possibly her baby sister. in the beginning when the stepfather( who's @ss I wanna kick) went into baby sisters room she had a pink rabbit in the bed…I was also on the danglies hanging from her gun.I really hope WE make this a cult film. Critics are like the parents on Charlie Brown specials…No one understands them but their kids..


  14. Thanks Raymond! I felt compelled to write about Sucker Punch, because I felt so many people missed the point or skipped school the day the concepts of metaphor and allegory were explained. On a subconscious level, maybe they were mad because they were all set to view the women as sexual objects fighting and blowing things up, and the movie makes you view them as people with traumas and motivations.


  15. Thank you. I've been arguing on these points all week and it's good to know others agree.Too bad that this will also fall of deaf ears.When people don't like something they often feel the need to label it bad to justify their dislike. This is bull, just cause you don't like it doesn't make it bad. Then to justify calling it bad they bring up invalid points or nit pick things that they often over look in stuff they like. This is also bull.I really liked Sucked Punch and can't wait for the blu ray. Thanks for the great read.


  16. Thank you. I've been arguing on these points all week and it's good to know others agree.Too bad that this will also fall of deaf ears.When people don't like something they often feel the need to label it bad to justify their dislike. This is bull, just cause you don't like it doesn't make it bad. Then to justify calling it bad they bring up invalid points or nit pick things that they often over look in stuff they like. This is also bull.I really liked Sucked Punch and can't wait for the blu ray. Thanks for the great read.


  17. Lol- my husband and I just saw this in IMAX today as well and both really liked it! He just got ragged out on the Bendis boards for posting that and for saying that some people are just too dumb to follow non-linear storylines or to go beyond the obvious 'sexy girls' themes.I am an ardent feminist and think that means owning and controlling your own sexuality. Are we supposed to say that because the girls in Suckerpunch are being sexually brutalized (and let's face it, most women and children being abused in the world today are being sexually abused) that they no longer have a right to their own sexuality? That if they were exploited and forced into terrible sexual situations, the only way they have moving forward to empower themselves is to not envision themselves as sexual beings- who are powerful and deadly, given weapons to revenge themselves on their tormentors and to protect the weak ( the soldiers in the WW1 sequence- the girls were obviously there to save them) and to stand by their sisters- WHILE BEING SEXY? I think sexuality and overcoming abuse are such complex issues, who are critics to say that what Babydoll sees in her fantasies of regaining power is BAD? And, for the record, I agree with you. There was a whole group of teen or college girls all at the movie together when we saw it. No boyfriends forced them to show up- no boys were even with them. When I was that age I would have loved this movie. There are a lot more girls out there who want to wear leather boots and fishnets and kill zombie steampunk Nazis with samurai swords than people seem to realize. And I am a mother with a healthy, stable marriage and sex life. So what does that make me? 😉


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