I went into Sucker Punch thinking one thing: Babes with Guns. I came away thinking that Zack Snyder is a genius, albeit a flawed one. I also came away with the decision that I need to begin my Zack Snyder BluRay collection, but that’s a different story.
Sucker Punch has a couple of failings. For one, it’s been over hyped to the max and essentially promoted as Babes with Guns. But the film is a lot deeper than that. In some ways it mirrors last years insanely surreal Inception, but comes crashing down when it fails to create a cohesive story that spans all three levels of reality.
The film starts in a wholly unexpected way. There are no stylised girls in fetish outfits, rather we have a disturbing situation where a father uses the opportunity of his wife’s death to become the incestuous sexual predator that he was never allowed to be. But when the older daughter decides not to roll over and play nice, things take a tragic turn that sees her being placed in a mental institution with a lobotomy scheduled to help silence her.
Creating layers of fantasy to overcome her cruel reality, her imagined character Babydoll garners the support of four other girls and together they hatch a plan to escape.
Reality and the first layer of fantasy are set in the mid ’50s, in a period before gender equality, and to emphasise this, Synder sets the first layer of fantasy in a whore house where the girls are the property of Blue, the nasty guy who runs the show. This admittedly is a bit of a jump to try and contend with, but once you realise that this is the new reality where most of the film’s narrative will take place, you’ll be okay with it, especially when Snyder tazers your brain with the mind bending third level of reality that mashes just about every fantasy film you can imagine as the setting for some epic battles with five girls outfitted with an array of guns taken straight out of Infinity Ward’s ground breaking Call of Duty 4.
Now having five girls in flesh displaying fetish outfits fighting giant samurai, nazi zombies, hordes of robots and fire breathing dragons in epic, gravity defying slow motion battles, may not cause you to immediately come to the conclusion that Synder is trying to promote women as strong role models.
But I think he really wants to.
Right from the start, Babydoll takes a stand against male aggression, and when placed by men in an institution where men are going to decide her future, she doesn’t give up without a fight that actually have some surprising outcomes.
But I’m not about to go into spoiler territory.
That Snyder attempts to turn his characters into empowered females whist at the same time requiring them to use their sexuality to distract the dominating males isn’t going to sit well with many feminists, but it’s in what they learn throughout the film that makes them strong.
The reality is that Snyder makes films for guys. He’s a raving fanboy of geek culture and now that he’s been given free reign to create something all of his own, he’s made the most of it. But as any kid whose been given the keys to a candy store will tell you, if you throw caution to the wind whilst embracing your deepest fantasy, there will be a mess to clean up at some stage.
And that mess is sadly what a lot of people are going to focus on when they go to see Sucker Punch. There are a lot of WTF moments in Sucker Punch, but if you go into the film realising that it doesn’t have to make sense to be entertaining, or that moves don’t actually have to abide by a certain set of rules, such as a cohesive narrative, then you’re in for a thrill ride.
The thing that most people will come away from Sucker Punch with is that Synder knows how to create a visually stunning film that combines special effects eye candy with a soundtrack that sets the tone perfectly.
But if you take the time to dissect the flawed narrative, you’ll find plenty to contemplate, and because of this, Snyder is still one of the most exciting directors in Hollywood.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read