Lingua Mea Vita

Why Sucker Punch Was a Pleasant Surprise

I’d just about had with Zack Snyder. I want to laud him as one of my people—one of my  graphic novel reading, SyFy channel marathoning nerds who live to be taken away to alternate universes where colors are saturated, theme music sweeps as you walk into a room, and slow-mo shots are abundant.

But time and time again, Zack lets me down. All I can remember from 300 is a woman’s freakishly long nipples and Xerxes striking a pose on his throne. Somehow, Zack managed to suck the very breath of Watchmen, cutting out the good stuff to dazzle my eyes with gorgeous cinematography. And then there was some crap about owls.

But I decided to give Zack a third chance and see Sucker Punch (mostly because I saw the soundtrack on iTunes and was really curious/intrigued. FUN FACT: The opening song, a cover of the Eurythmics Sweet Dreams, is sung by Emily Browning who plays Baby Doll in the movie). And guess what? Sucker Punch didn’t suck! Not nearly as much as 300 or Watchmen or The Legend of the Googly Owls or whatever the hell it was called.

Sucker Punch had all the elements of a Zack Snyder film: the breathtaking cinematography, stunning action sequences, a soaring soundtrack/score full of glory, and copious amounts of slow motion—but it had something the others didn’t: an original storyline that was easy to follow! Given, it wasn’t the greatest storyline (it would’ve been amazing for a game), but a clear story was present.

Zack (yes, I’m referring to him by first name) actually wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay for Sucker Punch unlike 300 or Watchmen. This may be why the story for this movie actually makes sense.

Either way, I felt like I was the only person in the theater going to a Zack Snyder film for a story (especially when there were fighting scantily clad women).

I did have a good time enjoying the graphics and saw so many visual cues that reminded me of other movies and directors, I started to think of Sucker Punch as a giant shoutout to other directors who are known for their visual cues (minor spoilers):

The Initial Dance Scene — M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender
The Map Dance — Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorius Basterds
The Fire Dance — Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings
The Knife Dance — George Lucas’ Star Wars

There were a couple of other little references: the girls’ landing poses were a little Matrix/N’SYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” And the number of girls, the font and styling on the poster, and Baby Doll’s costuming, especially at the end, was so reminiscent of Sailor Moon.

I left the theater impressed, though I’m not sure if it’s because I prepared for no story and prettiness. I will recommend it to those who inquire about it (and I will definitely recommend the soundtrack which features remakes/mixes of one of my favorite Beatles songs (!), a Queen mash-up (!!), and songs by Bjork (!!!!) and my favorite person Emiliana Torrini (!!!!!!!!). Dig it.)

All in all, go see Sucker Punch. Zack even tries to inject a good message in the end.


2 Comments so far
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AH! I saw it too, and while I went into it expecting total crap, I left feeling mostly entertained, a pleasant surprise. But still, some things bother me, mostly the whole premise:

So she’s institutionalized, right, and in order to cope with the system she imagines this completely dehumanizing, hyper-fetishized sexscape of a repressive prostitution ring? I know I am not the only one to point out that this is a 100% male fantasy of a female fantasy. But I mean, I can get behind it aesthetically, I like the vibe of Moulin Rouge more than One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Whatever.

But it bothers me that it wasn’t really clear what happened in the “real world” when they weren’t imaginary fighting in the imaginary whorehouse. What was the dance/fight in reality? Were the other girls really working with her? Did they really die? Are we supposed to assume they were all in there unfairly, and none were insane in the slightest, or would our hero have had trouble establishing alliances with the other mental patients? This could have been fleshed out more and made the story more emotionally viable.

As it was it seems they ask you to suspend your disbelief too many times to really grow attached or feel any concern for the characters at all. I’ve felt more compassion for video game avatars when I’m not even playing than I did while watching this movie. I liked the music, but it sort of felt like a series of progressively less interesting music videos. Anyway, after I got over the initial shock of not totally loathing Sucker Punch, I realized it’s still not particularly good in the end (even if, as you mentioned, it’s taking cues from so many other really good stories).

As for Watchmen, I think it’s sort of like the Harry Potter films – it’s EXCELLENT if you’re a fan of the original book, but not really great as a stand alone film. I liked it when I saw it in the theater, but I recently watched the 3.5 hour extended version… way too much movie.

Comment by Juliebean

I agree, the things that weren’t clear about this movie kept it from being great, however, I think Sucker Punch was successful in doing what it was supposed to do—dazzle you with pretty graphics scenes. I don’t think we’re really supposed to “get” everything.

Like, who was the “wise man” in reality? We see that he is a bus driver later, but he’s never in the brothel/institution, except for in Baby Doll’s head.

And while I agree with you, answering those questions would’ve made the movie more emotionally viable, it’s still an action movie. I think if Zack wanted the audience (who are going to be mostly boys of the horny teenage variety)to be attached to the characters, he would’ve actually given them personalities.

None of them, outside of maybe Sweet Pea, had a real personality to speak of.

I see Sucker Punch as being most similar to Kill Bill. Stunning to look at, light plot, and that’s all I’m asking for from Zack.

Comment by linguameavita

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