Because I enjoyed Sucker Punch so much when I saw it in the theatre, I jumped at the opportunity to purchase the DVD. Unfortunately, the DVD edition lacks the extended cut provided on the Blu-Ray release. (No, I don’t have a Blu-Ray player yet; I’ll be holding off until the players are relatively cheap and I’m forced to make the leap forward. Or if someone just buys me one.) I cannot comment on the full version of the film, but I can comment again on the theatrical cut.
The narration at the beginning and end of the film doesn’t work. It seems forced out of place. It tries for a sense of grandiose poignancy that just doesn’t work with the film. This movie is more of an experiential film that works best without contextualizing it with talk about angels in our lives – or the power of the people in the audience.
The anachronisms present in the fantasy worlds hurt the film. Well, only in that they seem like obvious pandering to teenage fanboys and their ilk. Otherwise it just seems weird that some young girl in the 1960’s would be fantasizing about that – even in a fantasy within a fantasy. It’s pretty ridiculous.
Then there are the fight sequences. They look cool, but I think I loathe how Zack Snyder films action. Slow motion with close-ups and extra details mixed with very fast motion looks cool and stylish, but it renders the action itself meaningless. It removes all weight and dramatic tension and makes the action just another visual in a movie. Instead of being a meaningful happening, it becomes something that happens. It makes me think that Snyder has never been in a fight. Part of the experience of a fight isn’t what kind of punch or kick was thrown but rather how quickly it all happens. There’s a brutal, visceral shock that occurs that makes your hair stand on end – even as a bystander.
But I still like the movie. I love the fantasy world and the fantasy world within that. Coming from a psychology background, it makes some bit of sense. The world of the brothel is how Babydoll perceives the harsh world that stripped her of her mother and left her with a sexually abusive step-father. Women are just objects for men to use for their own various pleasures, and everyone is on display – even in the ward. Every girl in the world, probably in the world, has to learn how to do some sort of dance or routine to be kept around in a world full of men.
The fantasy layer inside of that is the layer developed through counseling and treatment. This is clearly a power fantasy, or rather a space for her to learn of empowerment. Babydoll is learning to see the world in another way, a way in which she can enact change, and this bleeds into her perception of reality. This also leads to more powerful actions and interactions in reality. This makes Babydoll’s sacrifice possible, so that she can accept her lobotomy to not only escape the pain of having killed her own sister but also to aid in the escape of someone else’s sister. I appreciate a noble sacrifice, not to mention metaphorical representations of psychology.
And that’s why I will continue to have a positive view of Sucker Punch. It tells the audience that even when our worlds look to be taking a turn for the worst, we have the power inside of ourselves to slay our demons and do right.