Monday, 28 March 2011

Sucker Punch


Dir: Zack Snyder (Watchmen, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, 300)
Cast: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Jena Malone, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn
USA/Canada, 2011

Seen: March 26, 2011 at Scotiabank

Reason to see: I can't imagine *not* seeing Sucker Punch.

I had a lot of hesitations going into Sucker Punch. The trailer made it look like an action video game with a female character, where every time she attacks, kicks or flips, her skirt flips up for the benefit of the (likely male) player. But, I've also been pleasantly suprirzed by director Zack Snyder work before with 300 and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, however wasn't a fan of Watchmen - but that's a film that's clearly for the fans.

But, considering even a slight possibility to enjoy it and that it had an awesome female cast, I knew I had to give it a chance. The film follows Baby Doll (Emily Browning), who is sent to an insane asylum where she meets fellow inmates Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Amber (Jamie Chung) and Rocket (Jena Malone) along with Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino) and caretaker-type Blue (Oscar Isaac).

I'll give the film a few things right off the bat, which is some amazing visual storytelling and great song integration that me impressed right from the get go. Okay, maybe that's the short list of the kudos as it's hard to get too praise-y about a film that I felt really complicated about, especially in terms of the gender dynamics.

I felt divided about the film on several counts. On one hand, I'm impressed that they went for something a bit different, but on the other I'm not sure I entirely understood the film. And I was in part impressed and surprized that it's not as clear cut as the trailers made out but I'm still not sure what it was trying to say. I almost added a 'if it's trying to say anything', but I'm fairly sure it is trying to say something and even been possibly positive and encouraging, but I"m not totallu sure. I did appreciate that it was very aware of and commented on the sleeziness of watching women in this light, but that feels very watered down when we, you know, actually see the women scantily clad, imprisoned, being broken and under a constant state of threat. It's like when someone says "I don't mean to offend you but...", whatever comes after that... is always offensive, so maybe it's better just not to say it. A disclaimer doesn't forgive the actions. But, I will give that that particular message of how it's creepy - certainly wasn't directed at me, but likely my male audience buddies. Which in one way I applaud, as it holds up the mirror to them, but on the other hand I think it's a bit mean to the nice guys out there as well as being redundant, as we still get to see knee high'ed women kicking, jumping and smishing stuff. I also found it concurrently confusing and over-explain-y, which I don't even know how that could be possible.

One of the things I did love in the film though, was the women. Jena Malone as Rocket in particular, she was fierce and compelling. I also enjoyed the fact that Baby Doll was a strong character, in contrast to outward appearances and stereotypes. I also continue to love Carla Gugino in everything, and Oscar Isaac is creepier than anyone ever needs to be as Blue. I also loved the clothes. Creepiness aside, a lot of the clothes were awesome.

So, I'm left very divided. Was this film actually made with me being the audience member? It might have been. Sucker Punch ended up being both better than I anticipated, and more annoying. What was it trying to say? I don't know. I went in cautiously curious and left both charmed and confused. I'm stumped. I might have been happier to hate it, but I didn't. There's a lot interesting going on here, I'm not certain to all of what it is.

Shannon's Overall View:

It was both better than and worse than I expected
I would watch it again
It's a bit of a challenge to recommend given the gender stuff, but I think that it would appeal to people that are interested in gender dynamics as well as action films

Also see: All 2011 Films Reviewed and All Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011


Elizabeth said...

Huh, now I'm torn! I was mostly avoiding this because of all the gross gender stuff I was seeing in trailers and other reviews, but since you've said that it could interest those who like gender dynamics and action films (e.g. me!) maybe I should still go see this.

Anonymous said...

I am actually really looking forward to this movie. I loved 300 and recorded it to watch on my DISH Network account, (yep, I am an employee). I love the makeup and clothing. I am super excited because I love new action flicks. I get more from my subscription than I would with Time Warner.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Oh, drat to being torn Elizabeth! I think there is some interesting commentary on gender going on, but I don't think it would convert anyone who was hesitant from the trailers. Tough call!

I hope you enjoy it Anon when you see it!

InMovies said...

Story aside, the visual aspect of this film is a good enough reason to watch. As well, like you mentioned, the strength of Baby Doll! I wonder what would have been said about Emily Browning and Jon Hamm’s love scene, had it been allowed and not edited for a younger audience?

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