Posted Apr 23, 2011 in Arts | 0 Comments

Late Defense for “Sucker Punch”

Sucker Punch begins with a prologue of Baby Doll’s (Emily Browning) tale of woe puzzlingly narrated through a voice-over by Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish). The movie’s a hot mess, but I’ll be a nice guy and talk about the things I like, which is like grasping at straws. For a film that’s supposed to depend on titillation, the film takes on ambivalent stand on hiding or exposing the flaws of young female bodies. Director Zack Snyder likes employing extreme close-ups to an interesting effect. I don’t know why that one second of Baby Doll’s (Browning) corset pinching her upper back/right shoulder or two seconds of Sweet Pea’s (Cornish) belly, not abs, strikes me. Those two shots are like what, 72 frames, if not radically less. I’m sure it wouldn’t have taken that much work to smooth those body parts out, since said body parts are already swimming in CGI.

The actresses are not perfect and neither are they the ‘real women’ in the suspicious Dove commercials half a decade back. I’m probably giving Snyder or his casting director too much credit, but these girls have the ‘same difference’ thing in their group dynamic. I wonder if Tina Fey would say the same thing about them as she would in her take-down of Hefner’s women in Weekend Update. Anyway, the Sucker Punch ladies have had a diverse combat training for the fight scenes in the film. God forbid they have 11% body fat.

Speaking of which, my man crush Jon Hamm, playing a lobotomist/high roller, fascinates me less here than my girl crush Cornish. When a dragon wrathfully rises to meet the group, Rocket (Jena Malone) just looks dead straight at the the thing while Sweet Pea looks up and down, sizing up the beast with her eyes. I was looking for Sweet Pea’s reaction anyway, hoping that this movie’s characters would finally have some human nuance to their behaviour. I’m not sure which acting decision is better but that little she broke the film’s robotic spell.

Which brings me to the criticism of this film’s supposedly mean-spirited message. Matt Brown from tederick reviews goes against Snyder’s ‘predation, inviting yet another generation of teenage girls to believe that the only way out is through self-annihilation.’ I’m not totally sure whether the film is a manifestation of the masculine transformation of women -  they kick ass – or the feminine subversion of aggression which is supposedly inherently masculine – the girls kick ass while dressing like sluts. If you’ll indulge me into a tangent, the ‘Shrek‘ scene, taking place in a castle, seems like a girl’s fantasy, or at least one from a damsel in distress. Although, yes, Asia, World War whatever and the future seem very male. The burlesque of SPOILER, Baby Doll’s imagination, seem like the fantasy of a gay boy.

Nonetheless, doesn’t Baby Doll organize the group even if she’s just as able to obtain the four objects and escape herself? That SPOILER, Sweet Pea lives? I’m searching for an innate quality within her that makes her stand out from the rest of the girls, but then again life and death is arbitrary. She’s not the strongest or the most virtuous but she’s good enough of a person for us to root for her. While watching Baby Doll’s decision, I was thinking that most people would prefer to switch places, to prefer to survive at the expense of a new found friend. Baby Doll instead chooses altruism. I’m sure young girls, though susceptible to the Twilight franchise, are smart enough to never to touch this movie with a ten foot pole. However, in case they do, the film actually tells them to help each other out instead of stereotypically tugging at each other’s hair. Which is funny since there is a hair fight in one the film’s first scenes.

I’ll also give the movie points for a) being Inception with the exposition, b) Browning, although not a great singer, keeps to the spirit of the songs she covers, c) Oscar Isaac’s hammy acting, refreshing from some the girls’ comatose live reads d), Malone enduring another gruesome movie death, again! and e) featuring the Bjork/Skunk Anansie remix of ‘”Army of Me,” a song that’s too obvious in its message echoing that of the film.

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