Your enjoyment of Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch” is entirely dependent on what type of film that piques your interest. If you are looking for a story about scantily clad women wielding heavy weapons, then you will be thoroughly satisfied. However, if you are seeking a tale that makes social commentary about the objectification of women, then you will be sorely disappointed.
Snyder’s first original work focuses on Baby Doll (Emily Browning), a girl who has experienced a traumatic series of events following her mother’s death. After her stepfather finds out that he has been left out of the will, he ships her off to a mental institution, to prevent her from claiming her inheritance. Soon after arriving though, Baby Doll makes the ghastly discovery that her stepfather has bribed the head orderly Blue (Oscar Isaac) to schedule her for a lobotomy in a few days, so she begins devising a plan to escape this horrible fate.
Knowing that she can’t go it alone, she entices the other girls around her with the prospect of freedom if they will aid her in her plot. Baby Doll befriends Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), and Amber (Jamie Chung) all of whom are eager to make a getaway from their shackled life.
To cope with her surroundings, Baby Doll creates a world inside her head where Blue is a nightclub owner, who uses the girls as erotic dancers in his establishment. It is within this reality, that she imagines yet another universe, where she and the other girls are able to fight back. Guided by a sagely figure (Scott Glenn) they embark on a series of quests where they must shoot and kill opponents to obtain the items they need in their scheme to break out.
The art direction and special effects in “Sucker Punch,” are some of the most impressive in recent years, creating a world where samurai robots and World War I zombie soldiers believably coexist with futuristic technology. Snyder channels his inner video game nerd with first-person sniper shots and a series of frantic hand-to-hand fight sequences throughout these epic battles.
His visuals combined with a soundtrack that is blasted over the on screen action, makes for a very intense experience. Given that some of these tracks are covers performed by the actors in the film, in some ways, “Sucker Punch” comes off as a stranger, more violent version of “Moulin Rouge.”
Eye candy is where “Sucker Punch” ceases to impress though. Synder claims that he intends to create a story which gives power to the female characters and makes statements about their objectification. Unfortunately though, he fails in his goal to accomplish this. The middle reality in which the girls are a group of oppressed dancers has them almost exclusively wearing skimpy attire furthering their objectification. Baby Doll’s battle reality is almost worse because Synder glorifies their bodies through vivid slow motion shots of them kicking their legs and flying through the air in short skirts and stockings.
What’s more angering though, is that throughout the film the men remain the oppressors despite the efforts of our heroines. The men maintain the control and are allowed to do almost whatever they want, while the women are barely able to stop them. Without trying to give away spoilers, their victory in the end is a very limited one because it’s arguable whether the men pay the appropriate price for their behavior.
To sum up, if you’re a teenage boy you will absolutely love “Sucker Punch” for its hot young actresses running around in very little, but if you’re a self-respecting woman then you won’t appreciate its messages about female power and sexuality.