Box Office Failures Week: Sucker Punch (2011)

Nobody is demanding the Snyder cut for this, his most revealing film, a total exploration of the id that presents a dual world of women battling against, well, something while they’re also being abused in what we’re to assume is the more real of the two fake worlds. But throughout, it just looks like you’re watching someone else play a video game and that’s about as exciting as watching someone play a video game.

Yes, in this world, girls that are being used in a brothel and kept in an insane asylum prove their worth as women by jumping out of planes and battling robots while wearing fetish outfits. Surely it all means something, but it totally doesn’t.

Snyder said, “How can I make a film that can have action sequences in it that aren’t limited by the physical realities that normal people are limited by, but still have the story make sense so it’s not, and I don’t mean to be mean, like a bullshit thing like Ultraviolet or something like that.”

Dude, you should be so lucky as to make something as incoherent as Ultraviolet.

Despite the film being as CGI as it gets, every one of the actresses spent twelve weeks training to get ready for it. That’s right — six hours a day, five days a week, learning martial arts, how to deadlift 250 pounds, shoot firearms and look cool pole dancing, because, well, Zack Snyder.

This would have made a much better Fox Force Five origin story than a movie, trust me.

On one hand, Snyder has said that it’s all about “fetishistic and personal” while he’s also said that it’s a critique of the way that geek culture objectifies women. By, you guessed it, objectifying women. Sure, they have big guns and swords, but they’re missing that most crucial of all weapons: actual empowerment.

Let me try and make sense of this all.

At some point in the 60’s, Babydoll (Emily Browning, The Uninvited) is placed in a Vermont mental institution by her stepfather, who has probably killed her mother and assaulted her sister. To add to that, he pays the asylum’s Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac, way before he was Poe Dameron) to lobotomize her.

Babydoll then escapes into a world where she’s a sex slave for Jones, who is now her pimp. She’s joined by Amber (Jamie Chung, the most successful Real World cast member), Blondie (singer Vanessa Hudgens), Rocket (Jena Malone, The Neon Demon) and her sister Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). Dr. Gorski, who is the main doctor in the first world, is now the girl’s dance instructor and is played by Carla Gugino (she was also in Snyder’s Watchmen). Also — Babydolls virginity is about to be sold to a client played by Jon Hamm, which is totally how real life and prostitution looks and works.

But wait! There’s another world where Scott Glenn shouts cliches at the girls while they battle giant Japanese samurai robots, dragons and a steampunk version of World War I.

The story ends with Glenn’s character somehow coming into our world and the heroine getting lobotomized and nearly assaulted, which is some kind of paradise in one of these three worlds, I guess. But again, it’s totally not.

It looks really cool though. Which is kind of Snyder’s stock in trade. I have no idea who this is for, other than developmentally challenged men who can’t get the women in the film, so they objectify them. It’s kind of like the guys who defend and white knight girls that they pay $20 to see in their underwear on Patreon or onlyfans when guys demand they show more nudity. No one is friends here and this is all just a transaction. In the same way, this film says nothing, is nothing and desperately wants to be something — yet is as lofty as the cover versions of much better songs that it employs in some grasp for something, anything.

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