When Babydoll is framed for the murder of her younger sister, her step-father (who actually committed the murder) has her institutionalised in a mental asylum. He conspires with an orderly to have her lobotomised in order to keep her quiet and, just before the procedure is carried out, Babydoll fantasises that she is actually in a brothel. Being held against their will, Babydoll works with four other girls to try to escape before the ‘High Roller’ arrives; a man who intends to take her virginity. Can Babydoll and the others use their fantastical fighting skills to escape their fate or will the employees of the institution/brothel stop them?
Sucker Punch (2011) – Director: Zack Snyder
Running Length: 110 mins
Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Oscar Isaac
Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy
Zack Snyder is famous for his over-the-top, stylised productions such as ‘300’ and ‘Watchmen’ and ‘Sucker Punch’ is no exception. Jumping from real life drama to fantasy to far-fetched fight scenes, this movie barely gives the audience a chance to take a breath. Having five young women as the heroines of the movie (all of whom are victims) and all male characters as pure evil is a little clichéd but this doesn’t spoil the film, in fact it is nice to root for characters who have suffered injustice and want to fight to get out of their current situation. Having said that, it is strange that these young women, who have suffered varying degrees of sexual assault, are given revealing clothes to wear in Babydoll’s fantasies and it is therefore difficult to pinpoint who this film is aimed at. The dark, almost obsessive, nature of the plot revolving around misogyny becomes virtually gleeful and therefore somewhat unpleasant to watch.
What mainly lets ‘Sucker Punch’ down is the bizarre fight scenes which puncture the otherwise interesting and gripping ‘real’ storyline. When there could be an interesting scene where the girls carry out their plan to steal certain objects, the movie shifts to a completely out of context, heavily computer generated fight scene where the girls fight fantasy foes (giant robotic samurai, steam punk soldiers, orcs, dragons, etc) with swords and guns. As the girls have been using their intelligence and wits in the real world, it is a shame that these scenes do not showcase these elements of their personalities, especially as the real life situation is never shown. As such, the movie never gives the characters any opportunity to develop.
‘Sucker Punch’ is, disappointingly, style over substance. When there is a wealth of plot to explore, Snyder, has sadly gone for the visuals rather than any depth and therefore leaves the audience wanting more.
IS ‘SUCKER PUNCH’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
It must first be pointed out that ‘Sucker Punch’ is about whether a young woman can escape being lobotomised, and her fantasy of being stuck in a brothel where she will be raped (her virginity will be sold against her will) unless she can escape. These two main aspects of the story are likely to make it unsuitable for most children. However, we will detail particular scenes to help you make a more informed decision.
The opening scene shows Babydoll and her younger sister mourning the death of their mother. Their step-father becomes angry and attacks them when he discovers that the will has been left in their favour. He locks Babydoll in her bedroom and murders her sister. Babydoll manages to escape but is too late to save her sister so she holds a gun to her step-father’s head. Unable to go through with killing him, she runs away but is soon caught and put in a mental asylum.
While there, it is made clear that the man responsible for her care knows that she is innocent but tells the step-father that he will turn a blind eye if he gives him enough money. He then suggests having Babydoll lobotomised in order to stop her from revealing the truth. When the doctor approaches her to perform the lobotomy, there is a graphic drawn medical picture behind him of the procedure and he holds up small hammer and chisel like tools as he approaches her. The camera cuts away just before he performs the procedure.
While in the fantasy ‘brothel’, one of the girls makes the cook angry which provokes him into attacking her and he forces her onto the floor. It is clear that he is going to rape her (although nothing is seen on camera), however Babydoll stops him by holding a knife to his throat and threatening him.
Babydoll regularly fantasises about fighting monsters. The first are three gigantic samurai; one has a huge sword which is dragged along the floor. It makes loud scraping sounds and sparks fly off it. It then aggressively attacks Babydoll who eventually defeats it by slashing its neck. Rather than any blood being shown, a bright light shines from its wounds. Another of these monsters is killed by being shot several times in the face (again light shines out instead of blood).
In another fantasy fight, all five girls fight steampunk soldiers who have gas masks for faces. The girls have been told not to worry about killing them as they ‘are already dead’, however kids may be somewhat disturbed by the soldiers being shot in the face/head and slashed by swords. Again, there is no blood and whenever the soldiers are hit, steam shoots out from their bodies.
In another fight scene, the girls are told that they will ‘find the baby, you’ll have to slit its throat’. The ‘baby’ turns out to be a dragon which is sleeping and therefore, when the girls slit its throat (shown on camera) and reach inside it to get the objects they are looking for, it seems particularly cruel and this is likely to upset children who care about animals.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘Sucker Punch’ is a disappointing movie which introduces lots of interesting ideas but goes for cheap superficial thrills instead. Seemingly aimed towards teenage boys, it misses the mark by bringing in too many dark, adult themes that stop the audience from losing themselves in the story. Due to the misogynistic nature of the plot and script, we would not recommend this movie for under 12’s.
- Violence: 3/5 (mostly done with over-the-top computer effects, very little blood or gore is seen. There are several murders (one at the beginning and two towards the end) which are not too graphic. There are two attempted rapes where the women are also beaten)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (more than one character is murdered. One sacrifices themselves and the person she saves screams and cries when they die)
- Fear Factor: 2/5 (the character of Blue Jones is very intimidating. He regularly threatens to sexually assault female characters)
- Sexual Content: 3/5 (the majority of the movie is set in a brothel where the women are forced to be there (although no sexual activity is seen). One of the girls reluctantly seduces ‘the mayor’, an overweight, unattractive man. While it is not seen, she has previously been told to kiss his neck to distract him while she steals something from him)
- Bad Language: 2/5 (some moderate cursing and blasphemy)
- Dialogue: 4/5 (mentions of rape, brothels, murder and lobotomies)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of injustice, misogyny/sexism, fighting for freedom, protecting the people you care about and inner strength.
Words by Laura Record