Friday, March 25, 2011

Brief Sucker Punch Thoughts...

For those of you that are curious, and because I'm one of 12 people who seemed to both not COMPLETELY miss the point AND appreciate the point, here are some of my thoughts that I tweeted last night.

I love the whole idea of her escaping into this fantasy world, where what we see IS what happened in reality, but the way she sees it, the way she is dealing with it. A mental break turning a situation where she is helpless into one where she is ostensibly helpless, but actually in control, makes perfect sense to me. Unfortunately, because she wasn't actually in control, she didn't have the men in the palm of her hand, the fantasy could only take her so far before reality set in and she had to face her fate. Eh, works for me!

I find a more cohesive story in it than many are, it seems. Comes down to a connection to it or not perhaps, pure and simple. The movie is for sure not perfect. The most I'm arguing is that it isn't worthless, it connects/makes more sense to some people than others, and it isn't anti-feminist. Oh and it's really fun to watch if you just let yourself, even if that means laughing at the dumb stuff

I'm kind of sick of man after man writing pieces on why Sucker Punch is anti-feminist or fails as a feminist film. Much more interested in a fellow fangirl's perspective, even if she disagrees with me, than reading unconscious male guilt (also kind of the point of Sucker Punch) translated into not appreciating what Snyder set out to do here. I repeat, this movie is NOT perfect, and I am enjoying all the debate, the 140 character quotes of people who hate it are actually pretty hilarious, but I do take issue with the argument that the film is harmful to women in any way. For whatever inexplicable reason, I did connect to Sucker Punch, I understood the multiple layers she used to escape, I understood that while the story was hers, it was also ours, that sometimes you have to do the best with what you're given, even if the only option is help ONE person to make it out alive, help ONE person to escape, help ONE person make something of herself. Especially when that one person was only trapped in the first place out of a desire to protect her younger sister. Sweet Pea didn't belong there and Babydoll got her out and in the end, even though Babydoll lost her mind completely, she took down both her stepfather and Blue in the process, empowered to the very end.

Was it heavy handed? Yes. Was it at times cheesy? Yes. Was it super far from perfect? Of course. But I loved the conceit, the themes, the action, the costumes, the production design, the soundtrack, most of the performances, really everything but the dialogue/aspects of the script structure (could have done without the final voiceover). Perhaps in more capable hands aka a seasoned screenwriter, the screenplay would have been dynamite, in which case I definitely think everyone would be loving this movie.

With Battle LA, the bad screenplay ruined it for me, but many people I talked to (side note....mostly men....) could acknowledge the script sucked, but loved it anyway. For me, that's kind of the situation with Sucker Punch. I can acknowledge it has problems, but it doesn't really matter. It connected to me on a gut level. I get it. And I love that Snyder, even if he failed, failed so boldly and gloriously.

But seriously, throw me some insightful criticism from a fangirl please. I don't want to read any more pieces by men telling me Sucker Punch is bad for me. I will tomahawk you in stilettos and you'll never see it coming.

Update: Upon seeing the movie again, I began wondering if Baby Doll's purpose is to act as an angel, both for other girls put in unfortunate situations, (both at the asylum in the world of the movie and in the audience, for those watching,) and most specifically, Sweet Pea. Sweet Pea should have never been in there in the first place (a second viewing also makes it very clear that the 2nd level is almost exactly mirroring the 1st level if you take away all references to the location/sex. Everything that happened on the 2nd level is Baby Doll's slightly altered projection of reality, which may also explain the specific role each girl plays and why they may not be "fully fleshed out characters". I believe in the 1st level, Sweet Pea still is only in the asylum out of a desire to protect Rocket and doesn't belong there) and while Baby Doll's grip on reality is loosening, she has fight in her, she has the inner strength the other girls don't, and her arriving at the asylum is equivalent to the arrival of an angel on Earth. With her determination (and realization that her own sacrifice is the final necessary item), she brings down the entire establishment and stepfather in the process, and allows the one girl who had a chance the opportunity to experience real life. What made Baby Doll different was her FIGHT. It's why real-Blue was obsessed with her and ultimately lost his mind and fucked up his own evil doings. The message is even when you are in the worst situation, you already have your weapons, all you have to do is fight, it may save you or it may save someone else, but it's better than the alternative of sitting there not trying, already dead.

PS - Please check out this on-the-money review from Devin Faraci
PPS -  If you would like to read a super positive review, head to First Showing
Other reviews to check out: Mr Beaks, Jack Giroux


braak said...

Oh, hm. Annalee at io9 did a review of it:!moviereview/5785590

She didn't much care for it, though I don't think that can fairly be laid at the feet of either a failure or understand or sublimated male guilt.

LoquaciousMuse said...

Thank you!!

LoquaciousMuse said...

I still disagree with just about everything in that review, haha, but I was just reading ones from only men talking about feminism and it was getting old, so thanks for the link!

braak said...

Well, I can't comment to its accuracy, due to my not having seen the movie, but is a little problematic to get a good sense of a movie when it's all about the movie's feminism (or lack thereof) and the review is written by a man.

stella said...

I am tired of men writing "strong female characters" whose strength is illustrated largely if not solely by their sexual power. I am tired of being sold the sexualization of immaturity, or the infantilization of sexually empowered women. I am tired of rape and assault on women being played for plot devices.

I won't be paying money to see Sucker Punch, and not just because I think it looks like a misogynistic 14-year-old's algebra folder. I won't see it because I think Snyder values style over substance and I think this movie looks like a glossy, noisy mess.

Franchesca Havas said...

I am actually looking forward to watching it and my teen daughter wants to see it.
I am still debating whether or not to take her, hubby is on the fence about it too. That being said something tells me that I would not mind watching it twice, once to review it to see if she will be able to cope with it and then the second time with her if it passes.
I promise to do a review of it and will send you a url of where I place it if you like. :)


Matt Goldberg said...

Muse, no offense, but I resent the notion that I can't be engaged in feminism because I'm male. That's like saying I can't think something's racist because I'm white. No, I can't personally peak from a feminine perspective and would never presume to. Nor would I say that this film is "hurtful" to women because women are comprised of individuals and this movie clearly isn't for them. But I think it's wrong for you to try and shutdown my criticism of the film simply because I'm a man. I don't think Sucker Punch is "bad for you". You're an adult who can make her own decisions. I simply think that Sucker Punch is bad for people, both men and women, in that it's a tedious waste of two hours and however much money your local theater charges.

But let's assume that Sucker Punch is actually a big j'accuse to its male audience and that shoving the viewer's face in the masculine gaze is what Snyder intended. Then why does he seem to enjoy the ride? The film never dares to actually sicken its audience and it's too slickly produced to be parody. I seriously doubt Snyder put all of the effort into design and fight choreography because he wanted the audience to feel guilty or conflicted about his protagonists.

Also, to your point that it's empowering because Babydoll was able to help just one person because she never stopped fighting--Snyder failed his own script by never showing that reality level. He saved all of those reveals until the end. And when he does reveal that Babydoll actually freed Sweet Pea, it's a hollow victory for a couple reasons:

1) We never get to know the real Sweet Pea. She, like all of the other women in the film, is merely an object. Babydoll can free Sweet Pea to the point of idyllically freeing Sweet Pea. Of course, I don't think she's actually "saving" an inmate. She's dealing with guilt. In Babydoll's mind, Sweet Pea is a big sister who failed to protect Rocket just like Babydoll failed to protect her own little sister. Babydoll IS Sweet Pea and so the action of "saving her" doesn't feel particularly selfless or heroic.

It actually reminded me of the sickening ending to Atonement where the old lady wants a pat on the back because even though she ruined Keira Knightley and James McAvoy's lives, she "imagined" that they came together and isn't that really good enough? (Answer: No. Not even close.)

2) The film has no explanation to other corresponding incidents. Does that mean Blue murdered Amber and Blondie? I doubt it. Maybe if the film set up that those inmates were due to be lobotomized as well, but it didn't.

I'm trying to understand the positive takes on the film, but it feels like people are doing mental gymnastics to justify the movie as something that speaks to noble themes of sisterhood and determination and social commentary. If I saw that in the film, I would happily cheer it on. But it's not there because he does such a shoddy job structuring the premise and spending far too much on soulless action scenes.

LoquaciousMuse said...

@Matt - Hi, welcome, yay!

First off, sorry if I offended you in any way, it just gets a little trying when every other tweet is an essay by a men telling me Sucker Punch is bad for me. It reeks of disingenuity, of wanting to prove something, of missing the point to make an unrelated point that somehow classifies themselves as the "male defenders of the Female", when in fact, it's just insulting. I don't need defending. The movie didn't hurt me. I'm not saying "don't write a review, Man" I'm saying I'm sick of these attempts at some sort of feminist manifesto that are mostly baffling because they COMPLETELY miss the point of the movie. It's creating an issue from where there is none in some sort of misguided attempt to perhaps excuse their own behavior. I'm not saying you are personally guilty of it, but the tweet after tweet was just getting to a breaking point.

The fantasy sequences are not when we are supposed to feel empowered or guilty. The subversion happens in the third act, as does the revelation for the meaning behind it all. Seeing it a second time certainly helped me understand things more clearly, which is most definitely Snyder's fault, I'm not arguing that he nailed the storytelling here, but there *is* a story that tried to be told and a message that meant something to me.

The Sweet Pea in Baby Doll's head is as much realty as the 1st plane - it's what Sweet Pea was to BD, what BD feels for her is what we are designed to feel for her, no matter what the actual plane of reality. Her escape was not only a victory for Sweet Pea, but yes, of course, a victory for Baby Doll, she was doing the most she could under the circumstances, which was giving Sweet Pea the chance she herself never had (and taking down the whole asylum in the process.)

I also LOVED the action, I'm confused by people not being into it, I think Snyder directs action brilliantly and I loved every moment of it.

I think at the end of the day, the film either connects to you or it doesn't. And there is a difference between justifying and defending. It sucks to be told AHEAD OF TIME that liking this movie means we're dumb. It sucks that we are automatically put in a position to defend it because people are so outwardly hating on it. And this is the thing - the movie IS far from perfect, it had a hard time telling its story, criticize it for that, sure, but it *did* have a story, and a damn good one, as clumsily as it was told.

Luna Corbden said...

Matt, it's not that you can't offer feminist perspectives due to your maleness, it's the reviewers out there who claim to understand feminism, and then completely fail to miss this film's point. Arguing feminism from an ignorant stance (whether male or female) is what garners criticism of those male reviewers... well, criticism. They are free to criticize, and guess what? Feminists are free to counter-criticize.

LoquaciousMuse, if you're interested in another fangirl's analysis of the movie, please visit my blog.