The Big Picture: You Are Wrong About Sucker Punch, Part One

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Everything being overdone and kind of absurd was part of the satire of the movie and just because people still find it sexy does not stop it from being satire.

Except that extreme clothes, situations and abilities are staple tropes for normal entries into the genre that Sucker Punch was supposed to be satirisng. If it's to be a successful satire there needs to be something that distinguishes it from what it's attempting to ape. Sucker Punch was just recreating what it's supposed to be deconstructing and then tacked on a superfluous message about how people raping the mentally infirm is an allegory for the intended audiences exploitation of the characters they're viewing.

It's a non sequitur. It's comparing harmless escapism to full on sexual and mental abuse.

I'm all for films having messages, but the message was full on wrong and I'd argue misandrist.

A successful satire shouldn't have to fall back on such disingenuous drivel just because the meat and potatoes of it's film was indistinguishable from what it's supposedly mocking.

It may have been indistinguishable but as this thread has proven many people could tell the difference. You might not have liked it and many people did not get it, even though the movie explained it, but it still was a satire, not the best satire but not being good does not change what it is.

People could tell the difference because of the heavy handed twist at the end.

After that introspection takes over and people attribute anything they can find to it. Which is fine, but it's bad satire.

And I never argued that the film wasn't attempting to be a satire, simply that it failed to be successful.

People saying 'ye I got it, satire' does not good satire make. Deconstruction of the genre and the actual intent of the people who view it would have made it successful. Which was something the film sorely lacked.

I saw this, understood it, and still hated it.

I understood what this movie was TRYING to say, but that fact that it failed on every single cinematic level completely destroyed any message it might have had. To me, this is satire in the same way that Scream is satire. It doesn't actually do anything clever, it just condemns stuff. If you look at a movie like Cabin in the Woods, you get a movie that did the self-aware satire thing right (in my opinion anyway.), but this is just one big massive fuck-up of a movie.

Very thoughtful and interesting deconstruction. Thanks, Bob!

You Are Wrong About Sucker Punch, Part One

MovieBob delivers a Sucker Punch to your senses.

Watch Video

Thank you MovieBob, it's great to see a good and fair analysis of Sucker Punch. It's one of my favorite movies of all time and I've always thought that a lot of the criticisms were quite unfair. It's not just a dumb girls with guns type movie, there's a lot more to it than that.

With the sucker punch aspect, I think that it's so much not criticizing the male demographic for objectifying as it's saying
"if all you like/see in this movie is sexy fetish girls doing cool stuff, then you're as bad as the villains. If you get turned on by that stuff and don't care about the rest, then you're as bad as the villains.". But if you get the movie for what it really is, you're obviously not. It challenges you to think about yourself. I'm guessing some people probably don't really like that message.
Pretty devious way to pre-emptively give the critics the finger if you ask me...
(when I think it I guess that is sort of the point you were making, it just sounded different in my head).

I also think the comparison to Starship Troopers you made at the beginning was pretty spot on, when I saw ST for the first time (a few years ago) I loved it because I totally loved the satire vibe from it; on the surface it might have been just an action flick but if you looked closely there were lots of little details to think about and it was a lot deeper than it initially seemed. I was surprised when I found out so many people didn't seem to get that aspect of it and I think it's a similar situation with SP. Anyways, can't wait for part 2 of the big picture :)

As to the fetished outfits debate going on here, take a look at the average female anime character. Here are some google results...

Female Anime Warrior

Female Anime Soldier

I spy similarities. I'm no anime expert, I watch very few. But even I can tell that Sucker Punch was clearly satirizing that aspect with the costume design. Hell if anything, Sucker Punch was on the more modest end of the spectrum. The fact that Sucker Punch also borrows other aspects from anime (robot samurai, giant mecha, katana sword fighting, etc.) should add to that.

The way I see it, if King Leonidas is the over the top Kratos-type, 8-pack, head-ripping, shirtless uber-badass, the girls in Sucker Punch are the female equivalent. Maybe they look sexy, maybe not, but it seems obvious that the purpose wasn't sexiness just for the sake of sexiness.
Hell, Zack Snyder himself said that where 300 was about male badasses with a mainly male cast, Sucker Punch was about female badasses with a mainly female cast.

The problem I have is that it tells us we're bad for wanting to watch such strip-tease elements then offers us those elements as much as possible. That doesn't make it the clever heroines tricking us stupid males, that makes it the sleazy guy running the asylum/bordello who's telling us "phwoar, come have a go on that".

Here's the thing, sure the movie could have all those hidden meanings but in the end of the day it was still a bad movie. I wen to see this with a friend, I "got" it, she didn't and we both thought it was terrible. You can go on and on about the symbolism behind everything but that simply sounds like you trying to justify liking this movie to everyone else. Something along the lines of "They would see how good the movie really was if they ignored the bulk of it and concentrated on all the (rather ham-fisted in my opinion) visual metaphors".

I have to be honest. I only watched the movie for 3 reasons:
1. "babydoll" is fucking hot.
2. Schoolgirl outfit? hawt
3. hot chick in schoolgirl outfit fighting with a katana.

Although I would imagine the majority watched it for these reasons

I saw it because I love Vanessa Hudgens, and will see anything she's in.

Sutter Cane:
Don't judge the video until you've watched it dude.

I get what you mean guy but its actually something I kind of like about Bob, at least when he keeps it classy. I enjoyed this vid, hell it made me realise a few things about the movie I didn't previously notice, but the moment Bob gets aggressive like he did in his Expendables 1 and Transformers 3 reveiws is the point were I kind of have to draw the line.

Also before anyone goes calling me a fanboy, I can't stand ALOT of what Bob has said he finds enjoyable e.g. Zodiac, Drag me to Hell, Clash of the Titans (I know he said it was only okay but my gawd that movie), hated each one with a passion. I don't think you necessarily need to agree with someone to find their points of veiw interesting.

I liked the vid, as I said it made me think of a few things I didn't before, curious as to next weeks topic.

Kay, watched it because someone I trust promised he was at least aware of the movie's faults as he was speaking. Which I believe after watching it, but considering how overly-defensive Bob gets when people call him out, the title is probably the most rage-inducing thing he could have chosen, so just a extremely poor choice of words on his part. Hell, maybe he did that intentionally, in which case, he'd be just a big douchebag, but I don't think that's the case.

Funny thing is, when I went to see this movie with my friends, none of us were really complaining about the fact that it was "misogynistic", just that the "female empowerment" message had fallen flat on its face. Honestly, we had other complaints about the movie, but a lot about Babydoll's actions just pissed us all off. Like the fact that Babydoll only shows true strength against her antagonizes in her dreams but only proves herself to be weak and unmoved even when her friends die around her (even considering that they are dying because of her mission to get out of the brothel before the highroller comes for her).

There was a lot that just... sucked. Maybe Bob is onto something with this reverse misogyny thing, if that is the case, then Snyder was in waaaaay over his head and failed in what he aimed to accomplish.

I absolutely loved Suckerpunch, but the funny thing about it is when I went out and bought it on DVD I just couldn't sit down and watch it all the way through a second time. The blatant sexploitation of the female cast was for me an absolute treat, and I respect any film that comes out of Hollywood with the guts to end on a downer like Suckerpunch did.

But put them together?

Well, when you sit down and watch the movie again you do find yourself in the uncomfortable position of having sat down deliberately to watch a snuff film. Now I'm jaded cynical bastard, but I'm not too far gone not to recognise that and feel a little unsettled about it.

The thing about this sort of entertainment is that there exists a tacit agreement between the audience and media creator that whatever ends up happening, nothing 'really bad' will tend to happen to the sexy eye candy. And even on the odd occasion when something does happen because somebody decided to push the envelop, it will largely happen off screen to try and unsuccessfully avoid a shitstorm. Some authors and artists by virtue of their long histories of provocation are more successful at getting away with stuff then others.

If the themes or symbolism had to be explained outside of the film/book/comic/game/any form of media, then the media obviously did a piss-poor job at getting it to the audience in the first place. Which makes it a shitty movie.

Seriously, if a work of entertainment or art is made it should be able to stand on its own merits without any outside interpretation needing to be tacked on later or before. This is like a developer making a game that is all out of order and has to be played upside down and underwater and be read backwards in latin, now it MAY be a good or even fantastic game, but the fact of the matter is that it would have to be explained how to experience it, which is a fault not of the audience or other critics, but of the creator and the work.

Long story short, if most people "didn't get it", then it did a shitty job at connecting to the audience, and trying to argue otherwise is like defending Kevin Smith's and blockbuster Hollywood's current view of critics.

Case in point.

The message in Sucker Punch is a good one. The movie is not.

Take Starship Troopers. When I first watched it, I was fairly alienated. I went to a theater which was crowded with college-age guys. The testosterone was high and the movie gave the men what they wanted. Never a good sign that the movie with a subversive message is pleasing the wrong crowd. Point being, if you're trying to be satirical and say the opposite of what you're showing, try not to do too good a job of presenting the thing you're actually against. Plus you still have to have a movie worth watching at the end of the day.

That's why Starship Troopers didn't work. That's why Sucker Punch didn't work. Oh, they entertained certain audiences, but the point was lost in the process.

Cabin in the Woods, on the other hand, managed to ride the line between movie and message. It did it right.

If the themes or symbolism had to be explained outside of the film/book/comic/game/any form of media, then the media obviously did a piss-poor job at getting it to the audience in the first place. Which makes it a shitty movie.

I'm pretty sure Bob got it, at the very least.

I think the themes of Sucker Punch were very subversive, and apparently just a bit too subversive for the primary audience viewing the movie. But knowing the movie's true intention, doesn't that make it all the more interesting? Plenty of geeks flocked to the movie to watch the girls in Japanese schoolgirl uniforms kick some ass, making the whole thing sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Making the joke any more obvious would have undermined the purpose of setting up such an elaborate set of symbols and parallels in the first place.

So was it a bit too much for the casual moviegoer to get on the first go? Yes, but that's sort of the point. It is intended to be a trap for those seeking what's on the surface.

I saw this review, went back in time, created this account and then posted a couple thousand posts just to say this:

I saw this movie when it came out and it was disgusting, insulting shit. Everyone sitting in that audience walked out of the theater a little dumber.
There's nothing to get with the movie. Every angle of it is horrible. Plot, characters, music, direction and especially the oh-so-clever message. Screw this garbage, I pray for the soul of the guy that wrote/ thought of it. May he find peace.

Huh. And here I thought people hated it because it was a shitty movie.

Shoehorning a feminist interpretation onto a shitty movie doesn't make it less of a shitty movie, Bob.

I got what Snyder was trying to say with the movie. I really did. But that does not excuse the fact that listening to him say it was an unbelievable painful experience. Sucker Punch is like watching torture porn. It's even worse if you do get what the film is trying to say. Because you end up feeling so dirty that your skin wants to crawl out of the theater without you. I know they tell us that movies stirring an emotion is good. But this isn't always true. Disgust and Revulsion do not make for a good movie. No matter how many explosions or fetish dressed teenage girls they give you.


in which case, he'd be just a big douchebag, but I don't think that's the case.

That made me laugh.


Like the fact that Babydoll only shows true strength against her antagonizes in her dreams but only proves herself to be weak and unmoved even when her friends die around her (even considering that they are dying because of her mission to get out of the brothel before the highroller comes for her).

Well, at the end of the day she is still a young girl, fantasy empowerment is one thing but its another to actually ask a teen (regardless of sex) with no combat experience to subdue would be attackers.

Finally, someone is actually taking a worthwhile look at this film instead of just dismissing it as sexist pandering. I really liked this film myself.

I never really found the film misogynistic. I never felt like the movie was trying to make me look at the girls as sexually appealing, despite their costumes. They were just a side effect of the world the film was set in. The whole criticism of how the film is supposed to be dressing up soft porn as "empowerment" seemed so forced to me. It didn't feel like either of those. Maybe people just threw that criticism at the film because that's what people usually say about films that look like this. They didn't bother to look closer, or simply accept that there might be narrative reasons why the girls are dressed as they are, and not just to titillate the audience.

But the metaphor of the strip-tease and the action scenes and how that relates to the viewer sounds really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense. I always had a feeling there was more going on in that film that it was letting on. The layers of fantasy weren't just Inception-esque plot devices to allow them to change scenery, they had meaning to them. I kind of got that the action scenes were analogous to the strip-tease, but adding the viewer in to the metaphor is genius. I never thought of that myself, but it makes perfect sense.

There's also the alternate, that while she is being violated/dancing, she is thinking of her plans with her friends, escaping to a world that she could make it. And while thinking of her escape plan as some hero like story, avoiding the nitty gritty parts that make them able to escape in the first place. Its also a way to kind of hope for herself a happy ending, until one of the girls die. Then reality partially starts to set in.

This seems kind of late. Sucker Punch came out a long while ago relatively speaking, I enjoyed Sucker Punch immensely actually, and not for the reasons some might have. It was like watching a burlesque show on film that actually full advantage of the pro's of movies, i.e. amazing effects and clarity, without losing the theater feel. It wasn't my favorite movie of all time, it had a relatively simple premise that I pretty much saw coming from the get go, but it was well executed and well designed.

well i see BOB follow TGWTG which is a good thing. varying opinions is always good.

but i recall first seeing this movie, and while not impressed with its story, i was grateful a movie of this type existed if not just for the risk and art style.
but i also remembered saying to my self "this movie is a bit smarter than its letting on, but im not sure how...."

then i saw this video and i was all :

"Fucking genius...even Snyder's 'bad' movie, isn't really bad"

Well, at the end of the day she is still a young girl, fantasy empowerment is one thing but its another to actually ask a teen (regardless of sex) with no combat experience to subdue would be attackers.

Yeah, I mean I get that, but I didn't expect her to go commando on his ass, just something instead of quivering in fear while he shoots her friends.


I don't buy it. It's like saying "Striptease is degrading and wrong", and following it up with a 20-minute Salma-Hayek-dancing-with-a-python-for-clothes number to illustrate your point. Then, after she covers up and everyone's boners subside, you continue with, "See? Wasn't that disgusting?"

For half of its running time, every ten minutes, the movie stops dead to have a "satirical" vignette that quite shamlessly basks in everything that it's trying to condemn. These sections are so shallow and pandering that they can literally be cut from the movie without affecting the asylum/brothel plot at all. When the supposedly subversive, insightful, gender-exploring message gets swamped by ten times the amount of completely straight sexist pandering, you can't still claim it was the entire point.

I saw the film a year ago so I don't remember exact details about the film. I do remember the main reasons why I didn't like the film (though I wouldn't call it the worst film I've ever seen):

1. Contrary to what most people said positively about the film, I found the action scenes boring, over-long and visually cluttered. This might be due to me not remembering much of the scenes, but I recall while watching the later setpieces that they started to feel repetitive. I enjoyed the action scenes in Watchmen more, but they were almost literally pulled from the comic. Another factor that could lead to that is a weak narrative, since it was a big problem in the film that it focused more on its ideas it tried to convey than its characterizations. The film worked better in pieces than as a narrative held together (also like Watchmen).

2. I completely agree that the INTENTION of the filmmakers was to showcase the woman striking back at the males who gaze upon them, but they didn't pull it off. The thing is, if they try to mock sexual exploitation by sexually exploiting the attractive female stars in fetish outfits, then the intention seems disingenuous. They're condemning the audience while enabling them. This might have been averted with a change in tone, but then the film would have been completely different (like Bob said, it's easier to do with a comedy). Something like Starship Troopers worked because is was very tongue-in-cheek, but Sucker Punch was deadly serious. That was fine because that was the mood the film was going for, but it might of put the Snyder's metaphorical punch out of reach of the audience. It may have been Snyder's intention to subvert geek culture, but it wasn't the reason the film was made.

I'd like to hear what Bob says in part II.

Seriously dude? You went to all this trouble to make not one, but two videos just to say how better you are then all of us just because we dont like a movie you do?

Fuck you Bob and your pretentiousness.

I know this is the internet and all, but why do people never actually listen/read to what others actually say? He flat out said that he didn't mind/care about whether you liked the film or not, he just wants the film to be liked or disliked on it's actual merits, rather than strawman ones that have been created for it.

If you disliked it, but understood the metaphors, great, the video wasn't about you. If you didn't get the metaphors, but do now and still don't, fine, at least you understood it now.

He never said that just because you disliked it, he was better than you.

Am I the only one who hates this movie more now?
It's designed to draw in a certain audience only to blatantly insult said audience?
That is literately like asking someone to come over to you, just to punch them in the face. That's a dick move and you're a massive twat if you do that.


Well, at the end of the day she is still a young girl, fantasy empowerment is one thing but its another to actually ask a teen (regardless of sex) with no combat experience to subdue would be attackers.

Yeah, I mean I get that, but I didn't expect her to go commando on his ass, just something instead of quivering in fear while he shoots her friends.

I suppose, lets face she wasn't the most endearing character... I may have had a thing for the bus driver though... 0_0

Am I the only one who hates this movie more now?
It's designed to draw in a certain audience only to blatantly insult said audience?
That is literately like asking someone to come over to you, just to punch them in the face. That's a dick move and you're a massive twat if you do that.

It's called social commentary. It's nothing special.

Viewers -- How dare you watch movies with female protagonists!
Seems kind of anti-producive. Are you sure you're not on a spree after Cabin in the Woods Bob? This seems like a cut&paste with horror/violence replaced by action scifi / sexism.

Given this message may have been their intent, it seems to have failed a bit if most of the audience didn't get it. Then, as mentioned in the video, the high minded folk can discuss it over tea after the next urban poetry reading.

I went to see it because it was a sci-fi with a female lead. That doesn't happen too often (it does in a week or two here though!). The sci-fi alone probably would have gotten me in the theatre - if you omit comic book movies there aren't too many coming out these days. The pandering with the outfits was obvious, but that was definitely not the reason I went to see it. There are far better outlets for that sort of thing if you're into this subculture.

Final Thought - What if Zack Snyder started on this rhetoric with 300 and men in banana hammocks?! Gerard Butler was representing the repressed males!

Tono Makt:

So... this is another one of those things whereby the only way to win is to not participate?

No moreso than any other forum thread on any website on the internet.

I was meaning more "given that the movie is criticising those who see it, the only way not to be criticised is to not participate", which reminds me of a certain FPS people are raving about...

>not a fan of anime/comics in general
>crap movie
>"hurr durr rape" message at the end

Am I supposed to be impressed?

Seriously, just how does a striptease parallel to shooting Nazi zombies?

How does becoming a Greek deity and brutally slash trough hordes of enemies parallel to a kid's problems with bullies?

It's called "escapism". It's a power fantasy that doesn't necessarily have to take place in the same setting. And yes, I knew a kid who played God of War to cope with constant bullying. Not an effective solution but he did it.

Moonlight Butterfly:
I feel like I 'get' this film mostly because I have been in abusive relationships with men and have used my imagination (and games) as a form of escapism. This film could have been taken from inside my head... I have real life parallels for both the step father and the doctor/brothel owner guy, unfortunately.

That's it, I'm out.

The characters in the movie had no way to deal with their situation (because plot convenience). Unlike the kid that got bullied, he had several options to deal with his problem.

I don't think the movie makes such a parallel with your life. This might sound rough, but you had other options and *chose* escapism over dealing with the problem directly.


That's a pretty bold statement considering you know NOTHING about me. In both of the situations I was in I had very little choice over whether to stay in there or not.

This film had an effect on me more so than any other I have watched because it reminded me of bad situations I have been in. How you can call me out on that and say I'm 'wrong' for feeling that is just astonishing.

I feel like one of the few people that absolutely loved the movie but absolutely despise the people that only like it for the perviness.

Don't get me wrong, Emily Browning is in my top five most beautiful actresses right now. That said, I didn't watch the movie to get my sleeze on, nor was I aroused by the sexualization within.

Sure, most of the girls were hot and all, but I was actually interested in the damn story and the characters (the doctor, the warden, the father, the psychiatrist, and Browning's character herself).

The ending surprised the hell out of me, and was probably the best way to end a movie like that, even if I felt it didn't fit the 'escape' analogy well.

All of this is said without yet watching your video. I'll edit this once I watch it to add new thoughts/opinions.

Edit number one: Still haven't watched the video, but need to include this: The Director's Cut added a great deal to the movie, and I highly recommend it to anyone that doesn't already hate the movie.

I have to say this went over better then I had thought. Honestly I was expecting less of a step-by-step retread and more of a bitter little whinge. Not that it really matters since the movie was a raging myeh

I take a similar movie-snob perspective on the movie Fight Club, for a related but somewhat inverted reason.

My beef with that movie is not the people who hated it, but the people who go around (mostly on iMDB boards) saying it changed their life or whatever.

"Dudes", the movie was good for what it was, but it's not the basis for an entire life philosophy. As a treatise on nihilism, there was another movie out the same year that gave the topic a better treatment. It was called something like The Matrix, or whatever. Additionally, you're copying the movie's fights as a salve for a post-nuclear family culture, and to attain a sense of the visceral in a world saturated with simulacra. In some cases, you're even mimicking its anti-consumerist message and prankster vandalism (so far, no domestic terror attacks on our financial system, though I'm sure people gaze at that closing scene starry-eyed).

But here's the thing: a movie is telling you what is wrong with the world and with your life, and what you have to do to break out of this prison of the mind and make your own choices. Is the irony sinking in yet? You paid six bucks (it would be ten today) to a film studio in order to lift the blinders of modern consumerism? You remember those guys who, when Ed Norton's narrator shouted at them that they were all individuals, they replied in a simultaneous monotone "we are all individuals"? THAT'S YOU!

So yeah, Fight Club is my "movie snob" moment for people who love (or in the case of Sucker Punch, hate) the film without realizing that they are the target at whom the social satire is very squarely aimed.

I feel like one of the few people that absolutely loved the movie but absolutely despise the people that only like it for the perviness.

I, too, am a noble soul, bereft of all human corruption, and completely unlike the nasty creatures in the movie that told me to hate them. But seriously, it doesn't even pass the Transformers test:

This movie made Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen look measured and evenhanded in its treatment of gender relations, intelligent and multidimensional in the motivation of their villains, sensible and realistic in its use of physics, deft in its management and closure of plot threads and motivations for the various characters, and more racially diverse in its array of characters.

That's not a good look, even for 'magic realism,' whose function should be to explore the mind's inner world instead of heavily simplifying it.

If Michael Bay can do better, your movie probably sucks.

What the wha? Did we watch the same film? Did you listen to the last words that were said? Have you ever heard of revenge sexploitation films?

'Revenge Sexploitation.' Sounds like something a producer would say to get laid. "Yeah, we're gonna rape you, and really draw out the scene so everyone in the audience is horrified to the point of nausea or aroused to the point of self-conscious nausea, but you're gonna get revenge some day! That's makes us squaresies, right?"

What I saw at the end of Sucker Punch was one of the girls getting on a bus, and the cops stopping her but the bus driver saves her by lying to them. Didn't exactly scream "I have all my weapons and have fought my way to freedom" at that point. It screamed "my escape is random circumstance as the result of bizarre luck and coincidence and I needed a man to show up and set things right."

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