Sucker Punch misogynist or misandrist
(hatred of men)?
On the one hand all the female characters in director Zack Snyder’s 2011
special effects epic are subjected to a nonstop barrage of unpleasantness
such as violence and rape – both threatened and real. The movie sports a
“fight back” feminist message, but it comes across as phony.
After all, this is also a movie in which the supposedly feminist heroines
are dressed up as hookers by its director. Actress Emily Browning’s outfit
is particularly egregious and almost borderline pedophiliac, much like a lot
of those anime drawings of underage girls in scanty outfits that are so
disturbing at so many levels for Westerners.
On the other hand, all the male characters – with one notable exception – in
Sucker Punch are either sleazeballs and scumbuckets who are all too
eager to exploit and degrade women.
So which is it? Does Sucker Punch hate men or women the most? The
jury may still be out (although we lean towards the movie being misogynist),
but the consensus seems to be that Sucker Punch hates its audience the most.
Although it has become de rigueur to knock director Zack Snyder lately we
have never had any particular issue with most of his output, namely the
Dawn of the Dead remake,
300, Watchmen and
Legends of the
Guardians. That is, until now. Based on an “original” story by Snyder
himself, Sucker Punch isn’t a remake or based on any book or graphic
With no decent source material to fall back onto, Sucker Punch
reveals just how empty and shallow Snyder’s directorial style really is. It
is all flash and no substance. The thin storyline is Sucker Punch’s
biggest problem. There isn’t much here to wrap a 127 minutes (the extended
version) long movie around: a young girl (Browning) inadvertently kills her
younger sister whilst trying to protect her from their predatory stepfather.
(Barely ten minutes into the movie and we already have our first attempted
Browning’s character (named Baby Doll!) is carted off to an insane asylum
for her efforts. Here she, with her help of some fellow female inmates,
tries to escape. Each step in their not-so elaborate escape plan is told via
a special effects heavy fantasy sequence set to loud rock music covers of
over-familiar songs in which Baby Doll imagines herself to be a
machinegun-toting sex object inspired by computer games and anime.
These fantasy sequences, the movie wants us to believe, is Baby Doll’s way
of escaping an unpleasant reality. But just whose fantasies are they? The
director’s or the character’s? Would a molested woman re-imagine herself as
a vacant action heroine from a PSP game, or is it just the director who has
to sell movie tickets to a largely male twentysomething audience?
That is the biggest problem with Sucker Punch: it tackles some
weighty issues such as the exploitation of women by men, but is simply too
lightweight and shallow to properly deal with those issues in any meaningful
way. Instead one just feels icky for watching a movie that mixes male
masturbatory fantasies with gritty scenes of violence against women . . .
The special effects sequences may have been the ones most used in the
marketing material to sell the movie, but they are also the movie’s weakest
aspect. Over-stylized and CGI heavy they are devoid of any real thrills and
suspense. In fact whatever thrills Sucker Punch may contain are set
in the “real” world instead. In the end they just come across as overblown
music videos instead of action sequences.
THE DISCS: This set contains three discs: two Blu-rays and one DVD.
The original 110 minute theatrical version of the movie is contained on one
Blu-ray whilst the extended 127 minutes cut is contained on the other Blu-ray.
The DVD only contains the theatrical cut with a digital copy you can watch
on iTunes or Windows Media. Sucker Punch is however such a special effects
heavy movie that I cannot imagine anyone wanting to watch it on a tiny computer
Special features are particularly sparse and come across as marketing
material instead of anything else. There are a few animated shorts and a
brief talking heads bit about how swell the soundtrack is. The so-called
“maximum movie mode” hyped on the box cover only works with BD-Live and our
home entertainment system didn’t have the required specs for it. Would it
really have been such a hassle to include it on the discs instead of having
it float around on the Internet somewhere?
A note: there was a time when Warner Blu-rays would simply start playing on
our somewhat antiquated Sony BDP-S300 Blu-ray disc player. Now one spends
quite some time looking at startup screens waiting for the Sucker Punch
disc to load. The Blu-ray also comes with a “if this disc doesn’t play
properly on your player, then it is your own damn fault for having an old
machine” warning. It is this arrogance on the part of both the studios and
technology companies that sours one on the whole Blu-ray “revolution” along
with their insistence on regional coding. So does one have to buy a new Blu-ray
player if one were to move to another country? I’m sure Sony would love one
to do just that . . .