Imagination & Sucker Punch… Explained?

March 29, 2011 at 9:06 am

Imagination & Sucker Punch... Explained? | Movie Blog | Sucker Punch Review


I went into Sucker Punch armed with all the negative buzz and reviews from frustrated critics and fans. However, I also went in armed with a love for Zack Snyder’s films and especially his visual style.

Zack Snyder went into production armed with one hell of an imagination.  Was it enough?

Sucker Punch wasn’t a great movie but once again, Zack Snyder delivered another stylized and action packed adventure that was entertaining at times but I just didn’t get it.

Still, the movie is geared towards video game nuts and geeks and I fit perfectly into that category so there were elements of the film I loved. But I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who hasn’t played a game where you have to defeat bosses to collect items and move on.

If you don’t know dungeon bosses, you are unprepared for Sucker Punch.

I’ve decided to structure my review in the style of Sucker Punch since the film is basically a video game you get to watch.  There are items to collect so lets get to it.

*Spolers ahead*

Item 1: Map
What is Sucker Punch?

Simply put, Sucker Punch is the story of a girl who is committed into an insane asylum.  She then leads a group of girls on a journey through not one but two fantasy worlds.  The first is a social club where the girls dance for the ‘clients’ of the incredibly smug and effective ‘Blue’.  An evil club owner who also happens to be the head orderly in ‘reality’.

The girls are presented with a plan to collect 5 items in order to complete their quest and escape the club/asylum.  Their fight to gain these items takes them into a more elaborate and fun fantasy world where huge slow motion battles take place.  Nice.

The treat here is Zack Snyder’s wild imagination.  The battles in this fantasy world range from fighting giant Samurai to steam powered dead soldiers to technologically advanced alien robots.  In addition to these wars you are also treated to dragons, blimps, aerial battles and bunny robots.

It’s a lot to take in but each distinct section of this movie is absolutely beautiful and exciting.

The problem is that there is one hell of a complicated and vague storyline connecting them.

Imagination & Sucker Punch... Explained? | Movie Blog | Sucker Punch Review

Item 2: Fire
The Characters

I suppose the only real thing connecting these fights together to form a cohesive story are the main characters.

Baby Doll, Sweet Pea, Rocket, Blondie and Amber.

Still, the whole time you are cheering for them to escape you’ll also be wondering if they are actually achieving their goal at all.  It gets complicated when the girls encountering a problem in the ‘super fantasy world’ but only deal with the consequences in the ‘regular fantasy world’.  It isn’t until the end when you see the results of their actions in reality.  Got all that?

It’s complicated and tough to follow but the fights are sweet.

Imagination & Sucker Punch... Explained? | Movie Blog | Sucker Punch Review

Item 3: Knife
The Action

This is what I paid to see.  Intense and stylized action sequences hit hard and often and the film really doesn’t disappoint if you can get over the fact that it makes little sense at first.

These types of movies are difficult to pull off.  I remember my dad joining me in the middle of The Matrix Reloaded one afternoon.  Trying to explain why Neo’s skills are ‘realistic’ within the movie was tough.  It’s the same kind of idea here but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The winner for me was the robots on the train.  In typical Snyder fashion, the girls flip, kick and blast their way through the car in a single shot full of speed changes and money moments.  It’s exactly what I loved about 300 and exactly what I was hoping to see in the film.  In that sense, I definitely wasn’t disappointed but everyone knew it would be full of cool action.

It was the story that lost me.

Item 4: Key
Understanding The Story

I’m sure feeling lost was part of the overall experience but it wasn’t until an hour or so after the movie that I really started to piece together a theory.

Spoiler.  If I’m not mistaken and I could very well be, the entire film is seen through the eyes of Sweet Pea’s imagination and not Baby Doll’s.  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense but you really, REALLY have to think about it.

If it’s true, the story’s themes remain the same but are focused on the wrong person.  Is that the Sucker Punch?

The hints that led me to this conclusion pretty much hinge on the bus driver at the end.  He’s the one who gives Baby Doll the quest in the first place in fantasy land so it has to be Sweet Pea’s vision right?  Because she can still see him once she’s escaped? I think so.  It’s a good twist that I enjoyed pondering but my problem is if she sees him at the end, isn’t she still fantasizing?

There are a ton of hints that support this theory.  For starters, when we are introduced to the Club it’s Sweet Pea who proclaims that she is running the show.  Even when we first meet Sweet Pea in the theater she is under the care of a doctor telling her that her fantasies can be real.

I talked to a number of people who saw the film and took it as is.  They completely missed the big twist.  This brings up two important questions.  Did I read too far into it or did they miss it?  Both suggest that it’s not entirely clear but maybe that was the point.

Is Baby Doll simply Sweet Pea’s vision of someone who will fight for her when really she is really learning to fight for herself?  It’s interesting to consider but all the hints are there.  Sometimes twist endings are too well hidden though.  This might be a good example of that.

Imagination & Sucker Punch... Explained? | Movie Blog | Sucker Punch Review

According to Wikipedia, Zack Snyder defends the story by blaming the editing process.

“Director Zack Snyder has stated one interpretation of the film is that it is a critique on geek culture’s sexism and objectification of women.He further admits that part of the difficulty in interpreting the movie is due to him being forced to cut many crucial scenes before the film’s release in order for the MPAA to give the film a PG-13 rating, something that caused him much frustration.”

So Sweet Pea dreams up an escape plan and uses her friends in the asylum to escape?

Lets hear it from Sweet Pea herself Abbie Cornish:

“[Baby Doll] changes their whole perception of freedom, of hope, of escapism.  And so their ways of life are challenged, they’re sucker-punched with this whole idea of freedom.” Digital Spy

What she really means is Baby Doll inspires her to escape right?  We will have to wait for the extended DVD to find out I suppose.

Item 5: Me
The Verdict

In the end, I found myself counting down the seconds before the next action scene instead of investing fully in the story.  That’s usually a bad sign especially if the action doesn’t deliver but thankfully it does.  The action saves the film from truly being the disaster that many people are calling it.  It’s not that bad.

The more I thought about the movie and the layers I probably missed, the more I thought about giving it a second chance.  Is it worth a trip to the theater?  Probably not.  But it could be a worth while ‘rent’ someday.

Sucker Punch isn’t a movie for everyone.  Some people will be lost but others will fall in love with the world Zack Snyder has created.

Either way you will be unprepared for Sucker Punch.

The one thing you can’t help but admire is Snyder’s incredibly visual eye and remarkable imagination.  Why not try something completely ‘out there’ and see what happens.  I have a lot of respect for filmmakers like him.  It’s just cool to see what he comes up with.

Click here to check out more of my reviews and comment below if my theory is way off.  I’d love some clarification if I’m wrong.

XTRA: /FILM has a great article up called In Defense of Sucker Punch.  Great read.