Posted by: David Stewart | March 24, 2011

When life hands you lemons, give it a Sucker Punch

Hey Bunky – does life have you down? Are you sad because you are abused, beaten, maybe committed to an insane asylum? Are you at risk of being lobotomized? We know the solution… escape reality into your fantasy life!

For full disclosure, I must admit that there are some film genres that I tend to avoid. Usually they are movies targeted to hard core gamers, adolescents and fans of extreme fighting and graphic novels. So I wasn’t planning to see Sucker Punch in the theater, because it really looked like a video game on celluloid.

But when my daughter had a free pass to a pre-screening, it seemed like a good chance to check it out and hang out with one of my home girls. (So to speak).

I will say that for this genre, it was a pretty good movie. Certainly better in my opinion than the director’s previous efforts 300 and Watchmen.

The movie follows our heroine (Emily Browning, who I saw most recently in Lemony Snicket) as "Baby Doll", a 20 year old woman who is orphaned and persecuted by her evil stepfather, and checked into a mental institution where there are other young female inmates. She begins to imagine that she and her fellow prisoners are en elite fighting group carrying out missions against various over-the-top foes.

  • The story is far from a simple tale, and there are layers of meaning and reality. It’s probably somewhere between Alice in Wonderland and Inception in terms of story layers.
  • In spite of the theme of escaping your problems in fantasy, the women are portrayed as taking charge of their situation and not turning into a blubbering mess when they get hit.
  • There is considerable violence, but it is carried out mostly against evil creatures such as robots, zombies, dragons and Nazis, and all of it is nearly bloodless and more like a video game.
  • One of the recurring fantasy characters (a grizzled commander, played by veteran Scott Glenn) issues these really great war clichés as he sends the all-girl team out to do battle. It is pitched just right to be ironically funny without being slapstick.
  • There is no nudity or sex, but there is certainly suggestion of sexuality, none of it positive. In fact, there is a subtle but unmistakable linking of anything sensual with violence.
  • In spite of the strong portrayal of women, I would be reluctant to take a child to this movie because of the really scary things that happen to them.
  • But if you think you might want to see it, try to catch it on the big screen. I think a lot of the impact of the visuals will be lost in a living room, though none of the story elements.


  1. Hi Dave!
    Do you think it would be worth the IMAX upgrade?

  2. Hi Pete –

    Definitely. If it’s a movie you are looking forward to (and I bet it is) then IMAX would be a good upgrade.

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