Whether you loved or hated Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch," you didn't understand it. That's the message (and the title) of a new video essay on the film by /Film's Adam Quigley. And here it is:
Quigley's main argument is that no one has fully recognized what's "really" going on in the film -- namely that everything we see onscreen is a fantasy, including the base level of reality where the character named Babydoll is institutionalized at a mental hospital by her evil stepfather. In fact, Quigley says, that's all taking place in the mind of another character named Sweet Pea, a mind that is about to be lobotomized. And when we see Sweet Pea *almost* get lobotomized early in the film, she actually does; the entirety of "Sucker Punch" is her character's attempt to disassociate from that trauma.
Given that line of thinking I may still not get it; if the whole movie is a fantasy, how do we know the one scene with Sweet Pea's almost-lobotomy is real? But let's assume I buy Quigley's argument. My next question: is it possible to understand "Sucker Punch" and still kind of hate it? Because I think that's where I'm at.
All of the other things Quigley says Snyder's trying to do -- upend our notions of reality and fantasy, interrogate the gender inequality of the past, encourage women to "stand together in all their erotic glory -- are definitely present in "Sucker Punch," but that doesn't change the fact that the movie's also self-indulgent, meandering, and frankly kind of boring. Even with those themes, it's still an awful lot of style for what amounts to some pretty meager substance.
That said, I love when someone defends a movie I (and lots of other people) don't care for; after all, I'm the dude that wrote a celebration of "Junior" a few weeks ago. So while I can't join Quigley in his quixotic quest to redeem "Sucker Punch" (and while the tone of his video essay seems designed to shame me into feeling stupid), I like the fact that he's trying.
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