I was not going to see Sucker Punch directed by Zack Snyder, as the trailer made me think that yet again Laura Mulvey coined term the “male gaze” was center stage in the movie. Baby Doll, the lead character, spends a majority of the movie dressed in the sexy schoolgirl outfit. And, in my opinion this plays to one strong, recurring male fetish within cinema.
Then, the trailer shows the cast of female characters dressed up in burlesque outfits and I rolled my eyes again. The fight scenes looked the most interesting, though reminding me of Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan or other steampunk novels. I assumed I would eventually rent the movie to check it out. Then, I read a movie review in the Vancouver Sun written by Katherine Monk, which you can find at http://tinyurl.com/4xjwmlx.
Monk compared Sucker Punch to Quentin Taratino’s Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2. But, first she states that the movie “is told from a distinctly feminist point of view.” Now, when did having a movie told from a woman’s point of view automatically become a feminist point of view? This comment raised my eyebrows, so I kept on reading. I read the rest of the sentence and Monk refers to Tarantino’s characters as “schoolgirl ninjas and avenging rape victims.” Well, Babydoll is in a schoolgirl costume and ultimately she is defending her sister against their step-father.
The remainder of the review made me think that maybe I should give the movie a chance and see it. So, I did. My teen asked to accompany me and we saw the movie and talked about it on the walk back to the car and the drive home. We liked certain aspects of the movie.
What the movie did well—colors, lighting and great CGI. I enjoyed that the movie was in Babydoll’s head and that we didn’t have to see her sexy, trancelike dance that apparently sucked the male characters into. I’m also glad that the allusions to rape and sex work were not completed. They were assumed or referred to, but not gratuitously shot for the viewer. It’s bad enough to have to have women characters again set up as being victimized and raped by the orderlies and other men, but I don’t need to see it again in another movie. (Get more creative screenwriters!)
The women in the movie were real—vulnerable, strong, sassy, and flawed, while of course, beautiful and thin (this is Hollywood). They each fought against different villainous archetypes: warriors, zombies, monsters, dragons, and men. They had to work together in order to be successful and use fight skills and tech prowess in the process—all the while without messing up their make up or hair!
The movie was entertaining—no doubt. Was it a feminist story? I’m not sure about that, but it was worth the $20 to spend time with my teen and discuss feminism and the movie. She thought that since the movie was told from Babydoll’s point of view and they were fighting against power (not her words, but systemic forms of power—men), then maybe the movie was a little feminist or could be categorized by some as a feminist plot or story.
The movie clearly is about women needing to support one another and responding to abuse my men. There is a sense of responding to mistreatment of women. And, the mistreatment is not glamorized. The movie will make you think and cheer, as the women are mostly successful on their quest. So, grab your popcorn and watch the movie.