Sucker Punch Movie Review: She-Superhero Suds Orgy

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Whether or not you buy into the self-righteous sentiments of Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch – that fantasy is the most effective route to empowerment and liberation – that proclamation tends to sound an awful lot as if when reality poses the problem, movies are the cure. In effect, this self-serving up of a comic book frenzy, video game blue plate would seem to constitute in essence, a case of its very own product placement cure-all up on the screen. And the added notion of sucker punching the audience too.

An interminably weepy Emily Browning takes center stage as the recently certifiably insane, diminutive closet daredevil Babydoll. A teen heiress railroaded into a creepy psychiatric facility by her stepfather so that he can claim the family fortune of her just deceased mother, Babydoll is in the process of being prepped for a trans-orbital (through the eye) lobotomy. And in order to endure an escalating brutal treatment regimen, Babydoll slips into episodes of elaborate fantasy, in which she engages mythological forces of darkness while plotting her escape from the oppressive institution.

Now while out of control ideas run amok in Sucker Punch, that trans-orbital lobotomy is possibly the only sign of a grim reality that really did rampantly rear its head during the mid-20th century, when this story seems to be taking place. For as women became increasingly determined to rise out of their imposed second class citizenship, so did methods, primarily psychiatric, to deal with their defiant rebelliousness.

And it was indeed a Dr. Walter Freeman, who pioneered the trans-orbital lobotomy that pierced the eyeball with an ice pick, and who in 1948 stuck that very implement into the head of politically outspoken movie star, Frances Farmer. And a similar, far more enlightening glimpse of the dreaded way things were back then mostly for women, also figures in Clint Eastwood’s Changeling, and what befell Angelina Jolie’s reality-based character for the crime of being ‘difficult.’

In any case, determined to transcend her bleak world, Babydoll visits in her daydreams a peculiar mystical shaman (Scott Glenn) who instructs her to embark on a journey of discovery that will presumably set her free. And currently finding herself in a ward that seems to have been converted into a brothel by lewd head orderly Blue (Oscar Isaac) and perhaps not so clueless Polish shrink Madam Gorski (Carla Gugino), Babydoll figures it might not be a bad idea to take along on her crusade the all-star scantily clad resident hottie patients for backup. Including Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Amber (Jamie Chung).

Now while this gladiator girl posse is immersed in a hostile dream world, taking down every heavily armed he-man in sight, this sort of babe mud-wrestling style spectator sport is strictly the stuff of male, not female fantasy. Unless Zack thinks he’s truly doling out advice about females who fight the power, that would entail armor comprising stilettos, fishnet, overflowing bosomy bustiers and big hair while wielding machine guns in, for instance, a T&A Nazi beatdown WW II trench.

Likewise disrespectfully not making sense, is all the hyper-militaristic mayhem backed musically by the Beatles and Grace Slick. Um, wasn’t their music about denouncing war and promoting peace?

And while not exactly advocating violence against women, Sucker Punch pretty much seems to be sexualizing and reveling in it. Amidst self-serious, hokey beyond belief, bone-crunching carnage.

Warner Bros

Rated PG-13

1 [out of 4] stars