Sucker Punch is a crazy movie, but it’s my kind of crazy. I think Zack Snyder just thought of the craziest things he wanted to see in a movie, so he did it. That’s what artists should do. Now it turns out to be some metaphorical fantasy and that’s cool too. It makes the film beautiful in addition to being awesome.
Baby Doll (Emily Browning) faces an evil stepfather in a haunting slo-mo, dialogue free opening. He commits her to the Lennox House institution after she fights him and accidentally kills her own sister. He’s also paid the Lennox House orderly off to have Baby lobotomized so she can’t tell her side of the story.
In the asylum’s “theater,” Dr. Gorsky (Carla Gugino) tries to socialize the girls. At one point, the theater becomes a dance studio, so is that the fantasy or is that Baby Doll waking up from the fantasy? In the dance class phase, Baby Doll meets other inmates Sweat Pea (Abbie Cornish), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Rocket (Jena Malone) and Amber (Jamie Chung).
When it’s Baby Doll’s turn to dance, the blink of her eye takes us into another world. How many layers is Snyder building here? It turns out every time Baby Doll dances, we see the wild action fantasy. There’s a Shaolin temple battle agains armored warrior giants, World War II trenches with zeppelins blowing up, a monster castle and a train filled with robots.
Why would you not want to see these scenes on their own? In Sucker Punch, we get those awesome scenes and they’re also symbolic and open to interpretation. The action is 300-y with impossible teamwork and comic book logic. Baby Doll can hurl a tube mile up in the air and then catch it later. The temple battle looks a little like a video game boss in CGI but the moves and camerawork are still beautiful. The other battles don’t even have the CGI problem.
I don’t think you’re supposed to take any level of this literally. The asylum puts on a nightclub where the inmates dance for customers. That’s crazy! The women wear super thick makeup, not for beauty but to completely exaggerate their faces.
This is the kind of movie I want to interpret. It’s not asking us to make sense of some random minimalist montage. It’s putting on a multi-million dollar show with no restrictions.