Believe it or not I was always going to do this review in two parts! Servitob’s comment on the previous post summed up pretty much what I was going for, I originally thought of posting this part yesterday afternoon but then decided to leave the first part up for a day before throwing this up.
The time it has taken me to actually start doing a proper review is down to the fact that I’ve needed a lot of time to process the movie and come up with a properly formed opinion. I’ve read some critics reviews (not a fan of critics myself) and some general movie-goer reviews too and this really is one of those movies that is amazingly polarising. It’s got more layers than your average Ogre and I think that is part of the “problem.”
I really have to use quote marks there because a lot of people have been heavily critical of the movie, saying that it is puerile fanboism at its worst and it’s taken me a day after seeing the movie to come up with what I believe is the explanation for why this is getting so much heat. This movie is too clever for the average cinema-goer!
Now, this isn’t a boast that I myself am some kind of motion picture genius, after all I’ve read some reviews from other people who have therefore influenced my own thoughts. We are used to sitting down and having the story explained to us in plain and simple terms. Inception is revered for being a great movie and I agree it is but up until the very end you know exactly what is going on. With Sucker Punch you are never quite sure about what is the actual reality of Baby Doll’s situation. Sure you know that the real fantasy sequences are all the product of her mind but what if the rest of the backdrop of the institute and her escape plan was as well.
When we first see Baby Doll get to Lennox House and be admitted we understand that her step-father is having her lobotomised to save his own skin from the potential reprisals over framing her for her sister’s death. Early on we see that lobotomy about to be carried out and then it switches to the stage production with Sweet Pea playing that character. Perhaps the rest of the movie is really just what is going on in the lobotomised Baby Doll’s mind?
***END OF SPOILERS***
The thing is that your hand is not held through the movie, things happen and it is up to the viewer to decipher it. The movie is through Baby Doll’s point of view and therefore everything that happens is skewed to her experience and this therefore has a lot to do with what we see in the cinematography.
The more that I think about this the more I actually come to appreciate the movie, it has just taken me a long time to organise a coherent thought process to unravel it myself. The situation that the movie presents is pretty horrific considering that it only has a 12a rating over here in the UK and as we follow Baby Doll’s path through dealing with this experience it is no wonder that we had such a heavily fantasised world she creates in order to escape it.
I think that because of the depth here and the multitude of layers within the movie it causes the problems that people perceive with it. What I think it does is provide quite an interesting parallel that many of us can identify with whereby our own sense of escapism can disconnect us from the world that we live in. I’m sure we can all identify moments in our life when we’ve been off somewhere else in a daydream and lost time to our own flights of fancy! The movie I think brings that message through with the way the material is presented to us.
After seeing the movie I was pretty much on the fence about it, not sure if I liked it or not, if some of the scenes had gone a little further than what they did actually show I was about a hairs breadth from walking out, there are certain things I don’t want to see when I go to watch a movie and this (luckily) stopped just short of going down that route. I’ve only seen one other film where the subject being dealt with struck m that deeply with the horrific nature of what was going on and that was Taken, a movie that I would never watch again because I cannot bring myself to see that world portrayed.
Sucker Punch is not as extreme as Taken though and it pulls back from going as far as it could considering the theme but if you take the time to really think about what you see, to understand that Baby Doll’s point of view is the eye through which this all unfolds then I believe all the faults that this movie has been labelled with actually just evaporate which leads me back to my original point. The reason this movie is so divisive among people is that it is just too clever in the way it does things for people to figure out and therefore because of this difficulty they will label it as dross.
When I was in High School we studied Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, I thought it was a load of old toss and was very bored while we were doing it, however, I can understand that Will from Stratford was one of the greatest literary figures in our history (I do love some of his other stuff and seeing it performed is a must). I won’t write off the work just because it was tough to understand and I think that is what is happening now.
It’s easy to criticise something you don’t get and therefore because of the giant robots and dragons and chicks with guns rather than seeing this as someone’s escape from a torturous reality in order to get through a period of time, we see it all labelled as the fanboi self-gratification that those unwilling to spend time unlocking the not so obvious refuse to see beyond.