Monday, March 28, 2011


I went to see Suckerpunch this weekend. I have been excited about it for some time now, and from the trailers I thought it had a certain "Alice in Wonderland" quality to it. Don't you think so?

And I have to admit, it's been buzzing around my literary-analyst-brain ever since the end of the movie, when I sat in open-mouth shock and watched the credits.

I almost hesitate to recommend it, because I want to go into such depths of analysis that there are sure to be spoilers, spoilers, spoilers involved. But I also want all my fairy-tale-fan readers to go see and so we can DISCUSS it.

If you liked Watchmen AND Kick Ass, I would recommend this. I will say a few things more below the next picture, so if you are wary of spoilers, I'll see you next time!

First of all it occurred to me: action girls in miniskirts: really feminine empowerment? Yet I think this one fits the bill--it certainly passed the Bechdel test. In fact there are almost no "good" men in the movie. The one male helper fits the role of fairy godmother or even more the "old woman helper on the road." This is a movie about women, and while I have to say that the characters didn't reach new levels of depth in movies, it IS an action movie, and I don't ask for every male action hero to be stunningly characterized; it would be unrealistic to think that every action movie featuring women would have 100% humanized, rounded characters.

Having said that, each of the women in this movie DO have distinctive personalities, and while they may lean toward stereotypes, there are none that can simply be categorized (as, for example, "the love interest") and dismissed.

One of the things I found most compelling about this is the concept of the hero's journey and how well it fits Babydoll's experience. (Ha. Yes. The names. That's a whole different thing, but anyway.) Her "journey into other" is very much internal, but no less awesome, and her "return to aid" is completely concrete, as we see at the very end.

Thinking of Babydoll in terms of a Superhero is what makes the whole story work for me. It could be a tragic "suckerpunch" if you will, but I think we have a tendency to give our superheroes unrealistically happy endings in many cases. Here we have a bittersweet ending: there is success but it is mixed with sacrifice. As is hinted at in the movie--it's not a surprise except that in all the excitement, Babydoll and her audience forget that she was warned of the fifth thing, a mystery, a sacrifice that pays for all.

And I loved the parallel between Babydoll's sister and Sweetpea's sister. These two have experienced such a similar thing in regard to their younger sisters, and to me, that makes the ending all the more satisfactory. It's hard to explain without getting TOO specific, but the parallel between Sweetpea and Babydoll justified the ending: by saving Sweetpea, Babydoll saves herself.

The imagery was phenomenal: WWII meets Steampunk meets Lord of the Rings. (I seriously thought they just borrowed some orc costumes from Peter Jackson at one point.) It's worth seeing for the cinematography alone (although I suppose if you aren't interested in the movie at this point, you can just look up pictures online).

Like I said, I hesitate to unreservedly recommend this. However, I loved it, and I hope you'll give it a chance, free of expectations.

1 comment:

  1. I know I will see this one. My BF is just drooling to see it. :P I really appreciate your review. I've been a bit apprehensive as to what to expect.