Friday, March 25, 2011

What's the Deal with Sucker Punch?

A Sucker Punch Analysis
Love it or hate it, it's all out in the open now. Was it everything you hoped it would be? I certainly walked away feeling satisfied. But chances are, the lingering question roaming atop of everyone's mind by now must be, "What's the deal with all that?"

Was it purely an eye candy? Or was there some subliminal messages for the audience to spot?

Such thoughts are not unfounded, I must say. I don't know what director Zack Snyder was going for when he wrote and directed the movie, and I certainly don't have any Hollywood insiders cluing me on the matter. So if you're going to quote me on this, bear in mind that my two cents here only qualify as a fan(boy) theory.

Here I go again, trying to tackle the common perceptions about the movie and try to have a say in the matter. You can either take it or leave it, I make no attempt whatsoever to be the ultimate voice of reason here. Just a reminder, I suggest you don't read on unless you've seen the movie first, and you're willing to read into it just a little bit more.

So what have ya got?
First things first, let's get on the same page about the mythology of the Sucker Punch universe. If there's only one thing I could take away from the movie, it would be how they were proposing the idea that even sanity is a relative concept. Which is why we saw those three "layers" of insanity experienced by the characters;

The struggle to make sense of it all
It's a bit of a stretch, I am aware. But let's just roll with it because... well, what have you got to lose? After all, we were fed with some very amazing action sequences because the characters somehow acknowledged that they had a screw loose somewhere. That brings up the big question;

"Who's the crazy one here?"

#1 Is it Baby Doll?

aww... But she's too darn cute to be insane
Did everything happen only inside the mind of our Baby Doll? Did she really snap like her stepfather reported, after the loss of her mother? Did she imagined the entire two levels of insanity where she's all powerful  and important instead of a confused, lost and powerless little girl?

Once you've considered that, it wouldn't be too outrageous to entertain the idea that Baby Doll was crazy all along; Her stepfather sending her to this insane asylum was really a last resort after Baby Doll went berserk and resulted in the accidental killing of her sister. But we didn't get to see all that because the story was told through the eyes of Baby Doll, and her stepfather was probably demonised out of proportion since she thought of him as the villain.

Somehow it makes sense once you take note that in the closing scenes of the movie, when the doctor a.k.a High Roller was alarmed by the way Baby Doll looked at him. It's almost like she wanted the lobotomy because by then, her struggle for freedom (inside her mind) was complete when she became the decoy to allow Sweet Pea to escape. Her character arc was complete by then, and she can be at peace with herself now, allowing the lobotomy to rid her the memories of her dark and convoluted past.

#2 Or has it always been Sweet Pea's story all along?

Basing this solely on Baby Doll's realisation that the fifth item was herself, it does however offer an entirely new perspective to the story. Out of the five girls, which one of them was the authority figure? Nope, it wasn't Baby Doll. It was really Sweet Pea who had the final say in everything and that shed a new light on the matter doesn't it?

Sweet Pea was well on her way to being institutionalised when Baby Doll came along and started planting these ideas of freedom inside her head. She reluctantly warmed up to the idea, before becoming a major player in the whole scheme. Tell me, why couldn't it have been her who stayed behind and let Baby Doll escape? Why was it the other way around?

Could it be because it was the story of a new beginning for her, as she made her way back home to reconcile with her parents?

#3 Is there even a sane character in the movie?

Ahh... Here's the kicker. This is where I bring out my general idea about the movie, but since it would include my verdict on the movie, proceed to the next section.

So what's your verdict?
I don't have one definitive answer that I'd like to stick to. I'll tell you why, because that will somehow defeat the purpose of watching a movie about the power of imagination. Zack Snyder himself mentioned that he sought to make a movie with no boundaries whatsoever, I can only assume that includes the open-ended nature of it.

I will say this, though. I am not going to nitpick about the events of the movie, or debate about who is the real crazy here because there's no solid foundation to build conclusions on; Not one person in the movie is a reliable narrator, but that's one of the beauty about the theme of this movie. There are so many conflicting details here and there, that deciphering it is going to feel a lot like deciphering the minds of the insane. Which kinda wrapped up the movie rather nicely, wouldn't you say?

Or maybe I've just been reading too much into it. But that only shows how much I love it!

Hey Emily Doll... *blush*


Zulfahmi said...

Mamu, check this out

Mamü Vies said...

hahaha... Funny, and cleverly written. He doesn't like it, too bad for him. It was still a spectacular ride for me.

Chenyi said...

I tend to believe that everything is in babydoll's mind. There are many connections between the second and the third layer of her fantasies, but sweet pea, rocket, blondie and amber seem only have appeared vaguely in the main layer (I mean, in the reality of the movie), and I can't imagine how these characters would correspond in the mental facility, except that Dr Gorski mentioned that someone has escaped. Remember in the final scene after the lobotomy, babydoll imagines that after sweet pea escaped she is again saved by the wise man, where the second and the third layers entangled.... everything in babydoll's imagination is the only reasonable answer as I can see.

Mamü Vies said...

Those are very good observations, Chenyi :)
I know the movie wasn't an awe-inspiring masterpiece, but people really didn't give it enough credit.

Technus said...

I had terrible night terrors all night after watching this movie. I think there are subliminal messages beyong the immediate ones we can recognize. I woke up at 3:30 am, terrofied that a horribly ugly demon was next to my bed :/

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