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 Post subject: Sucker Punch (premise and explanation without real spoilers)
PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:05 am 
Bronze GameMaster

Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2004 8:49 pm
Posts: 2843
Location: Maryland
Sucker Punch is kind of a polarizing movie (I saw it in theaters a while ago). Some people like it; some people hate it. I think that largely depends on how you choose to interpret things. You can read what's happening in a way that makes it an ugly story or you can read it in a more positive way; unfortunately, a lot of that depends on what you imagine to be happening in the "real world" when you aren't actually seeing it.

The movie takes place on three levels of perception. There's the actual "real world" of the story, in which a girl is sent to a possibly-corrupt mental institution for what may be a bogus and malicious reason. Then there's a more colorful version which seems to be her mental-breakdown way of processing the institution and the "performance therapy" it practices, seeing it as a sort of a burlesque club run by a corrupt owner (etc). The fantastic action from the trailers takes place in the third level, which is a fantasy world she creates. The movie switches between these levels with the main character's state of mind, so when she's in the fantasy we only see that (as she dances back in the "real world" and the "club world"). This understanding is important to interpreting what's going on in the movie.

I inferred that she uses the fantasy world as inspiration for her dancing, and I choose to imagine that her actual dancing while she's imagining all these amazing fighting moves (etc) is actually a stylized and graceful dance version of those fights... not the creepy, slinky, exploitative sort of dance we see her start when she hasn't engaged into the fantasy and which bears no resemblance to what goes on in the fantasy realm. But because the director chose not to show the outer reality when she's in the fantasy, the movie never shows how her fantasy is conveyed to everyone else in her dancing, and it leaves it open for a more negative interpretation. I think the director and the movie deserve the benefit of the doubt for having a positive rather than negative message, but you have to choose to see it that way.

With that understanding of the three-phase presentation of the movie and choosing a positive interpretation of her unseen "dancing", Sucker Punch can be appreciated on a few different levels. Artistically, it's an interesting use of different visual styles to distinguish different levels of reality as an exploration of a damaged psyche. There's an intriguing caper in which the patients pursue a plan to escape. There's an outer, more mysterious story arc for the main character which frames the inner plot, which you may have to piece together from clues to figure out what has really happened. And there's the amazing visuals and action of the hyper-stylized fights in the fantasy world, which for some people is reason enough to enjoy the movie.

So, it's an interesting and thought-provoking movie, and there's a lot to appreciate and enjoy about the movie if you are the sort of moviegoer who can appreciate those levels (whether or not you actually try to think about those things). There are also things to dislike about the movie if you're the sort to focus on those, instead. So, it doesn't work for everyone; I can only give it a cautious semi-recommendation for people with the right moviegoing attitude, with the caveats I've mentioned.

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