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This page is part of my review of the 2011 Zack Snyder movie Sucker Punch

Flying machines, and even birds and presumably dragons, have a characteristic motion, especially when flying through the thermic turbulence of summer or the shock waves of explosions and plumes of fire: A slightly nose-high, lurching, random ambulation that can only be partly counteracted by the pilot’s reactions to the effects of the invisible air. The flying motion in Sucker Punch is too smooth, perhaps with the exception of the Huey. It is a minor criticism doubtless applicable to most computer generated flying action.

Unless I missed something, the elaborate fantasies imagined by Babydoll (well over an hour’s worth) are supposedly experienced in the fraction of a second that it takes a steel spike to be driven into her brain. Not even Babydoll can think that quickly, I am sure! Nevertheless, it is one of the most dramatic narrative constructions I have come across. It is, in principle at least, similar to the fantasy experienced by Kumara in the 2004 adult anime Elfen Lied (see my review).


Sucker Punch publicity artwork

The advertising, including the trailer, DVD cover, publicity posters, and so on, impart the impression of a jumbled fantasy of dragons and girls in miniskirts with no underlying substance. Nothing could be further from the truth of this amazing film. It is of course a fantasy of dragons and girls in miniskirts, but it is highly structured. It is also a history lesson and lends a perspective to those who, like me, take a serious interest in the nature of consciousness and worry about the future of humankind. Not really a criticism of the movie itself, but of the publicity people who, to be fair, might have faced an impossible task.

Scott Glenn’s character comes out with a pop philosophy remark on nearly each of his briefings. For example, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” However, those statements have nothing to do with the situation the characters are in and they fall flat. (On the other hand, I look forward to his next comment that starts, “Oh, and one more thing”, no matter how many times I have seen it. Maybe I am easily amused.)

Maybe the characterization of the abusive stepfather is too easy. Naturalists in the 1960s pointed out that, when a male lion takes over a widowed lioness, the first thing it does is kill the cubs—because they do not carry his genes—which opens the opportunity to reproduce his own genes all the quicker. Everyone nodded sagely and sighed that this obviously explained the high statistics of stepfathers abusing their stepchildren. A less superficial examination of the statistics revealed that relative poverty was the cause, not genetic relatedness. Although we are motivated primarily by genetic self-interest, the crude and simple instincts of other animals are often a poor guide to human behaviour. However, the caricature was widely accepted at the time in which the movie is set.

Advertizing poster

Advertizing poster

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