For those lobotomized like our protagonist, Sucker Punch was a highly stylized film about a group of girls who came together in a mental institution to try and escape. What looked like an 'incredibly detailed fantasy epic possibly about fighting ones own demons and overcoming your own fears while retaining your sanity' film from the trailers became a giant punching bag as soon as it came out for nearly everyone proclaiming to be a nerd, including myself, at the time. The film felt like a bloated mess and caused everyone to not only question the film, but Zack Snyder himself.
One of the many criticisms of the film was that it was such a convoluted mess and that there was no real stance on tone, theme, plot, message and sticking to it. We got messages sprinkled in occasionally, but nothing concrete. What was supposed to be portrayed as a form of female empowerment by the filmmakers came off another form of degradation and exploitation in an already cemented masculine film world. Now that some time has passed though and the wound has healed, let's take a look back at Sucker Punch.
The version being looked back at in this article is the extended cut. Why? Because it actually feels like a cohesive plot line that you could comprehended upon one viewing without having to look up articles or go on IMDB and find out plot points.
And therein lies our main flaw with the film, the theatrical version. It completely alienated people from ever seeing a Zach Snyder movie the same way again, let alone this one. It's not that the theatrical version is incredibly bad or anything, it's just that in that version, it is edited extremely poorly so some plot points come off confusing, such as Baby Doll killing her sister. In the extended version, everything is made much more clear and you wonder why it wasn't shown before.
Also, no one knew what the film was about. Was it a drama surrounding a mental institution with a girl in her early 20's? Was it a critique on femininity and the mainstream media? Was it a good or bad film? Everyone has their own opinion on how they want you to see it, including the filmmakers themselves. There is nothing wrong with interpretation of a film, see Mullholland Dr. or anything David Lynch, but in here everyone just wanted to make sense of the basics since the conclusions are nothing more than a fantasy and we have the protagonist saying it's not about her when we are in her mind for the film and the beginning and narrating end voice is the supposed protagonist. In that you can see how confusing this already is.
The film keeps reminding you of your mind and hammering that point home by being in Baby Doll's mind for most of the film and then having her in another reality in that mind that throws some motivational quote at you. This whole battle of the mind point gets too overly ridiculous at times and desensitizes the viewer to whatever message of interpretation the filmmakers intended. It throws so many realities at you at once that you begin to get confused about it all and just deject whatever is on screen.
The realities are another flaw. For instance, the first reality has the look of a modernized 50's film but then doesn't stick with it by playing modernized covers of today's hits. It wouldn't be such a peeve if it was the score like The Pixies cover of Where is my Mind? early in the film. But the music coming out of an AM Radio station is industrial rock that won't be invented for another few decades. Also, within the World War 1 zombie era, it's understandable that Amber's character begins to shoot down planes that fire at her. The question remains as to why they were shooting at her in the first place since she came out of the trenches that group was associated with. It makes no sense at all and was it necessary to slice the throat of baby dragon?
Regardless, things have changed drastically between viewings because the acting has improved milestones with the extended cut. With the theatrical version there was always something wrong with Oscar Isaac's character, Blue. He came off extremely cartoon like but in the extended version it's played so much better, subtler, and grounded in reality. Only one line feels off now with his character instead of one movie. As for everyone else, their parts are well played. It's nothing oscar worthy, but well done nonetheless. The actresses and actors involved understand what they're doing and do it well.
With all these flaws there has to be something flawless, right? That one thing is the design and look. Every environment comes to life with a mash of fantasy elements drawing inspiration from real life and comic books. On top of that, it's such a stunning visual achievement that it makes you think how far we've come from the 50's era with a prop car in front of a pre recorded drive down a road. Watching this with the audio off as some background video makes for excellent viewing.
Overall, Sucker Punch is a film that is extremely ambitious in its approach. Like a drunk uncle at Christmas it has something to say about everything, including its audience, but somewhere in that "message" it gets lost and forgets the point it's trying to get across. Instead of having possibly one main point, we have many several mini points scattered throughout with no overarching theme except for being in a film you're watching. With all that being said, if you can jump the many hoops this movie throws at you not only will you find a solid little drama awaiting but a motivational film sure to help anyone within their 20's.
Also, go for the extended version and that's my opinion, what's yours?