I need to preface this by saying that I love Zack Snyder. I love his style, the feel of his films. I’d be perfectly happy watching his version of a silent film.
I cared about Baby Doll in the opening sequence, but that’s kind of the only time I cared about her as a person. I never saw the girls as ‘girls’ rather they were ideas. Every person, set, dragon, alien robot, doorway etc… was all an abstraction for layers of ideas. I realize most people don’t go to action movies for layers of ideas but if you don’t want that from an action film then don’t go to see a Zack Snyder action film. This is something Snyder is aware of too – he’s stated that he’s surprised this movie was given a greenlight & he expects most people won’t like it.
I’m not saying ‘If you don’t like it you’re just too daft to understand it.’ What I’m saying is ‘If you don’t like it, you’re probably looking at it the wrong way.’
So, let’s start from the top:
There’s a huge flaw in the promotion of this film which makes a point of saying it’s set in the 60s. It’s not. It’s set ‘somewhere,’ both in time & in location or better yet, let’s just say it’s set in Steampunkville.
Back to the opening sequence – Dude, Emily Browning’s version of Sweet Dreams Are Made of This is hella sexy & awesome. It also sets the tone of the film. Snyder could have used that song over & over again & it would have been appropriate for every scene. Overtures set the stage – they should be a microcosm of what you are about to experience. Right out of the gate we know that this film deals with sado-masocism. We also know that we’re going down a rabbit hole, remember, we’re in Steampunkville, & Snyder is telegraphing the worlds-within-worlds device with his song choice – it’s called Sweet Dreams for goodness sakes!
At first I wanted to protest that Snyder wasn’t making a video game he was making a comic book; but what are video games if not interactive comic books? How many comic books use the trite ploy of ‘Parents are dead. Evil someone tries to steal their wealth. Evil stepfather/stepmother abuses child. Child accidentally does something horrific. All of the above thrusts the protagonist into an arc of redemption through torture.’
Or, you know, through a series of sucker punches.
Do you ever really care that Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed in front of him? No, you don’t. You care that he’s got all of those wonderful toys. And you should also care that his superpower is himself. It’s his mind. His ability to make the most of what he has – to be inventive & innovative. To dream beyond what life has dealt him. There’s no radio active spider with Batman or with Baby Doll & her band of crazy orphaned strippers. It’s just a bunch of forsaken souls shaking their moneymakers until they receive redemption & kill the things that lurk in the dark.
You have all the weapons you need.
That’s the true character of any comic book – redemption. What you invest in is the push & pull between darkness & light.
(As an aside, Emily Browning played Violet in the movie version of A Series of Unfortunate Events, another Steampunkville series. Hell, things with Count Olaf could have gone the way of Sucker Punch & she could have accidentally off’d Sunny.)
My brother says there are no stakes in the action sequences. That didn’t escape me while watching the film but I also knew that would be lamer than lame & someone was going to die. I thought it would be one person & it wasn’t. It was a whole mess ‘o girls & only 1 death happened as I expected. Two of them blew me away (and if you’ve seen the film please pardon my pun.)
You also need to remember that the action sequences aren’t real. They are fantasies. It’s the only place these girls can go to survive their abuse. If you think they aren’t in danger then you aren’t paying attention. They’re in a fucking psych ward & Baby Doll is going to have her brain chopped up in 5 days. Maybe that’s not danger to you, sure as hell is scary to me.
Also, look at the bigger idea here – abuse. The main way abuse victims survive is by creating an inner world. They escape. They go somewhere else. It’s not just sexual victims, it’s children who hear their father scream at their mother or hide in the closet while he knocks her around. When physically hiding isn’t an option or isn’t enough you hide inside.
If you can’t win the external battle you win the internal one.
Isn’t that why we see movies, read comics, play video games – We want to be someone other than what we are. Someone triumphant. Someone free from the darkest parts of our history.
The real world is the asylum. That’s the danger. The dangers not in the dragon. It’s what the dragon symbolizes. I know you people have more than noodles in your noggins – think beyond & pay attention. There’s no save point after Baby Doll gets her labotomy. There’s no save point after Blue forces himself on another ‘patient.’ That’s already happened to all of this girls, except for Baby Doll. These girls don’t get a save point.
There is no save point after that – Like Rocket says, they’re already dead.
As for the lack of positive male characters – welcome to the world of women & the lack of positive female characters that exist in an exorbitant amount of films. Poor boys, you have to watch a film where your cocks aren’t glorified. Go have a circle jerk & cry me a river.
Also – pay attention. Zack Snyder did that on purpose. After the meat fest that was 300 (no complaints from me there, fyi) he wanted to highlight the struggle of women, which is historically internalized. Men are taught to act, react, externalize every emotion with force. Women aren’t taught that. We’re supposed to swallow it down.
Are you paying attention? I’m punning better than Buffy Summers.
Baby Doll & her warrior orphaned harlots don’t get to act out. It’s why you get the worlds within worlds. Before they can act as they know themselves to be they need to act through the way everyone sees them. Baby Doll is stepping on the rungs of female stereotypes. After all, if a woman isn’t at home she must be whoring & if she’s not doing that she must be crazy because what else is she for?
I’m not saying that every guy thinks of women this way, we’re talking historical framework here. But I will say that if what you take away from the girls isn’t that they kick ass & overcome adversity but that they’re wearing stockings, corsets & looking slutty… well, I think this is where Snyder, I, and a bunch of other people stare at you blankly & blink a lot because you’ve totally missed the point.
(Interjection – my brother didn’t think of the clothing that way at all. Though, I suppose we could argue that it’s because he has me for a sister & well… in the late 90s I did the thigh high socks w/mini skirts & these days I run around in stilettos, short pencil skirts & dark smokey eye make up – and oh yeah, I’m a trained religious archaeologist who’s dug for bones while wearing Steve Madden platforms & I also placed out of 2 intro Physics courses at my college (Physics is Phun). So maybe Jake’s just desensitized & used to women in corsets being hella smart & badass & nobody’s toy. Or maybe our Mama just raised us right – or maybe he’s just awesome.)
And also – why the hell can’t a girl be in a corset & fishnets & still have worth beyond that? Really, is Superman only about the codpiece in his latex tights? I thought he was about helping those that can’t help themselves… maybe I’m wrong, maybe he’s called ‘Superman’ for only one reason.