Sucker Punch

SuckerPunchNC.jpg

Release Date
November 25, 2020
Running Time
27:22
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(The Channel Awesome logo is shown, followed by the NC title sequence)

NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember– What the hell did I just watch?

(The title for Sucker Punch is shown, followed by clips of the movie)

NC (vo): Back in 2011, when director Zack Snyder could do no wrong...or... (A promo shot of Zack Snyder's upcoming Justice League on HBO Max is superimposed) can he still? I don't know, I can't keep up with you guys anymore... he released his passion project with maybe a little too much passion, according to some people, called Sucker Punch. With his previous successes, 300 and Watchmen, Snyder was given mostly free reign to do whatever he wanted, resulting in an $82 million budget. It had bombshells and bombshells and (A shot of the movie's box office performance is superimposed, showing that it grossed only $36 million domestically and $53 million overseas) bombshells, as it didn't do very well financially or with critics. However, there's a fair amount of people that insist that Sucker Punch is misunderstood. Much like its quiet main character, there's more depth going on than met the eye, even if there was quite a bit to meet the eye. According to Snyder and his fans, the film was a commentary on sexism and geek culture. I'll admit I'm always interested in art that's misunderstood or could have other meanings, so I was pretty curious to check this out. My thoughts?

(As we cut back to NC, he is revealed to be behind a huge briefcase which has several words labeled on it: "AWFUL", "BRILLIANT", "IDIOTIC", "CREATIVE", "DULL", "LAME", "INSPIRED", "CLEVER", "INSPIRED", "HYPOCRITICAL". He peeks out from behind the case and looks it over quizzically)

NC: There's a lot to unpack. Let's take a look at Sucker Punch.

(Another set of words pops up on the case to a ding: "BE AFRAID". NC becomes nervous. The film's opening credits are shown on theater curtains, which raise one by one)

Narrator: Everyone has an angel, a guardian who watches over us.

NC (vo; as narrator): In my case, it's twentieth century lawyers who said...

(A shot is shown in the corner of the opening curtains from Moulin Rouge, which reveal the 20th Century Fox logo behind it, to which this film's opening bears more than a passing resemblance)

NC (vo; as narrator): ..."We don't care if you steal from Moulin Rouge; it's not like you're gonna get nominated for Best Picture."

(Our main character is shown, Babydoll, played by Emily Browning)

Narrator: It's every one of us who holds the power over the worlds we create.

NC (vo): Jesus!

NC: Even when she's not in it, Warner Bros. makes every film about Harley Quinn!

NC (vo): This is Babydoll, played by Emily Browning, who discovers she's trapped in a music video for the Watchmen trailer.

(Babydoll and her sister both kneel in sadness as they watch the doctors uncover the covers to reveal their dead mother.)

NC (vo; sighs): Yeah, it's a Snyder film, so of course, there's a lot of painful slo-mo and painful songs and people in...

NC: (melodramatically) ...PAIN!

NC (vo): It's comically overdramatic, but that's a little bit of the fun of Snyder movies.

NC: I swear his version of a Hitchcock cameo is...

(The girls' mother's funeral is in progress during a pouring rain, with two shots of two other movie funerals in the rain also shown: Batman v Superman and Spider-Man)

NC (vo): ...rainy funerals. If umbrella and tombstones aren't in a scene together, he won't do the flick.

(Babydoll looks toward her sister, tearing up, while an emotional version of "Sweet Dreams" plays in the background)

Singer: Who am I to disagree?

NC (vo): It looks like Babydoll's mother dies, and her stepfather is pissed, as all the inheritance goes to her and her sister. While trying to stop a drunken rampage, Babydoll accidentally shoots her sister and she's sent to a mental institution.

(Said mental institution is revealed to be Lennox House, located in Brattleboro, Vermont)

Singer: Some of them want to be abused...

NC: (shrugs) Not gonna lie, I really dig this intro.

NC (vo): It's a cool way to give us backstory in a short amount of time only with visuals and a pretty cool cover of "Sweet Dreams". Yes, it's over-stylized, but shots like this so laughably extreme a button looks like a hubcap reminds me why I still remember Snyder's work, even if the film isn't always that great.

Babydoll: (narrating) We can deny our angel success, but they show up anyway. They can speak through any character we can imagine.

NC (vo): Except as (The poster for Batman v Superman is superimposed) Batman and Superman. I know you think they speak to you, Snyder, but you really need (A shot of a man in suit and glasses is superimposed next) a translator for that.

(As Babydoll is escorted into the institute, a sign bearing its name is shown)

NC (vo): Ah, yes, the Lennox House for the Mentally Insane and People Magazine's most gorgeous: Jenna Malone, Oscar Isaac, Vanessa Hudgens, Jon Hamm, fucking Silk Spectre [Carla Gugino]'s a doctor here, man! This is 12 Monkeys if every inmate was Brad Pitt!

(Two inmates were playing a card game, but one of them, apparently losing, becomes so upset that she knocks the cards off the table, which she then flips over in a rage. The two inmates start fighting and have to be separated)

NC (vo; as inmate 1): I say the Whedon cut's gonna suck more! (as inmate 2) I say the Snyder cut's gonna suck more!

Singer: With your feet on the air and your head on the ground...

NC: Okay, I suppose now's as good a time as any to talk about the soundtrack.

NC (vo): Snyder said he wanted the music in this to be as essential as it was in Moulin Rouge, perhaps explaining (The opening of that movie is shown in the corner, with the 20th Century Fox logo on a curtained stage) the similarities in the opening.

Singers: Where is my mind? Where is my mind?

NC: So, okay, here's the thing: just because you're using great songs, doesn't mean you're using them in a great way.

NC (vo): Don't get me wrong; this is a kickass soundtrack. I might even buy it (The Sucker Punch soundtrack is superimposed) after reviewing this.

NC: Also, keep in mind, they use them better than something like...

(Cut to a clip of Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked)

NC (vo): ...Chipmunks or Smurfs, where they just pick whatever popular tripe fluff they can get the copyright to.

(Cut back to Sucker Punch)

NC (vo): But to give you an example, Snyder had an issue that the narration was added to the opening and closing of the film, feeling like the studio was trying to tell you how to feel.

NC: (shrugs) The songs have a similar problem.

NC (vo): The lyrics match the situations and mood, but they don't tell us any further about the character. In fact, very little is learned about her. She just kinda stares off and says nothing, which is fine if something else would fill in the gaps, but we'll get to that in a bit.

NC: But okay, if this isn't an example of using songs cleverly, what is?

NC (vo): Well, let's go to another movie relying heavily on music...

(Cut to the title and footage of Baby Driver)

NC (vo): ...and the main character named "Baby", Baby Driver. The lyrics don't always explain what's going on, but the music is tied directly to its character, to a point where it makes its way into what he [Baby] sees everywhere.

(A few snatches of R&B songs plays in the movie, which Baby dances to)

NC (vo): You get it; this is his escape, a place where he can be whatever he wants; still in reality, but an altered reality, where joy and rhythm allow him to take control.

Coffee shop clerk: (to Baby) Can I take your order?

Baby: Uh... (looks up in thought) Uh, uh...

NC: It's bursting with so much personality, you can't possibly separate them. Want proof? Try 'em!

(Cut back to Sucker Punch)

NC (vo): Let's remove [sic] "Sweet Dreams" with any dramatic music I have.

(The scene is shown of Babydoll trying to shoot her stepfather, but accidentally shoots her sister instead, while generic dramatic music plays instead of "Sweet Dreams")

NC: It still works. "Sweet Dreams" is a little better, but it's not essential; you still get the same idea.

(Cut again to Baby Driver)

NC (vo): Now let's switch Baby Driver with a different upbeat song.

(A lively funky tune plays as Baby dances down the street and goes into the coffee shop)

Coffee shop clerk: (to Baby) Can I take your order?

Baby: Uh... (looks up in thought) Uh, uh...

NC (vo): The graffiti is now just graffiti. Him ordering a drink is now just ordering a drink. This is how you use songs like a musical without it being a musical.

(Cut back to Sucker Punch)

NC (vo): This feels more like a CW soundtrack; not mindless, but not that intertwined, either. A part of me kinda wonders why Snyder didn't just turn this into a musical. All the pieces are there. It's trying so hard to sing what it feels, why not be (A poster of the following is shown on the left...) Repo: The Genetic Opera with a (A poster of the following is shown on the right...) 300 budget?

NC: But like a lot of art, music is subjective.

NC (vo): Maybe you are transported when these songs pop up. Our main character is. You see, her father pays a crooked doctor, played by Isaac, to give her a lobotomy. This transitions us to a fantasy world Babydoll has imagined where she's a dancer at a brothel. (deadpan) Great, I have no idea what her personality's like in one reality; I'll gladly follow her boring ass into another one.

Blue Jones (Isaac): (to another inmate (Blondi (Hudgens)) Can you show this little Babydoll around? Give her the tour of the establishment, please?

NC (vo): As you'd imagine, all the inmates and doctors are characters in this fantasy, and if you think that'll give us more insight into her and the other characters, with the exception of the doctor who's a dance teacher helping to find their inner strength, there's practically no variations. The women rebel because they want to escape and the men control them because they want to bang them.

NC: (confused) Well...those are motivations, but they're not really character traits.

NC (vo): They have no identity lines, something one character would say that another character wouldn't. Take something simple, like...I don't know...

(Cut to a clip of...)

NC (vo): ...Aladdin.

Genie: (getting Aladdin dressed up as Prince Ali) That fez-and-vest combo is much too third century. (sees a patch on Aladdin's pants) These patches, what are we trying to say? Beggar? No. (tears patch off)

NC (vo): That line would only come from the Genie.

(Now cut to another clip of Aladdin, this one showing Aladdin preparing to take on Jafar. Aladdin sees the Genie, who asks what he will do because he can't help him, as Jafar is his master now)

Aladdin: I'm a street rat, remember? (zips Genie's mouth shut – literally) I'll improvise.

NC (vo): That line would come from Aladdin. Even if you erase their names from the script, you would know who said it.

(Cut back again to Sucker Punch)

Rocket (Malone): (to Babydoll) We all have our stories in here. Mine's...complicated.

NC (vo): Yeah, any of them could have said that.

(Cut to another scene)

Blondie (Hudgens): (to Babydoll) Do you remember when you first got here? Nobody felt sorry for you.

NC (vo): Any of them could have said that.

Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish): (to Babydoll) I don't want to hear your plan, okay? None of us do.

NC (vo): Any–

NC: (sharply) THERE'S NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM!

NC (vo): They're all just spunky and angry! ...Spangry!

Amber (Jamie Chung): I can't.

Rocket: Yes, you can.

Amber: Come on, be reasonable.

NC (vo): Oh, wait, this one's actually timid and afraid.

(A later scene is shown of Blue Jones gunning down Amber at point-blank range, killing her)

NC (vo): Well, so much for her! Back to the spangry ladies!

Madame Vera Gorski (Gugino): (to Babydoll) You don't think your strong enough? You are. You're afraid. Don't be.

NC (vo; as Gorski): Will you be our Bland Swan?

Gorski: You have all the weapons you need.

NC: Okay, okay, as much as I'm hating on this film, this is the part where it introduces a pretty cool idea.

NC (vo): The teacher says use the movement of her body as her weapon. So she has...another fantasy. In her head, her dancing is being interpreted as fighting off monsters.

NC: That's...actually rather intriguing.

NC (vo): We've seen this done for laughs, like in (A shot of the following is superimposed...) Rick and Morty, where they keep going into the dream of a dream of a dream. And we've also seen it done dramatically in (A shot of the following is superimposed...) I'm Thinking of Ending Things, where a character having a midlife crisis is actually a figment of the spouse's mind, wishing that person existed. It's similar to when folklores create folklores, like in (A shot of the following is supposed...) Revenge of the Sith. It's an extra layer of development that makes what you're watching feel more believable.

NC: (shrugs) Okay, I'm fascinated. What are you gonna do with it?

NC (vo): Well, she comes across another mentor type, played by Scott Glenn, who tells her about the evils she has to defeat.

Mentor: You're tracking snow everywhere.

Babydoll: Should I take them off?

Mentor: That time has passed. What are you looking for?

Babydoll: A way out, I guess.

Mentor: You guess?

NC (vo; as mentor): And I guess Terence Stamp is the definitive stick. (The mentor holds up a katana) Own something, will ya?

Mentor: You will need five items for this journey.

NC (vo): So he gives her some weapons, tells her other weapons she'll need to escape, and she fights off monsters.

(Babydoll battles the monsters, then pockets a gun as she leaves the mentor's temple, which starts to collapse behind her as she leaves)

NC (vo; as mentor): Uh, hi. As your mentor, you know I'm still in here, right? (The temple collapses completely) Oh, God, I needed this for Kung Fu Panda 4! (normal) So the fight is supposed to symbolize the dance, which we never see but clearly astonishes everyone.

NC: (looks around shiftily) Cool. I still don't know shit about her.

(Suddenly, we cut to Zack Snyder (played by Walter))

Snyder: (pointing to camera) Now, you just hold on there, mister!

NC: (waves hand, deadpan) Hey, Zack. Honestly, I'm shocked it took you so long to appear in this.

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