'Sucker Punch' Review: Is It Empowerment or Eye Candy?

Sally Mercedes

Sucker Punch movie stillIt's rare these days that a movie is marketed as appealing to both men and women, but Sucker Punch certainly has been. A group of tough, scantily-clad, not-going-down-without-a-fight women in an action-packed, visually stunning, video game-like movie is a feast for the senses, no matter the gender. The director of 300 and Watchmen, Zack Snyder, tries his hand at an original story about a girl so traumatized that she ends up in a mental institution. She creates a fantasy world for herself, and that's where the action takes place.

It all sounds interesting enough, but what do reviews for Sucker Punch have to say about it?

Jeremy Kirk, First Showing:

Snyder brings the feminist movement, the empowerment that would come shortly after this period of time, to the front of his ideologies in Sucker Punch. [...] But even more than this idea of empowerment, Sucker Punch shocks the system of your standard narrative.

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune:

[...] Zack Snyder must have known in preproduction that his greasy collection of near-rape fantasies and violent revenge scenarios disguised as a female-empowerment fairy tale wasn't going to satisfy anyone but himself.

L. Thompson, E! Online:

Let it be duly noted that Sucker Punch is undeniably cool to look at, but the way it tries to subvert the action with human darkness is laudable. What could have been a masterpiece feels a lot like a compromise, not just for the studio's sake but within Snyder himself.

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:

Looks aren't everything. Case in point: Sucker Punch, a dazzling visual design that goes tone-deaf every time it opens its dumb mouth or makes claims to profundity.

Alright, so maybe Sucker Punch lacks substance in a big way, but so what? This isn't a movie you watch for the compelling storyline. Fifteen seconds into the trailer, you pretty much know what you're signing up for and that seems to be exactly what you get: cool special effects, loud action sequences, and attractive women wearing next to nothing.

The really interesting thing from the reviews is the issue of empowerment. Basically, some see the movie as empowering while others see it as misogyny in disguise. More than anything, this is what makes me want to see the movie for myself. I see Sucker Punch right on the line between empowerment and exploitation from simply watching the trailer, but exactly which way does it end up leaning? I guess I'll need to check out the movie to figure it out.

Are you watching Sucker Punch this weekend? Do you think the film could be empowering?


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