After the death of her mother, Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is left alone with her abusive stepfather (Gerard Plunkett) and her little sister. In an attempt to save her little sister from him, Baby Doll accidentally shoots her which is the ideal possibility for him to have her admitted to a mental hospital. There, the stepfather bribes an orderly (Oscar Isaacs) into getting Baby Doll lobotomised. The only defense Baby Doll has left is retreating into a fantasy world (and from there in yet another fantasy world) where she hatches a plan to escape.
I have pushed writing this review back and back again because I’m not in a ranting mood but this film deserves little else. Apart from the screwed up empowerment message this movie sends, it’s just not a very good film. Not even the special effects held up the end of their bargain. And that’s just sad. At least the soundtrack was cool.
Think of Zach Snyder what you will – you can like his style or not [and I usually do] – but at least with the slow motion, you usually know what’s happening in the action scenes (something that is getting rarer and rarer these days). Not in this film. That’s kind of an achievement, I guess, but it’s still very annoying. Even though the fight choreographies were so bad that you didn’t miss much when you didn’t see them anyway.
And the pacing was extremely bad. Which might have also to do with me never starting to really care for any of these characters, so I wasn’t really interested in what happened to them. Which is even more of a pity since the cast wasn’t actually that bad. Especially Oscar Isaac was great.
But the real clusterfuck is the faux female empowerment in this film. I honestly had hope, when the reviews started trickling in, that people were overreacting, that the film wasn’t just a teenage-gamer-fanboy wank fantasy. I mean the general idea of retreating within yourself to find the strength to defeat the crap life throws at you is not bad. Unfortunately, whenever the (female) characters show some agency, they get hit over the head with it and then punished in the cruellest ways: Baby Doll decides to fight her stepfather and shoots her sister and gets sent to an asylum. Rocket takes up the chance to break free most willingly and is killed for it. Actually, every single one of them gets killed or punished in some way, except the one who a) never wanted to go along with the plan in the first place and b) didn’t “deserve” to be put in the place at all – she only followed her sister.
That’s not a very empowering message. The only power the women there have is to either be vicitimised or to choose to be a victim. And that’s not even touching on the skimpy dresses or Scott Glenn’s character who is deeply problematic as well, or the fact that as much as I’d hate to be a woman in Sucker Punch, I wouldn’t want to be a man, either: there’s a collection of monsters if ever I saw one.
And then, to top it all off, they go ahead and take Baby Doll’s story away from Baby Doll. *headdesk*
Summarising: Sucky politics but no matter the political inferences, a movie that has zombie-steampunk-soldiers and dragons and still leaves you bored, can not be worth your time.