Sucker Punch had so much going for it; Emily Browning, Light-of-My-Eyes, from such great films as The Uninvited and Ghost Ship kicking ass in a short skirt? With swordfights and gunfights and zombies and dragons? And the possibility of a story that makes all of this kinda make sense? Plus all the Zack Snyder cool camera shit. And some pretty decent music . I mean, watch the trailer. It's incredible. I wish "When the Levee Breaks" had actually been in the movie. However, even I, who did my best to be a superfan for this film, was disappointed. And I ask myself, is there any way this movie could have been saved? Here are my ideas (and yes, there are spoilers):
1. Make it rated R.
This movie has gratuitous violence and sexualization of female characters. So, I mean, come on. Stop all this hinting at pandering to your demographic and actually show us blood and heads being chopped off and titties. Make the already dark story make more sense by raising the stakes instead of pretending that all the girls do is dance. Which reminds me...
2. Show the dancing.
A major plot point in this film is that Emily Browning is such an amazing dancer that all who watch her are transfixed and the antihero Polish/Russian whatever ballerina/whore (Carla Gugino) is impressed enough to help her. How much of her dancing is shown in the film (not counting one of the most confusing credits sequences ever?). 0 minutes and 0 seconds if you don't count a little bit of shoulder swaying. I mean, for all the skimpy outfits there's little actual sensuality in the movie.
3. Change the beginning.
To care about characters, we need to develop a rapport with them, understand where they come from. We know that tragedy has befallen Emily Browning (boy, she just doesn't have any luck with her guardians. Which may be her fault too since she's killed or injured multiple ones in her acting career) but why should we care about her, or any of the girls? Nothing definite or relatable is shared about their backstories. For all we know they're just crazy whores. Maybe that's the point.
4. Actually make the movie empowering to women.
Every time we have a female protagonist in an action movie someone is sure to say "Hey, that's empowering to women". It's at the very least implied. Not so here. After kicking ass in Never-Neverland, every single woman in the movie gets the crap instantly beat out of her if she stands up to a man in real life. Even Emily Browning's final gambit involves walking up to a bunch of dudes and metaphorically bending over and taking it for the team. What the hell? Can't five girls in real life overpower ONE guy at least once? Jesus. Speaking of which...
5. Let Emily Browning kill someone.
Fucking finish someone off, Emily. She just keeps wounding these psychopaths and running away. How can this possibly help her? Hasn't she heard about waking bears and elephants always remembering? I mean, in both of these scenarios (shooting her step daddy in the beginning and defending herself from Blue the psycho psych warden in the end) she had every right to defend herself with deadly force, and it would have saved her. All of these are annoying points, but here's the one thing that would have made this movie awesome:
6. Being even a little self-aware.
I mean, crack another joke. Be honest about how sexist and dumb the movie was. Cater to the demographic and say "Hey, isn't it funny how everything in this movie is designed to get me, Zack Snyder off? I am literally directing this with one hand".
Unfortunately, only Jon Hamm can see this, prophesying for us all at the end "Did you see that? I mean, did you see that?" I'm so sorry Sucker Punch. I dreamed of you being so much more. Someone give Emily Browning a good role. Maybe being Emma Stone's little sister in a movie about them being sex therapists. I would watch the hell out of that.
If you enjoyed this list you can read Blake's review of Suckerpunch here.