I’ll keep this short and spoiler-free:
1. The most clever and fascinating thing about Sucker Punch‘s multilayered and fantastic dissociations is how surprisingly real and grounded in the traumas and troubles of bodies (especially women’s bodies, women’s experiences) they turn out to be.
2. The most clever and fascinating thing about the rhythm and mode of presentation of those multilayered dissociations is how they manage (even via apparent exploitation of woman-as-sex) to turn the expectations of an audience long inured to the prurient masculine gaze against themselves.
3. The most important point of comparison between Sucker Punch and Inception is not these layered dissociations — it’s the way in which Sucker Punch ever so much more deftly handles subconscious fantasy.
4. The second most important point of comparison between Sucker Punch and Inception is in the gendering of that fantasy — somehow, the flat and unquestioned masculinity of Inception fades next to the often ironic femininity of Sucker Punch. Also, Sucker Punch (unlike Inception) passes the Bechdel Test. Hallelujah! An action film that passes! FINALLY!
5. I do concede that Inception is a much slicker production, and is free of some of the clumsier things about Sucker Punch‘s writing (I’m looking at you, Prologue and Epilogue Voiceovers) and acting. Sucker Punch, however, is often simply more interesting as a film.