The Habitrail Critic Hits the Road: Sex, Spectacle, and Sucker Punch

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.


About L. M. Bernhardt

For a good long while (15+ years), I taught philosophy at a little private university in northwest IA, and occasionally branched out into playing music, dabbling in photography, experimenting with food, and writing nonsense on my blog. The philosophy teaching part ended in 2017 (program elimination via prioritization), but never fear! I've recently finished my MLIS at San Jose State University, and I'm currently on the market looking for new adventures in either philosophy or LIS. For now, I labor at a fairly interesting administrative job in order to support my dogs in the lavish manner to which they've become accustomed.
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2 Responses to The Habitrail Critic Hits the Road: Sex, Spectacle, and Sucker Punch

  1. teledude says:

    Fascinating…although, I'm left feeling I've learned more about you than the movie. Hmmmm…

    Still, I did learn something new, along with validating my impression of feminist suasion.

    Very well done. Your writing is absolutely interesting.
    (I probably won't see the movie however)


  2. Leaving aside the crack about feminist suasion (which, really, what I wrote was not intended to be), thanks. ;)

    Personally, I think reviews actually *do* and *should* tell you more about the reviewer than the film, if they are done well. A good review is all about the experience the reviewer has of the object being reviewed, and gives the reader a sense of what it might be like to have that experience. It's why I love reading reviews from a broad range of different people — I look for the one whose responses to film are similar to my own in order to figure out whether I should bother with the thing, and for people whose responses are very different in order to discover a fresh eye that might change my mind.

    One of the reasons I love Roger Ebert as a reviewer, for example, is that his reviews reveal such an interesting person to me. I don't always agree with him, but I love (and share) his love for film. I'll take a chance on something he likes, even if it might not otherwise appeal to me, just the see if I can figure out what he got from it that made him like it so much.

    Don't let my review scare you off, anyway — Sucker Punch is a safe, fun, rocking bet for people who dig Tarantino-style filmmaking. If you liked the Kill Bill thing, this movie can work for you. You needn't think any of those scary feminist thoughts at all in order to have fun watching it (and in fact some of the weakest bits of the script — the stupid freakin' voiceovers — are the weak “girl power” bits, which I loathed).


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