Inception and a Lady Gaga music video. Going in, I was expecting Sucker Punch to be a pretty straight up exploitation flick. Basically 300 with hot women instead of shirtless guys, which to my mind would be an improvement. I ranked it fifth of the films I was looking forward to in 2011. Now Sucker Punch has received some negative reviews, and I'm going to have to disagree with those.
Some criticism has focused on the way the film portrays women, calling it sexist and exploitative, others seem to complain that it's not sexy or erotic enough. Director Zach Snyder argues the film is empowering, but he is the director, so you'd expect that. I did find this commentary at Tor.com, which I think I agree with. Here's the thing, unlike its advertisement suggested, Sucker Punch is not an "epic action fantasy" filled with hot women in skimpy outfits. It has those elements, but it also has some incredibly dark and disturbing layers that quite frankly wouldn't let me just sit back and enjoy the fetishistic costumes and Zombie Nazis with a clean conscience.
I don't know what the film means, but as one of my English professors told me, literature is something that is open to interpretation. That is, it has no definite meaning or message. I'm not saying Sucker Punch is a great work of art, and its ambiguity could in fact be a result of sloppy film-making, but it is a film that can be interpreted and pondered, and that impresses me since at first glance it seemed like it would be nothing but a lot of beautiful visuals.
And on the note of visuals, the film does look amazing. Any of the fantasy sequences, from the golem samurai, steampunk zombie Nazis, robot train heists, and WWII Planes battle dragons and orcs would make a pretty awesome movie in its own right.
And as the Tor article suggested, I don't see how a movie that turns women into action heroes is a bad thing. So overall, I really liked Sucker Punch, just not in the way I was expecting.