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Last word on Sucker Punch, as the director’s cut comes to Blu Ray

HollywoodNews.com: Zach Snyder made perhaps the ultimate thesis project on the wholesale objectification of women in popular culture, especially in modern geek culture, and how women feel the need to use those tools of objectification in order to achieve some semblance of would-be independence.

Sucker Punch smashed open the absurd notions that girls wearing short-shorts and arbitrarily doing violence is somehow empowering, when in fact those images are almost designed to be titillating to the male gaze. It was (and is even more so in the longer, more fluid director’s cut which restores the original Jon Hamm finale) a sad, mournful, borderline hopeless saga of five young girls who are imprisoned against their will, exploited for their sexuality, and then forced to use the tools of that exploitation in a feeble attempt to escape the clutches of male oppression. It is about exploitation and it is about titillation. Yet our nation’s critics and audience members couldn’t see past the very tools that Snyder was mocking (the mini-skirts, the pigtails, the larger-than-life CGI-infused action) to see what was a borderline art film.

Had the same film been made in France, it would have been hailed as a masterpiece. Here the American filmmaker, one who has never really indulged in the openly misogynistic practices of his cohorts, was somehow crowded king of the woman haters for making a movie that tried to deal with the taken-for-granted sexual objectification of the ‘fairer sex’ in culture.

It is a big budget studio picture filled with provocative and challenging ideas. It is a big budget studio film where the action is flawlessly choreographed and seamlessly edited, creating at least three all-time classic action set pieces. It is a big budget studio picture that not only stars women but is explicitly about women. It is everything we say we want from our mainstream entertainments.

Yet we critics couldn’t see past the surface level elements and called the film sexist, infantile, and misogynistic. Which is of course true, if you would also call Blazing Saddles racist and Borat anti-Semitic. If we can’t appreciate a flawed but fascinating film like Sucker Punch (which isn’t exactly subtle about its themes), then we don’t deserve any ideas at all in our pop entertainment. Sucker Punch: the most challenging studio film of 2011, with easily the best large-scale action of its kind in recent history.

Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures.

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