The "Distant Planet" promotional animation portrays the robots protecting the bomb on the train as freedom fighters. The upper-class citizens of the city (who may or may not be robots themselves) have forced the lower-class robots into ghettos, keeping them down with martial law. One robot sees his wife's horrified reaction when she watches a newscast of a protest being put down, decides he has had enough degradation, and joins the rebellion. The last scene shows the robot looking at his wife's photo before picking up a gun and shooting at something... the silhouettes of Baby Doll, Sweet Pea, and Rocket. Cue the narrator, who had been explaining the oppressive nature of the regime and the motivations of the rebels, saying a line about how we are all the same in one aspect, because we all have a time to end.
It's interesting to look at Amber and Blondie's characters, at least from how they appear to be. Amber appears to be the timid one of the group, and she's the most nervous before any plan. She even opts to the pilot in the fantasy sequences, doing the least amount of fighting. But if you look at what she does in the film, she proves more to be Silk Hiding Steel - she's able to seduce the Mayor and think on her feet stealing the knife right after Rocket is stabbed. Blondie meanwhile is presented as the tough one, but she's the one who breaks and confesses to Blue - suggesting that she may not be as tough as she seems.
A lot of fans think that Sweet Pea is merely pretending to be insane to stay in the asylum and look after Rocket; the hint of this is in the brothel layer when Rocket says that she had problems at home and Sweet Pea didn't. On the flip side, perhaps Sweet Pea genuinely suffered from mental illness, but she has recovered to the extent where she can leave the asylum and just won't be allowed to by Blue.
Anvilicious: "My most precious possessions" said by Blue pretty much drives the point home in the standard version of the movie.
Applicability: Zack Snyder believes the movie seeps ideas into one's brain, but the viewer has to discuss, debate, reinterpret and rethink various scenes in the movie.
The movie works quite well as an allegory for the 2017 Hollywood sex scandals, given its focus on women who are performers and being abused by a corrupt authority figure in an open secret. Although not prostitutes by profession, they end up being treated as such - which can parallel Hollywood's obsession with beauty and sex appeal - and that adds to their mental health problems.
It also works as a parable about dealing with trauma through escapism; many people who become performers actually do so because they've suffered in some way, and performing helps act as a catharsis. The girls here deal with their trauma by literally becoming whoever they want to be for a while.
Audience-Alienating Premise: Nobody could figure out whether it was supposed to be a straight Animesque action film or a Deconstruction of that genre. The result was that nerdy audiences turned away because they felt they were going to be insulted while audiences who'd be interested in a deconstruction thought it was just another action movie. The film's attempt to juggle female empowerment andFanservice turned off women who wanted the former and men who wanted the latter, as well as feminists of all genders who only saw it as the latter with a thin semblance of the former.
Better on DVD: The film works better on the small screen with the extended DVD cut - lengthening the fantasy sequences, Foreshadowing a lot more plot devices, making the Male Gaze deconstruction a lot more obvious and adding an additional ending for Baby Doll. Word of God is that the ending in the extended version was intended for the theatrical release but had to be cut due to Executive Meddling.
The biggest debate was whether this film is feminist or not.
A close second was Emily Browning's performance. As she's playing someone who's gone into shock after suffering so much trauma, the debate centered on if she just used Dull Surprise or was accurately conveying the emotions in a subtle way.
Catharsis Factor: Blue finally getting his comeuppance when he forces himself on Baby Doll, and she responds by stabbing him in the shoulder and declaring "you'll never have me". One YouTube commenter said she was ambivalent about the film, but admitted to cheering at the top of her voice when that happened.
Complete Monster: Blue Jones is the corrupt head of the Lennox House asylum who receives a bribe from Babydoll's abusive stepfather in order to lobotomize Babydoll. Depicted as the ruthless owner of a brothel in the dream world, Blue Jones has no hesitations punishing those who defy him. Catching Babydoll and the other brothel's prostitutes attempting to rebel, he murders two of his prostitutes to make an example and then attempts to rape Babydoll. After Babydoll sacrifices herself in order to get lobotomized, it was revealed that in the real world, Blue Jones forged the asylum psychiatrist's signature, something he has been done before, in order to make his own patients, including Babydoll, his personal sex toy after being lobotomized. Exposed by the police, Blue Jones tries to incriminate Babydoll's stepfather as a last-ditch effort to save himself.
Are we so thick-headed that we need to take everything so literally? Or deep down, are we afraid of what this film is really saying? Reminding us that women are abused?...What it is is a male director making strong feminist statements. Did he do it perfectly? Obviously not, since so many of us missed the point.
Cult Classic: Has a small subset of very dedicated fans, mostly composed of either a) lovers of campy action who like the film's iconic imagery and strange plot or b) women who connected with the themes of the film and considered it more feminist than it was given credit for in spite of its Best Known for the Fanservice reputation.
Draco in Leather Pants: Even though Blue is a horrible rapist who abuses his position to take advantage of mental patients, he has his share of fan girls - as he's played by Oscar Isaac, and has a darkly charismatic personality. The brothel scene where he does a fantastic rendition of "Love Is The Drug" certainly doesn't hurt either.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Although Amber is the least important of the five leads, she's many people's favourite character; she's both Adorkable and proves to be extremely competent despite her status as the timid one, and can be seen as a very caring presence to the others. Jamie Chung's beauty helps as well.
Fanon: Although the real world version Sweet Pea is in the asylum is never stated, fans take the conversation between Rocket and Baby Doll to mean that Sweet Pea willingly committed herself in order to look out for Rocket.
Harsher in Hindsight: Babydoll's little sister dies in the beginning of the movie. After the death of Zack Snyder's daughter Autumn Snyder in May 2017, this already dark scene became almost unwatchable.
Improved by the Re-Cut: The film in its Extended Cut form is much darker than its PG-13 theatrical version, mainly due to a stronger emphasis on the sexual harassment that the characters endure, which was notably absent from the regular cut. We also get an extra musical number featuring Oscar Isaac and Carla Gugino's characters, which is seen as something as a highlight for some viewers. Both cuts received mixed reviews at best, but the Extended Cut is generally seen as an improvement.
Iron Woobie: Babydoll who loses both her mother and sister within the first fifteen minutes, gets committed to an asylum and knows she'll be lobotomised in five days. Yet she never cracks and instead comes up with a plan to escape her fate. There is one moment where she cries but it's early in the film and she keeps on.
Jerkass Woobie: Sweet Pea may be a cynical and seemingly cold-hearted snarker at the beginning. But she's got a little sister to look out for, implied problems at home, and of course her status as the 'Star of the Show' in the brothel world is her coping mechanism for being repeatedly raped and abused in the asylum.
The scene between Amber and Blondie where Blondie explains to Amber how to seduce the Mayor.
Not to mention Amber and Blondie are paired up in almost every group scene and even die together.
It's much more subtle, but it is there in abundance with Babydoll and Rocket.
Babydoll and Sweet Pea shared quite a lot of meaningful looks.
In Babydoll's fantasies, she imagines all the girls in skimpy clothing.
Rocket is very hands on with all the girls, especially Babydoll and Blondie. And with Sweet Pea too. In the fantasy sequence, at the dungeon entrance, she slaps Sweet Pea's butt to signal her to move forward. It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, but it's there. She slaps Sweat Pea's thigh. It's a surprisingly well researched depiction of stacking up and breaching a doorway. It just looks a lot less sexual when the guys doing it are marines or police in full combat gear. She also slaps Sweet Pea's butt in the bordello fantasy, before "finishing her tour". Kinky.
"I don't bite (too hard)" is said outright by Rocket.
Memetic Mutation: There are many many videos on YouTube showing the "real dance" Babydoll did that the audience never got to see. Mostly guys dressed up as she was or wearing troll faces.
Moe: The main cast as a whole could be considered this for being adorable, innocent girls who are being abused in an asylum, and coming across as rather cutesy and huggable despite the Crapsack World that theyre in, but two of them in particular stand out as more Moe than the rest:
Amber is the sweetest out of everyone, has a very endearing and encouraging personality, and has a very short and cute appearance to boot, thanks to being played by Jamie Chung.
Rocket is extremely perky, sweet, and the most idealistic out of the group, being a contrast to her more serious and reserved older sister.
After Babydoll's mother dies, her wicked stepfather tries to rape her, and when she resists, he attempts to do the same to her sister who accidentally gets killed by Babydoll, and then has Babydoll institutionalized... in a Bedlam House run by a crooked orderly who has a lobotomist coming in five days from the date of committal. Oh, and he forges signatures.
Other than Blue agreeing to arrange a lobotomy for a patient who he knows shouldn't be in the asylum and does not need a lobotomy in exchange for a lengthy amount of bribed cash, he shoots Amber and Blondie, and then tries to rape Babydoll twice. The shooting and first rape attempt happened in the bordello reality, so we don't know how much of it actually happened. Word of God is that the former didn't really happen. But he has been sexually abusing the girls long enough for the other orderlies to know it's an open secret, firmly placing him over the MEH in reality.
Nightmare Fuel: The entire character of Blue, with a dash of Paranoia Fuel. He has regularly been controlling the asylum so he can abuse the girls, and he's able to easily arrange a lobotomy to turn Baby Doll into a vegetable - with the full intent of having his way with her afterwards. In the brothel layer, he's imagined as an abusive pimp who callously shoots two girls dead in front of everyone and then tries to rape another. The rest of the asylum higher ups have no idea that he's been doing this for years.
Alan C. Peterson as the Mayor. In his brief appearance, he steals the scene with his utterly badass pimpin' entrance and Leitmotif: a mash-up of "I Want It All" and "We Will Rock You".
The Highroller only appears briefly in the extended cut but Jon Hamm's charismatic performance and the genuine kindness he shows Babydoll make him very memorable.
Realism-Induced Horror: Part of what makes Blue so terrifying is that there are indeed many like him to be found in real life; predators who get away with sexual abuse because they're very good at intimidating their victims into not speaking up. Fetishizing young women and their innocence is also disturbingly common among many real life predators.
Rewatch Bonus: Little lines and implications make sense with more viewings.
The stepfather's letter opener in the prologue resembles the katana Baby Doll later wields.
In the World War I fantasy, Sweet Pea briefly has a Held Gaze with a young soldier. This boy appears in the ending as a passenger on the bus she escapes on.
In the medieval fantasy, although each of the girls has to deal with the dragon, Blondie is the only one attacked directly - where the dragon bites the end off the plane and nearly eats her. Foreshadowing that she will be targeted by Blue after this.
Vanessa Hudgens prompted this, as High School Musical was still very fresh in people's minds. Blondie goes from being The Big Guy to suddenly a huge Woobie in the third act. Her shock at Amber being killed because of her is a massive Tear Jerker.
Spiritual Adaptation: With the premise of a close-knit team of Badass Adorable young women kicking ass with all sorts of over-the-top weaponry, some have half-jokingly called this the closest thing we have to a live-action RWBY film.
The sheer Trauma Conga Line Baby Doll goes through in the opening. Her mother passes away, which breaks her sister's heart. She's also aware that her stepfather may try something - which he does and this leads to Baby Doll accidentally killing her young sister. It's this that finally breaks her, and she's found by the police crying in the rain at her mother's grave.
Her first night in the asylum/brothel - in the extended cut this comes after the "Love is a Drug" sequence, essentially showing Baby Doll what environment she's landed in - she's alone and crying in the bathroom. Thankfully Rocket comes in and sits with her.
Rocket and Baby Doll's conversation where Rocket asks "have you ever just wanted to take something back?" - and Baby Doll can only nod in agreement. The loss of her sister still hangs over her.
How Blondie utterly breaks after Blue threatens her. While alone in the music room, she just breaks down crying. When Blue reveals that she betrayed the girls, she looks so ashamed of herself and is in tears. Not to mention her screams of horror when Amber is killed.
The goodbye between Baby Doll and Sweet Pea before the former sacrifices herself. Despite knowing each other only five days, they were true Fire-Forged Friends and seeing them having to part just reaffirms that The Fellowship Has Ended for the girls. While it is positive that Sweet Pea gets to escape and live her life, she's crying as she takes one last look at Baby Doll. Who knows if they'll ever see each other again?
Sweet Pea is also howling with grief when Rocket is stabbed by the cook. Sweet Pea is normally the most stoic of the girls, but her sister is bleeding to death in front of her and her shrieks as she's dragged away are painful to hear.
There's also Baby Doll rescuing Sweet Pea from the closet. The latter asks where Amber and Blondie are, and Baby Doll can only tearfully say "it's just us now". She's lost her sister and her other two friends within hours of each other.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Many felt the whole prison framing device wasn't needed and the movie could've worked fine as a straight up fantasy movie within its own unique world.
Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: The movie is very dark - Baby Doll loses her mother and sister and gets committed to the asylum (as well as overhearing that she'll be lobotomised) all in the first ten minutes! And the fantasy sequences take on a much darker tone when you note that they're there as escapism for the protagonists. As one reviewer put it, the whole movie is essentially a Lie Back and Think of England scenario for victims of rape.
Rocket is The Heart of the team and Baby Doll's first real friend, also being the first one on board with the plan. In the action scenes, she's no pushover either and pulls off Big Damn Heroes multiple times. Of course she goes down in a Heroic Sacrifice to save Sweet Pea from the cook.
Blondie is The Big Guy, letting loose with some hardcore aggression in her first action scene, and unloading against a dragon in her second. She gets killed by Blue just to show how evil he is.
Amber shows she's not as timid as everyone thinks, successfully stealing the lighter on her own and playing the Ace Pilot in the sequences (in the extended cut, she also pulls a gun and shoots a couple of Mooks for good measure). She too is killed by Blue to establish the threat.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: The baby dragon and his/her mother. The baby does nothing villainous and the girls slit its throat to steal the crystals inside. Of course thankfully they're not actually real and it's only a metaphor for Amber stealing the lighter.
Vindicated by History: Sucker Punch got a lot of negative reviews from critics and audiences alike accusing it of being a "style over substance" movie, as well as having sexist undertones, and the film was an outright flop. However, over the years, re-evaluations of the movie from a feminist lens, especially following the rise of the #MeToo movement exposing decades of sexual abuse going on in Hollywood, have led to a renewed appreciation for it, with some critics hailing it as a misunderstood yet ambitious Feminist Fantasy that was ahead of its time in terms of its depictions of the abuse women face and the ways they combat against it.
Visual Effects of Awesome: The visual effects look absolutely stunning, especially in the action sequences. The final one is especially blatant, with a number of slow-motion shots of robots getting broken in detail.
Babydoll. She loses her mother, is almost raped by her stepfather, shoots at him in self-defense which accidentally kills her younger sister, and is taken to an asylum that just screws more with her already tenuous grip on reality.
Blondie becomes quite a big one as her tough facade breaks quite easily once Blue reveals he's onto them. When she breaks down sobbing, it's a very sobering moment from a character who was a Deadpan Snarker beforehand.