Media Production Mentoring

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Sucker Punch: Shallow Tales

[NB: This post contains huge spoilers for Sucker Punch.]

On the heels of her mother's death, a young woman escapes the sexual advances of her evil stepfather. He then threatens the young woman's little sister. In her attempts to save her sister, the young woman accidentally shoots her and is carried off to an insane asylum.

We're not even five minutes into the movie.

By the end, this young woman has brought together a band of frightened girls who are then willing to sacrifice their lives for one another. They use their unique skills and opportunities to complete their goals. Meanwhile, they are hounded by a powerful adversary who is on to their every move. In the end, the young woman must learn what freedom is and how much sacrifice is required to attain it.

I ask you: Is this a shallow story?

It's not happy. It's not pleasant. It's not particularly complicated. There are no huge "reveals" that make a good guy bad or a bad guy good. But it's certainly not shallow. In fact, this story has at least as much to say about love and loss as Romeo and Juliet... with higher motivations.

I don't understand how critics miss this. Granted, I was sucker punched by the story. I didn't know this period piece was going to be the foundation of a film about cute girls beating up samurai, Nazis, dragons and robots. But it hits you and it hits you hard.

My guess is that Sucker Punch suffers the same fate as The Village. In fact, both films share a similar rating arch. The issue is not with either movie, but with film-going critics who can't accept the fact that they saw a film with a story not spelled out for them in the trailer. For what ever reason, critics complain about lack of depth when a movie pulls a punch on them.

That's unfair.

Say you didn't like the story. Complain about how it wasn't executed excellently. Admit it hurt too much. Confess that your expectations were shattered. But don't complain that it's a shallow tale when you are simply out of your depth.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

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