Steam Punk and Sucker Punch
A sucker punch is a blow made without warning, no preparation or defense. It is illegal in boxing, but commonly used in street fighting. The idea of a sucker punch was incorporated into the music-video like movie of the same name. The action-fantasy thriller was visually stunning, but lacking plot. Babydoll is a victim of a violent crime in the early 1960s. Instead of out right murdering her, her evil step-father commits her to an insane asylum and schedules her for a lobotomy. Babydoll tries to escape both her horrible reality and her fantasy worlds. It is supposed to be a feminist film with girls kicking-ass, but the sad reality is that these girls in the movie are still very much victims. It was hailed as Alice in Wonderland with guns, but it never truly escapes that video-game violence quality.
I also watched the DVD Alice this week as well. It ran as a mini-series on the Syfy channel in 2009. I never managed to watch it on TV, but it was interesting to view on video. It is imaginative to say the least, but still problematic. The story felt like it meandered a bit too much and borrow too heavily from outside sources. I liked the idea of the Queen ruling a casino and that her son Jack lures Alice to Wonderland, but the subplot about Alice and her father feels borrowed from Alias. Some of the action scenes are snatched from the Matrix movies ironically. It was kind of a jumble and the dystopia version of Wonderland felt off. The Disney version was a little more familiar despite the eye-popping CGI effects.
However, both the 2007 and 2010 versions had a bit of a romance between Alice and the Mad Hatter. What is up with that I wonder? Well, in the Disney 2010 version it doesn’t bloom into romance exactly, but the subtext is still there with the close friendship.
There is a hint of steampunk in both Sucker Punch and Alice, but it really stands out in the 2007 remake of The Wizard of Oz simply entitled Tin Man. Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that focuses on modern machines in the Victorian Era. I guess the time periods in which Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz were written in lend themselves to this retro-fitting of technology. Still, it seems as if steampunk puts a darker twist to the originals. I suppose that it happens in part because the kids who grew up with these stories also grew up war and technology. It is all we know, so it is difficult to pull the machinery out of the fantasy world for us I think.
In any case, The Tin Man’s plot also wondered as well. I liked that it was set in a future Oz, but I hated to see the Fairy Kingdom laid to waste. The wicked witch as a possessed sister was an interesting twist, but roles of the mother and father were very much under played. The theme of light versus dark wasn’t so strong in Baum’s original. His world was more whimsical and the threats to Oz pretty minor. I think Baum saw stupidity and selfishness as more of an issue than the idea of evil or darkness. The original subtext of feminism and theosophy is lost in the labyrinth of the quest for the all powerful Emerald of the Eclipse. The Tin Man was interesting, but was also lacking. Again, the visuals were stunning, but the plot weak.