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Five Reasons Sucker Punch Is Better Than Avatar

Over the last 2 years, I’ve been dogged by the fact that I though Avatar was an overrated turd, and now I’ve got the ideal underrated gem to compare it to. Both rely heavily on their visual effects to tell a story and I’ll spell out five reasons why I think Sucker Punch is better than Avatar.

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Five Reasons Sucker Punch Is Better than Avatar
1. Music
This isn’t such a huge deal for Avatar since the score was simply music to go in the background of its scenery rather than be an active part of the movie.  However Sucker Punch does take some supremely great songs and makes its set pieces into huge music videos.  Its not quite Moulin Rouge, but it helps pump up the energy onscreen and in the seats of the audience.  Avatar has one song at the end, and it kind of sucks.  James Horner’s score on Titanic was actually pretty memorable, and love it or hate it, Celine Dion’s song at the end was a huge hit.  I can’t even remember the Avatar song, and I don’t even care enough to look up what it’s called or who sang it.  Sucker Punch as several performance by star Emily Browning, and new versions of songs by Bjork, The Pixies, and The Beatles.
2. Love Story
Avatar contained a completely unbelievable love story.  Not unbelievable like it was incredible or even romantic.  It was literally unbelievable.  A military man ships off to another planet and he falls in love with an 8 foot cat?  This isn’t like dating someone from another culture or country on earth, this is literally bestiality. Where I come from, we call these guys furries.  Sucker Punch gets a major leg up here because there is NO romantic subplot.  With a total of six female leads, not one of them has a romance in or outside of the Sucker Punch fantasy world. As much as other critics condemn the movie’s attempts at female empowerment, this is a spot where it does shine, because I can’t think of another movie with a female lead that didn’t have a boyfriend or someone she was interested in at some point in the movie, including James Cameron’s own beloved Ellen Ripley in Aliens.
3. Costuming
In Avatar, Sigourney Weaver’s alien character wears a shirt that says STANFORD on it.  What the fuck does this mean?  Does she really have to impress the natives that she went to Stanford?  Where did she get a Navi sized shirt?  In Sucker Punch, short skirts rule the screen, which have their own pluses and minuses, but nothing so stupid as these girls trying to impress the beasts and bots they battle with where they went to college.
4. Characters & Plot
I suppose the last 2 points I already touched on this, but the characters are morons in Avatar.  The evil marine guy who drinks coffee while he bombs the planet, the stupid natives who don’t take a fucking invasion force on their doorstep seriously, and Giovanni Ribisi who wants to mine a rock when he could just turn the planet into a resort and make even more money.  Sucker Punch doesn’t have any brilliance in its characters either, but since the movie so early on transforms into a fantasy world where everything is a metaphor for something else and nothing is real… well I wasn’t expecting any depth by that point.  Avatar kept wanting me to take it seriously until the end, and it ultimately killed my enjoyment because there wasn’t anything worth taking seriously.
5. Visual Effects
Sucker Punch has amazing visual effects.  Zack Snyder proved his talents by translating exact copies of comic frames in 300 and Watchmen, but even liberated from that reference material, he still has lots genre reference points from anime, war movies, sci-fi, musicals, and more.  He’s not afraid to go slow motion and show you EXACTLY what is happening in an action scene. The fantasy world also means that anything that happens, no matter how unexpected, is welcome and understandable in the confines of the movie.  When the mech robot at the end of Avatar pulled a knife, it was stupid.  When a robot pulls a knife in Sucker Punch, its just anything crazy thing happening.  Avatar also crowded its scenery with flying mountains and colorful jungles and sometimes went through huge chunks of the movie being little more than a cartoon. Sucker Punch owns the fact that its a cartoon, even when its got all its human players on screen.

I guess what I’m getting at its that Avatar was made out to be the biggest most awesome thing EVER, and it really wasn’t, meanwhile Sucker Punch is savaged by critics so much that they want you to feel stupid for liking it.  Don’t.  Sucker Punch isn’t a great movie and it won’t be remembered as such, but its highly enjoyable pulp and proudly displays all its influences with joyful abandon.

With that in mind, ultimately what makes Sucker Punch worth watching is that you can have a conversation about what happens and why and the director’s intent and the implications of the events on screen and its place in cinema and the real world.  Avatar was just a director trying to make a cool 3D movie, and for that single goal, Cameron succeeded.  Snyder’s Sucker Punch is at worst a hot mess, an alternately engaging and distancing, loud and destructive, soft and emotive story that for all its flaws does make you raise questions and think.

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