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Feature
Following the death of her mother, troubled girl 'Baby Doll' (Emily Browning) is thrown in an asylum by her stepfather in a bid to cover up his abusive crimes towards her and her younger sister, with the full intention being that she be lobotomized before the police start asking too many questions revolving around a fatal accident in the home. Imagining her prison as a cross between a burlesque show and brothel and with her time running out, Baby Doll enlists the aid of her fellow captives--outspoken Rocket (Jena Malone), street-smart Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), fiercely loyal Amber (Jamie Chung) and reluctant Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish)--in order to escape their terrible fate at the hands of their captors Blue (Oscar Isaac), Madam Gorki (Carla Gugino) and the High Roller (Jon Hamm).

Sucker Punch
I've really enjoyed all three of Zack Snyder's live action films--and my son swears that Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole is pretty good too--but Sucker Punch is by my estimation his first misfire. The film plays out with a very music video aesthetic, featuring perfectly framed and interesting shot compositions, eye popping special effects work and a brilliant sound design. Some of the hyper realistic action sequences are among the most impressive I've seen in quite a long time, such as an assault on a medieval fortress involving an army of orcs facing off against an army of knights with the main characters fighting them all off, and then doing battle with a fearsome and vengeful dragon both in the air and on the ground. It's all fairly thrilling stuff, and from a solely technical perspective the film is a near perfect work which showcases what a director can achieve when he fully embraces and has a firm grasp on the technology that is afforded modern filmmakers.

So why does the film seem like such a chore to sit through, you might ask? It's pretty cliche to say it, but Sucker Punch really is a film that's all style and no substance, yet that's something that isn't always the sign of a bad movie. There are plenty of films that I have thoroughly enjoyed that could be labeled in such a way, such as Snyder's own 300. That picture has a simplicity to the storytelling, interesting characters with capable actors and enough energy on screen to overcome a lot of the shortcomings in what is otherwise a fairly standard good guys versus bad guys tale.

Sucker Punch
Sucker Punch doesn't succeed nearly as well as that previous effort from Snyder. It just isn't very engaging or interesting--I must have nodded off a couple of times watching this in the early evening--and it has an overly convoluted story with two layers of reality playing out in the main protagonists head while she's awaiting her lobotomy day visit from "The Doctor". In the first imagined layer of reality Baby Doll imagines she's in a brothel performing as a dancer whose gyrations and sways are so magical that they place her audience in a trance-like state while her cohorts go about stealing the necessary items for their escape. The enactment of their 'procurement' of the items is where the second imagined reality comes in as each theft is played out like the climax to varying big budget action films with the girls taking on the part of an all guns blazing, elite commando squad mentored by The Wise Man (portrayed by Scott Glenn doing his best Yoda impersonation).

It takes some time on to get into the rhythm that Snyder's screenplay beats its drums to, and if you don't buy into the tawdry whimsy of the flick by about halfway through chances are you won't by the time the credits roll. I'm certain that some people will have no problems rolling along with it, but it just seemed like too much trouble for me when the story really isn't all that great and I couldn't generate any feelings one way or another towards any of the characters. There's a sort of detachment going on with the entire affair that makes it feel like you're watching someone play a video game with the greatest graphics and sound in the world, but the story attached to all the button mashing is mediocre as hell and you're just waiting for the next big 'splosion to blast you back on the couch.

Sucker Punch
Video
If you're looking for that new demonstration disc for your expensively big television then here's the latest and greatest available as Warner Home Video's 1080p, AVC-encoded presentation of the film is pitch perfect. Blacks are always deep and dark and the stylized cinematography leaps off the screen with a wide ranging color palette, consistent contrast and a highly detailed picture. I never noticed any defects in the video such as aliasing, banding, artifacts or any noise that wasn't clearly intentional on the part of the filmmakers. Being a newly released theatrical film, the print used is free from any issues related to damage that usually accompany older films transferred to home video. Overall the video here is equal to the task of delivery the best presentation of the outstanding visuals going on.

Sucker Punch
Audio
Perfectly relentless is the best way to describe Warner's included DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, as it really is something that'll give the neighbors something to complain about. Every speaker attached to your home theater will get a workout here, with the LFE channel in particular getting abused by every rumble and tremor. The multi-directional sound design of the film is very impressive and delivers an immersiveness during the action sequences that is, in one word, fun. Certain scenes, such as an aerial combat bit between a stylized WWII bomber and a dragon and another involving trench warfare against clockwork zombies, are especially well done and deliver a demo worthy performance out of your surround speakers. Less exciting but equally good are the movie's scattered quieter moments where dialogue and ambient effects are all important and the score and source music used throughout which rocks. Overall, this is a great audio track that you'll really enjoy.

Sucker Punch
Extras
The four motion comics that act as prequels to the fantasy sequences in the film and the three-minute 'Behind the Soundtrack' featurette with Snyder, music composer Tyler Bates and producer Marius DeVries aren't all that interesting, so I advise you to skip them and head straight for the real meat of the special features which is the Maximum Movie Mode included with the extended cut of the picture. This is the best of these features yet produced by Warner Home Video, featuring a Picture-in-Picture track containing enough behind the scenes footage, storyboards and interviews including everyone from actors, conceptual designers, special effects technicians and music producers that it's almost to the point of being overwhelming. On top of that, Director Zack Snyder does several walk-ins on the action at key moments of the movie to breakdown the film making process. Entertaining and engaging, this feature alone is almost worth the price of the three-disc set.

Also included is a second Blu-ray disc containing the PG-13 theatrical cut of the film and a DVD with a standard definition copy of the same along with the obligatory digital copy. Having sat through the film twice--a second time with the Maximum Movie Mode engaged--I did not view the theatrical version which has an almost 18-minute shorter running time compared to the extended cut. I'm certain that if you Googled it you'll find that some obsessive fan has already compiled a detailed list of the differences.

Sucker Punch
Overall
The best way to enjoy Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch is to fully utilize the 'Next' button on your Blu-ray player's remote and skip right on through to the highly stylized, fantasy action sequences. You aren't going to care about the plot or characters anyway, so do yourself a favor and shave off over an hour of the feature's running time and get all of the flavor and none of the calories. Warner Home Video's Blu-ray presentation of the film is excellent with virtually perfect picture and sound and a Maximum Movie Mode that's the best yet. Overall, it's a disc that's worth at least a rental in order to check out the eye candy on display and the aforementioned special feature.

*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.


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