Sucker Punch Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French, Portuguese, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (Theatrical); English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (Extended)
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: PG-13/ R
- Discs: 3 (2 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD + Digital Copy)
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Blu-ray Release Date: June 28, 2011
- List Price: $35.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Okay, I’m worried.
When I heard that Zack Snyder had been hired to direct the upcoming Superman reboot, I thought of how much he did for Frank Miller’s 300, and what he tried to do for Watchmen. And then I saw that he seemed to be cashing in his Hollywood “Golden Ticket”: the freedom for a director to make a movie closer to his heart if less of a sure thing at the box office, bestowed in acknowledgement of his success thus far.
And so Snyder is not merely the director and a producer of Sucker Punch but also the writer (he shares final screenplay credit with Steve Shibuya), spinning the strange yarn of Baby Doll (Emily Browning), an innocent woman/child sent to a mental institution after accidentally killing her little sister. A quick bribe by her wicked stepfather and Baby Doll is scheduled for a lobotomy in five days.
She soon learns that she will have to fight for her survival and in an insane asylum that means escaping, first into her own world and ultimately, physically beyond the walls, before it’s too late. In her mind, she fancies herself as the new girl at a nightclub-cum-brothel, and with her straight-jacket sisters, she hatches a plan.
Here’s where it starts to get confusing: We barely see her real life in the asylum and so we don’t fully understand the symbolism of her fantasy actions, the implications upon her true fate that her idealized self seems to be controlling. Her scheme involves distracting anything with a penis by dancing up a storm, her movements inspired by music which in turn ignites a series of dream-within-a-dream sequences.
These are elaborate battles, images of which comprised most of the marketing for the film, a team of ass-kicking young beauties taking on all manner of bigger-than-life foes according to the posters and commercials. I think this movie is supposed to be about female empowerment, and apparently women need to wear skimpy little S&M outfits and false eyelashes to set themselves free. That’s a good message. It’s a lot like 300 again, only this time in fishnet stockings, right down to the variable-speed fight sequences that are not a trademark, they are now a cliché.
Though they can last a little too long, the battles are fairly spectacular, at times like anime come to life, but they are pretty much there for their own sake, because they look cool. Perhaps Mr. Snyder thought that, if he throws enough wild iconography at us, we’ll just, y’know, go with it. Steampunk Nazis! A flying mecha suit! Samurai! Medieval knights! Dragons! The space city of the future! They’re on screen, they’re gone, and then forgotten. Without the proper underlying structure, and a strong dramatic necessity, these flashy setpieces threaten to crush the movie under their conspicuous weight.
Disc One presents the PG-13 theatrical cut, while Disc Two offers an R-rated “Extended Cut about 18 minutes longer. This alternative version is darker and more violent, but it doesn’t really address the basic flaws.
The high-definition video quality of Sucker Punch is magnificent. Minute details titillate the viewer in almost every shot, right down to the tiniest snowflake or spark or speck of dust. The movie was shot on film and completed digitally but virtually no grain remains and only minimal video noise intrudes. The deliberate manipulation of color and lighting is strikingly preserved, while the live-action and the special effects are nigh-seamlessly integrated. These are extremely ambitious visuals, with lots of soft glows added and little focus tricks: DVD just can’t do them justice. Blacks are simply amazing, evident on Vanessa Hudgens’ enormous jet-hued hairdo but also across the many dark 2.4:1-widescreen scenes.
Sonically at least, the movie moves deftly between the real world, the stylized nightclub world, and the various realms of battle. It’s this last category that gives the speakers their most intense workout, not surprisingly, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mini-masterpieces of big action audio, huge instances of mayhem and destruction embellished by lots of discrete touches. Swooping aircraft and more flaunt their directionality all around the home theater, while the surrounds are distinguished not just by their wonderful activity but by the ample power they display. Bass is clean yet mighty, and all scenes display fullness and clarity throughout.
Chief among the extras is yet another edition of Warner’s “Maximum Movie Mode,” an elaborate Bonus View concoction applied specifically to the extended cut on Disc Two. Zack Snyder might walk onto the screen and share an anecdote while the movie plays to one side, perhaps joined by an additional video window while he chats. A still gallery might pop up from time to time and we can branch away to it via the remote, then drop right back into the film. Relevant storyboards might appear and flip through under their own power. There are also picture-in-picture interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and slickly assembled little video clips and transitions.
Over on Disc One are a collection of four Motion Comics in HD, created by Ben Hibon to expand upon the four fantasy worlds seen in Sucker Punch. It’s not full animation but still interesting, more so if you like the movie and its imaginative environs. These are joined by a brief discussion of the songs and score with Snyder and music arrangers/producers/composers Tyler Bates and Marius De Vries. Both of the Blu-ray discs are BD-Live-enabled.
Warner has also included a third disc with both a standard-definition DVD version of the PG-13 Sucker Punch and a Digital Copy for the computer and selected portable devices, compatible with iTunes and Windows Media.
Here’s a complete rundown of the extras:
- Maximum Movie Mode
- Sucker Punch Motion Comics (11:23 total):
- “Feudal Warriors”
- “The Trenches”
- “Distant Planet”
- “Sucker Punch Behind the Soundtrack” (2:41)
- DVD of the movie
- Digital Copy
The Definitive Word
Is Superman going to fight in slow motion, too? God, I hope not. We’ll just have to wait and see, but the latest evidence is not very encouraging. Sucker Punch wants to inspire us to fight to survive, to control our own world, but by bombarding us with its style, the movie’s substance gets lost in the shuffle. Its Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Combo Pack however is first-rate: generous, reference-quality and exceptionally well-produced.
Additional Screen Captures