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Zack Snyder
Abbie Cornish, Emily Browning, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm
Writing Credits:
Zack Snyder (and story), Steve Shibuya

A mind bending vision of reality from the director of Watchmen & 300.

Born from the creative vision of filmmaker Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300), this epic action fantasy launches from the vivid imagination of a young girl whose dream world provides the ultimate escape from her darker reality. Locked away against her will, Babydoll (Emily Browning) has not lost her will to survive. Determined to fight for her freedom, she urges four fellow captives – outspoken Rocket (Jena Malone), street-smart Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), fiercely loyal Amber (Jamie Chung) and reluctant Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) – to band together and try to escape their terrible fate at the hands of their captors Blue (Oscar Isaac), Madam Gorki (Carla Gugino) and the High Roller (Jon Hamm).

Box Office:
$82 million.
Opening Weekend
$19.058 million on 3033 screens.
Domestic Gross
$36.381 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (Theatrical Version Only)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (Theatrical Version Only)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (Theatrical Version Only)
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 110 min. (Theatrical Version) / 127 min. (Extended Cut)
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 6/28/2011

Disc One:
• Theatrical Version of the Film
Sucker Punch: Animated Shorts
• “Sucker Punch: Behind the Soundtrack” Featurette
• Previews
Disc Two:
• Extended Cut of the Film
• Maximum Movie Mode
• Previews
Disc Three:
• DVD/Digital Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Sucker Punch [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 21, 2011)

After the massive success of 2007’s 300, director Zack Snyder has found it tough to recapture a big audience. 2009’s Watchmen did okay, but $107 million for a modern superhero flick isn’t memorable.

At least that figure looks good compared to Snyder’s next two flicks. The animated Legend of the Guardians showed it is possible for computer animated films to flail at the box office, and 2011’s action-fest Sucker Punch did even worse, with a take of only $36 million.

Snyder gets a big shot to rebound with 2012’s Superman reboot Man of Steel. Whether that’ll repeat the success of 300 or flop ala Sucker Punch remains to be seen, of course. In the meantime, I thought I’d give Sucker Punch a look and decide if it deserved a better financial fate.

In Punch, we meet a teen girl just known as Babydoll (Emily Browning). Her mother (Kelora Clingwell) dies and leaves her wealth to her daughters. This upsets her stepfather (Gerard Plunkett) who tries to imprison Babydoll and rape her pre-pubescent sister (Frederique De Raucourt). To stop this, Babydoll escapes and threatens her stepfather with a gun, but when she shoots, she accidentally kills her sister instead.

This sends her around the bend and her stepfather places her in a dank, grim mental institute. There Babydoll is supposed to undergo a lobotomy initiated by her stepfather; he bribes the institute’s sleazy chief (Oscar Isaac). She has five days until the lobotomy will occur.

Encouraged by therapist Dr. Gorski (Carla Gugino) to use her mind as an escape, Babydoll does that and flees to a world in which she and all those she knows are involved in a dance hall. In this existence, she’s an orphan brought to the establishment by a corrupt priest (Plunkett) and club head Blue (Isaac) plans to sell the virgin Babydoll to a “High Roller” in five days.

In the meantime, Babydoll gets to know the other girls: Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone) Amber (Jamie Chung) and Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens). All perform at the club and are forced to act as prostitutes. We follow Babydoll’s time there and all the unusual paths she takes as the lines of reality blur and she attempts to escape her plight.

To date, Snyder has earned a reputation a director who favors style over substance, and Sucker Punch will do nothing to change that. No, it’s not as thin as 300 - one long action scene in search of a narrative – but it comes close.

This doesn’t make the movie unenjoyable, of course, as Snyder’s visual skills ensure that Punch has its moments. He always creates good-looking movies that have some effective action scenes, and that holds true for Punch. It throws out a few sequences that almost dazzle, in fact, and Snyder deserves credit for sheer audacity. He creates a fantasy that blurs the lines between reality and imagination and incorporates a mix of genres that even include musical theater; at one point, I wondered if I’d accidentally put Burlesque into my player.

Despite a smattering of good scenes, though, Punch is too much of a mess to succeed. Like usual, Snyder relies too much of slow-motion to tell his story. Occasionally you’ll wonder if this is an action movie or a mix of music video snippets; while these look good in an independent sense, they get tiresome when repeated across a two-hour movie. If Snyder pulls out his standard bag of tricks for his Superman flick, there’ll be blood in the streets; he’s milked that cow too much and needs to drop the excessive slow-mo.

As I mentioned, Punch does favor style over substance, which means that as great as it looks, it lacks much real heft. We never care much about the characters, as they’re essentially one-dimensional archetypes, and the story is such a mishmash that it’s almost pointless.

I take that back: the plot is pointless. The narrative about Babydoll’s upcoming lobotomy and her shift into fantasy means next to nothing in the long run. I guess there’s a theme in there somewhere – don’t give up? Girl power? – but it’s buried in the wreckage.

In truth, Punch exists for one reason: to show potentially cool action scenes with hot girls who kick butt. That’s it, end of story, move along, please. The movie feels like Snyder came up with a mix of fight scenarios and came up with Babydoll’s narrative to connect them. Maybe he should’ve just gone the anthology route and not bothered with an overall plot at all. It’d make the movie significantly less pretentious and possibly more entertaining, as we’d lose the dull interludes with Babydoll and the other girls.

That version of Sucker Punch would manage to seem more intellectually honest, at least. As it stands, the movie comes with a jumbled narrative that goes nowhere, mainly because the visuals drive this bus. Punch looks great but is less filling.

Note that the Blu-ray includes both the movie’s theatrical version (1:49:45) and an extended cut (2:07:30). How do the two differ? Unfortunately, I can’t say. I didn’t see the film on the big screen, so the Blu-ray became my first – and only – screening of it. I went with the extended cut, so I can’t indicate what it adds across its almost 18 minutes of extra footage.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B-

Sucker Punch appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. For this review, I only viewed the Extended Cut, as I suspect it’ll be the one preferred by fans. The transfer looked terrific at all times.

Sharpness excelled. Only the slightest smidgen of softness ever appeared in wide shots, and those instances remained marginal. The vast majority of the flick looked tight and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement was absent. In terms of source flaws, I saw nothing, as the image lacked specks or other defects. Like other Zack Snyder films, it included copious grain, but that was intentional.

The movie used a varied palette that was stylized but not in a consistent way, so we didn’t see the same tones all the time. For instance, cool blues were a factor for grimmer scenes, while warmer sequences preferred an amber tine and a World War I fantasy battle opted for a desaturated brown. The colors looked very good within those stylistic choices; they were always well-reproduced.

Blacks demonstrated good depth and darkness. Shadows were also solid. The movie featured a lot of dimly lit sequences, and these offered nice clarity. I felt quite impressed by this consistently terrific image.

I also found a lot to like via the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Sucker Punch. I figured the movie would come with a pretty dynamic soundfield, and it often came through with the anticipated vivacity. Though not chock full of action scenes, we got enough material of that sort to open up the soundfield well. The crazed take on a World War I battle was probably the best sequence; with guns, planes and other war elements, it really used the soundscape well.

Other elements fared well, too. Fights and explosions used the various speakers to add (literal) punch to the package, and the track featured nice involvement from all five channels. Music presented nice stereo presence, and we even got a bit of directional dialogue.

Audio quality worked nicely. Speech was natural and distinctive; no edginess or other issues affected the dialogue. Music was lively and full, while effects presented the expected clarity. Those elements demonstrated good accuracy and range; low-end was powerful and tight. I found a lot to like about this fine soundtrack.

In addition to the theatrical version of the film (1:49:45), Disc One provides a collection of four Animated Shorts. With a total running time of 11:23, these include “Feudal Warriors” (2:41), “The Trenches” (2:57), “Dragon” (2:56) and “Distant Planet” (2:52). These connect to parts of the theatrical film and give us some additional background related to its scenarios. They essentially exist as advertising, but they’re more creative than most promos and are fun to see.

We also find Sucker Punch: Behind the Music. This featurette goes for two minutes, 41 seconds as it delivers comments from writer/director Zack Snyder, and music arrangers/producers/composers Marius De Vries and Tyler Bates. They offer some general remarks about the movie’s songs and score, but don’t expect to learn much, as they mostly use their time to tout the film.

Disc One opens with ads for Batman: Arkham City video game, the “Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Extended Editions” Blu-ray set, and Crazy, Stupid, Love.

With that we go to Disc Two. In addition to the movie’s Extended Cut (2:07:30), we locate Maximum Movie Mode, a running feature that offers a few different components. Via “Director Drop-Ins”, Snyder occasionally pops up to give us commentary about the film. We also get behind the scenes footage, storyboards, 15 still galleries (368 total images) and interviews.

In the latter, we hear from Snyder, De Vries, Bates, production designer Rick Carter, set decorator Jim Erickson, director of photographer Larry Fong, choreographer Paul Becker, producer Deborah Snyder, special effects coordinator Joel Whist, stunt/fight coordinator Damon Caro, executive producer Chris DeFaria, training coordinator Logan Hood, stunt coordinator Tim Rigby, stunt performer Heidi Moneymaker, visual effects supervisor John Desjardin, Animal Logic lead digital artist Kenn McDonald, Animal Logic CG supervisor Andrew Chapman, art director Todd Cherniawksky, prop master Jimmy Chow, unit production manager Jim Rowe, co-writer Steve Shibuya, editor William Hoy, and actors Emily Browning, Carla Gugino, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Scott Glenn, Jamie Chung, Jon Hamm and Oscar Isaac.

The discussions cover story/character elements, cinematography and effects, music and choreography, cast and performances, sets and visual design, weapons, action and stunts, and changes made for the extended cut.

Prior “Maximum Movie Modes” have been hit or miss, and this one is also a bit inconsistent. However, it’s probably better than the alternative: a standard audio commentary from Snyder. When he’s done those in the past, they’re been pretty weak, so the “MMM” acts as a good alternative.

And it is usually useful. Some parts sag, but we get a reasonably solid look at the production, as the “MMM” touches on a nice variety of topics. It never quite excels, but it adds to our understanding of the film.

Disc Two launches with ads for A Clockwork Orange and the F.E.A.R. video game. No trailer for Sucker Punch appears anywhere in this package.

A third platter provides both a digital copy of Sucker Punch for use on computers or digital portable gadgets as well as a DVD copy of the film. This delivers a barebones package, so don’t expect any extras.

While it packs lush visuals and an occasional exciting action scene, Sucker Punch lacks the narrative and character base to involve the audience. It delivers a few thrills but feels insubstantial. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture and audio along with some useful supplements. As a Blu-ray, this is a nice release, but the movie itself isn’t particularly interesting.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8947 Stars Number of Votes: 19
5 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main