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Zack Snyder has gained a reputation as a fine director on the strength of his adaptations of others stories.  Dawn of the Dead was a memorable remake of George Romero’s zombie masterpiece. 300, a mesmerizing tour de force, was a faithful adaptation of Frank Miller’s Dark Horse Comics limited series of the same name. Watchmen, a breathtaking sight, drew from writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons’ acclaimed DC Comics work. Even Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, a acceptable adventure in its own right, was based on a popular book series by Kathryn Lasky. Sucker Punch, Snyder’s first original story, a feminist empowerment adventure with gunplay galore, was a box office failure.

Sucker PunchSucker Punch tells the story of Baby Doll (Emily Browning), a young girl falsely accused of murdering her sister. Sent to a shady mental institution, she faces the prospect of a lobotomy in five days, unless she can escape. From there, the movie shifts into a hyper-kinetic Technicolor representation of Baby Doll’s situation. This is how she copes with being in the asylum. No longer in the institution, she is a dancer in a club where runaways are held against their will and forced to perform for wealthy clients. Baby Doll plans her escape with the help of four other dancers: Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), and Amber (Jamie Chung). They are watched like a hawk by club owner Blue (Oscar Isaac) and his choreographer, Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino), while they await the arrival of the High Roller (Jon Hamm), who is actually the lobotomist.

Baby Doll puts together a list of four items that must be acquired to escape. As each of these things come to pass, we are put into bizarre video game-like scenarios in which a goal must be reached. In one, Baby Doll takes on three giant mechanical beings. Another involves orcs and dragons. Others wrong the gamut from a World War II theme and a speeding train with a bomb on board. Playing to director Zach Snyder’s established strengths, all of these scenes are represented using some fairly stunning CGI imagery. Unfortunately, the visuals can’t rescue a film when the characters are as underdeveloped as they are here. The action, while fast and furious, has no real purpose. Even when one of the heroines is in trouble, we don’t care. It’s hard to have much of an emotional response to characters you know very little about.

I’m guessing the actresses here where chosen for their looks, and not for their acting ability or name recognition. If that was the goal, they do look hot, but that’s it. I suppose it doesn’t really matter, as all of the actresses are constantly upstaged by Snyder’s assault of CGI imagery. Even so, in my mind, it’s a good idea to employ actresses who can deliver the simplest lines of dialogue with conviction. That’s not always the case here.

Sucker Punch is a noisy, visual assault devoid of any real story. This film seems to suggest that Zach Snyder and (who co-wrote the script with Steve Shibuya) out to stick to  pre-existing material.

Shown at the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, this CGI laden transfer is reference quality material. The color palette is muted and rather unique, but flesh tones and deep hues are perfectly rendered. Black levels are inky and effective without ever resorting to crush. Detail is exceptional, and textures are pristine.

The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is excellent as well. Brimming with life, dialogue is clear, and effects are pulsing and effective. The surrounds give the film an immersive feel, with the musical score adding to the beauty of the experience.

French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mixes are included, as are English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

The Blu-ray edition of Sucker Punch features two versions of the film: a 110-minute PG-13-rated theatrical cut and director Zack Snyder’s 128-minute R-rated Extended Cut. Disc Two offers an excellent Maximum Movie Mode experience in which Snyder methodically details the film’s production and dissects his extended cut.

  • Sucker Punch: Animated Shorts (Disc 1, HD, 11 minutes): The four shorts that are included — “Feudal Warriors,” “The Trenches,” “Dragon” and “Distant Planet” — are actually promotional motion comics that trickled out before the film’s release. Each one provides a backstory to one of the four high-fantasy sequences that appear in the feature film, but they function more as advertisements rather than fleshed out tales.
  • Behind the Soundtrack (Disc 1, HD, 3 minutes): A brief look at the film’s soundtrack with Snyder and music arrangers, producers and composers Tyler Bates and Marius De Vries.
  • Extended Cut: Maximum Movie Mode (Disc 2, HD, 128 minutes): From fantasy to deeper fantasy, from every shot to every CG-blooming action sequence, from casting to editing the film, Snyder reveals all, and does so in a seamless Multiple-Pictures-in-Picture environment, introducing behind-the-scenes footage and other goodies alongside the feature film. Snyder appears on screen as well. A must-see.
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