Blu-ray Review: Sucker Punch Extended Cut

Sucker Punch
Blu-ray | DVD | Video On Demand
Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung
Warner Home Video
Release Date: June 28, 2011

Sucker Punch, a film from Zack Snyder, the visionary director of 300 and Watchmen, is an enigma. After 3 viewings of this film, I’m still not certain if I love it or hate it because, while it has plenty of flaws that would make any average movie crumble like the CGI sets of this movie’s fantasy-in-fantasy, it also has a lot of truly amazing surface level elements that have the ability to provide a real enjoyment of the film. And to appreciate this movie, I think you have to have the ability to enjoy it for what it is: A cheesecake, live-action adaptation of a burlesque poster for the movie Inception. Confused yet? Of course you are! So am I!

So let’s try to clear this up. Sucker Punch centers around the character of Baby Doll (Emily Browning), a girl who tries to kill her abusive stepfather while he is in the act of assaulting her sister. Unfortunately, during this attempted murder, Baby Doll accidentally kills her sister because she is a terrible shot, which is a theme that continues throughout the movie. After the accidental death, her stepfather sends her to a mental institution to cover up the accident and his actions, while also cheating Baby Doll out of her deceased mother’s fortune. The stepfather also makes a deal with the institution’s orderly, Blue (Oscar Isaac), to have Baby Doll lobotomized so that she can never contest her stepfather’s actions.

As the lobotomy proceeds, we are introduced to Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), our first member of the supporting cast, as well as our first level of fantasy. My interpretation is that this fantasy, a burlesque house full of the inmates of the mental institution as experienced dancers, is a shared escape from the horrors of the poor treatment and never-ending dread of inmate life. In this house we meet the rest of the supporting cast fleshed out by the other girls, Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens, who is brunette), and Amber (Jamie Chung). The second layer of existence in this film is also where we see the “plot” play out. Here, we see the girls practicing their dancing, and we get to see Baby Doll’s first attempt at dancing, and these are my favorite scenes.

Baby Doll’s dances lead to the next level of fantasy/existence/shared dream-scape where the girls execute Baby Doll’s plan to escape the burlesque hall/mental institution while also escaping the horrors of the dancers’ poor treatment, sexual assault, and exploitation. To make their great escape, they much gather five items. Two levels of fantasy. Three levels of existence. Burlesque Inception. Anyway, not only are the second-level action-based fantasies the most exciting visually, the lead-in to each of these scenes is absolutely hilarious. Each time, we see Baby Doll start to dance in this incredibly awkward way, while Emily Browning gets this terribly uncomfortable look on her face. Seriously, the movie is worth watching because of how hilarious that part is.

At some point in the movie, you realize you’ve been “Sucker Punched” and there’s where you start to think the movie is making sense as a story, but actually that’s where it all falls apart. Then again, if you think of it the way you did before the “Sucker Punch,” you’ll release it all fall apart long ago. Actually, if you try to think at all, the story falls apart. Some aspects of this movie make perfect sense and have a lot of clever potential, but unfortunately, once you try to marry the ideas, it all falls apart. The twists and turns in this movie seriously don’t make any sense. If you saw the theatrical release, I feel bad for you because if you don’t see a certain scene between Jon Hamm and Emily Browning, then the parts at the end don’t make any sense, at all.

The three layers of this movie — reality, fantasy 1, and fantasy 2 — do not line up at all. There was a character introduced in Baby Doll’s first dance that is somehow familiar with one of the other characters at the end of the movie. The only way this movie makes sense is if this character was a drug-induced fantasy of mental patients, which there is literally no basis for. So, story-wise, this movie is garbage. The Extended Cut makes more sense than the theatrical, but that’s not why you should watch this movie.

You should watch this movie because it’s a blast to watch. The level 2 fantasy is nothing but fun. Zack Snyder and company produce a ridiculously over the top landscape that feature Gatling gun carrying frost giant monsters in samurai gear that attack Baby Doll, Steampunk Nazi Zombies, Dragons, terminator-like robots, awesome effects, explosions, and style. If Zack Snyder knows one thing, it’s style. And in Sucker Punch, he masters his bizarre style that he’s experimented with since Dawn of The Dead and 300. So, visually, it’s a masterpiece.

If you’re looking for a great story with interesting cinematography, then move right along, nothing to see here. But if you want to see a crazy movie that looks awesome and has pretty girls in crazy outfits killing monsters, then turn your brain off and pop this movie in. Just try not to pay attention until Baby Doll starts dancing.

The Blu-ray format is ideal for Sucker Punch, considering the style, CGI, and action, which are all utilized to their maximums.

Bonus Features

Sucker Punch Animated Shorts: This special feature showcases four motion comics that were inspired by fantasy land part two of the film. Each motion comic shows further exploration of each of the distinct “levels,” to use video game terminology. The animation is nice looking in its HD format, but doesn’t explore each of the landscapes in a way that I’d like to see. Overall, I don’t think this is necessary feature due to the fact that, in Sucker Punch, these levels don’t have any relevance, but it’s still a stylish and pretty showcase.

Sucker Punch: Behind The Soundtrack: A very short look at the reasoning for the picks of the songs used in the movie. The attempt was to take songs that complimented the action in the movie, which I believe they pulled off quite nicely.

Maximum Movie Mode: Hosted by Zack Snyder, which takes the viewer on a tour of the movie with behind the scenes features on how the movie was made. Zack Snyder did this one other time with the Blu-ray release of Watchmen, which was also very cool. This is one of the best feature ideas on any film as it gives the viewer a way to explore the creation of the movies. It’s a much-watch for any film buff, especially considering all the visuals in a movie like Sucker Punch.

The Maximum Move Mode feature makes up for the lack of interest I had in the other two, and all are presented in glorious Blu-ray hi-def, so I’d say the special features are definitely worth checking out.

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1 Comment »

  1. There is a Sucker Punch in the movie. I can’t share it without giving away the ending. But at the end of the film it becomes apparent. A sucker punch is a punch you don’t see coming. It can involve misdirection. That is all I am going to say. If you have not seen the film – watch it with this in mind.

    Comment by Eric Fisher — July 17, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

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