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Blu-Ray Review: Extended Cut of Controversial ‘Sucker Punch’

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CHICAGO – We’ve seen a lot of overly stylized films based on video games and comic books but rarely has there been a movie more derivative of other mediums yet not actually based on one than Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch,” a movie loathed by dozens of major critics (and defended by our very own Patrick McDonald) and recently released on Blu-ray and DVD in a 17-minute longer extended cut.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-ray Rating: 1.5/5.0
Blu-ray Rating: 1.5/5.0

Synopsis: “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).”

Sucker Punch was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 28th, 2011
Sucker Punch was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 28th, 2011
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

With the straight-up hatred levied at this film by most of the critical body, I was naturally more curious about it than most Blu-rays that cross my desk. And I figured that whatever flaws the film may have had, it would look amazing in HD with a matching audio track. And, who knows, maybe the Extended Cut would fix a few of the problems with the flick. Sadly, the biggest problems with “Sucker Punch” would actually be fixed by LESS running time, not more. This is a stunningly vapid piece of work, an action movie in which the style tries to become the substance but can’t even register as a successful action movie.

Sucker Punch was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 28th, 2011
Sucker Punch was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 28th, 2011
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

The biggest problem with “Sucker Punch” is that there are no characters. Sure, there are actresses and some dialogue, but rarely has a film featured less emotional involvement with its protagonists. To be blunt, I just didn’t care. It’s impossible to do so when there are literally no rules to what’s happening on-screen. The majority of the film is basically a series of fantasy sequences with no stakes, little dialogue, and a cacophony of action. It’s not even clear what, if anything, would happen if one of the characters in these fantasies were to die until it’s of importance to the plot. Basically, the movie makes NO sense and barely even tries to do so. It is one of the most purely visual exercises ever put on film.

And I wouldn’t have that much of a problem with that if the visuals were interesting or accomplished. I’m OK with movies where the style becomes the substance. But, save for a few strong set-pieces, most of the action scenes just look goofy. This movie is going to age horrendously as its effects continue to look more bizarrely staged. There is so little actual stunt work and non-CGI going on in most of the scenes that you can practically see the green screen. I’ve played video games with more dramatic urgency and realism. Today.

The fantasy action scenes are bad enough but the audience gets no break when they cease as then the actors are forced to deliver the most “Showgirls”-esque dialogue of the year. Is a line like “Don’t ever write a check with your mouth you can’t cash with your ass” supposed to be funny? Is this all tongue-in-cheek? It’s impossible to tell. And the storytelling that suggests that all a tortured, abused young lady needs to do in order to save herself and her friends is have a rich fantasy life is undeniably misogynistic. One could argue that there aren’t enough action films headlined by women and so that alone off-sets the misogyny but why couldn’t the film feature strong women in the real world instead of this odd fantasy land?

Sucker Punch was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 28th, 2011
Sucker Punch was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 28th, 2011
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

What about the extra footage? I’ve only seen the Extended Cut but I can confirm that it doesn’t have the depth needed for the movie to work and it includes a musical number to “Love is a Drug” by Roxy Music that’s the worst single scene I’ve seen all year. If it had been in the theatrical cut, it would have earned even stronger hatred.

But is “Sucker Punch” really the worst of the year? I have to say no to that overreaction. While it’s a vapid misstep, there’s a certain amount of ambition in Snyder’s vision that deserves a bit of credit. I’m much quicker to write off movies that are nothing but lazy exercises in trying to make a buck than I am movies that swing for the fences and just happen to strike out.

As for the Blu-ray, WB knows “Sucker Punch” will develop a cult following (probably from those who hate it as much as those who love it…the movie does almost feel like it could develop a midnight, so-bad-it’s-good, drinking game following) and so have treated it pretty well. The HD transfer is very strong and the extended cut of the movie contains an enhanced mode for extra behind-the-scenes details. The package also includes the theatrical version and a digital copy.

Special Features:
o Maximum Movie Mode
o Original Sucker Punch Animated Shorts
o Sucker Punch: Behind The Soundtrack
o BD Live Enabled
o Digital Copy Of Feature Film

“Sucker Punch” stars Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Carla Gugino, Jamie Chung, Oscar Isaac, and Jon Hamm. It was written and directed by Zack Snyder. The Extended Cut is rated R and was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 28th, 2011.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

Anonymous's picture

Clearly this is yet another

Clearly this is yet another critic who doesn’t understand this film. Completely underrated film. Yes, you’re right that it will garner a cult following, but because the right crowd who does understand this film will see it, not because it’s so bad it’s good you arrogant prick!

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