The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13/R
Feature running time: 110/127 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Issac, Scott Glenn, Jon Hamm
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Music by: Tyler Bates & Marius DeVries
Written by: Zack Snyder & Steve ShiBuya based on a story by Zack Snyder
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 28, 2011
"A mind bending vision of reality…"
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).
At my son’s insistence he and I went to see Sucker punch during its theatrical run. Afterward we probably spent a good hour discussing it as we attempted to break it down in order to make heads or tales out of what we had just seen. The conclusion we came to which was reinforced after this revisit is that Sucker punch is the equivalent of a two headed coin. It isn’t meant to have a definition per se but in design rests upon an abstract narrative that is more or less left up to interpretation. The story takes place in a 1960’s era insane asylum for girls and centers on Babydoll, a depressed twenty year old that recently suffered the death of her mother and tragic loss of her sister. Her money grubbing step father seeking whatever was left to her in her mother’s will, has her committed. The asylum is run by the head orderly, known only as Blue, his minions and Dr. Gorski, the psychiatrist in charge. It quickly becomes evident that Blue’s intentions are villainous and that there is more going on than simply caring/rehabilitating these young girls. He accepts a bribe from Babydoll’s stepfather in exchange for having her lobotomized to ensure her permanent silence. Blue assures him that when the doctor who performs them arrives in five days it will be done. Babydoll says nothing and quickly sizes up the situation. She comes to the conclusion that she must break out of the asylum before the doctor arrives. The question is how?
This is the point at which the narrative begins to shift and things are seen as manifested in Babydoll’s mind. Think along the lines of The wizard of Oz in that everyone is represented but as SHE sees them. The “asylum” is now a brothel being run by Blue and “Madam” Gorski. The girls are the reluctant entertainment and are forced to dance, among other things, for the cliental that frequent the establishment. She meets four other inmates, Rocket, her big sister Sweet Pea, Blondie and Amber. As part of the rehabilitation process (in the “real” world) Dr. Gorski routinely asks the girls to express their emotions etc. through dance. During rehearsal (in the “brothel”) Madam Gorski asks Babydoll to dance for the first time. She begins by closing her eyes and instantly enters an almost dream like state to find herself transported to a snow covered Japanese temple wherein she meets a lone wise man. She speaks to him and expresses a desire to escape from her confines. He gives her the weapons that she will use and the list of items that she must attain to be successful. Afterward she opens her eyes and is back in the rehearsal studio in the brothel with everyone applauding her “dance” performance. Later, Babydoll discusses her desire to escape with Rocket, Sweet Pea, Blondie and Amber. She explains about the four items needed and outlines a plan to obtain them. Together they form a secret alliance that will require all of them for success.
The second act (and most of the third) is made up of the plan’s execution which takes place simultaneously in the asylum (predominantly not shown) and two levels within the mind of Babydoll. The first level is the aforementioned world of the brothel and the second consists of four worlds (one where each of the items needed for escape must be found and extracted) that are only entered when Babydoll “dances”. The girls enter each realm and work toward their objective as a team under the guidance of the wise man. Each realm has rules and its own set of challenges. At the successful conclusion of each objective the group returns back to the brothel at the finish of Babydoll’s “dance”. As they drawer nearer to their goal the risk/danger increases. With time running out they enter the final stage. Unfortunately something goes terribly wrong…
I went into more detail here than I normally would but wanted to provide some type of foundation. Quite frankly I find the convoluted nature of the narrative to be unnecessary. This could have been a straight forward plotline which would probably have proven more satisfying. According to writer/director Zack Synder it was intended to be left up to interpretation so I guess it succeeds in that regard. I liked the extension of the characters but the surface level story left me wanting. Surprisingly, I must admit that I like Sucker Punch. Not for its well rounded script but for its engaging action and stunning visuals. The coolness factor runs high in the stylized fantasy worlds created from the imagination of Zack Snyder. Watching the five girls go head to head with the variety of baddies large and small, ancient and futuristic is just lots of fun. The use of CGI, slow motion action and eclectic music is well integrated/executed which enhances the experience. There is more than just CGI eye candy with the likes of Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung and my girl Carla Gugino to look at. Bit parts by Jon Hamm and Scott Glenn were ineffectual but didn’t detract in any way.
Having already seen the theatrical version I was curious to see what the extended cut’s additional 17 minutes had to offer. It didn’t add anything significant to the story but did restore an entertaining cabaret style song/dance sequence (the brothel) that featured all of the primary characters. Alright so you’ve read though all of this just to get to the bottom line. Is Sucker Punch worth your time? The answer is it depends. If you can look past its less than gratifying story there are rewards to be found in the richness of its fantasy and execution of its action. In that regard I found it to be the kind of engaging mindless entertainment that I like to sit back to enjoy from time to time.
The PG-13 rated theatrical version contains thematic material involving sexuality, violence, combat sequences and language. The R rated extended cut contains the same plus sexual content, violence and brief language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Sucker Punch Extended Cut comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 23 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.
Sucker Punch utilizes a stylized visual design comprised of various elements that represent the differing environs featured in the story. The asylum and the four battle worlds have a limited color scheme that works aesthetically well for the subject matter. The color range is limited to shades of dark blue, grays and black with splashes of crimson red, and muted sepia tones. Warm golden accents are used to break up the monochromatic essence. Uneven light and shading are prevalent. Contrast is spot on which empowers whites and grays without washing away detail. Whites are snappy and crisp and grays are multi-staged and layered. The sequences that take place within the brothel have deep chromatic emphasis with vivid primaries, golden fleshtones and boldly applied contrast. I find the film’s deep grays, rich blacks and intriguing use of color enamoring. The large amount of CGI featured in the film softened some of the background elements but I didn’t found it to be excessive or distracting. Overall the quality of the video is high. It isn’t always razor sharp but it is cleanly rendered with revealing refinement that increases the perception of fine detail. Blacks are dynamic and gradational and detail in shadows is just as strong. The video has a pleasing, grain splashed texture, that coincides nicely with it gritty storyline.
The 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack presented here is an impressive one that utilizes the entire system to create a theater like experience. This is an engaging and dynamically energized surround mix that features high level sonic detail, superb directional correlation, seamless integration, and frequent use of rhythmically charged bass extension which bass lovers are sure to appreciate. Dialogue is definitive and appreciably lucid through the center channel as it reaches far into the room. It’s located just slightly in front of the left/right speakers within the acoustic space it occupies in the soundfield. I never had any trouble distinguishing even the slightest changes in the pitch or tonal inflection of voices. This is a complex sound design that is loaded with various sound effects, spatial cues, music, and dialogue. Each is clearly represented with enriching clarity, detail and appropriate sound field placement.
This is a superlative audio/video presentation that I find elevates the enjoyment of this action film. Those who like to drive their systems at reference levels will appreciate its transient low frequency peaks, extended dynamic range and high level clarity. I love the stylized high definition presentation which features deep blacks and exquisite rendering that looks terrific on my large screen. Kudos to Warner on a job well done.
- Theatrical version of Sucker Punch
- (HD) Sucker Punch animated shorts (4 segments) – Motion comic style prequel stories
- (HD) Sucker Punch: Behind the soundtrack featurette – 3 minutes
- BD-Live access
- Extended Cut of Sucker Punch
- (HD) Maximum Movie Mode - An uncompromising 360 degree look at the film and its production as described by Director Zack Snyder as the film plays out. It includes trivia, facts, inside/behind the scenes information and is far from your everyday run of the mill BonusView track.
The brainchild of visionary writer/director Zack Snyder Sucker Punch is far from conventional, in fact a little too far. Its abstract narrative leaves something to be desired but I enjoy the richness of its fantasy and the execution of its action. It’s the kind of mindless entertainment that I like to sit back to enjoy from time to time. Warner has done a great job with its release on Blu-ray Disc. It includes the theatrical and extended cuts of the film (on their own discs), reference quality DTS-HD Master Audio sound, beautifully rendered high definition video, and the excellent Maximum Movie Mode bonus feature which is one of the best Bonusview implementations that I have seen. A DVD/Digital Copy and BD-Live access round out this fan friendly offering. This isn’t a blind buy but action fans should experience it. Drop it in your rental queue and take it for a spin. You might just be glad that you did.
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JVC DLA-RS50 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Samsung BD-C7900 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Better Cables, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package