New on DVD/Blu-ray: Sucker Punch (2011)

A few years from now, Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch” will be viewed as a much better film than audiences and critics gave it credit for when it opened in theaters earlier this year. Hell, it might even end up being a misunderstood masterpiece like David Fincher’s “Fight Club”. Remember the general “Huh?” that went up when that movie was first released? Now everyone agrees that it’s pretty damn good. Okay, so maybe “Sucker Punch” will never reach those heights, but I maintain that “Sucker Punch” is a lot better than most people give it credit for. The film arrives to assault your senses on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital Download June 28, 2011 from Warner Home Video.

Close your eyes. Open your mind. Engage in a spectacular fantasy adventure when “Sucker Punch” arrives onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital Download June 28th from Warner Home Entertainment Group. From critically acclaimed director Zack Snyder, “Sucker Punch” is a visually stimulating suspense ride about a girl and her unbelievable journey to freedom. The Blu-Ray Combo Pack includes an action-packed Extended Cut featuring an additional 18 minutes of footage and an immersive Maximum Movie Mode hosted by director Zack Snyder. Born from the creative vision of filmmaker Zack Snyder (“Watchmen,” “300”), “Sucker Punch” features an ensemble cast of young stars, including Emily Browning (“The Uninvited”), Abbie Cornish (“Bright Star”), Jena Malone (“Into the Wild”), Vanessa Hudgens (the “High School Musical” films) and Jamie Chung (“Sorority Row”).

The Movie:

Five girls, trapped in an asylum, must fight in a variety of fantasy landscapes in order to acquire four needed pieces of material to facilitate their escape plan. They are: Baby Doll (Emily Browning), who arrives at the asylum after accidentally killing her little sister; Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), a practical girl too busy looking out for her littler sister Rocket (Jena Malone) to risk capture; Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), who is actually not a blonde; and Amber (Jamie Chung), who, as far as I can tell, is in the cast because she adds to the film’s ethnic make-up. In order to escape, the girls must first overcome Blue (Oscar Isaac), their prison’s warden and High Roller (Jon Hamm), who arrives in exactly five days to lobotomize Baby Doll at the behest of Baby Doll’s evil stepfather. And oh yeah, the asylum is now a mob-run nightclub/brothel where the girls work. Just go with it.

And then Baby Doll does her weird swaying side to side dance and we are transported to a fantasy world where the girls fight a variety of foes, probably because watching a very pale Emily Browning swaying awkwardly side to side isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a good time. This allows Snyder to embellish the film with a variety of ultra stylish scenarios that he’s probably been thinking about for a while now, but could never quite find the right time to utilize them, so my guess is he decided to go ahead and fashion a movie around them. Each scenario is really one huge, extended action set piece, featuring oversized Samurais, steampunk-powered Nazis, a huge flying Dragon living in a castle (in an amusing twist, the castle is under siege from humans, while Orc-like creatures defend it), and futuristic mechas on a train loaded with a bomb. The girls are upgraded with major asskicking abilities for the sequences, of course, since they wouldn’t really stand much of a chance otherwise.

All the fighting within the scenarios are supposed to represent the danger the girls face as they go about enacting their escape plan. Written and directed by Zack Snyder, the merits of the story that makes up “Sucker Punch” is debatable, but what can’t be denied is that Snyder has followed up 2009’s “Watchmen” with a very visually stimulating movie that features some insane action. (And yes, I’m discounting “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”, the CG movie Snyder directed between “Watchmen” and “Sucker Punch”.) The film POPS on screen, and its four major action set pieces are some incredible, mind-boggling stuff, filled with intricate action choreography and close-quarter combat. I dare say, the film has some of the best action of the year, made all the more impressive because all the girls are new to the genre and had to learn from the ground up. Props to them, to Snyder, and fight choreographer Damon Caro. (Thanks to Sno on the heads up on Caro.) Hell, you could just watch the four fantasy scenarios and ignore everything else, and “Sucker Punch” would still be worth the price of admission.

If nothing else, “Sucker Punch” convinces me that I’d love to see Zack Snyder do a war movie one of these days. Not a realistic, “Saving Private Ryan”-type war movie (though I believe this is something he could do, eventually), but something more along the lines of a “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” type adaptation, or even a “Battle: Los Angeles” sci-fi. The guy has the visual flair to turn a chaotic, bullet-strewn battlefield into something pretty damn beautiful, and I’d love to see him put his stamp on the genre at least once before he calls it quits.

The Disc:

The Combo Pack arrives with three discs, holding two versions of the movie, the Theatrical Release and an Extended Cut (on separate Blu-ray discs) that runs 17 minutes longer, and a third disc with the standard DVD and digital copy of the movie.

Special features on the Theatrical Release Blu-ray include 4 “Sucker Punch: Animated Shorts” that totals over 11 minutes, and further explores the film’s 4 fantasy realms that the girls disappear into, including “Feudal Warriors”, “The Trenches”, “Dragon”, and “Distant Planet”. Also, “Sucker Punch: The Soundtrack”, which is exactly as it sounds — a 2 and a half minutes look at the making of the film’s soundtrack. Emily Browning actually sings two of the film’s songs (including the opening “Sweet Dreams” remix), and Carla Gugino (Dr. Vera Gorski) also lends her voice talents to one song.

The Extended Cut Blu-ray contains the Maximum Movie Mode, which allows you to watch the Extended Cut of the film with writer/director Zack Snyder as your guide through every single aspect of the movie. Snyder is an amiable chap, so this is actually a pretty fun feature. This is also a good way to find out what new scenes were re-added to the film. They include a pretty lengthy “Love is a Drug” dance sequence with the girls and Carla Gugino (it was removed because it was too, well, fun); Sweet Pea stealing a new wardrobe; and the Jon Hamm-Emily Browning seduction scene that really adds nothing to the movie plot-wise, though it does give some added context to the lobotomy scene and Hamm’s character’s rather surprise reaction to it.

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Buy “Sucker Punch” on DVD or Blu-ray June 28, 2011 from Warner Home Video.