Sucker Punch comes to US Region Free Blu-ray complete with a stunning 1080p High Definition rendition, presented in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Considering it’s a production that’s all about the visuals (and sounds, but more on that later), the Studios have really pulled out all the stops with this transfer, which makes the most of some of the most visually opulent worlds I have come across recently. Detail is excellent throughout – remaining reasonably strong even through the most effects-driven video-game-like sequence, where Snyder’s ramping literally propels the characters around. There are no real signs of softness, nor of edge enhancement or digital tinkering – like DNR – although it’s clear that many of the characters’ faces have been photoshopped to allow for that picture-perfect look (I already noted Babydoll’s remarkable doll-like appearance). The colour scheme is broad due to the massively variable nature of the proceedings – whilst many sequences take on an almost monochromatic look (including the real-world segments), explosions soon erupt, and glorious oranges and yellows light up the screen in all their vivid glory. And as the dream settings get more elaborate, so do the colours on offer. Blacks are strong and deep, at times bordering on overwhelming as it seems like they will happily enshroud anything else that the image has to offer – but thankfully don’t always do so – and overall this is an excellent film presentation; eminently reference quality and just shy of a perfect 10.
On the aural front, you’ll be just as blown away as you were with the video – if not even more. Sucker Punch pummels its way to Blu-ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which takes no prisoners, and truly makes the most of the imaginative material. From the opening sequence – “Sweet Dreams” playing soulfully in the background as a dialogue-less montage of horror erupts – the soundscape comes alive, absorbing your into the proceedings, and delivering some serious Punch. From there-on in we get a succession of these music-video-style sequences, aurally brought to life not only by cleverly chosen song tracks – Bjork’s Army of Me, Skunk Anansie doing Search and Destroy –but also in-your-face action: gatling guns, bazookas, jet-pack-equipped exoskeletons and the occasional incendiary bomb are just the icing on the cake of assault weaponry; bullets rings out all around you (forget directionality, this one goes for pure atmospheric absorption), explosions detonate and thunder the floor beneath you and swords cut the air before you. It’s a perfect accompaniment for the over the top visuals; far from the intrusive kind of soundtracks that the likes of Drive Angry have – which are just too heavy – this one thrums with LFE, but doesn’t seek to destroy you with it. Instead, it marries up perfectly with the visuals, and does its absolute best to transport you to these imaginative other world dreamscapes, bringing them to life in terms everything from the smaller atmospheric flourishes to the big bang bombast. Demo quality all the way, and a perfect-10 to boot.
Sucker Punch comes to US Blu-ray with a 3-disc set that includes the Theatrical Release on one disc, along with a couple of the extras – the Animated Shorts and the Soundtrack Featurette – and then the Extended Cut on the second disc, which sports the excellent Maximum Movie Mode facility (the third disc is a combo DVD/Digital Copy of the Theatrical Release).
Maximum Movie Mode
After 300 and Watchmen, the Snyder-pioneered Maximum Movie Mode works its magic once again here, on what – otherwise – appears to be a fairly bare-bones releases. In reality, this enhanced Picture-in-Picture track offers up just about everything you could want in terms of behind the scenes revelation and reflection, with video commentary from the director himself , along with his female-driven cast, and a select few of his crew; effects deconstruction with split-screen layering and examination of the various levels of CG overlayed; background footage of the stunts being shot to green-screen; behind the scenes glimpses of the training in weapons and martial arts; and plenty of trivia about the production – some technical, some just anecdotal. It’s a comprehensive, packed-to-the-brim offering which covers all the bases and then some. It’s also the polar opposite of extras packages like that which I recently covered on the Extended Lord of the Rings release, where you get everything but a Picture-in-Picture track. Here, it’s the only weighty extra, and yet it is the perfect all-in-one package for those who don’t really want to delve through several dozen shorter (but no less valuable) Featurettes. Highly recommended for those who enjoyed the film.
Original Sucker Punch Animated Shorts
These Prequel stories, ‘inspired’ by the main feature, don’t wholly make sense. We get Feudal Warriors,The Trenches, Dragon and Distant Planet – each offering insight into the background behind the various dream worlds: setting up the reasons why the samurai were possessed, showing how the soldiers were brought back to life, establishing the ongoing battle between humans and orcs, and – perhaps most interestingly – revealing the robot’s true motives behind their plan to detonate a bomb inside the city. They are presented as partially animated comic-book segments, complete with narration in a couple of cases, provided by Keith David (of Marked for Death, Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick fame), and they are reasonably entertaining on a visual level, but in terms of narrative – they just don’t make any sense. After all, why would the worlds dreamt up by Babydoll have any backdrop to them whatsoever? Ah well, as superfluous extra material goes, these shorts – totalling an extra 11 minutes of animated adventures – are still worth checking out, if only for the Asimov-inspired twist to the robot world.
Sucker Punch: Behind the Soundtrack
Finally there’s an all-too-short – 3 minute – look at the film’s boisterous soundtrack, which just skims over one of the most important elements of the proceedings.
Preview Trailers round off the disc, including a superb extended trailer for the upcoming sequel to the superior Batman videogame Arkham Asylum, entitled Arkham City.
You would certainly be forgiven for assuming that Sucker Punch was little more than a derivative succession of overlong slo-mo montage-based music videos, featuring scantily-clad girls running around in dreamscape environments, shooting assault rifles at an assortment of villains – ranging from giant, demonically possessed Samurai, to Orcs, robots and resurrected, steam-driven zombie WWI soldiers. In fact, it is little more than that – and it’s certainly not the anti-misogynistic production that the Director was purportedly aiming for – but, on a purely visceral level, there’s a fairly hefty entertainment factor involved in all of this. It may well be an exercise in pure style-over-substance, coming full circle after the Director’s success in the multi-layered Watchmen, and returning him to the over-the-top stylistic excesses of his earlier 300, but that film still worked. And, to a certain extent, so does this.
On Region Free US Blu-ray we get spectacular, demo-quality video and audio, as well as only a couple of extra features but, thankfully, still ones that truly make a difference – not least Snyder’s all-encompassing Maximum Movie Mode, which provides just about every bit of behind the scenes revelation that you could hope for, all in a neat, flashy package. And with the option to play both the recommended Theatrical Release and the fan-inspired Extended Cut, those who enjoyed the movie should consider this a truly splendid release, well worth picking up. Newcomers – those who are interested in this female-driven alternative to 300, with its nods to Inception, and with the green screen dominance of Sin City – should consider this also a potential blind buy. It’s a hell of a disc, and, even without the true substance to back it up, the movie provides a very stylish audiovisual punch. Another film to watch purely for the experience – with effects technology getting better and better, and with the high definition capabilities of Blu-ray in your home theatre – it truly seems like style over substance is no longer such a bad thing.
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