The extended cut of Zach Snyder's interesting mess Sucker Punch is online ahead of next week's Blu-ray release. Being an impatient fellow and wanting to see if it was a drastic enough change to warrant rushing out and buying it immediately, I checked it out. Does the additional 18 minutes make Sucker Punch a great movie? No, but they certainly do a lot to punch up the action and somewhat fix the bumps in the theatrical cut.
Rather than rehash the whole plot and review (which can be viewed here) I'm just going to run thru the major differences:
• The opening scene where Baby Doll accidentally kills her sister is clearer because she shoots TWICE; the second time winging her stepfather's arm making it more logical that she hit her sister.
• The "Love Is The Drug" number glimpsed in the end credits (it's still there, too) is shown as a splashy montage early on illustrating the operation of the club/brothel. We see bits of the other girls' dances (which was a glaring omission based on the press at its release) and it eases us into the milieu better.
• The WWI battle scenes are much longer, including cool shots of Jamie Chung's pink bunny mecha, Vanessa Hudgens wasting legions of steampunk soldiers, and much more brutal trench warfare. This was apparently cut to get a PG-13 rating, but it really beefs up the badass babe ratio and should've been left in.
• The dragon castle sequence has more killing and trademark SnyderVision® (I just made that up!) camera speedramping, giving Rocket and Sweet Pea some good moments. All the extended battle stuff gives the other girls moments to shine; the theatrical cut was weaker for their removal.
• Finally, there is a scene with Jon Hamm's High Roller character which somewhat explains his reaction to what Baby Doll did as he did his work.
I noticed a few other odd bits and pieces of business, but nothing drastic.
The fundamental head-scratcher of the movie - what the heck happened and what was real? - isn't really resolved, but in the Cinefex magazine discussing the FX work of the film, such as this...
...being ENTIRELY CGI(!), Snyder mentions that the whole fantasy aspect is based on the structure of a short story I've never heard of called An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge in which a man imagines a whole life in the time it takes to be hanged. While it's interesting that he was using a conceit that's been used successfully before, I'd wager that 99.44% of the people who saw Sucker Punch had no knowledge of the story and the validity of a narrative based on a dying man's final imaginings, so they were left in the cold as far as comprehending what happened. Ironically, Snyder somewhat failed by OVERestimating the education of his audience, not by pandering or dumbing down his story. Too bad.
While the Extended Cut doesn't totally elevate Sucker Punch into unqualified success territory, it is an improvement and I'll be getting the Blu-ray with even more interest in the extras. This is the cut I'll be watching in the future.
Score: 8/10. At least rent the Blu-ray.