By Marty Mulrooney
Sucker Punch: The Art of the Film by Zack Snyder is an official tie-in book for the upcoming blockbuster film of the same name. Director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) is certainly well-known for his eye-popping visuals; this beautiful art book offers an extensive sneak-peak at the film, with detailed production art and stunning photographs by Clay Enos (Watchmen: Portraits).
For me, Sucker Punch is a story of redemption, friendship, imagination, and freedom – and when the curtain goes up, that’s true no matter which side of the looking glass you’re on.
Introduction – Zack Snyder
I must admit, I was quite surprised to see this book being released over a month before the release of the actual film itself. I was also somewhat wary that leafing through its pages might lesson the impact of the final film experience. However, I now sincerely doubt this will even be an issue. Sucker Punch: The Art of the Film remains largely accessible even when read pre-release, offering an insightful look at the film – at least from a visual perspective – without disclosing anything majorly spoilerish. If anything, my anticipation for Sucker Punch has now grown substantially.
The entire book is narrated by director Zack Snyder, with the introduction in particular offering plenty of insight into the numerous visual and emotional themes behind the film. The artwork largely follows the path of the filmmakers: sketches and production art soon making way for model-work, computer graphics and film-stills. There are also some beautiful spreads throughout the book that benefit from the wise decision to let the images do all the talking.
Whatever you may think of Snyder as a director, it is difficult to deny that he is passionate about the films he makes. There is an overwhelming sense of enthusiasm that leaps from each page whilst reading his captions and looking at the fantastical imagery of this book. Sucker Punch is Snyder’s first major motion picture not based on somebody else’s work, so it is really interesting and refreshing to see a world he has created for himself, alongside the characters that inhabit it. It will be even more interesting to see if he can match this strong visual style with an equally compelling narrative when the film releases at the end of the month (March 2011).
Titan Books have published Sucker Punch: The Art of the Film and they have really done the concept proud. A thick hardback book (29.8 x 23.2 x 2.6 cm) weighing in at 256 pages, this is a truly gorgeous collection printed on high quality glossy paper. It should last for many years to come and will no doubt be revisited often; in many ways it is the perfect coffee table book for fans of the film. Titan Books are also selling a limited-edition signed copy of the book here.
I actually enjoyed the production art and concept drawings a lot more than the actual film stills themselves, although I can understand why both are featured; the contrast between the initial designs and the final results are always a pleasure to witness. It is difficult to comment upon how comprehensive the book is; without the film to contrast against, it is unclear how much artwork has been left out. Snyder also gets less wordy as the book continues. The imagery is strong enough to speak for itself, but I did occasionally miss his insight towards the end.
Although I mentioned near the beginning of this review that Sucker Punch: The Art of the Film remains largely spoiler-free, I must issue a warning to readers who purchase the book prior to having seen the film. Entirely out of keeping with the rest of the book, page 118 features massive spoilers that should be avoided entirely. Why these are featured – at least without a clear warning – when the rest of the book manages to remain insightful without being overly revealing, is a mystery to me.
Regardless, this is a stunning collection that confirms, without question, that Sucker Punch is going to be an absolute visual tour de force. Fans of Snyder’s work and film buffs in general should get a real kick out of Sucker Punch: The Art of the Film. If you plan on seeing the film and have an interest in film art, I would definitely recommend buying this book.
9 OUT OF 10