When I visited the Vancouver set for Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch,” producer Deb Snyder spent an hour of the tour explaining the film’s plot to us, using storyboards, production art, and the sets themselves.
And I still couldn’t tell you what the film will be about.
What was obvious during that set visit just became obvious to about 6500 people on Saturday morning when Warner Bros. premiered the first footage from the film during their panel. Whatever “Sucker Punch” turns out to be, it is absolutely a Zack Snyder film. This is the first time he’s not working from existing source material, and as a result, every fetish and fascination of his seems to be front and center here.
The film deals with a girl named Baby Doll, played by Emily Browning, who lives with her abusive father and her younger sister. When her father snaps one night and murders her sister in front of her, Baby Doll sees it happen. Her father decides to send her to an insane asylum so they will lobotomize her, erasing all memory of his crime. Baby Doll is introduced to the other girls in the asylum, who have all found ways to survive their imprisonment, and as she starts the countdown to her lobotomy, she attempts to rally the other girls to escape. The thing is, the way Snyder defines escape in this movie is a tricky thing, and “Sucker Punch” may well turn out to give “Inception” a run for the money in terms of the way it plays with levels of reality and fantasy.
The key to Baby Doll’s escape may or may not be a physical object in the film, and it may or may not be divided into several different pieces, and those pieces may or may not be hidden in worlds within worlds within worlds.
With musical numbers and giant robots.
Here’s the trailer, which you can see in HD on Apple.com as well:
Insane. What an overload of imagery. You can see Baby Doll being taken into the asylum. You can see her put to work in a brothel. You can see her fighting a Samurai giant. You can see robots and a train and futuristic city. You can see a dragon. You can see an airship crashing. You can see music and dancing and guards and pimps and WWI trenches and a strange alien skyscape, and you can see the girls. All the lovely girls.
Well, at Comic-Con, we saw the same basic thing as the trailer, but longer, and a huge part of it was cut to Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks.” The sound in Hall H is one of the best things about seeing footage in there, and Snyder had Zep cranked so loud you could feel it in your chest. When they repeated the footage at the end of the panel, I was sitting upstairs in the green room waiting to go onstage for the next panel, and I could tell they had decided to play the footage again because I could feel that slow rolling Zeppelin groove through the floor I was standing on. The Comic-Con footage showed a switch from one reality to another, showed everything transform from hospital to brothel, and it established two ticking clocks: Baby Doll is trying to escape the hospital before they lobotomize her while Baby Doll tries to escape before Jon Hamm’s High Roller to visit and break her in.
The action in the film looks outrageous, and the mix of music and fantasy and violence and drama, and the sheer charismatic punch in the face that is that cast of striking young women including Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Jamie Chung, Vanessa Hudgens, and the great Carla Gugino. If you listen closely, you hear Scott Glenn in the trailer, and I’m curious to see how his mentor like character plays into the film in the end.
I wasn’t able to stay for the panel after Snyder introduced the footage the first time, but I can say that I’m excited to see what Snyder’s got up his sleeve next March. I have a feeling we won’t see anything else like it next spring, and that’s certainly something that comes at a premium these days.
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