After delivering wax-chested, bronzed six packs in 300, the scantily clad ladies of Sucker Punch should prove Zack Snyder is an equal opportunity director. If you’re unsure what his trippy, sexy head trip is all about, don’t worry, it’s simple--bodacious chicks kick butt.
Okay, for a few more details, follow along closely. Emily Browning stars as Baby Doll, a troubled young girl sent to a Vermont mental institution for a lobotomy. From there we enter a series of alternate realities within her vivid imagination featuring fellow inmates Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Rocket (Jena Malone), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) and Amber (Jamie Chung). Her twisted fantasy worlds feature brothels, dragons, World War I gun battles, serpents and samurai swordplay. The girls are aided in their adventures by the Wise Man (Scott Glenn) as they battle to elude their potential captors High Roller (Jon Hamm), Blue (Oscar Isaac) and Madame Gorski (Carla Gugino) in hopes of escaping their ultimate fate in the blurred line between fantasy and reality.
Still with us? Good.
For Zack Snyder, who previously directed the Dawn of the Dead remake and adaptations of 300 and Watchmen, perhaps the most exciting aspect of Sucker Punch is that it is his own original storyline. “I love adapting things and I love making those pictures real,” Snyder says from set, “but I felt like I was ready to not have anyone to [answer to] other than myself.”
The core story of Baby Doll and her bizarre adventures had been kicking around in Snyder’s head for years before the opportunity finally arose to bring it to reality. “I had been working on this story a long time ago and there was this Baby Doll character in it, and she went on these sort of fantasies. Then we just kept talking about her and seeing how it evolved.”
When it came time to pitch it to Warner Bros., the director admits the sell was a tricky one. “Their biggest thing was about whether they felt like it was too obscure, too strange,” says Snyder. “I cut together a little trailer to show them what it could be like. When it’s an idea that no one’s ever seen - five girls go on crazy adventures, and they’re really in a brothel, but they’re really in an insane asylum -- it’s a big deal to get other people to finally [say], “Yeah, sure, okay.”
“[This] isn’t a typical big studio movie in any regard,” says Gugino, who previously worked with Snyder on Watchmen. “[It’s] mind-bending and it will be super entertaining and sexy and the action will be unbelievable and I think that it has an emotional core that people don’t really expect.”
“To me the tone is slightly dark,” says Snyder, “from the point of view whether it’s in the insane asylum or the brothel or these adventures. Everything is dangerous and everyone is trying to find their way and those adventures are all metaphors for what’s happening emotionally.”
Vanessa Hudgens’s street-smart character, Blondie, is certainly a far cry from the singing and dancing Disney world where she got her start. “It’s so exhilarating, I’m having the time of my life,” the actress says from set with a big smile. “This is an actor’s playground. I mean, we get to do some dramatic scenes, we get to be complete bad-asses and fight and we get to be extremely sexy in these burlesque shows.”
“It’s kind of crazy,” says Abbie Cornish, who plays reluctant hero Sweet Pea. “We do so many different things in the one film, whether it’s martial arts or gun work or working with the swords or dancing or singing or acting.”
“[This is] a totally life-altering, completely different type of working experience than I’ve ever done,” adds Jena Malone. Her outspoken character, Rocket, is never afraid to tell it like it is. “It’s like being a kid again.”
Stay tuned for more from the Vancouver sets in the coming months, including additional interviews with the cast as well as details on our tours of the elaborate sets.
Sucker Punch opens nationwide March 25, 2011.