Sucker Punch might just be Zack
Snyder’s ultimate ADD statement. At least that’s the impression I got
on the Vancouver set of the film, where I was immersed in the many
nerd culture-inflected worlds that the director was creating for his
new movie. Giant robots versus samurai, dragons versus WWI biplanes,
high speed train robberies on a Saturnian moon, a burlesque show in a
grimy imaginary brothel – all of that and more are packed into Sucker

The film isn’t based on
anything per se, but it definitely reflects Snyder digesting a ton of
other sources and making them his own. When my group made it to the
set things were going as full tilt as the film itself seems to be; in
the morning we saw Sucker Punch’s leading ladies making their way
through a WWI trench, killing clockwork zombie Germans, while in the
afternoon we saw Jena Malone shooting her big stage-set musical
number, surrounded by slinky dancing nurses writhing around a giant
hypodermic needle. And in the middle we toured the film virtually
through storyboards and costumes and props. 

Yeah, musical
numbers. Nobody would tell us just what the songs were, but I suspect
that Snyder will make interesting – possibly anachronistic – choices.
I had always been interested in the film, but it was upon learning
about the song and dance scenes that I really flipped over into the
‘genuinely excited’ camp. This movie could be good, it could be bad,
but it’s going to be pretty damn unique.

So you’re wondering how
this all works. Here’s what I gleaned (and am allowed to reveal):
Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is brought to a mental institution by her
nasty dad. It’s the early 60s, and it’s the very end of the time when
people were lobotomized. In the institution she’s tended by a
Germanic doctor (Carla Gugino) and meets a group of other young,
troubled girls. But when things get heavy in the institution, Baby
Doll goes into a fantasy world where she’s actually in a brothel and
the doctor is a madam. The brothel is also a burlesque house, and
when she and the other girls dance (thus the song and dance numbers),
they go into an even deeper fantasy world. And in that fantasy world
they need to get special items that will allow Baby Doll to escape
captivity. See, in the real world she’s about to be lobotomized,
while in the brothel world she’s about to lose her virginity to a
client (played by Jon Hamm, which makes this seem much less
threatening than it could be).

Jena Malone, Abbie
Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Chung make up the rest of the
group of girls. The actresses came early and were subjected to what
sounds like a punishing exercise and training regime, which reminds
me of what Snyder put his 300 actors through (stories of people
vomiting during the 300 training process were not uncommon). Watching
them on set showed a legitimately cohesive unit; maybe there’s
something to the boot camp theory after all.

As for the sets, this is
Snyder returning to green screen mode, but how else would you make a
movie that skips from the edges of the solar system to a highly
fictionalized ancient Japan? He’s mixing the green screen up with
some pretty elaborate sets, though, much as he’s mixing up some
familiar nerd culture concepts and imagery with original, odd ideas.

Closer to release we’ll
have interviews and a more in-depth examination of the set (Warner
Bros actually gave me a maximum word count on this!), but in the
meantime keep an eye out for clips and trailers for this movie. I
think Snyder is creating something really unique out of some very
familiar building blocks, and in this remake/reboot world, that’s