As hard as it is to believe, it’s been roughly 11 months since ComingSoon.net was invited to the Vancouver set of Zack Snyder’s upcoming movie Sucker Punch, his first movie based on one of his own original concepts. It could very well be seen as the counterpoint to his earlier hit 300, a way of changing gears after making so many manly-men movies to do one that’s primarily focused on female characters. From our time spent on set, it clearly was a chance for Snyder to wear his influences on his sleeve without having to feel cornered by “original source material” as has been the case with his previous four films.
Normally, you might see actresses like Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone and Emily Browning dressed in frilly period dresses, but last December, we watched the three of them leaping out of a helicopter wearing skimpy lingerie and leather, armed to the teeth, doing the same jump onto a green-screen mat below them over and over. Flying the helicopter–it wasn’t going too far since it was also mounted on a green-screen block–was the lovely Jamie Chung (Sorority Row), who casually mentioned in an interview something about wearing “assless chaps.” Some of the fortunate journalists found out that day that she wasn’t kidding or exaggerating either! The fifth part of this equation is Vanessa Hudgens, who had already wrapped filming a movie that will help her break further away from her “High School Musical” good-girl image by playing Blondie.
Much of the film revolves around Browning’s character Babydoll, who is committed to the Lennox House for the Criminally Insane by her father. In order to cope with her ordeal, her mind escapes into another world where the mental institution is a brothel where all the girls dance in order to entice the male clientele. The other four young actresses play the other girls in the institution/brothel with Babydoll, Cornish and Malone forming the symbiotic duo of Sweet Pea and Rocket, Hudgens playing Blondie and Jaime Chung as Amber.
The rest of the cast includes Carla Gugino, back for more after Watchmen, playing Vera Gorski, the strict madam of that gospel, and Scott Glenn as someone called Wiseman. Jon Hamm appears as a high-roller client of the brothel who has paid a lot of money to take Babydoll’s virginity, but that’s Jon Hamm for ya!
In order to escape from the heavily-guarded brothel, Babydoll and the girls must retrieve four magical items each in a different dimension, including a snow-covered land with a Japanese samurai flavor, one that resembles the trenches of World War I complete with bi-planes, Orc World, a sword-and-sorcery world combining Excalibur and The Lord of the Rings, and a futuristic world influenced by Manga and Anime in which the girls need to jump out of that helicopter onto a speeding bullet train in order to face a slew of robots.
Oh, and did we mention that Sucker Punch is a musical, too? Snyder’s influences stretched as far as Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!, something you could tell from the abundance of red in the fantasy brothel scenes and his decision to bring Marius De Vries on board to work on some of the songs that the girls perform. During our visit, we got to watch one such dance number performed by Hudgens, which was quite a startling contrast to more footage we saw of her shooting her way through a trench full of German soldiers wearing gas masks.
During the visit, we got to see a lot of the concept art Snyder had put together to create the different worlds using a combination of the distinctive CG backgrounds from 300 and more practical sets. We got to see some of those sets including the lavishly-adorned theater (also clearly influenced by Baz Luhrmann) in which the girls perform, some of the equally elaborate brothel rooms including the High Roller Suite, as well as the early stages of the bullet train on which Snyder planned on shooting an amazing bit of action choreography which would require a great deal of planning and coordinating. We were shown some behind-the-scenes footage of what went into planning one of those amazing fight sequences, as well as the dozens of costumes the actresses would be wearing, each one related to the world they’re in.
Snyder is shooting for a PG-13 rating with Sucker Punch, which may seem impossible considering how much of the movie takes place in a brothel and involves fantasy sequences of women in skimpy outfits beating people up, but that was the plan and we have this feeling he’ll find a way to make it work.
Sucker Punch opens on March 25, 2011 and stay tuned for more from the set soon. Look for the new trailer for the movie at 5PM Pacific Time tonight.