If you've seen the character posters and first trailer for Zack Snyder's next project, Sucker Punch, you probably have a question or two. Namely, what the heck is it about? The answer's simple, I tell ya: It's just another period fantasy grrl power action flick about gorgeous but mentally unstable young ladies who wield samurai swords and machine guns, perform burlesque, and fight dragons in multiple reality-shifting dimensions in order to escape impending lobotomy surgery, circa 1950.
Well, OK. Snyder's 2011 female fantasy epic sounds more ambitious than Watchmen, and half as easy to follow -- at least based on what we know now, seven months out.
That's not to say that it doesn't look like my future favorite film of all time, given the pastiche of awesome concepts and visuals that Snyder's thrown at us so far. After devouring the moody-glam character posters and whiz-bang-boom trailer released last week (which, incidentally, is a different, shorter version of the mind-blowing reel I caught at Comic-Con), I've got my guess as to what's going into Snyder's cinematic blender. Here's how I piece Sucker PunchM together, based on what we've seen and heard:
The Basics, More or Less
Set in the dreary, CG-heightened 1950s, Sucker Punch is about a young female protagonist named Babydoll (Emily Browning, who replaced Amanda Seyfried in the role) who retreats into a fantasy world to escape the hard truth: that in mere days, her evil stepdad will have her lobotomized.
According to the trailer, Babydoll's "real" world is a dark and gloomy mental hospital in Brattleboro, Vermont, where a Polish-accented Carla Gugino tells her in voice-over that she can escape into her fantasy world. "What you're imagining right now," she purrs, "that place can be as real as any pain."
With Gugino's encouragement, Babydoll plans to escape -- and she takes her hot fellow mentally insane patients (Abbie Cornish, Jamie Chung, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens) with her into…
… a fantasy world where the girls, interrupted live in a brothel as glamorous burlesque performers. You'd think that wouldn't be so bad, but then they apparently must leave this fabulous brothel place to complete various action movie tasks, equipped with big guns, B-52 bombers, martial arts skills, samurai swords, bad ass s*** kicking boots, and knives as sharp as their skirts are short. Through a series of tasked challenges, the band of deadly young ladies will ostensibly earn some kind of "freedom" -- and we the audience will be on the receiving end of some cinematic sucker punch we never saw coming.
Alice in Wonderland Meets Shutter Island Meets … Moulin Rouge?
Somewhere in all of this awesomeness, there will be musical numbers. Elaborate, glitzy, cabaret-style musical numbers serving up song and dance alongside all that action and killing. Stylized trench warfare and burlesque -- two great tastes that taste great together?
Clearly, the "down the rabbit hole" plotline can give way to fantastical visuals and the spectacle of otherwise incongruous ideas sharing the same cinematic space. But how do the girls' imaginary exploits factor into the real world? How many levels of reality and fantasy are there? Can Babydoll and her friends actually affect their tragic real-world fates, or is it all one big imagined crazy person's dream?
And is that crazy person Babydoll or Zack Snyder?
Who Is Babydoll, Anyway?
Let's take a closer look at the characters of Sucker Punch, as dreamily (or nightmarishly?) conceptualized by photographer Clay Enos in the first batch of character posters. Each individual piece depicts a different Sucker Punch lady and, presumably, her respective signature outfit and weapons of choice -- along with the specific setting that may prove significant for her in the film.
Emily Browning as Babydoll is a schoolgirl vision in blonde pigtails and a sassy stare who wields a pistol in one hand and a samurai sword in the other. Snow falls around her as she stands in front of a pagoda, suggesting her big challenge will come fighting the massive samurais we see in the trailer.
Abbie Cornish's Sweetpea evokes medieval maiden with an edge -- a pantless, armored dragon slayer shown with a castle in the background.
Amber, played by Jamie Chung, appears to be a WWII-era fly gal who likes lollipops, wears chaps, maybe flies a B-52 bomber and fights with a massive robot. A robot with a bunny face.
Vanessa Hudgens as Blondie is not blonde. She does, however, wear a slick, slightly more updated outfit that somewhat resembles a ninja cowgirl. And the gun. She has a big, big gun.
One thing here is clear: Hudgens is saying so long to her High School Musical days.
Jena Malone's Rocket is harder to read, but she does hold a knife at her side, which promises stabby action. Also, fishnets. Her scene takes place on an alien planet with a helicopter.
So there you go -- pretty much all of the bases of male action fantasy covered in one psychological action adventure-musical movie.
That explains it all, right?