Moderator Geoff Boucher (of LA Times’ Hero Complex) said he bet on Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch being the breakout hit of this year’s Comic-Con. However, the panel was a valuable lesson that you can’t build word of mouth if you don’t know how to describe what you just saw beyond: “it looked fucking bad-ass.” There are dragons, mechs, ninjas, zombies, fish-net stockings and tight clothes on sexy ladies, guns, samurai swords, and dance numbers. I can’t really explain how those fit into a story without our previously-reported synopsis:
Set in the 1950s, “Punch” follows a girl who is confined to a mental institution by her stepfather, who intends to have her lobotomized in five days. While there, she imagines an alternative reality to hide her from the pain, and in that world, she begins planning her escape, needing to steal five objects to help get her out before she is deflowered by a vile man.
Hit the jump to get the down low on the panel for Sucker Punch.
I discovered this morning that Zack Snyder is not the world’s best public speaker. That’s unfortunate because this is an original property and not an adaptation/remake/etc. Snyder jumps around a lot when he talks. But after he incoherently talked about the film’s genesis, he brought out cast members Carla Gugino, Jamie Chung, Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone, and Emily Browning. Then we all got a look at the trailer.
As you probably know by now, Snyder cuts a mean trailer, which isn’t surprising considering he got his start in commercials and music videos. This one opened with Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” as the main character (played by Browning) is led into a mental institution. Then she closes her eyes and is encouraged by Gugino to go inside her own mind. And then everything goes crazy as we see mechs fight dragons, girls with futuristic machine guns fight zombies, and basically see burlesque crossed with a video game. Hopefully, Warner Bros. will put this trailer online soon because once you see it, you’ll know why it was difficult to describe beyond: “It looks fucking insane.” (which works because of the whole mental institution thing).
When the lights come up, the actresses begin to describe their characters, but my mind was still taking in the visual overload of the trailer. Eventually, I was able to bring my attention back to present and I heard Snyder talk about how the story originated during his time making music videos and commercials. He explained how you need to condense time and place and how you could pack an entire experience into a single moment. He also said that there’s a twist/reveal at the end that’s satisfying and makes the movie more than just a bunch of crazy action sequences.
Gugino also explained that each character has their own kind of dance that is a reflection of self. The way it’s woven into the story is that Gugino “real” character is a doctor who provides “sound therapy”. Malone said the dances are a good way to express the character’s inner turmoil. Furthermore, the dances were done in a Moulin Rouge-like hall, and it was filled with real people that made the dances feel like live performances.
Unfortunately, the rest of the Q&A was kind of flat since the audience really didn’t know what they had just seen. However, when asked about whether or not this would be a PG-13 or an R-rated movie, Snyder sounds like he really wants it to be PG-13. He didn’t flat-out say it, but he talked about how if the slaughter of orcs in Lord of the Rings can get a PG-13, then he should be able to get it with the slaughter of zombie German soldiers.
Ultimately, the Sucker Punch panel didn’t blow the roof off of Hall H. But speaking for myself, I thought the trailer looked pretty cool and I think Warner Bros. would do well to put it online.
Sucker Punch hits theaters on March 25, 2011.
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