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SET VISIT: Zach Snyder's Sucker Punch (2011), starring Emily Browning.

03.01.2011by: Jenna Busch

You've seen the trailer. You know this film is full of hot chicks. But what is Zack Snyder's SUCKER PUNCH about? I was lucky enough to visit the set last year in a very rainy Vancouver. The film is almost all women...women kicking ass! All this week we'll be bringing you interviews from the stars of the film including Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Oscar Iaasc, Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish and geek goddess Carla Gugino. We'll even have Deb Snyder giving a sneak peek at the film.

First off, let's have Deb give you a run down of the plot: “SUCKER PUNCH is a story that deals with a girl, Baby Doll, who's played by Emily Browning. And basically she's been abused by her step-father. Her mother kind of dies in a mysterious way. And something goes really wrong and there's an incident where her sister gets accidentally killed. So her father takes her to an insane asylum. It takes place in 1967, in kind of an alternate reality of 1967. Because in 1967 was like the last lobotomy, so that's kind of how we have it.”

When she gets into the asylum, she teams up with a group of other inmates who are all being given dance therapy by Gugino's character, Madam Gorsky. Baby Doll retreats into her inner life where the girls are actually in a brothel, dancing for the high roller. To escape, they must defeat dragons and battle enemies of all sorts. Interestingly, Baby Doll is the only one we don't see dance.

The ladies had some seriously intense physical training for their roles. Hudgens told us, “My very first day I showed up not knowing what to expect in the slightest and get thrown into three hours of martial arts and an hour of the most intense training of my life.” To keep in good shape, they had what was known as a “clean set,” which was free of snacks that were not earthy crunchy. Certainly a difference from other sets I've been on, which are stacked with bags of Cheez-Its and Pringles. (They are my personal kryptonite.)

We got a chance to tour the set where we saw the room in which Baby Doll is confronted by her father. A typical sixties style man cave. We also got to see some of the brothel rooms, one decorated in red with drapes over the bed (we were told something cool happens in here...I'm sure it does) and one in greens and blues with peacock statues. Don't judge, but I would happily move in to either one.

Then we hit the set they were currently shooting on. You've seen it in the trailer, but it's the WWI set. We were pelted with ash as the girls ran around and did kick ass things with guns. Zack showed us an edited scene from earlier in the film afterwards and it looked pretty damn phenomenal. Emily Browning stopped by to chat with us for a couple of minutes. I have to say, the ladies couldn't have been nicer and more accommodating. Believe me, that doesn't always happen.

We got to see a whole bunch of concept art and in typical Zack style, it was amazing. Please note, I'm a fan of his work. I wish I could reveal what we saw, but I can't give you spoilers or I'll be slain by a dragon.

During our interviews, we had a discussion about this being an empowering film for women, as Deb suggested. Look, I'm all for tough chicks. I have no problem at all with their sexy outfits or their archetype-based characters. I'm just not sure I'd go that far. I'm happy to weigh in on this when I see the final cut. I'm just saying that when we got to check out the costumes up close and personal, it was obvious that these were not feminist dream pieces. They were, however, beautiful. One very cool thing to note...Zack got some of the original armor pieces from EXCALIBUR and used them on some of the baddies in the film. I'd see it for that very fact alone.

Speaking of archetypes, Deb described the ladies this way. “Zack designed them so they're sort of like an archetype. Which sometimes it's from anime, or sometimes, other image of--for instance like Baby Doll is kind of the school girl. And Abbie is a Joan of Arc. She's like this warrior...Jena is kind of, her role, she's kind of the medic nurse type thing, so we see that through some of her costumes and that's what her dance is. And Jamie is actually the French maid you know, so we have her kind of as the French maid in her dance and you'll see little elements on her fighting costume of the French maid too. So we've kind of played with all of these.”

Finally, we got to check out the dance Jena's character puts on for the High Roller (Jon Hamm). Gentlemen, you will thank me for this image later. Malone is dressed up like a sexy nurse with hot back up nurses. She descends in a giant syringe and bumps and grinds and sings in front of an audience full of well dressed extras. I would like to point out two things here. First, all the other girls came out to support Malone during her performance. Second, not one of my male counterparts could drag themselves away from the zillion rehearsals or the performance. No, I don't blame them.

I'd love to hear what you guys think. Are you looking forward to this one? Spill your guts below.

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