Comic-Con: First Look At Sucker Punch

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There have already been a lot of movie screenings at Comic-Con – a lot of big cheers for Harry Potter and sneers each and every time the trailer for Devil, bearing the name of one M. Night Shyamalan, screens.

But I think it’s pretty safe to say that the most heads cocked to one side, and the most jaws dropped in disbelief, during Saturday afternoon with the screening of footage from Sucker Punch, Zack Snyder’s latest concoction.

Little was known about the project right up through Friday, when the movie’s web site launched, leading just about everyone across San Diego to wonder: What the hell is this thing anyway? Five beautiful women with machine guns, backed up by a giant shooting robot with the face of a bunny, all set in a World War I trench scene. Bizarro.

Well, with the first screening of the footage, Sucker Punch asserted itself as one of the trippiest, most hallucinogenic creations to arrive here in quite some time.  This movie is totally, gleefully, unapologetically nutso. And one that will have me talking for quite some time.

The sample footage – shown twice during the Warner Bros. panel – starts to tell the tale: Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is a woman who’s been undeservingly tossed into an old-time mental asylum, and she must escape before she is lobotomized via electro-shock treatments. She hatches a plan for an escape, wherein she must steal a handful of key objects – and each quest, for such things as a lighter, sparks a whole dream sequence in which she retreats from the grim reality before her to a fantasy world where the rules of time and space need not apply. If she needs, say, a knife to aid in her escape, then she has a dream about a samurai sword.

Ah, but now I’ve gone and made the whole thing sound sane. It’s not. This movie is totally freaking insane. By setting this all in a dreamscape, Snyder can do whatever he wants. And he’s used that freedom to jump between time periods and film styles. In the blink of an eye, we switch from a grey, drab asylum to a fire-red, brimstone fantasy universe with dragons that must be slayed, then an ornamental samurai story with giant swordsman who are four times the height of the average human, and eventually a World War I, retro-future fusion, where giant robots and life-size androids square off against German zombies in battle trenches.

The grain of the film, even the color cues – red, blue, black – keep alternating back and forth during the various sequences, all as we get a closer look at these gorgeous she-warriors, dominating over everything from trench warfare to dragon adventures.

So if Warner Bros. wanted to spark some interest, mission accomplished. I was lured in, and won over. Sucker Punch is a story of empowerment and headtrips; Alice in Wonderland meets Kill Bill and Lord of the Rings and Inglorious Basterds and Sin City and Sex and the City. All the talk today at Comic-Con may be about The Avengers, but well before we see that movie, it’s going to be Sucker Punch that has the fanboys geeking out next spring.

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