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Zack Snyder | Sucker Punch: The Art of the Film

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It's a full-color, large-format volume which not only showcases the film's art but also gives you an insider's view of some of the creative decisions that went into creating its distinctive look.

 

  

256 pages. Titan Books, 2010. $34.95 (hardcover)
 
Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch is scheduled for theatrical release beginning on March 25, 2011 but you can get a head start with Sucker Punch: The Art of the Film, recently released by Titan Books. It's a full-color, large-format (11 5/8" by 9") volume which not only showcases the film's art but also gives you an insider's view of some of the creative decisions that went into creating its distinctive look.
 
Snyder has described his film as "Alice in Wonderland with machine guns," and at one level it's a hero's journey tale about a young woman growing up and developing agency, while on another level it's a fantastical adventure tale involving, among other things, zombies, Samurai warriors, robots and Orcs. The different aspects of the film are brought together in the mind of the central character (Babydoll, played by Emily Browning), a teenager involuntarily committed to an insane asylum whose only escape is through her imagination. Facing immediate peril (she is scheduled for a lobotomy in five days), Babydoll enlists four of her fellow inmates—Amber (Jamie Chung), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) and Sweat Pea (Abbie Cornish)—to join her in risking it all in a struggle for their freedom.
 
That's quite a story—how would you translate it to the screen? The possibilities seem almost endless, particularly since Sucker Punch is based on original material rather than being an adaptation of a graphic novel, and there's a lot to be learned from seeing how this particular creative team did it. First there are basic questions of characterization, which are explored through artist concept sketches: for instance, should Babydoll draw on the conventions of the Japanese schoolgirl turned superhero? If so, how much and in what particular aspects? Once the character type has been established, a real actress must be cast to play the role and outfitted with costumes and props (and in the case of this film, must also undertake some serious physical training in order to be able to look and act the part). The same goes for the minor characters and the physical nature of both the "real" and "imagined" worlds all of which must be specified in detail.
 
I've always been a "how did they do that?" type of person, so I'm fascinated by seeing the stages involved in creating the castle (for instance) from black and white sketches through 3-D models to the finished artistic product as used in a scene. The same goes for the Meka, a robot with a grinning rabbit's head carrying the inscription "Danger! Woman driver!" which, if you think about it, can be interpreted in more than one way. Even if you just want to revel in the completed art, however, there's still plenty in this volume to keep you happy, starting with a two-page spread of every major character as well as lots of smaller photos and sketches (photography is by Clay Enos, who also shot Snyder’s Watchmen: Portraits). I must say that as far as the teenage heroines go, it must be very warm in Babydoll's dreams because they're showing a lot of skin. Every possible fetish seems to have been designed into their costumes as well, including cropped seifuku (a school uniform based on a sailor's suit), corsets, fishnets and studded black leather, so those uninterested in tales of female empowerment can find other reasons to be interested in this film.
 
Sucker Punch: The Art of the Film doesn't neglect the adult characters: Madam Gorski (Carla Gugino), Blue (Oscar Isaac), The Wise Man (Scott Glen) and The High Roller (St. Louis' own Jon Hamm, looking like the second coming of Sean Connery in the early James Bond films) get the same classy treatment as the young heroines. Substantial treatment is also allocated to the physical environments and to minor characters such as the World War I soldiers who figure in the film. Honestly, I have no insider information about the film itself (there are trailers and other information at the official website: http://suckerpunchmovie.warnerbros.com/) but if it works half as well on screen as it looks in this book, it will be a winner for sure. 
 
You can read more about Sucker Punch: The Art of the Film and see some of the art on the Titan Books website and order a copy on that website or from online sources such as Amazon.com. There’s also a limited edition (a numbered run of 750 copies) of Sucker Punch which comes in a special slipcase, is autographed by Zack Snyder and includes an exclusive giclée print signed by artist Alex Pardee which may be ordered from Amazon (http://tinyurl.com/suckerltd). | Sarah Boslaugh

 

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