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Sucker Punch: The Video Game Levels of Zack Snyder's Mind

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Posted March 25, 2011 - By Guest Writer







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By Adam Rosenberg

Sucker Punch: The Video Game Levels of Zack Snyder's Mind

Zack Snyder, the writer and director of the cinematic ode to video games that is Sucker Punch, is also unsurprisingly a fan of interactive experiences. He told me during a recent interview that Gears of War 2 was his jam while writing today's release. Even now, as he develops Superman: Man of Steel, Call of Duty: Blacks Ops is the dangling carrot he uses to reward himself as he progresses through each day's load of storyboards. 

Sucker Punch is a movie that is structured like a video game. There are expository "cutscenes" that unfold in its fantasy-world brothel and full-blown "levels" painted as action sequences that play out in a variety of environments as the alternate reality rabbit hole extends deeper. "We talked a lot about the [possibility of doing a] game, but no one wanted to make it at the level we wanted to do it," Snyder told me. "Plus, we didn't have the time. That was the biggest problem."

The influence of video games on Sucker Punch is clear, so we're taking a moment now to consider each action sequence and the games that might have informed it. Read on to find out why you're being Sucker Punched in the first place.

Sucker Punch:

Intro / Babydoll's origin

Unlike the rest of the movie's action moments, this open sequence is set in the real world. Star Emily Browning croons a haunting rendition of Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" while a horrifying family scuffle plays out. The action is minimal, but Snyder's unique flair for visuals is in evidence. Babydoll's (Browning) life-changing confrontation with her stepfather carries a very dark and sinister tone, the sort you'd expect to feel from an adventure game thriller or even a survival horror.

See Also: Heavy Rain, Max Payne, Fatal Frame

Sucker Punch

Gearing Up

Once Babydoll is installed in her new home, the story proper begins to unfold. For her first "quest," our lead earns her weapons, a razor-sharp katana and a semi-automatic hand cannon with a pink kitty charm dangling from the grip. I say "earn" because Babydoll faces off against a trio of hulking samurai warrior-monsters. A Skunk Anansie remix of Bjork's "Army of Me" thrums in the background as Babydoll twists her way around swinging blades and hailing bullets. She takes on each baddie individually, in a setup reminiscent of fighting games.

See Also: Mortal Kombat, Soulcalibur 

Sucker Punch

In The Trenches

You've likely seen snippets of this standout action sequence in the trailers for <i>Sucker Punch</i>. Babydoll is a member of a squad now, with four fellow inmates -- one of whom provides overwatch in the mech that she pilots -- following her lead as they take on clockwork undead German soldiers in the trenches of an alternate World War I. All throughout, an orchestra-fueled remixing of Jefferson Airplane's psychedelic classic "White Rabbit" adds extra color. There's a little bit of influence from all over here, certainly with the mech-based combat and trench warfare.

See Also: Armored Core, Front Mission, Wolfenstein (2009) 

Sucker Punch

Putting The Fire In Firepower

For their next quest, our heroes head off to a medieval fantasy-like setting, complete with a fire-breathing dragon. They've still got plenty of bullets, but the action gets more personal here with a larger focus on melee engagements. Skunk Anansie returns, screaming out the lyrics in a cover of Iggy Pop and the Stooges' "Search and Destroy." The action is fast, hit hards and leaves no survivors, save for our brave fivesome. Given the setting, swords and sorcery-like action gaming is the clear inspiration here.

See Also: Heavenly Sword, The Lord of the Rings movie games

Sucker Punch:

Time Is Of The Essence

The film's final major action sequence unfolds aboard a speeding train. There is a bomb on this train, and it is set to blow once it reaches the heart of a nearby city. This a futuristic setting, with a huge number of robot guards posted all around the bomb. Our team of badasses must infiltrate the train, take apart the army of automatons and extract the explosive. A sweeping, almost airy cover of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" provides the backbeat as our girls work to do just that, one robot at a time. The action is of the hard-hitting brawler variety but the setting hints at a larger universe to be explored, like you might see in an hours-consuming role-playing game.

See also: Bayonetta, Mass Effect, Gears of War 


Are you planning on checking out Sucker Punch this weekend?

Sucker Punch: The Video Game Levels of Zack Snyder's Mind
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