<i>Sucker Punch</i> | The Set Visit Preview

Vanessa Hudgens is a bad ass.

No, like you, I certainly never thought I'd hear anybody saying those words with a straight face, let alone saying them myself. But after witnessing the young actress pump lead into the gaseous guts of mechanical German soldiers in the midst of a breathy World War I bunker, there's simply no denying the fact that the former High School Musical star has graduated; and for Hudgens, college, it seems, is a battlefield strewn with monstrous warriors that she'll systematically take down alongside a quartet of equally badass young women.

Needless to say, it's a nice surprise. It's a fitting one, too – after all, Sucker Punch is absolutely loaded with surprises.

Hudgens is just one of the many stars that director Zack Snyder tapped for Sucker Punch, his first feature film conceived entirely from the ground up by himself (and co-writer Steve Shibuya) and not adapted from some other beloved source material. With his Superman reboot and the rumored Xerxes adaptation on the way, Sucker Punch could be his last wholly original feature film for quite some time, as well. It's a bit bittersweet; based on everything I saw on the Vancouver set of Sucker Punch last November, I believe that Snyder's latest has the potential to be his greatest by leaps, bounds and other similarly impressive feats.

If nothing else, Sucker Punch is unique. The film focuses on Baby Doll (Emily Browning), a troubled youth that finds herself locked in a mental institution and scheduled to be lobotomized in five days courtesy of a traveling doctor. In an effort to escape from her fate at the hospital, Baby Doll envisions an alternate reality where the hospital has transformed into a brothel, and instead of the looming threat of a lobotomy, a man known as the High Roller (Jon Hamm) will arrive in five days to deflower Baby Doll.

A third layer is added to this already two-tiered reality structure, as Baby Doll ventures into another alternate world where she's told that she can save herself if she defeats a flurry of deadly enemies and claims a selection of prized artifacts in the process. Baby Doll isn't alone in her epic escape attempt, as other girls from the institute and brothel -- Blondie (Hudgens), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Amber (Jamie Chung) and Rocket (Jena Malone) -- are all along for the ride.

Snyder and his team have been quite methodical about what to reveal on the Sucker Punch front thus far, and that level of care extends to the production itself: from set photographers and designers all the way up to Snyder himself and, yes, even the badass Vanessa Hudgens, it's clear that everyone on the Vancouver set of Sucker Punch poured their blood and sweat into creating a product that, if successful, has all of the makings for an unforgettable cinematic experience.

Unfortunately, that's about all I can offer on the Sucker Punch front for now. Some weeks from now, I'll be able to tell you (almost) everything about my visit to the set, including walking through the production offices alongside Snyder's wife and producing partner Deborah Snyder, meeting Hudgens and the rest of the movie's star-studded cast, watching partially edited sequences, viewing carnage and bloodshed on old battlefields, witnessing a seductive dance in the depths of the brothel, and experiencing an ambitious blockbuster come to life.

For now, you have my initial impressions and a brand new image featuring Baby Doll herself, the hero at the heart of Sucker Punch. Hopefully that whets your appetite, but if you're not satisfied, check back here at 5:00 PM PST later today -- there's another Sucker Punch surprise coming your way!

Updated at 5:03 PM PST: The second official trailer for Sucker Punch has gone online at Apple or you can check it out below. Go check it out, then come back here and tell us what you think!

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