Why Zack Snyder thinks his action fantasy Sucker Punch will blow 300 away

Director Zack Snyder has shown his chops for action in 300 and Watchmen and even his Dawn of the Dead remake, but those were just movies with action in them, the director says: His new movie, Sucker Punch, will be something altogether new.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with SCI FI Wire, Snyder said that he plans to take movie action to a level we haven't seen before, well beyond 300 and The Matrix. "Damon [Caro is] my stunt choreographer and fight choreographer, and I like fight choreography," Snyder said in Wednesday in Burbank, Calif., where he was promoting Watchmen: The Director's Cut on Blu-ray. "I'm not a gimmick-based [filmmaker]. I'm not looking to do a big rubber CGI double jumping from building to building and [an] unkillable crazy hero. So I do like sort of hard effects. Give me a machine gun and some kind of cool fighting hand to hand, and let's get it on. To me it's about trying to use technology to kind of just seam up the impossible parts of it, but still stay as raw as you can."

In an earlier group interview, Snyder confirmed that he begins shooting in Vancouver, Canada, in July and goes through January. His preproduction work includes continuing to draw and look at concept art. He also revealed that he has already begun shooting fantasy sequences.

Sucker Punch is the story of a girl committed to a mental institution in the 1950s who uses the alternate reality of an imaginary world to plan her escape.

"The movie is a stylized motion picture about action and sort of landscapes of the imagination and things of that nature," Snyder said in our exclusive interview. "So Sucker Punch was a title that I had had for a long time that really just, to me, was about a pop-culture reference. It's about hopefully what the movie feels like when you watch it, more than a specific 'Oh, it's a story of this person.' It's all stylized."

The lead actresses are going through training for the insane fights Snyder wants them to perform with guns and knives. Emily Browning, Jena Malone, Jamie Chung, Vanessa Hudgens and Abbie Cornish star as the inmates with butt-kicking alter egos. Snyder told us that the characters remain as he conceived them, even though actors such as Amanda Seyfried, Evan Rachel Wood and Emma Stone had been considered before he finalized the cast.

"The characters are the same," Snyder said. "They're all inmates in an insane asylum in upstate New York, so they have personas that they sort of adopt, but it's all imagined."

Perhaps that explains why Jamie Chung could play a character described as a country girl. "I don't know if you'd call her a country girl," Snyder said. "Her icon is kind of tough."

In his group interview, Snyder also added that he enjoys the freedom of filming his own original script. Without the scrutiny of 300 or Watchmen fans, he can change anything he wants, because nobody was attached to his original idea in the first place.

Sucker Punch is due in theaters March 25, 2011.