Zack Snyder is buzzed. The director of the epic action films “300” and “Watchmen” sort of power-walks into the Los Angeles hotel room where he smoothly slides into a chair to discuss his newest exercise in excess, “Sucker Punch.”

Zack Snyder is buzzed. The director of the epic action films “300” and “Watchmen” sort of power-walks into the Los Angeles hotel room where he smoothly slides into a chair to discuss his newest exercise in excess, “Sucker Punch.”


Just behind him is his wife and producing partner, Deborah Snyder, who, though she also proves to be excitable, is comparatively calm.


“It’s coffee-induced energy,” said Zack Snyder, who then proceeds to explain exactly why his film is called “Sucker Punch.”


“It has two meanings,” he says. “There’s a mechanism in the movie that sneaks up on you. We sort of plant the seed of this thing, and then at the end of the movie it kind of comes back around. I think that in some ways, that’s what the sucker punch is. But also you, the audience, have like a preconceived idea when you look at Baby Doll. You think she’s innocent and sweet, that she’s capable of only a certain amount of things. But I think that’s a mistake. So that has something to do with the title, too.”


Well, that sure clears it all up.


First thing’s first. Baby Doll, played by Emily Browning, has been sent to a mental institution by her evil stepfather. She befriends other female inmates there, then plans a mass escape that will require them to use all sorts of weapons as well as physical prowess to overcome the forces that are keeping them captive. Or maybe all of that is just in her mind. And maybe they’re dancers in a brothel, not patients in an asylum.


Zack Snyder is asked why he chose both tight-fitting and scanty costumes for his heroines.


“Well, they’re in a brothel, and the men that come and watch the show want sexy girls onstage,” he said, taking away any doubt about their situation. “In a way, that’s what we’re trying to say with the costumes. Hopefully, though, the girls take ownership of those costumes, just like the way the girls turn the guns on their captors.”


“They own their sexuality, and they use it as a weapon,” added Deborah Snyder, who then proceeds to praise what she considers the film’s feminist bent.


“A lot of times when you see these women in action films … we’ve seen them being too masculine or too one-dimensional. I think it’s great that these women are sexy, and that they know it. And they use that. And that, to me, is very feminist. I like that they can cry one moment and can be very tough another moment, and they have all this dimensionality, because that’s what real women have.”


Zack Snyder cuts in, mentioning proudly that the action- and violence-filled film is rated PG-13, knocked back from the original R rating it was given by the MPAA.


“From the beginning, I said let’s not make this movie rated R,” he said. “I mean, I know how to make an R-rated movie, and I think I’m good at it. But I was almost afraid of myself, that I would take it too far, that it would just become about that. You wouldn’t be able to get past the sexuality and the violence because that’s all you would see. If I saw this movie and it was rated R, I’d be super-pissed. I’d say, ‘Are you kidding me? This is your R-rated movie?’”


But Deborah Snyder isn’t through with her previous thought. Now she cuts in and is beginning to speak faster, as if she kept right up with Zack Snyder on his coffee binge.


“You don’t want to alienate your male audience, either,” she said. “So you want to make sure that if the women are fighting or shooting a gun, they’re not blinking. And that takes a lot of training. We started training them in April, and we didn’t roll film until September.


“Zack didn’t start talking to them about lines in the film until August. So they did physical training five days a week because they all had to transform their bodies. They each had a stunt double and worked with them, but they did 90 percent of the stunts themselves. Only when it was really dangerous did we replace them. They were mad about that when it happened. They really wanted to do their own stunts.”


There’s a rare, very brief moment of silence, then Zack Snyder said, “No doubt about it, those girls are animals. And I mean that in the best possible way.”