I had to approach this film with two very distinct mindsets. One of these is the fanboy in me that positively gushed whenever trailers for this movie started circulating over the Internet. This had, pretty much, everything I could possibly want in a movie. Attractive females? Check. They have swords and guns? Yep. They fight giant robot samurai, Nazis and dragons? You bet your ass it's got that! Great music? Another check. Visual style out the wazoo considering Zack Snyder is the director here? You better believe it brother. So I loved it right? Right? I had to sleep on it to really let it all sink in before coming to a final verdict.
The second mindset I mentioned is the one that picks apart a film's photography, choreography, scripting, pacing and all that other nonsense that critic types, or people gallavanting on the Internet as critics, care about. These two opposing sides of my mind were in constant opposition here, though I didn't find the cynical more Ebert-esque side of me tearing it down as much as I thought I would.
Let's get to subject at hand before I derail this review any further shall we? So, the premise is simple. Girl loses Mom. Girl is upset. Stepfather is a scumbag who is rather peeved when he finds out who gets the inheritance. Gunplay is involved. Little sister dead. Insane asylum. This sequence of events is taken care of, without words mind you, set to a REALLY good cover of "Sweet Dreams".Snyder immediately hits us with what he does best, visual storytelling, and from there things only ramp up further. Emily Browning's "Babydoll" character will soon embark on adventures of an epic scale along with other insane asylum femme fatales complete with small skirts.
This film was so absurd a lot of the time and moments of brilliance and idiocy co-mingled in such a mire that I started to get lost as to how I felt about it. The script is, well, not very good, but it has good themes it tries to explore what with feminine empowerment and what not. It doesn't really live up to the promise of those themse or explore them as much as I would have liked, perhaps, but they're there! Promise! There's a reality within a reality that also has an imaginary universe as well. The imaginary universe, of course, is the most exhihilarting, but there are good things to be found within the other two.
So, you've got awful to just okay, at times, scripting encapsulated in a visual style that is downright jaw-dropping at times. Snyder, seriously, is at the top of his game here. This fusion of video game sensibility, anime absurdity and just downright badassery (that's right) works so damn well that I was able to get past what would have normally been a deal breaker for me.
His ability to direct fight sequences has only improved since his days on 300, and, buddy, there's plenty o' fightin'. Remember those Nazis I mentioned earlier? They're not just Nazis but steampunk zombie ones. That sequence of trench warfare, Germans and constant bombardment from zeppelins and Allied planes was just delicious. It was a set piece so supple and juicy that I felt I didn't have enough time to savor it all. Oh right. There's also a giant mecha piloted by a rather fetching Asian lady. That is just one example of the next level visual style on display here.
We all knew what this movie was going to be right? The trailers didn't lie about what to expect? Four or five major action set pieces broken up by scenes of girls in way too much makeup and skimpy outfits trying to escape male oppression. That's exactly what we got and the results were not as mixed as I would have assumed.
This mashup was comprised of so many different components that its a wonder the screen could even hold all of without some sort of giant Cherynobl-esque meltdown but damn if it didn't work for me anyway. Perhaps that's the fanboy talking more, but honestly this gets a solid rating from me. The soundtrack will definitely be a purchase for me here in the next few days because, frankly, it was awesome. It has visuals that reaffirm my position that Snyder is trying to, in his own way, redefine what those at the far end of the spectrum in terms of mass-marketing filmmakers can do.
There will be, no doubt, much ado about the sexuality on display, or the exploitation and so forth. There are already tons of negative reviews about this piece, but honestly I think they missed the point. This wasn't high art, though at times it felt that way visually, this was a movie where Zack Snyder got to say "Fuck yeah why not?". My inner fanboy is pleased, but ultimately, the rest of me was too. I am not so worried about "Superman" (his next project) anymore.