What a disaster.
The on-paper concept - if there ever was such a thing and not just the fevered ramblings of Zack Snyder in a lonesome alley - must have clearly been incredible. There is enough geek nirvana here to last an entire comic-con. Girls in skimpy outfits kicking ass? Check. Nazi robot monsters? Check. 20-feet mecha-samurais with Gatling guns? Fantasy worlds straight out of a video game? Dreams within dreams? Check, check, and check. The inception (ha!) of the idea was likely filled with gleeful laughter and the excitement an 8-year-old gets when he writes his first comic book.
The film never grows beyond that 8-year-old geek's ramblings, however. Described as Alice In Wonderland with guns by the makers, this is more Spice Girls: The Canceled Video Game. The visuals are not backed by any semblance of a forward-moving plot, with the graphics overpowering everything we have come to expect from cinema. Vision, story, music, you name it, it's absent.
This isn't an edgy art-house movie making a comment either - every time anything naughty enough to incur the wrath of the MPAA is introduced, another layer of the monster-bashing dreams is unleashed. Why have edgy representations of the human mind when we can show bondage-wearing girls fight dragons? The female empowerment/exploitation themes that the flick tries to wrestle with are laughable - serving the same visual agenda as those it tries to wag a finger at.
Emily Browning leads the cast of sexy ninja girls, who in reality are in a version of the '50s which is completely and utterly bleak. If this was a German art-house film, the opening would be in complete black. A succession of traumas lead Browning to a nightmare asylum-brothel hybrid where every attempt to exploit or lobotomise her is a new dream she must fight in to survive.
While the girls she teams up with and her collective imagination together make for a vivid, strange place, I fear Zack Snyder's mind is stranger - the visuals completely take over the narrative, or even the world logic they try to create. This isn't a film so much as it is a string of cool-looking screenshots with an extremely boring momentum.
The style overpowers the substance - nay, suffocates it - and strides the same black-and-white world-view Snyder's films have usually espoused. The actresses seem to be spewing the completely tone-deaf writing by Zack Snyder and co-writer Steve Shibuya with disdain for dialogue and script. It is likely they caught that from the filmmakers.
Nothing about the flick is worth writing about, except the style. It looks phenomenal, for what it is worth - the never-ending series of mind-blowing imagery - but feels hollow and dull. Unless you want to carry visual images in your head to help you plan your next role-playing session, avoid this one like the plague.