If there is one thing that I could say about this film – it certainly lives up to it’s tagline “You will be un-prepared”. I don’t think anything can quite prepare you the spectacles that this film demonstrates. That said the film is also somewhat disappointing in the ways that it just doesn’t work and seems to fall apart at the end of the film.
As with any Zack Synder film, it’s a very stylised production to watch – there’s lots of sudden slow downs followed by fast-forwards etc as the main characters wade through armies of strange and mystical creatures. The opening of the film in particular is stunning hinting at some very difficult ideas in a very clever manner, unfortunately as the film progresses some of this is lost.
The basic concept of the film is the main character copes with the real world situations that they have been put into by imagining a fantasy world which they have more control over – a clever idea but things get more confused when you get layers within layers. The character then goes on to gain weapons, and to lead a series of missions to get items that she – and other inmates of the mental asylum they’re being held in – need to escape leading to deeper fantasy worlds, for example trenches inhabited by Steam powered Nazis, or a fantasy castle complete with Dragon. It’s in these deeper fantasy’s that the film really finds its strengths – as a small squad takes on huge armies, battling to obtain the objective (e.g. a map). In a way it’s very much like levels of a computer game. The only flaw I found with these is despite the very different locals that they occur in, they very quickly become samey and repetitive – the characters go in, shoot some creatures, get the item, encounter a problem, solve the problem, leave, rinse, repeat, etc. The way that these sequences are shot is normally so blurry as well it’s can be really hard to see what’s going on, not really helping you feel an involvement with the film. I feel that I should note that the first of these sequences is by far the best featuring the main character alone against three giant samurai – it shows a bit more thought and care than the later sequences where it does descend into a melee of gun shots and mirror surfaces (one more impressive shot following a bullet over a room watching the reflection in the bullet shell).
The trouble is as good as this all is it doesn’t really offer any substance to the film. The majority of the film (ie the bits set in the asylum/nightclub) I found were at best uninteresting/confusing and at worst so boring I almost fell asleep. It just seemed flat and all the style and finesse that was shown in other sequences just completely disappeared into a fairly drab monotone world. I found as the film progressed I lost more and more interest, getting to the end where it was really a case of struggling to hold my attention before the twist ending (though in fairness I didn’t see this coming).
The ending I also have issues with it seems that a lot of major moments are crammed into the same 5 minutes – trying to keep this spoiler free – I think it’s an attempt at having impact but surely the imact would’ve been greater if this was spread over the film – building more a sense of jeopardy though each of the steps which just seems to be lacking. The end of the film feels a jumbled mess where they’ve built up such a complex structure that they can’t fully pull it back together to make a sensible ending to the story. Any power and impact that the ending is supposed to have just gets lost in the whirl of confusion.
I really wanted to sit back and enjoy this film – the trailers looked fantastic showing some sequences that looked truly amazing. My friend Shaun persuaded me to come and see this film a second time, to give it that second chance to see if it lived more up to it’s potential and I just found myself sitting there getting fed up with the film and not enjoying it – I really wish I could be more positive about the film, I just found that it was a mess that just didn’t keep my attention (even with hot girls running around in skimpy outfits!).