Country: USA, Canada
high concept story about an abused girl who gets committed to an insane asylum by her stepdad. she retreats from her reality through an imaginary world. most of the film is dedicated to one of two levels of imagination and we only see the real world level at the beginning and the end.
the three layers go like this:
women’s insane asylum – all the characters are guards, doctors and patients
brothel/dance club – all the characters are bartenders, businessmen, and dancers
fight sequences – all the characters are bad guys of various kinds (robots, demons, etc.) and good guys (the girls)
it’s a cool idea and a new approach to a genre (prison film) that has been done a million times. i typically like prison films – shawshank redemption, great escape, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest were/are all on my top 25 at one point. unfortunately, zach snyder isn’t a good storyteller. he’s got a great eye and his visual style and sense of the epic appeal to this generation raised on video games, but the story and character development are paper thin here and. even. in the watchmen, which should have been a lot better. the film plays a lot more like a video game with the familiar structure of story, fight sequence, story, fight sequence, etc. each fight sequence representing a level and new challenge. they did an ok job of making the fight sequences relate in someway to what was happening in the second level of reality. each fight level had a new song as its theme and they’re all performed by women and, except for one by bjork, were all crappy covers of good songs. search and destroy, tomorrow never knows, and where is my mind are all 4-5 star songs and were all covered to poor effect here.
lastly, there’s the gender studies questions of the film. it’s an interesting film to study from the gender roles perspective because it’s an empowering film on one hand, but then they’re all running around in skimpy skirts most of the time, too. so is it empowering them through sexuality, or are they empowered outside of their sexual prowess, while also being sexual (the modern woman who is both empowered and sexy)? the men are almost all deviants (except, ironically, for david carradine who is the good guy who sets the stage before each fight sequence) so there’s not much gray area there, but that happens a lot in these kinds of films – all the white people are evil in dances with wolves, for example.
on the whole the film is overly long (in part because snyder is in love with slow motion more than anyone i’ve ever seen) and thinly developed from a story/characters perspective. good idea, poorly executed. snyder should get a new line of work as a visual consultant and leave the directing to others. C+.Watched in theater