Girls and guns! Zack Snyder’s engorged magnum opus has plenty of both, in addition to gas mask–bedecked zombies, multiple alternate realities, so-on-the-nose-they’re-strangely-perfect music cues (“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”; “Where Is My Mind?”), and a Polish-accented Carla Gugino essaying a Dietrich-like vixen by way of Maria Ouspenskaya. Now breathe, reader. That’s a lot to take in. So is Sucker Punch, for that matter, which begins in the land of lunacy and ends up somewhere on the far side of deranged.
Our surrogate is Baby Doll (Browning), a cherubic towhead who’s sent to a mental institution in the awesome dark-and-stormy-night opening—the film’s title gets stunningly spelled out in cascading rain droplets—and hatches a plan to escape. All she needs, as Scott Glenn’s dreamworld Zen Master instructs her, is Map! Fire! Knife! Key! (Well, eat drink man woman to you too, honey.) She’s aided in her quest by a bevy of beauties whom Snyder decks out in drool-worthy fetish gear even as the script, which he cowrote, pays continual lip-service to female empowerment. It’s the usual mixed-message muddle one expects from this director (the bizarre warmongering sentiments that have been a staple since 300 show up yet again), but infinitely more idiosyncratic. Such id-bearing at this budget level is a rare bird, and it’s madness worth witnessing. Try this trick and spin it.