For his fifth feature, director Zack Snyder ('300', 'Watchmen') has finally kicked adaptations to the kerb and created his own story - although his personal vision and artistic ambition have made for one messy and confusing movie. Imagine combining 'Inception' with 'Moulin Rouge' on the set of a Pussycat Dolls video, which is then transformed into a racy Xbox game and you have 'Sucker Punch' in a nutshell.
After a violent bust-up with her sleazy stepfather (Plunkett), the recently orphaned 'Baby Doll' (Browning) is wrongly sent to an all-girl's psychiatric institution known as Lennox House. With just five days to escape her scheduled lobotomy, Baby Doll quickly delves into an alternative burlesque brothel fantasy world and enlists the help of four fellow patients: Sweet Pea (Cornish), Rocket (Malone), Blondie (Hudgens) and Amber (Chung).
In their new home the scantily-clad girls are encouraged by the mysterious Madame Gorski (Gugino) to make themselves irresistible to the customers through their dance routines. Soon Baby Doll discovers that she can mesmerise men with her erotic moves (and Japanese schoolgirl outfits), leading the girls into yet another realm involving machine gun-wielding samurais, Nazi zombies, fire-breathing dragons, metallic robots and a wise man for good measure (Glenn).
While Baby Doll and her crew give the 'Powerpuff Girls' a run for their money as they summersault through the sky on a secret mission to obtain five items that are vital to their freedom, they encounter several dodgy situations along the way. Will they escape from their smarmy pimp Blue (Issac) and the 'high roller' (Hamm) who is soon to pay Baby Doll a visit? Or should I say from the hospital's owner and his creepy doctor?
As there is no time spent explaining why the other girls are in the brothel/institution, we never get to know the characters let alone develop any kind of feelings for them. 'Sucker Punch's biggest problem is an incoherent script that does not try to explain the rules of the fantasy worlds. Baby Doll's dancing is such an integral part of the story, yet we don't get to see a step of it, and instead are forced to endure a repetitive series of off-the-wall action sequences.
It's a visually stylish film and has lots of impressive CGI moments, but it fails to convince that the characters are in any real danger or are being hurt by their enemies. As the story develops, 'Sucker Punch' feels more and more like an excuse to show half-naked women prancing about. It's a bad day when hearing oldies from Bjork and The Eurhythmics becomes the best part of a movie-going experience.
Browning proves to be unbelievably one-dimensional as Baby Doll, and uses the same doe-eyed, vacant expressions and flat delivery throughout. Placing Hudgens, Cornish and Chung on screen together is like putting Madonna, Britney and Christina together for one grand performance: On paper it sounds intriguing, but in reality it's a flump. Only Malone shows a glimmer of personality, but the lacklustre dialogue means that her character never fully comes to life.
Never has a tagline for a movie got it so right: "You will be unprepared" - and wish that they'd lock you up and thrown away the key.