Zack Snyder, director of 300 and the Watchmen, brings another visually stunning and exciting film to the big screen. But while this film has the look and feel of a graphic novel combined with classic anime, it’s actually an original screenplay written by Snyder and Steve Shibuya.
The story is about a young girl who is only referred to as Baby Doll (Emily Browning), who finds herself committed in an insane asylum by her evil stepfather who is furious when he discovers that his wife’s fortune was left to her two daughters instead of him. When he decides to take out his anger on the youngest daughter, Baby Doll tries to stop him and ends up accidentally killing her sister instead.
Completely engulfed in her own grief she finds herself taken to Lennox House for the mentally insane where her father and an unscrupulous orderly named Blue (Oscar Isaac), says that for the right price he will forge some signatures and have her lobotomized in five days when the doctor arrives so that the police won’t be able to ask her any questions.
While still in a state of shock over recent events, Baby Doll’s subconscious begins to formulate an escape plan as it pieces together various information that it has been subjected to. But in order to process this information and carry out the plan, her mind takes her from the real world and places her in a fantasy world. In this new world, she is an orphan who has been dropped off at a local brothel where she is held captive and must learn the art of seduction to impress the clients and more importantly, the High Roller (Jon Hamm), who will pay an exorbitant amount of money to be the first to deflower the new girl.
The main method of seduction that the girls use involves a stage performance and individual dance routines. When Baby Doll is asked to perform she is terrified. In order to cope with this, her subconscious takes her from her fantasy world of the bordello and places her further into the recesses of her mind where she is a futuristic samurai warrior and learns from the Wise Man (Scott Glenn) that she must collect five items in order to escape. She must find a map, fire, a knife, a key, and finally one more intangible item that will require great sacrifice.
After her dance is finished, she returns to find that everyone who witnessed it is in complete shock as it was the most amazing and beautiful thing they had ever seen. Knowing now what she must find, she convinces four other women who are also forced into prostitution to escape with her.
While Baby Doll uses her dance as a distraction, the others collect the items needed. And for each dance she does, she returns to her extreme fantasy world where her and her four friends take on a multitude of adversaries that include, orcs, dragons, robots, and dead Nazis reanimated using steam power and clockworks.
It is obviously a very unique and strange film than most people are not accustomed to seeing. But if you’re a fan of anime you will really love this live-action version of the genre. You have all the ingredients. The hot girls in skimpy clothing kicking ass, the swords and guns, unconventional monsters, the creepy brothel and odd dancing storyline, the over-the-top villain, and an ending that’s ambiguous and leaves you a little confused about what you just saw.
So while it may not be the nice neat little package that the critics will love, it really doesn’t matter. It’s a badass film that’s just really cool to watch.