“Incoherent” is the nicest thing that can be said about Zack Snyder’s ode to the confines of his own overheated imagination. Or: A failed experiment, emphasis on failed.
What starts as a poor-little-Gothic-girl horror story (girl is institutionalized by mean old dad and doomed to be lobotomized) then becomes a senseless, overblown—and, in too many of the wrong ways, creepy—attempt at multilayered storytelling that the movie just doesn’t have the sophistication or wit to pull off. Some of the interstitial fantasy sequences are technically sophisticated; a WWI-style trench battle involving zombie soldiers is a real highlight. But there’s no discernible way these characters could be having these fantasies; it’s all Zack Snyder’s idea of what’s interesting (steampunk! pop Japonisme! dancehall decadence!), forced to coexist whether or not the pieces actually complement each other in the first place. It just makes us lament him not wanting to get out of the way of his own material.
The list of what's wrong threatens to become a catalog. The music calls attention to itself in all the wrong ways. The you-figure-it-out-yourself ending adds insult to injury. In the end, two object lessons present themselves: 1) “empowering” a woman does not mean sticking a gun in her hand, and 2) there’s nothing more interesting than your own fetishes and nothing more ludicrous than someone else’s. (Sorry, but arguments to the effect that the movie is a comment on this concept are laughable.) There’s a director’s cut of this thing, but I can only see it working if it were about seven minutes long.