So, this is another Zack Snyder main dish. A graphic novel spanning epic that he shot-for-shot recreates into a three hour ordeal.
The plot of this one is that Babydoll, a wide -eyed puckered lip petite blonde (true to her moniker), is committed to an orphanage/insane asylum after her mom dies and her stepdad comes after her and she tries to shoot him but accidentally kills her little sister.
Once there we overhear a conversation where her stepfather (who is also a priest?) is bribing the doctor (Oscar Isaac!) to give her a lobotomy. As they’re talking, Babydoll is watching Abbie Cornish on a bed on the stage (idk of course the insane asylum has a room with doll furniture on a stage) crying. Then, the color filters on the film change and all the women in the asylum are made up and dancers. Oscar Isaac has a mustache now. Babydoll is in a sailors uniform and gets a tour of the insane asylum which is actually now a brothel. There are revolving red satin beds and discreet visits from the Mayor. We meet the entire cast of girls, Jena, Abbie, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung and one more I think, in a huge ballet room where Carla Gugino has a pretty terrible accent. She is helping them get their dances ready for “the men.”
(This whole movie is the answer to the question, “Can you have a mostly female driven cast yet still perform entirely for the male gaze?” with a resounding yes! More to follow).
Abbie, whose name in this is Sweet Pea, (everyone sounds like a Beanie Baby) isn’t putting enough heart in her dance for Carla, so she is dismissed and Babydoll is invited to the floor. She is instructed to dance and when she doesn’t, Carla tells her that she was brought here to dance. If she doesn’t dance, then she doesn’t have a purpose and things without a purpose don’t stay around very long and that she must dance to survive. So Babydoll closes her eyes and when she opens them she is outside of a Shaolin temple and it’s snowing. When she goes in there’s an old white man who says some wisdom-y things, gives her a sword and repeats some lines about survival. Then there are three straw samurai monster demons that she has to kill. After she does, by flipping in the air in a skirt a bunch of times and setting the temple on fire, she opens her eyes and she’s back in the dance studio and everyone is freaking out.
Just to pause for a sec here and debrief-now we are in a fantasy within a fantasy world, which is cool- because most likely all this is a hallucination and she is in the mental institution awaiting her lobotomy, so the whole dance brothel is one layer, but then within that there’s these fight montages that happen whenever she dances. So I liked that. It’s like inception but with mental illness and women.
So, then all the women accept her because she is a good dancer. They go back to the one room they all sleep in and Babydoll tells them she’s going to escape. They all want to come (which makes sense because they’re all trapped and exploited) except Abbie who thinks it’s too dangerous. But she is Jena (Rocket)’s sister so finally she agrees because she doesn’t want to split from her sister. So, Babydoll makes a 4 item list on the back of a chalkboard in their dressing room of the things they need to escape. It is: map, fire, key, knife. The general plan is that she will dance and when she does the men will be mesmerized and that’s when someone else can steal that thing. Foolproof.
So then the rest of this movie is kind of just that formula, they set it up, she starts dancing, there’s a fight scene with some otherworldly mission that represents the item they’re trying to steal (when they’re stealing a lighter, they fight a family of dragons) then when she’s done, they have it.
The only problem is that Oscar Isaac isn’t all mustache, he’s got some brains and he starts to notice that things are missing, plus Jamie Chung (Amber) can’t keep her beautiful mouth shut and confesses the plan to their den mother/Carla. So then he confronts them all and Abbie says they should call it off, but some of them still decide to do it so she ends up helping them anyway. Oh also, lots of people play double roles, like someone in one world will be a different person in the fantasy world.
A few things go wrong and the radio that plays the music Babydoll dances to shorts out when they’re trying to steal the knife from the Cook. He stabs and kills Jena Malone then Oscar Isaac (Blue Jones, which would be a great porn name) gets mad and kills Amber and Blondie (Jamie Chung and Vanessa Hudgens. Some joke about fashion blogging here). So now it’s only Babydoll and Sweet Pea and they continue with the plan and Babydoll stabs Blue in the neck and takes his key. They are going to escape, but then when they get to the gate there’s a bunch of men in suits just standing around and Babydoll realizes she has to stay so Sweet Pea can escape. So she does, and Abbie gets out. We see her in line for a bus and two cops try to stop her but the bus driver lies for her and when we see him, he’s the old white man from the temple/every fantasy episode.
Then after she is captured, the colors change back to mental asylum colors and Jon Hamm performs a lobotomy by tapping an ice pick into her eye. He is incredibly startled by the look she gives him right before he does it, and he mentions it to Carla asking why she recommended the procedure. She says she didn’t, and he shows her the (forged) signature on the documents. So the police come and arrest Oscar Isaac and then the screen blacks out and Abbie does a voiceover about how we all have to save ourselves that ends with an imploring “Fight!” Rah rah sis boom bah.
Alright, so, it definitely had more depth than I gave it credit for, but overall- eh? There was too much of the “fighting fuck toy” trope that seems to be everywhere in these movies. And the ensemble cast of beautiful thin women with guns looked like Old Town in Sin City or the Bad Blood video, etc. etc. Also the main character Babydoll who’s literally in every scene doesn’t say more than a few paragraphs the entire movie. A lot of her emotions are conveyed through specific moans and grunts that the audience learns to decode. Fighting grunt, scared moan, triumphant grunt, distracting fake moan, on and on.
It looked cool? I guess? Just a lot of beautiful women being hurt for no reason. 3 out of 10 sailor skirts, would not masturbate again.