In years to come when the alien overlords finally take over this pitiful planet and when they ask us what we mean by this Earth phrase “all style and no content”, one bright-eyed protegy — possibly dubbed The New Hope by his peers — will reach into a 22nd Century bargain bin and take out a dusty copy of the Sucker Punch DVD. The alien overlords will snap their fingers, point at The New Hope and nod. “Gotcha,” they’ll say.

The best way to describe the latest offering from director Zach Snyder (300, Watchmen) is to liken it to a five-year-old child playing a pinball machine for the first time. He’s not exactly sure what he’s doing, he can’t exactly see the point, but the pretty bells and whistles keep him frantically flapping the paddles and hoping it’ll all work out for the best in the end.

In summary, it’s not just a stupid movie; it’s a stupid music video for a stupid song that lasts for two stupid hours.

Emily Browning (The Uninvited) plays Baby Doll, a twenty-year-old orphan, obviously abused by her stepfather, who accidentally kills her sister instead of him and then finds herself institutionalised in the Lennox House Mental Hospital For Pussycat Doll Rejects. There, she’s about to be lobotomised when she retreats into an alternative world where she and the rest of The Saturdays fight battles against steam-powered Nazis on Mordor. Or something.

Look, it doesn’t really matter. The bottom line is it’s an excuse to have five attractive young women in basques and fishnet stockings fire big guns and wave samurai swords at monsters that aren’t really there. Go in with that expectation and you may not be disappointed. You just probably will be.

To be fair, it does look lovely. The scenes that have their feet more in the top layer of reality have a wonderful bleached, almost black and white palette. The further we sink into Baby Dolls’s subconscious, the more vibrant the colours become. The effects, when they hang around long enough to be appreciated, are pretty impressive. Sadly, any comparisons with Inception — or with Wizard of Oz for that matter — start and end there. The whole affair has a comic book feel to it and is clearly shot with that medium in mind. It’s hard not to wish it had stayed on the page.

And that’s really it. There’s nothing else there except a possible continuity issue where 1950s cars appear alongside iPods, Björk’s Army of Me and a woeful cover of Where is My Mind? That, and a lingering bad aftertaste in the mouth that this is what passes for 12A material these days. The acting is so wooden that the Greeks could use it to infiltrate Troy, the direction is all over the place and the plot … well, we’re back to the pinball machine again.

I came out of the cinema wishing I’d just stayed in the car, shut my eyes for 120 minutes and thought of something else.

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