When you're watching Sucker Punch, I sincerely believe you're gazing into the depths of Zack Snyder's soul. The problem is that Zach Snyder's soul is about a half-inch deep. Sucker Punch is an imbecile's attempt at auteurism, a rehash of a couple dozen great nerd films smashed together into a way-too-long two-hour running time. To remind us that we're just watching a movie, the film opens with parting curtains—deep!—and then launches into the story of Baby Doll (Emily Browning), a 20-year-old who attacks her lecherous stepfather and accidentally kills her sister in the process. She is institutionalized. She imagines the institution is a cabaret club in some confusing pastiche past. Every time she does a sexy burlesque dance in the cabaret reality, she imagines that she is a warrior woman in a series of fantasy worlds, acquiring different tools to help her escape the asylum in the first reality. See, you've got multiple levels of story, plus a voiceover at the beginning and the end of the movie about the power of storytelling and, um, angels. Which, of course, makes it deep. Um?

Sucker Punch doesn't cohere as a movie from one scene to the next. Hell, sometimes it barely coheres from one frame to the next. The fantasy sequences are total compound nerd bullshit: ZOMBIE STEAMPUNK NAZIS! DRAGON/AIRPLANE FIREFIGHT! GLASS-FACED ROBOT (?) SCI-FI TRAIN ROBBERY! GIANT SAMURAI ROBOT MACHINE GUN BATTLE! This is the kind of shit that makes the nerd internet so annoying sometimes (look at this LEGO STAR WARS MEETS LEGO INDIANA JONES MASHUP VIDEO SET TO REBECCA BLACK'S "FRIDAY!" AWESOME!!!!?!?!?!?????!!!!!) but at least the nerd internet is fan-made, with an adoring, low-budget love. That Snyder spent as much money as he did ($80 million by some reports) and that the results are significantly less compelling than a good video-game cut scene, is a testament to his lack of directing skill. He cleaned out every nerd closet in existence and put all those toys together into one movie, and it's still the most boring movie you've seen in ages.

I could spend days picking apart all the awfulness. Somehow, Jena Malone manages to be the worst actor in the whole foul bunch (you have never heard "we're already dead" delivered with such inadvertent comedic gusto as when Malone bludgeons the line). The dialogue is all terrible—Phantom Menace-terrible. But the worst part of Sucker Punch, and, really, all you need to know, is that it thinks it's being deep. Snyder believes he's unpacking misogyny by being misogynist. He thinks he's making the next Fight Club when he's really just rebooting a lame Muppet Babies episode. And he packs the soundtrack with atrocious covers of great songs, without even realizing that that is the truest part of the whole Sucker Punch experience; it's a bad cover of a bad cover of a bad cover of a bad cover, to the point where the original text is reduced to meaninglessness.