Bigger Screen :: In Defence 0f Zack Snyder (Sort Of)

April 21st 2011


I said in my negative review of Sucker Punch that I remained convinced that Zack Syder was going to be an important filmmaker. Many people since have asked: why? In this, the first Bigger Screen, I take a look at his body of work to see if there’s anything in my bold prediction.

Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead is a good film, despite having absolutely no right to be. In fact, I think it’s the best in a string of remakes that have infected the horror genre over the last ten years or so (the disgraceful Nightmare on Elm Street being the worst). It’s got nothing on Romero’s original, which is a genuine classic, but it's entertaining, well made, and very well cast. If you want a horror movie to be better than it should be, cast Sarah Polley.

300 (2006)

I don’t have any time for this stupid movie. It is notable for the use of green screen, which Snyder pioneered and which has been endlessly ripped off. I said about Sucker Punch that Snyder is one of the few working directors to be able to build an action scene inside a computer and make it visceral and thrilling, and he does that here. 300 made an absolute fortune, but then again so did the Alvin and the Chipmunks Squeakuel.

Watchmen (2009)

Snyder’s masterpiece, and the basis of my faith in him. I’ll defend this until I am blue in the face. I won’t go into it too much now, but you can find my review here. No one could figure out how to make this into a movie (at one point it was going to star Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Manhattan) until Snyder stepped up and made the straightest of adaptations, with a slight tweak to the ending that I think works better. The film tells a huge sprawling crazy story in an economical way, it keeps everything important, and cuts everything that isn’t. He copped some flack for this apparently underperforming-compared-to-other-superhero-flicks movie. No shit. Its only superhero is a huge, blue, dick-swinging, nude god who spends most of the movie building castles on Mars.

Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hool: The 3D IMAX Experience (2010)

Alright this thing is nuts. I don’t know what he was thinking. Mythical photo-realistic owls having swordfights? It's gorgeous to look at, and the owls are so damn beautiful that you want to call the RSPCA when they start beating the hell out of each other. The 3D is stunning, and Snyder’s trade mark speed ramping (moving between slow motion and regular speed) looks amazing when applied to cartoon wildlife. Plot-wise, though, still nuts.

Sucker Punch (2011)

Snyder’s first movie that is not an adaptation. You can read my review here. Like I said, this is a pretty terrible film and a spectacular financial disaster (at the US box office on its opening weekend it was outperformed easily by Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Roderick Rules). It is not, as some have suggested, a complete waste of time. It’s the kind of movie where a filmmaker has been given a blank cheque to play with all of their obsessions (think of De Palma’s Femme Fatale, or even Nolan’s Incepti


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