Cheat Sheet: Zack Snyder
Date of Birth:
May 1st, 1966
Place of birth:
Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA
Directing, Producing, Writing, Slow-motion shots
300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, Dawn of the Dead, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
What you probably already know:
Zack Snyder’s latest production, Sucker Punch, has just been panned by critics, though at time of writing it has yet to be judged by the British public at the box office. His feature-length debut was Dawn of the Dead, a remake of the George Romero classic, but audiences first sat up and took notice after his highly stylised, macho comic book adaptation 300. Snyder’s fondness for rich visual effects and gloriously over-the-top slow-motion action shots had the perfect vehicle in this story of 300 Spartan soldiers led by Gerard Butler’s Leonidas to face overwhelming odds against a conquering Persian army full of freaks and monsters. Snyder adapted Frank Miller’s comic for the screen as well as taking the directing wheel, resulting in a wet dream for pretty much any red-blooded male or female, between the fabulously ostentatious fighting and CGI Spartan abs. Best seen in HD on a really, really big screen.
Next up was another, sliiiightly more ambitious comic book adaptation: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen. It met a decidedly mixed reaction, from critics who praised it as a “heartfelt, stylised adaptation. Uncompromising, uncommercial and unique” to those who called it “a bore… It sinks under the weight of its reverence for the original”.
While people agreed that Snyder was as faithful as he could be to the comic (whilst disagreeing whether that was a plus), the film still diverged from Moore’s plot and proved that Watchmen is inherently unfilmable, despite turning out to be the highest grossing Moore adaptation so far. (Not that that is saying much since Moore’s work has been raped left, right and centre. The perils of being a graphic novel messiah.)
Next up for Snyder is (guess what?) another comic book adaptation – this time the reboot of the Superman franchise (working title Man of Steel) which has British actor Henry Cavill in the lead and Amy Adams as hard-nosed reporter Lois Lane. Snyder has said he wants his project to stand apart from the Superman canon. We’re just sure that, in Snyder’s hands, it can’t be more dull than Superman Returns.
What you might not know:
Remember that children’s films about owls with the confusing name? That’s right; Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. You may be surprised such a gore-free film was directed by Snyder, until you realise the clue’s all in the visually arresting CGI slow-motion. Textbook.
Snyder started out directing commercials, mainly for beer and cars, such as the Jeep advert below, which shows some fairly adventurous frisbee-ing. Several of his commercials demonstrate his later trademark flamboyance on a grand scale, putting special effects to good use.
As an offspin of his Watchmen project, Snyder produced a animated short called Tales of the Black Freighter, which tells the story of the comic read by one of Watchmen’s minor characters. An addition for Watchmen fanboys which was never going to make the main feature film, the story follows a sea captain’s (voiced by Gerard Butler) desperate journey home after his ship is attacked by the infamous Black Freighter. Snyder’s involvement with this project was further proof of his own fanboy attachment to Moore’s graphic novel.
Zack Snyder quote:
“It’s difficult to find a movie that feels true to itself. You feel the hand of Hollywood, the moviemaking by committee, on everything.”
What to say at a dinner party:
“The breathtaking spectacle Snyder proffers with every picture recalls the progression of late renaissance artists. He is one of the vanguard of modern visual cinema.”
What not to say at a dinner party:
“Isn’t all a bit style over substance?”
He may be showy and over-the-top but that’s exactly what The Man of Steel (a.k.a. world’s most boring superhero) needs. Screw backstory and emotional depth; it’s all about the slow motion explosions.
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