Tag Archives: Watchmen

Zack Snyder Films Ranked

Zack Snyder films

With his latest movie Army of the Dead out now, as well as his Justice League released earlier this year, it’s time to rank director Zack Snyder’s filmography.

Zack Snyder is one of the most divisive and polarising directors working at the moment, some people love his films, and other people absolutely despise him. For me, he’s actually one of my favourite directors, and I’m a fan of his movies. He has such a distinct style across all of his movies that some like and some don’t. Looking at his filmography as a whole, he has done so much over the past 20 years, from adaptations of comic book characters and iconic graphic novels, to zombie movies and even animated movies about owls. I’m always interested to see what he does next.

Also for the record, the Justice League movie that was released in 2017 isn’t on this list, even if Snyder’s name is on it.

9. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

4b065bc0ee36d3e4a6545cd253a5105d[1]

Legends of the Guardians is an often overlooked animated movie. I remember seeing when it came out in cinemas, having read the books that its based on. While the story was a little different from the books (from what I can remember), it was quite a decent movie, and should’ve gotten more attention than it received.

One thing that I think everyone can agree on is that Legend of the Guardians is a very well directed and technically strong movie, even with it being an animated kids movie, you can definitely tell that it’s a Zack Snyder movie. This is a stunning movie and there are some beautiful looking sequences. I had read the books years prior to the movie and while the story in the movie really wasn’t that great, it does stand out from some other animated movies. It is also quite dark in terms of its visuals and story, which is always refreshing for a kids movie and made it stand out. I would actually like to see Snyder take on another animated movie, he’s definitely showed himself as being very capable at making one with this movie.

My review of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

8. 300

Zack Snyder had already directed his first feature film with Dawn of the Dead, but his next film 300 is what really put him on the map as a director to really pay attention to. With the larger than life visuals, and the grand and epic scale, 300 really made an impression on audiences and critics alike and was incredible influential on other movies following it.

300 is quite an enthralling film to watch. The actors played their parts well, the story is straightforward and good enough for what it is (and does have a little more to it than just exposed men stabbing each other), but most of all, it’s Snyder’s visual storytelling that’s the highlight. The action is stylised, gratifying and entertaining, and a lot of the shots and sequences are a feast for the eyes and look straight out of a graphic novel and comic book (appropriate given the source material). Some aspects of the direction can get a little too over the top, especially with the slow-motion and some of the digital effects not holding up 1.5 decades later (especially with the green screen and blue screen). Otherwise, 300 still holds up today as a bloody, epic and entertaining watch.

My review of 300

7. Dawn of the Dead

Remakes of classic films are generally a worry, especially when it comes to horror movies, specifically in this case George A. Romero’s horror classic Dawn of the Dead. However, Zack Snyder actually did a great job with his first feature movie, a fast and intense zombie film which is still pretty good today.

James Gunn’s writing paired with Snyder’s direction was a great combination and overall, it’s quite a fun movie to watch. The plot is moving constantly and never allows you a chance to be bored. The film is short but manages to add a lot of emotion, humour and more in that time. The characters are pretty standard and aren’t special, but generally have more characterisation than most zombie movie characters, and are played well by the cast. It does lack the social commentary from George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, but in a way, there was no way of imitating what Romero did with the original, so in some way it was better keeping the straightforward zombie movie approach. It is a good-looking movie, definitely more grimy looking compared to Snyder’s later movies, which fits in with the tone. The action is fast paced and brutal, the zombies are fast, nightmarish and dangerous, and the makeup and practical effects are great. All of these come together to provide some very memorable and creative moments. Full of exhilarating energy, Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead is one of my favourite zombie movies.

My review of Dawn of the Dead

6. Sucker Punch: Extended Cut

04_still_05

If there’s a movie that really started the hate for Zack Snyder as a director, it’s Sucker Punch, which got quite the negative response upon its release. It’s quite possibly his most polarising movie, which is saying a lot. There are some people who love the movie, and others who absolutely hate it. I’m actually one of the people who really liked it for what it was.

This is one of the only two films from Zack Snyder that’s not based on an existing source material. I wouldn’t say its one of Snyder’s best work by any means, but it is certainly ambitious. The narrative is far from straightforward and doesn’t spoon feed you what’s happening, which I have to respect. The narrative isn’t always coherent but I wouldn’t trade for one that was perfectly clear cut. Sucker Punch is also in some ways a female empowerment film, as well as commentary and examination of trauma, misogyny and abuse. Even if it doesn’t fully succeed, I admire the attempt at really trying to say something. The characterisation isn’t great and most of the characters are underdeveloped and underwritten, but the strong cast consisting of Emily Browning, Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish, Oscar Isaac and more make up for that. As typical of Snyder, this is distinctly one of his movies from his direction alone. From the beginning of the movie with the incredible opening sequence to the very end, the visuals are stunning. As I’ve said in other reviews in the past, style is substance, and Sucker Punch has a lot of style. The action scenes are entertaining, and while knowing the context of the larger-than-life sequences being in the lead character’s head does take away from them to a degree, I still enjoy them quite a lot. Not all of the movie works and there’s some messiness to it, but a lot of Sucker Punch does work for me.

My review of Sucker Punch

5. Army of the Dead

74e4d7c5d6bbeab7bf7f27a813775ddf

With his latest movie, Zack Snyder goes back to his zombie roots, while showing that he’s progressed quite a lot since that movie. While it’s not completely original with it being a zombie movie and the plot is relatively familiar, it does still make itself distinct as a zombie movie. It’s really no surprise that Netflix sees so much potential in this being a major franchise for them.

Army of the Dead is entertaining throughout, quite comedic (definitely Snyder’s most comedic film), while being quite dark, and despite the premise of a zombie heist movie in Las Vegas, it’s not necessarily a ‘dumb zombie flick’. There’s a lot of great worldbuilding as it sets up the characters and setting. The characters are great and portrayed very well by the ensemble cast. And of course, the direction from Zack Snyder is enthralling to watch. It is visually stunning (shot by Snyder as DOP this time), with some strong CGI and practical effects. Then there’s the action sequences, which very well shot and choreographed. So far, Army of the Dead is one of my favourite movies of 2021, and I can’t wait to see the spin offs, sequels and prequels that are to come from this.

My review of Army of the Dead

4. Man of Steel

Man of Steel

When I first saw Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel back in 2013, I thought it was pretty good, but I wasn’t quite loving it at that point. I saw it as a solid, visually stunning and entertaining superhero movie with Superman in it. After many rewatches of this, I can say with confidence that it is the best (solo) Superman movie. It did something that no other live action versions of Superman couldn’t do, get me to take Superman seriously as a character and actually get me to care about him.

Zack Snyder took Superman to places that previous live action versions hadn’t yet. The Christopher Reeve Superman is still great but more modern interpretations of the character trying to harken back to that era didn’t quite work (2017’s Justice League being an example). Snyder however makes Superman work today, both in displaying his power and abilities, as well as him as a character. Having the narrative of the first half of the story jumping between the past and present as it shows Clark’s origin story, before then having Zod and the Kryptonians showing up in the second half worked quite well for a superhero origin story. I thought that overall, the story was quite well paced, and outside of some odd dialogue, I really liked the writing. The talented cast also did great jobs, Henry Cavill is still my favourite live action Superman to date, and a cast that includes Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe and more did exceedingly well. Zack Snyder directs Man of Steel spectacularly as expected. It’s a great looking movie, from the cinematography, to the visual effects, and to the production design and costumes. Additionally, Superman’s power is portrayed very well here for a more modern era. It’s also paired with a score which is among one of my favourite soundtracks of all time. Any issues I have with Man of Steel lessen the more times I watch it. In my mind it’s the best live action Superman film (solo at least) and one of my favourite superhero movies. It gets better the more I think about it and I’m glad to see that in the past 8 years, more and more people have slowly begun to start appreciating it more for what it is.

My original review of Man of Steel

My retrospective review of Man of Steel

3. Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Zack-Snyders-Justice-League-2021-e1616004015554

The other 2021 Zack Snyder film made it into the top 5 of the list too. Without getting too into that movie, the Justice League movie that released in 2017 was a crushing disappointment. Fans of Snyder and his DCEU movies didn’t like it and were beyond disappointed, and even audiences and critics didn’t like it all that much. Since the movie’s release, there was a campaign to see Snyder’s full vision. Despite all the campaigning for the movie, it seemed that it would never come. In 2020 however, it was announced that it would be happening after all, and it did not disappoint.

With the 4 hour runtime, Snyder gets to flesh things out, with the story, the characters, and the film’s universe. The characters are great, the returning characters of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are represented much better here, and the same goes for the new additions to the League with Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash. However out of all of them, it’s Ray Fisher’s Cyborg who gets the spotlight here, who really is the heart of the movie and whose story arc receives a much needed redemption in this cut. Even the side cast and characters get to shine more here. This includes the widely panned (at least in the 2017 version) villain Steppenwolf, who in this version gets to do much more here, with a massively improved design, general threat and presence, as well as being an actual character with some depth. Snyder’s Justice League is also flat out DC’s Lord of the Rings. It truly feels like an epic from the runtime, to the chapters, as well as the atmosphere and high stakes. Despite the length it didn’t feel too bloated, when you see the complexity of the story, it makes sense. It doesn’t rush into the teaming up of the League as expected, instead taking its time to build up the story with its characters and the backstories. Despite a lot of people’s perceptions of Snyder, his Justice League movie really is heartfelt and hopeful, and offers quieter and powerful moments between characters (especially in some scenes involving Cyborg). It also does offer moments of levity and humour, but in ways that fit the movie and doesn’t feel out of place. On a technical level it delivers unsurprisingly. The action scenes are fantastic and thrilling, and Junkie XL’s score accompanying them excellently. It’s shot wonderfully, and even the choice aspect ratio for actually ends up working for the film. While it seems that Snyder’s vision unfortunately won’t be continued in the rest of the DCEU, I am glad that we at least got to see this one movie. As someone who was anticipating this movie since 2017, I’m more than satisfied with what we got. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is not only a triumphant comic book epic and a better version of the movie from 2017, but also a vindication for Snyder and everyone else who worked on the movie.

My review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League

2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition

When I watched Batman v Superman in the cinemas, it actually ended up blowing me away. I was anticipating it greatly, but it ended up being better than I expected. The Ultimate Edition was even better, fixing most of the issues that the theatrical cut had (it should’ve been the version that was released). Whichever version is being judged, BvS proved to be somehow even more divisive than Man of Steel, and I’m glad that I’m in the group of people who love it.

BvS was denser than what I expected, there was a lot of plotlines going on considering it was a comic book movie, and was more than just a straight up Batman vs Superman movie (the title certainly didn’t fit the film). I can always watch this movie and be fully invested in the story from start to finish. I love the world that Snyder and writer Chris Terrio had set these characters in it, as well as the atmosphere. This film takes some risks with what they do with the characters, and I thought they paid off. Ben Affleck’s Batman is darker than the character’s past live action appearances, he’s damaged, traumatised, unstable, and yes, a killer. I loved his arc in the movie, as well as his action scenes, with this more physical and brutal take on him. The arc of Henry Cavill’s Superman is great too, with the Ultimate Edition restoring some key scenes for him that were needed. Man of Steel was his first day on the job, BvS goes into how we would react to Superman, and this movie only further cements Cavill as my favourite version of the character. The rest of the cast are great including a surprising Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, with a younger and more complex version than some other interpretations of the character. Snyder’s direction is great again, from the visual effects, to the cinematography, the action scenes and the score. There are some complaints I have, for example as a result of being of it being a direct Man of Steel sequel and with nothing in between, we don’t really get to see a contrast between the public loving and then hating Superman. There’s also some little plot points which aren’t handled perfectly, and you can tell WB definitely got Snyder to combine some elements together to create and set up a cinematic universe. It does have issues, but I still love it. It is one of the boldest comic book movies I’ve seen, with a unique story that is fresh for these characters. Batman v Superman will probably go along the lines of Watchmen, a divisive comic book movie which has a strong following behind it making it a cult classic, both directed by Zack Snyder. Speaking of Watchmen…

My review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

My review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition

My retrospective review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

1. Watchmen

A direct adaptation of Watchmen was considered to be unfilmable, yet Snyder managed to deliver on that in 2009, and in many ways it was ahead of its time given that it was released before the comic book movie boom in the 2010s. Over a decade later it works much better nowadays and is still is a great movie.

Watchmen is not a conventional comic book movie, and like the graphic novel, displays the flaws in the superhero. Overall, I thought it adapted the graphic novel quite well. Having read it, a lot of the changes I felt were appropriate and helped it work better as a live action film. I found the story to be incredibly riveting (especially the director’s cut), containing interesting characters that were intriguing to watch, helped by the great cast especially in Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Billy Crudup. Zack Snyder’s direction proved to be quite a good fit for the material. The visuals are great with the colours and shadows being beautifully utilised, and it’s like the scenes were ripped straight out of the graphic novel. The CGI is great, particularly with the effects involving the character of Dr Manhattan, and there are some fantastic sequences throughout. I’m not sure if this is a very unpopular opinion (it probably is), but Watchmen is my favourite comic book movie yet.

My review of Watchmen

What is your ranking of Zack Snyder’s movies?

Watchmen (2009) Review

Time: 162 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language and sex scenes.
Cast
Jackie Earle Haley as Walter Kovacs/Rorschach
Patrick Wilson as Daniel Dreiberg/Nite Owl II
Malin Åkerman as Laurie Juspeczyk/Silk Spectre II
Billy Crudup as Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan
Matthew Goode as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Edward Morgan Blake/The Comedian
Carla Gugino as Sally Jupiter/Silk Spectre
Director: Zack Snyder

In an alternate 1985 America, costumed superheroes are part of everyday life. When one of his former comrades is murdered, masked vigilante Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) uncovers a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his retired associates, only one of which has true powers, Rorschach glimpses a far-reaching conspiracy involving their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the world’s future.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

I’m a big fan of Zack Snyder. I loved Batman v Superman (the Ultimate Edition was of course the far superior version), Man of Steel, 300 and many of his other movies. However, I have to say that Watchmen is undisputedly his masterpiece. Alan Moore’s unique story was adapted incredibly well (not a perfect adaption of the comic, but the best that we’ll probably ever get). It was not only riveting and entertaining, it was something really special for the comic book movie genre. Although Watchmen was polarising to most people upon it’s initial release, it has gained a cult following (deservedly so), and I am certain that the film will only receive more love as the years go on. In my eyes it’s the best comic book movie ever created.

First thing you should know is that Watchmen isn’t exactly a conventional superhero film. Sure it has beautiful visuals, action scenes and people who dress up in costumes and engage in fights but it’s still not quite like other superhero movies you’ve seen. It’s one of the few superhero movies that I would call a drama (like The Dark Knight, Logan, Batman v Superman Ultimate Edition). This film shows what it would be like if heroes really existed in our world (the standout being of Billy Crudup’s Dr Manhattan, truly fascinating character arc). The film – like the graphic novel – accurately displays the flaws in the superhero. Every character (at least the main characters) have visible flaws, making them quite interesting and feel like real people; it’s interesting watching their stories. It also should be known before going in that this movie is very dark, It’s the darkest and most violent of all the comic book movies ever made (that or Sin City). It’s a bleak world this film inhabits. This film wouldn’t have been as effective if they tried to make it a PG-13/M rated movie, Snyder firmly stuck with an R rating, allowing them to take the story to many levels (in terms of the story, tone and violence). While this turned off many of the viewers, I think that decision really benefited the movie overall.

This movie did have a lot to work with, it being based on Alan Moore’s Watchmen. I have read the graphic novel and I personally think that the film adapted it quite well, the changes made worked well. Some of the themes and aspects of the story were changed which made it work as a movie. While Alan Moore’s Watchmen tackled comic books, Zack Snyder’s Watchmen tackled comic book movies. Also, there are some ways that this movie improves over the graphic novel, especially the ending (if you’ve seen the movie and read the graphic novel, you’ll know exactly what I mean). I pretty much love everything about this movie. The plot kept me interested from start to finish, despite the long runtime I didn’t feel bored (however I do think that the Director’s Cut, which includes 24 minutes of additional footage, is better paced). I honestly think that Watchmen is the best comic book movie yet.

One thing I really like is the casting, these actors weren’t well known when they were cast. No one here is an A-lister and so it’s so much easier to see these actors as their characters. The acting by everyone was very impressive but there were particularly a few stand out performances for me. Firstly, Jackie Earle Haley as the vigilante Rorschach. Even with a mask on his face for most of his screentime he conveys so much with his movements, mannerisms and his voice (especially the voice). Rorschach is a disturbed, almost psychopathic character but yet he’s one of my favourite characters in the whole story, and I’m not alone with that. It’s one of the best comic book performances I’ve seen. Another great performance was from Jeffery Dean Morgan as the character of The Comedian. This character was a nihilistic force of nature, one of the most fascinating characters in the story. Even though he is despicable, a lot of what he says is true, in a very twisted way. Morgan portrayed him excellently, definitely a scene stealer.

The other stand out performance was Billy Crudup was Dr Manhattan, who is such a super powered being. For most of Crudup’s screentime he is motion captured but despite this, Crudup manages to give a compelling performance, he definitely left an impression. His character is very fascinating and Crudup did a perfect job with him. Other actors like Patrick Wilson, Malin Akerman, Matthew Goode and Carla Gugino were also were great in their roles. Matthew Goode also stood out, also in the way that the story turned out (won’t spoil anything here). His performance and character I think is particularly underrated.

The direction of Watchmen is so excellent. As this is Zack Snyder, you can expect the visuals to be great. The cinematography by Larry Fong is absolutely fantastic as always. The use of colours and shadows were so beautiful, it’s like the scenes were ripped straight out of a comic book, which Zack Snyder does very well. The action and fight scenes were also directed greatly, the choreography was so excellent and works so well with the movie (however I will say that occasionally Snyder does use just a little bit too much slowmotion). The CGI in Watchmen is also great overall but I particularly want to draw attention to the motion captured CGI used on Dr Manhattan, it was so well implemented in the film. It was really the only way to bring Dr Manhattan to life and it worked incredibly well (of course it was also helped by Billy Crudup’s acting). The score by Tyler Bates was also great and fitted so many of the scenes. Also previously existing songs worked very well in the film, such as ‘Unforgettable’ for the opening scene. While on the subject of classic songs used in Watchmen, the opening credits sequence (which features Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times they are a-Changin’, is truly excellent, as it shows the history of the Watchmen through brief clips and snapshots. The graphic novel did contain that history but it would be near impossible to show it in the movie. However without any lines of dialogue, Snyder successfully portrayed that on screen and it is beautiful. It’s one of the all time best opening credits scenes ever. I loved every single scene of this movie, the only moment that really didn’t work for me was a sex scene between Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) to the sound of Hallelujah, which was… odd. I guess it was meant to be over the top and hilarious but I’m not sure… I loved everything else though.

Watchmen is my all time favourite Comic Book Movie. With Zack Snyder’s great direction, the excellent performances as well as the fascinating, riveting and overall brilliant story makes this one of my favourite movies of all time. Watchmen isn’t for everyone, it’s not a conventional superhero film, it is slower paced, it’s very dark and brutal (probably the darkest superhero movie out there) and the story is a lot different from what most would expect. But I do think that it is worth a watch. If you’re going to watch this movie, I highly recommend the Director’s Cut, even though I loved the Theatrical Cut, the extended version makes the film much better overall (I haven’t seen the Ultimate Cut yet, so I can’t judge that version).