Zack Snyder – Top 5 Films

On account of the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice I thought I’d crack out a top 5 list in Zack Snyder’s honour.

5# Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010)

Legend of the Guardians

So this film lacked in narrative, story, and originality. But in terms of pure visual depth it may be Snyder’s most impressive film. A must for fans of computer animation as over 500 artists and animators poured their heart and soul into creating a spectacularly immersive world well worth drooling over.

Fun Fact: Legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins consulted on the ‘look’ of the film.

4# Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batman v Superman

Again there are issues, but the style and tone are consistent, and Ben Affleck takes to the role remarkably well. It’s an improvement on Man of Steel and contains enough boisterous energy and pure volume that there is bound to be something to like for everyone, perhaps plenty to dislike as well though.

Fun Fact: Jena Malone (Hunger Games Franchise) was cast as Barbara Gordon, but her scenes were cut.

3# Dawn of the Dead (2004)

dawn of the dead

Remaking a horror classic, it’s been done plenty of times, but not often with such success. It’s intense, bloody and moves at a frantic pace. Despite a last act that fails to match up it was an impressive debut that was unique from Romero’s 1978 original. Sarah Polley and Ving Rhames impressed as a couple of the survivors in the post-apocalyptic film.

Fun Fact: George A. Romero watched the remake and confessed to enjoying the first 20 minutes, the rest of it not so much.

2# Watchmen (2009)


Considered impossible to bring to the screen by many previous directors attached to the project but this was an exciting attempt. Bringing the pages of Alan Moore’s graphic novel to life Snyder utilised a remarkable visual palette at times. Again it is not perfect, tangling up at the midway point. But it fails in attempting to achieve greater things, and is a worthy adaptation.

Fun Fact:  Jeffrey Dean Morgan originally turned down the role of the Comedian when he saw he was killed off on page 3 of the script. His agent told him to continue reading as he reappeared in flashbacks.

1# 300 (2007)


A simple story, but brilliantly executed. Snyder first displayed his enthusiasm for adapting graphic novels with this retelling of the battle of Thermopylae. It’s about as historically accurate as Muppet’s in Space, but it’s themes and motifs are resonant, and the images are striking and seismic. Snyder’s never been a concise storyteller, and I think 300’s simpler structure allows Snyder to focus on flourishing his more dynamic visual tricks without sacrificing narrative structure.

Fun Fact: Michael Fassbender’s feature film debut.

This list was wrangled and coerced to exist by Alexander Halsall


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

*Warning – Mild spoiler alert (Nothing that wasn’t in the trailer though)

Having sat back and watched this film get savaged upon release by critics, and succeed exponentially at the box office, I finally had the opportunity to see one of this year’s most anticipated releases. Directed by Man of Steel helmsman Zack Snyder the film chronicles the ideological battle between two of the most famous superheroes in the world, Batman and Superman.


It’s been 18 months since the events of Man of Steel when Superman (Henry Cavill) pretty much totalled Metropolis in his fight against General Zod. Turns out Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) was there that day, and horrified by the destruction of Superman’s altercation with his fellow alien Batman has made it his mission to find and “immobolize” this threat.

Superman has always been a difficult character to translate to screen. His earnest morality makes him troublesome to adapt to complex storylines, especially in a realistic setting such as Snyder’s Metropolis. Cavill does his best to create a compelling character but I don’t feel the script gives him much to work with and his arc seems repetitive and dull. He never seems to develop, and his characterisation is caught between his morality and Snyder’s attempts to create a grittier Superman, resulting in an unclear blandness. On the other hand Affleck’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne as a paranoid, grief stricken man on the edge is much more decisive and interesting. Snyder’s tenacious, visceral; imagery seems to mesh better with Batman’s naturally darker inclinations. This moulded with Affleck’s Batman, who seems like he has worn the mask for so long it has clouded his morality and corrupted his judgement, is one of the films strongest aspects. I wouldn’t call him the definitive Batman, yet, as Keaton, Bale and Conroy have all delivered interesting portrayals of the character in the past, but it’s a very strong start. Jeremy Irons is effortlessly brilliant as Alfred, however his screen time is unjustly limited, while Jesse Eisenberg’s in full scenery feasting mode as a megalomaniacal Lex Luthor. Unlike some I wasn’t as irritated by Eisenberg’s performance and I felt his motivations were one of the clearer threads in an otherwise tangled narrative. Amy Adam’s doesn’t have an opportunity to do much as Lois Lane, again not her fault, whilst Gal Gadot’s small role as Wonder Woman was understandably enigmatic, but I am interested in seeing her in a starring role next year.


The film’s opening two acts are quite strong, with the occasional foible, but things start to unravel following a rather underwhelming brawl between the two eponymous superheroes. The last act is a bloated mess, rather than a satisfying resolution. Superman’s ultimate weakness in the film isn’t kryptonite but just being boring. The film has to cobble together some giant creature (Yes I know he’s Doomsday) for Superman to have an opponent who can match him, whilst Batman stands behind a wall shooting an occasional grenade like a renegade member of the Gotham SWAT team. The films best action sequence? It’s not Batman v Superman, or the Doomsday fight. It’s when Batman takes on a group of about thirty men in a warehouse. It’s visceral, brilliantly choreographed, and one of the best directed sequences of the film. The character feels vulnerable, the hits feel real, and if Superman took on thirty guys in a warehouse it would be incredibly boring because he could do it without trying.

The film has an impressive style, and I think there are some promising signs in the future for the DC cinematic universe, but Batman v Superman does lack clarity and vision. The ideological battle of the two leads is discarded in favour of shoe horning in a CGI knock off of a LOTR cave troll for Superman, and Wonder Woman to duke it out with, whilst Batman occasionally swoops by on a grappling hook. The final act is a let-down, and may be why the film has received a generally negative reception, but the work up to that point was nicely constructed and investing enough to keep me interested for the future of the Justice League.

*** out of *****

Review summoned to being by Alexander Halsall