I Spent 24 Hours Watching All Of Zack Snyder’s Movies
I readied my breakfast, I ate heartily. Then, I dined on all of Zack Snyder’s movies in one day. The question is: was it heaven, or hell?
Once a cynic rendered cynical by Batman v Superman (the theatrical cut, that is), I became swept up in the hype for the Snyder Cut of Justice League. Having now seen it, I can confirm: it’s actually rather good, and a dream come true for his loyal fans.
In the days prior to my screening, I embarked on a mission to watch all of the director’s works in the space of 24 hours (the 2017 release of Justice League was not included, for obvious reasons).
In order to illustrate the toll of this Snyderthon, I took notes of my unravelling mental and physical state throughout, which I have condensed into this piece for clarity. ‘What are you waiting for? Do it!’
Dawn of the Dead
As I sit here at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning, Stereophonics’ Have a Nice Day pre-empting the apocalypse seems particularly apt. My first movie is Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead, a relatively well-received, utterly ferocious genre flick that hopped on the new-millennium trend of fast zombies.
Already, it feels heavy-going. The young girl who munches on Sarah Polley’s husband’s neck traumatised me as a child, and its aftershocks are being felt now.
By the time they arrive at the mall, cruising past Snyder’s first use of a music montage – this time with Johnny Cash’s The Man Comes Around, before a jazz cover of Down with the Sickness later – I’m desperately craving a game of Dead Rising. The Winchester’s all well and good, but this is the place to be.
George A. Romero’s original is more intelligent, there’s no doubt. But this is scarier, more vicious, with a zombie baby that’s mercilessly (and rightfully) shot and an ending to drop your jaw. Need to take a breather.
There’s no room for softness… no place for weakness. I march bravely on to 300, an ideal movie for the tweenage me: outrageously stylish, bloody violence and unnecessary nudity. Let’s see if it holds up.
After watching children beat each other to a pulp and so many ab-tacular shots, I suspect I may have outgrown it. Then comes Gerard Butler’s iconic ‘This is Sparta!’ kick – I’m back on board as the Persian forces fall into the endless hole.
I have no idea what’s really happening in some areas. After the befuddling scene of the woman doing her best ‘Rainbow Rhythms’ dance, I Google the ‘Carnea’ to learn more. Of course, it doesn’t really matter; I’m here for battles and one-liners. ‘Our arrows will blot out the sun,’ one downed commander says. ‘Then we will fight in the shade,’ Michael Fassbender replies. Forgot he was here, what a pleasant surprise.
The tiredness begins to creep. My affection for 300 has definitely expired. Sure, it has a tragic, triumphant ending. But it’s all just nonsense – a shame, really.
One of my favourite Snyder movies, polarising upon release and now. From that opening splash of yellow, I am 100% in (even looking past the pretty measly Richard Nixon). I’ve opted for the theatrical cut; Snyder may prefer the Director’s Cut, and I even own the Ultimate Cut, but this is my favourite of the three.
God, the opening fight with The Comedian and intruder to the melancholy of Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable might be the best thing the director has ever filmed. Beautiful and brutal, bringing Dave Gibbons’ artwork to life in a way befitting of the song. The double-tap of this and The Times They Are A-Changing montage is irresistible.
In 2009, I was far too young to see it in cinemas. My parents went and were hugely unimpressed, even coming close to walking out. They’d continually refer to it as the ‘blue penis’ movie, and when I eventually got my hands on the film, they’d use that descriptor in mocking me for enjoying it. ‘You just love all the blue penises,’ they’d joke.
With that, I say with absolute certainty: while Jackie Earle Haley’s Rorschach comes close, Billy Crudup’s Dr. Manhattan is the best component here. His casting is a masterstroke, his origin is heartbreaking and mesmerising, and you completely forget the motion-capture. I love every single scene – yes, even the blue penis ones.
It is long though, and a little convoluted in its translation to the scene. Also, the Hallelujah sex scene between Patrick Wilson (an underrated talent, I’d add) and Malin Åkerman will probably be my first step towards insanity today.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
After making myself some lunch, I anxiously sit down to the most perplexing movie on the entire list: the owl movie, as I dubbed it to friends in apprehension. Pros: it’s just more than 90 minutes long. Cons: it’s a fantasy movie about owls.
All I can think about is Happy Feet and that one scene from The Polar Express with the bird flying with the ticket. I can’t help but feel this film’s visual inspirations come from a blend of the two. ‘You’re gonna give her daymares,’ one senior owl warns. I feel like I’m having one right now.
Okay, I can’t fault the CGI. It’s incredible, even breathtaking at times. It also has Snyder’s touch tone-wise, with real darkness in the fight between good and evil. But for the most-part, I’m just confused at this film’s existence; I feel no animosity towards it, just bewilderment.
I feel like my soul left my body with the Owl City needle-drop. Also, how did this film get Lisa Gerrard on the soundtrack? If we’re looking back at the 2010s of cinema, this is a true anomaly.
Jesus Christ. Sucker Punch. How could I forget about Sucker Punch? I vividly remember this film coming out, but I barely recall seeing it. It is often said to be Snyder’s worst film, but maybe it won’t be as bad as I’m expecting. I go in with optimism, with the smell of Krypton in the distance.
So we have a woman who’s sent to a mental institution for a lobotomy by her evil stepfather, in which she copes by envisioning it as a brothel, as well as seeing herself and her ‘colleagues’ as gravity-defying, ultra-mercenaries. It’s certainly different, I’ll give it that.
Scratch that: this is woeful. One use of a split dioptre nearly fooled me into thinking there was some art here, but with egregious covers of songs like Where Is My Mind?, quotes like ‘Don’t ever write a check with your mouth that you can’t cash with your ass,’ a waste of a great cast, there’s almost nothing here to praise. It’s faux-video game guff. I will never watch this again.
Man of Steel
As night falls, I have finally joined Snyder in the sun. Man of Steel is a film that’s moved closer to my heart over the past eight years; back when I saw it in the cinema, I wasn’t all that impressed. Now, it’s easily one of my best-held superhero movies, mostly indebted to Hans Zimmer’s immense, thundering score.
The clarity with which the fall of Krypton is felt is awe-inspiring. Every damn word that comes out of Russell Crowe’s mouth is note-perfect, and the fact we live in a world where Michael Shannon played General Zod is amazing in itself.
Henry Cavill makes for an intimidating, convincing Supes. I love the small touches: Clark’s resistance to hitting the teenage bully or drunken lorry driver, the joy on his face as he tries flight for the first time, the love shown by his human parents. ‘The world’s too big mom,’ he pleads, crying in a cupboard. ‘Then make it small,’ she tells him.
Why do people take against Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent? It’s frustrating that he allows himself to die in the tornado, but it works; he believes the world isn’t ready for Superman, and the events of BvS prove him right. That aside, it’s just awfully sad – little lump in my throat at the time of writing.
I enjoy seeing Snyder’s favourite actors pop up in his films, like Michael Kelly as a slightly sleazy reporter at The Daily Planet.
The bombast does become a little tedious towards the end, but I categorically disagree with those who said he shouldn’t have killed Zod. I shall not elaborate, other than to ask: what’s the alternative?
The movie doesn’t always scream traditional Superman, but the ending certainly does. When Zimmer’s piano melody drifts over the smiling dog and a young Clark with a cape – goosebumps, every time.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Hello darkness, my old friend. The culprit of the most disappointing cinema experience of my entire life awaits me at the end of the line. The excitement I had for this film wasn’t beaten until Avengers: Endgame. This time, I’ve gone for the three-hour Ultimate Edition (aka, the only one worth watching).
Pretty sure the world didn’t need another Batman origin sequence, but given how it (hilariously) ties to Superman’s cry of ‘Martha’ later, I’ll allow it. Also, having Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan play his parents is some mighty stunt casting. Patrick Wilson also voices the POTUS later, if you weren’t aware.
One compliment I’ll always hold for BvS – connecting Bruce Wayne’s antagonism of Superman to the destructive mayhem of Man of Steel is borderline-ingenious. Ben Affleck running into the collapsing rubble as others sprint away is the perfect introduction.
I feel bad for Amy Adams. Getting to play Lois Lane likely felt a bit of an honour, but she’s constantly underserved and reduced to a damsel in distress. The brief scene of some proper journalism at the beginning is quickly scuppered.
As one of the biggest fans of The Social Network, it brings me agony to criticise Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. In theory, it’s brilliant. In reality, it all just feels a little off.
In a miraculous turn of events, I’m enjoying it far more this time. I expected to be half-watching, quarter-writing, quarter-social media scrolling, but I’d go as far as to say… I’m gripped. When the titular bout arrives, I’m cheering and whooping for both heroes. When Wonder Woman shows up, I clap.
Then Doomsday. Then Superman’s death. There’s more warmth towards BvS than ever before, but that’s a bungled climax. Entirely sincere, but no-less silly and a bit pointless.
After experiencing life through Snyder’s eyes for an entire day, the merciful embrace of my bed is calling. As I sign off, I have three words: f*ck Sucker Punch.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is available on Sky Cinema and NOW TV now.
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