EPISODE 320: artist profile of ZACK SNYDER

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15 Responses

  1. alex says:

    Great episode — this was the profile episode I didn’t know that I wanted. It seems like Snyder is one of the most frustrating filmmakers out there right now; he can frame and stage a scene with some of the best, but there rarely feels like anything is alive under the polish and speed ramps.

    David, I’m glad you mentioned your experience watching Watchmen for the first time. I had a very similar experience (becoming disillusioned within the first 30 seconds or so), but I could never quite articulate why the absolutely-impossible-incredible human strength and reflexes bugged me so much. I will say that the FINAL CUT (director’s cut + Tales of the Black Freighter) is kind of a monstrosity, but I can’t help but like it. It reminds me of the Hobbit in a way — I know it’s not great, but I just love spending the extended time in this universe. Is it a good movie? Nope, but it feels complete I suppose, where the theatrical cut (and even the director’s cut) felt a bit disjointed. And also (if I can make another comparison), it feels a bit like Tarsem’s The Fall. It’s this big hulking story that, after watching it, you’ll wonder how this ever got made (in a good way).

    This isn’t the first time David has mentioned 300 as being possibly the worst movie produced in his lifetime. His reasons are good for despising it, but the worst? Even with Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hooooooole sitting by? If we’re just sticking with mass-marketed big-budget studio releases, Transformers 2, Quantum of Solace, The Spirit, Ultraviolet, or Bangkok Dangerous all seem to be worse than 300 in my opinion. Why is it that The Hangover Part 2 gets pass for being framed, paced competently, but 300 gets the thumbs down, even though both movies seem to intentionally avoid being something that’s worthwhile to think about? I’m not trying to be confrontational here, I’m just genuinely curious!

    Thanks for this week’s episode!

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      Well, with the exception of The Hangover Part II, I haven’t seen any of those!

      The things I like about The Hangover Part II overpower the things I don’t. With 300, there’s nothing I actually LIKE. There’s just some stuff I respect amid the dumb bullshit.

      – David

  2. I picked up 300 just because it was part of a Blu-Ray 3 pack featuring Alexander Revisited and Troy: The Director’s Cut. I need to rewatch it to see if it makes me giggle as much as did in the theater. I think Zack Snyder is a great stylist with more coherent shot composition than Michael Bay.

  3. Seth H. says:

    The thing you have to realize about Zack Snyder and his artistic choices is that he lives by the Rule of Cool.


    Which, by the way, is totally okay with me. For the types of movies he makes, Rule of Cool is way more important than careful consideration of any socio-political themes.

  4. Knives Monroe says:

    I suppose it’s worth noting I saw the Rated R version of Sucker Punch that contained 18 more minutes than the theatrical version.

    Sucker Punch was not good.

    It was FUCKING great. I not only enjoyed the visual and visceral depth of the film, I relished and reveled in its psychology.

    In my humble opinion there are set pieces and action sequences that are superior to the Avengers and TDKR. And might I add, since I’m on the subject of a Nolan film, I can only surmise that the people who didn’t understand the ‘plot’ of this film are the same general audience who need things to be verbally explained to them through uncompromising exposition. Something I criticize Chris Nolan for. Inception is a terrific example of two dimensional characters speaking only to extend, elaborate, and explain the plot. This bothers me, and cuts a films replay value. Sucker Punch is just as much as a action film as it is a mystery, and that—dare I say caught me off guard, it was indeed a sucker punch from the director Zack Snyder. The film doesn’t have characters who are constantly talking about the rules of the world it’s creating. And thank god for that. Because that is annoying, and is pisses on the audiences intelligence.

    When Sucker Punch came to theaters the weekend of my birthday, of 2011, I was reluctant to see it because the trailer did nothing for me. The trailer was/is very quiet about the psychology and depth of its context, but I guess it had to put asses in seats, and that it did. I always knew I’d catch the film on blu ray, or dvd, or FX, or Netflix, or something. I suppose I saw the film in preparation for Man of Steel or Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, it definitely set me up for both.

    So what is the movie ‘about’? It’s an Alice In Wonderland/Where The Wild Things Are/Wizard of Oz film with a twist. Its about escapism and the nature of injustice. It’s about how we pervert memories and expectations into a prism, shining a light through our pain creating a spectrum of hope, grief, and second chances.

    This film was a revelation for me, made me second guess my initial responses to a directors reputation. When the news of Synder directing Man of Steel was released, I was one of the few people (if not the only one) who was glad to hear it. The God of Superheros, Superman, deserves the treatment of a visionary. A man who can bring him to the masses, and make Superman cool again. Judging from the trailer, I think we can all agree, it was a smart decision. If you enjoyed that trailer, and you’re looking forward to Man of Steel: Watch Sucker Punch. You wont be disappointed.

    One thing Sucker Punch did that Avengers did not do: Have their characters talk to each other…WITH HEADSETS. I appreciated that.

  5. Knives Monroe says:

    I posted this on the BP review of Sucker Punch, and I wanted to say it again, it’s not my intention to promote anything or make anything about me. I loved this episode, and I wanted to provide a counter voice to the Sucker Punch insight. Thank you.

    • alex says:

      I’ve been on the fence about seeing this movie for some time now. And well, I think that response is gonna make me go out and get the Blu-Ray now*. I was put off by a lot of initial trailers/descriptions because it looked too id-driven, or like someone played mad-libs at E3.

      *Only 8 bucks on Amazon?!

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      I love your thoughts on the film. The fact that it provokes this response bolsters my belief that it’s worthwhile even if I still think it’s a disaster.

      – David

  6. David Busuttil says:

    to answer Dave’s question about who typed those pages from The Shinning: it was his secretary.


  7. Steve says:

    This is what I took from Sucker Punch.

    Synder set up a couple of parallels that meant something to me. The first was between the dancing and action sequences. In one world, provocatively dressed women are being forced to dance as powerful men pay to watch. In the other world, provocatively dressed women are ‘dancing with guns’ for men who are paying to watch. This other world is the world of male fantasies, movies, and video games. Besides the whole prostitution/rape issue going on in the dancing world, a more realistic consequence of sexualizing women in the movie world is commented on in the second parallel.

    The second parallel is between the lobotomy sequence and the movie itself on a meta level. Baby Doll is about to have her identity and humanity stripped from her via a lobotomy performed by a man. Back in the world of video games and movies, men often write and draw sexy women devoid of any real humanity, for the sole purpose of exciting a male audience. Men pay handsomely to see it. And young girls grow up influenced by these images of male fantasies (see Baby Doll in a school girl outfit having very male fantasies in which she’s dressed to please the male sexual gaze – would a woman really fantasize about that if she hadn’t grown up in a culture that glorified it?).

    I felt that Snyder was daring me to objectify Baby Doll as she ran around in her sexy school girl outfit. I was watching scenes of a violent and sexually provocative nature, but at the same time what was really happening was that same woman was stripping for horny men who wanted to pay to have sex with her, against her will. The fact that we don’t see her dance is a comment on how some people don’t see, or don’t acknowledge, the negative consequences of this type of portrayal of women (and violence) in various forms of media.

    And I had just plunked down $10 to watch this myself – I felt implicated. So I turned back to my motivations. Was I here because of the artistic merits of a Snyder film? Was I hoping to see some violence? Meaningless action? Or scantily clad women?

    The film made me question myself, which is a good thing. I’m nearing 40 now, but there was a time when I’d play a video game or go see a movie that treated woemn as objects just because I thought the women were hot. I didn’t think twice about the nearly naked women on comic book covers fighting alongside men in heavy armor.

    Of course rape is wrong, coercion is wrong, using women is wrong, but what about all this sexualizing of women, of girls even, in the media? And of the men (including me) who buy it up? It was a Sucker Punch – a blow that came when I was least expecting it. I had to acknowledge and reconcile the part of me that enjoyed seeing these attractive women fighting in a world of senseless violence with the part of me that wouldn’t want my sister, for example, on screen in that kind of outfit, let alone being treated the way Baby Doll was treated.

    Maybe Snyder’s making a comment on the subject, or maybe he’s just enticing us to ask the question ourselves. Maybe I’m giving him too much credit – but that’s how I felt watching the movie in the theater on opening weekend. And that feeling, that question has stuck with me. You might say I’m taking this too far, analyzing too much where’s it’s not warranted. But much of this intellectualization came long after seeing the movie, even while writing this post. The feelings behind these words all came up while watching it, without searching for any meanings.

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      I think your analysis is spot-on as far as Snyder’s intentions go. I just think his execution is shallow and dunderheaded, though visually lush.

      – David

  8. Pinkston says:

    You missed maybe the best thing about the awful song in LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE – the band the performs it is called Owl City.

    • Battleship Pretension says:

      So many people have alerted me to that. It does make the movie even more ridiculous.

      – David

  9. Seth H. says:

    I’ll have you know that this episode prompted me to finally get Sucker Punch on BluRay. I had been debating the matter for some time.

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