zack snyder

Movie Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

bvsdoj_tgofThere are those of us who willingly choose to avoid the paper representations of the immensely popular superhero films. In doing so, while unable to provide a glimpse into how faithful the adaptations are, can still provide a unique and still truthful outlook to the success of the filmmakers to present a story that is worthwhile and thrilling. Sadly, it’s filmmakers like Zack Snyder who make us realize how good we had it with Christopher Nolan and his uneven take on the cowled vigilante in The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan, provided a grim perspective on the Batman universe and Snyder too uses the grim approach, it also is more often than not…soulless.

For better or worse I approach each superhero flick hoping to experience a well told story. With any luck it’ll come together cohesively even without having read the comics. One should not have to have that knowledge to enjoy the film counterparts because it is the job of the filmmaker to present the story in a way that makes sense in its own right. Snyder has not done his due diligence in this regard- at least from this viewer’s perspective. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice certainly sets the table for DC’s own Avengers type formula, but does so in messy fashion. Consider Synder’s vision the Island of Misfit toys so to speak, which goes a long way in describing the film as a whole. It’s like a child playing with his toys and like a child they’re no sense or meaning to anything that happens, just the bashing together of plastic soulless figures because it’s fun. Plus this particular child has a $250 million budget so those plastic toys look a lot cooler.  (more…)


Movie Review: Man Of Steel (2013)


Like some, I was not overjoyed with Zack Snyder being announced as the director for a new Superman movie. It wasn’t because I don’t like him on some personal level or that he’s really a bad director- it was mostly because I absolutely hated SUCKER PUNCH. More than that, I was starting to get really tired of the same ol’ style he’d been using in all his movies like 300, WATCHMEN and of course SUCKER PUNCH. Sure the movies look pretty enough, but substance was beginning to take a backseat if it was there at all. With MAN OF STEEL Snyder takes a huge step in the right direction, even if in my opinion you can feel Christopher Nolan’s influence around every turn.

I don’t want to discredit Snyder altogether because it really is his movie and you can see his eye for action and visuals vividly in the action, but the dramatic chops and more cathartic moments are drenched in Nolanisms- not to mention how thankful I am for zero slow motion action scenes. Quite the contrary, the action is so chaotic and fast paced that it’s hard to not feel thrilled during the epic fight scenes.

An origin story in every way, MAN OF STEEL perfectly lays out the story of the fall of Krypton and how Kal-El ends up on Earth. It uses flashbacks to tell the growing pains of a boy that has no idea what he is or where he came from and grappling with the consequences of wanting to help people, but afraid of being looked at as a freak. It’s not until Earth is threatened by the shunned General Zod (Michael Shannon) that Clark Kent/Kal-El (Henry Cavill) must learn his true purpose and save Earth from his former planet’s dangerous forces.

There’s always been something about Superman as a superhero that I wasn’t in love with. With Nolan attached to the project I wondered if the goofiness I expected would be replaced with a dark tone, something I also didn’t think would work. Snyder however manages to mix the two because MAN OF STEEL has both the introspective drama that Nolan employed with Batman- albeit far more subdued- and the dumb fun ridiculous action that I really wanted to see from a superhero capable of almost anything.

If Snyder has proved anything over the years its that he has an incredible visual eye and if you enjoy nothing else from MAN OF STEEL one thing cannot be denied- it is a beautiful movie. The scenery is breathtaking at times, but the special effects are spectacular and while some of the fights have a cartoonish look to them, it’s a small price to pay when you take into consideration the superhuman feats these people are carrying out to kill one another. I have nitpicks when it comes to some logic choices during these massive action sequences, but nothing that makes the movie a total failure by any means.

Emotionally, MAN OF STEEL is always on the edge of really crossing into something fantastic, especially when it comes to a superhero movie, but it never quite gets to the next level. In some ways, it might be better that way given how all over the place it might seem if the tone is constantly shifting from cathartic drama to goofy fun action. Cavill in my opinion dances the line of charismatic superhero and dramatic lead, but never leaning to heavily toward either side. When it comes to the whole Clark Kent/Superman personas I think the casting of Cavill works because he’s got the physicality of a superhero and for the most part he has the chops to pull off what I was worried would be awfully cheesy dialogue. Shannon on the otherhand I would argue doesn’t quite hit the quality of performance I’ve come to expect from him. Moments of his turn as the villain General Zoe are great, but never as crazy as I would have liked to see.

When it comes to an origin film we become accustomed to getting less action and more set up, but MAN OF STEEL turns that on its head with some pretty incredible action sequences, but with plenty of time to round out the origins of a character that most might be familiar with, but it also works for newly initiated fans as well. It would however be easy for some to feel that when the film explodes into nothing but massive explosions and citywide destruction the film it feels empty and loses sight of its more introspective side. To an extent I’d agree, but Snyder finds a way to make it work for me without ever feeling like it was nothing more than a brainless popcorn movie. The action does tend to be big and dumb, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t fun enough for me to take it into context with the rest of the film.

For me, with Snyder to have the watchful eye and mind of Christopher Nolan he bounces back from the abysmal SUCKER PUNCH with a film that’s exponentially bigger and stronger with an actual heart in center of it. To each their own about how effective the drama lands given the big expensive special effects that fill the screen in the final acts of the film. MAN OF STEEL is a blockbuster action flick that aims to please as many people as it can, but ultimately settles on a main entree of big budget action with a side of decent character drama. To borrow from Nolan’s Batman franchise, MAN OF STEEL may not be the Superman movie we needed, but in my opinion it’s the one we deserve.

Rating: B+

Brew & View: Watchmen


Born partially out of my worry about Zack Snyder’s upcoming MAN OF STEEL, I took to watching one of his previous films that I actually really liked- at least I did at the time of its release. I’ve never officially posted a review of WATCHMEN so this might seem too easy to come in now and talk negatively about something I never talked positively about previously. So before I get into my recent viewing of WATCHMEN I will say I loved it when it first came out, bought it the first day of its Blu-Ray release and watched it gleefully for the weeks after.

My love for it stemmed almost entirely around Jackie Earl Haley’s performance as Rorschach, the visual style Snyder brought to it and a a majority of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s scenes. A lot of time has passed since the last time I watched and enjoyed WATCHMEN until recently I sat down to watch it and found plenty of the film still enjoyable, but also so much that has not aged well since then. The biggest flaw I’ve seen that I hope is not a trend with Snyder’s films since I have high hopes for MAN OF STEEL is he just lacks the ability to get great performances from all of his actors. Aside from Haley and Morgan and maybe Billy Crudup everyone else is mostly terrible. Even if they are intentionally so due to it being a graphic novel adaptation, but honestly even on that level the characters feel much weaker than I remembered.

Beer Pairing: Empyrean Brewing Company’s Watch Man IPA

Empyrean’s Watch Man IPA obviously has the shameless name connection going for it, but as with most IPA’s they aren’t for everyone, which more than explains Zack Snyder’s WATCHMEN. Also much like the film Empyrean’s IPA is quite tasty at first, but eventually the taste kind of fades away and I’m left wondering how much I really enjoyed to begin with.

I don’t want it to sound too much like a diss because honestly this won’t be the last time I sit to watch WATCHMEN and I certainly expect that I will enjoy my fair share of the Watch Man IPA in the future. The point I’m trying to make is that every now and again there are things that you remember fondly that dim with memory and experiences and don’t quite live up to your original perception- both are true with the picks of this edition of Brew & View.

For a beer that starts tasty and finishes a little less than so, it fits perfectly with WATCHMEN. Fans of the graphic novel almost always point to the differences in the endings between the film and the novel and usually always unfavorably so. Granted the ending in the film makes it a little more accessible, it is still pretty disappointing that Snyder didn’t feel like he could just go ahead and use the last act of the novel for his film since it does take place in an alternate timeline and all.

The similarities between this edition of Brew & View might be most evident in the name and the rest I might be stretching a bit, but I just couldn’t resist pairing the two. Neither stands up to better examples of the genre of movie or style of beer which would link the two in some way or another and honestly I can drink about anything and as far as craft beer goes the Watch Man IPA is very inoffensive to the taste buds while being a little less than satisfactory. However, anything that can provide a decent buzz and make whatever you’re watching that much better is nothing to be too down on.

Movie Review: Sucker Punch (2011)

Zack Snyder has just masturbated on thousands of screens in front of audiences all over the world and named the act of doing so, SUCKER PUNCH. There has not been a single movie released so far this year that looks as fantastic as this movie does and be utterly pointless and flawed in almost every aspect. I find it depressing that this is the same director that brought us the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake and the big screen adaptation of WATCHMEN. Honestly, SUCKER PUNCH is an orgy for the eyes but torture on all the other senses. I’m still trying to wrap my brain on how a movie featuring chicks with swords, ninja statues, Nazi zombies, dragons and robots could be so dreadful instead of five different levels of awesome.

Here’s the plot, at least as far as I can tell; a young girl, Baby Doll (Emily Browning), is forced into a mental institution after attacking her step father and accused of murdering her little sister. While in the institution she enters into a fantasy world that pins her and her fellow crazies as prostitutes/dancers in a brothel and concocts a plan to escape using her seductive dancing as a means to distract the guards. Once the dancing starts she envisions herself in a variety of fantasy worlds to obtain all the different objects she’ll need to escape the facility.

I honestly believe SUCKER PUNCH was just an excuse for Zack Snyder to spend a lot of time on a set with scantily clad and half naked girls. The very first action scene is shameless exploitation of how many different ways you can show Emily Browning spinning and spreading her legs open in slow motion. Snyder has made a name for himself with the liberal use of slow motion and it’s never been more evident here and this is the worst it’s ever been used. The entire opening sequence is nothing but a music video for the song “Sweet Dreams” as directed by Zack Snyder; there’s no dialogue, just set up for the relationship between Baby Doll and her step father and how she ended up in a mental institution. There are several scenes that feel like nothing but extended music videos and set ups for a really bad porno.

The fantasy world Baby Doll chooses to live her escape in is a brothel, where the girls dance in order to turn on some horny dudes then take them back into a room where they finish them off. I half expected each subsequent fantasy to go a step farther and the girls are asking their cable guy to take his pants off. The fantasy worlds for the most part look pretty awesome; they all have some shaky CGI going on, but the visuals all have a very cool aesthetic.

The soundtrack is actually pretty decent; too bad the script requires that bland and lifeless characters that inhabit SUCKER PUNCH to speak over the top of it. The dialogue throughout is pretty awful and laughably bad at times. Every single time the Wise Man, played by Scott Glen, opened his mouth and said the words “oh and one more thing” the sentence immediately after induced an uncontrollable facepalm. The script has some of the worst and cheesiest cliché lines in the history of the English language; it literally uses the line of “don’t write a check that your ass can’t cash,” it’s like Snyder used Google search to come up with every cliché in the script.

Zack Snyder has always garnered points for style with films like 300 and WATCHMEN, but I can’t possibly make that concession here. Despite how good the action and special effects look, the film is completely devoid of anything involving real emotion or profound characterization. The action scenes have no stakes because you know everything takes place in a fantasy world while she’s doing a stripper dance for her employers. You never even see this dancing that hypnotizes everyone; Baby Doll just moves back and forth a couple times, closes her eyes and we are back in fantasy land.

For all the implied sex, half naked girls and violence on display you’d think this was an explicit hard R raunch-fest. Sucker Punch is decidedly PG-13 for reasons I’ll never understand; it’s so disappointing to see Synder going from awesome zombie carnage in DAWN OF THE DEAD to girls slaying Nazi zombies. That last statement is disappointing for the fact that these zombies don’t spill blood and that’s because Snyder has scripted in that the Nazi’s developed a way for their dead to function as soldiers by powering them with nothing other than steam, so when these poor saps die they don’t squirt blood, they spill out pockets of hot air.

All the money on screen here appears to be entirely on the special effects. The cast looks and acts like Snyder was walking through the set of a porno and grabbed any girl that wasn’t busy and said “do you have a second,” filmed their scenes and tossed them away like a used condom. I might be giving anyone who had a hand in the script too much credit because I’ve seen porns that have way more passion on display than any second of footage in SUCKER PUNCH. The writers of this garbage must have already suffered severe carpal tunnel just thinking of all the girls in spandex and the rest of the chicken scratch had to be translated through beer goggles.

Zack Snyder’s WATCHMEN flirted with a three hour runtime and I was ready for more by the time it was over. SUCKER PUNCH rings in at two hours and if it was a second longer I might have caused serious physical harm to the nearest living soul left in the theater. If I found any enjoyment in the film at all it was the moment it was over and realized I would never have to watch it again. The film is sort of like one long lobotomy, in that, when it was over I had no memory of why I ever wanted to subject myself to it. SUCKER PUNCH is aptly titled as anyone buying a ticket has already succumbed to what the title suggests. We only have ourselves to blame as the title is also a warning because you can’t get passed the first syllable of the title without spelling SUCK.