A New Era
When Citizen Kane was first created, it became a major influence on the cinematic experience. From the cinematography and plot structure to the flashback scenes, the film was unique at the time of its release. Even within modern films of today, being compared to Citizen Kane is an honor when used in moderation. It’s indicative of a new way of watching film. Now, with Zack Snyder joining the other auteur directors for Netflix, cinema is beginning to feel whole again.
It’s almost a storytelling renaissance in some ways. And with a potential release date in 2020, Snyder will be joining two other influential directors releasing films that year. Denis Villeneuve’s Dune and an untitled film by Christopher Nolan. The 2020s will be ushering in a new era of the cinematic experience as well, but for the digital world. And Zack Snyder creating a film for Netflix is a full circle move that will truly unleash the skills he’s gained over his 9 films.
Zack Snyder’s Filmography
Dawn Of The Dead
Snyder’s debut film in 2004 was a remake of the beloved 1978 George A. Romero film. In many ways, this and 28 Days Later were the beginning of the Zombie flick becoming more prominent. Both films reinvigorated the resurgence of the Horror genre. But even with his first film, Snyders stylistic approach to film was evident. Instead of having the Zombies slowly approach, he gave them quick and agile abilities. He also introduced a new take on being infected; a child was born a Zombie. Unfortunately, that child never made it. But at least it gives the impression that his sequel could have major callbacks to that way of Zombie procreation. Even if this wasn’t his original idea, Snyder created a fantastic film with a $26 Million dollar budget. He was even able to release the directors cut; the first of many.
His first foray into Comic Book adaptations was in the form of Frank Miller’s Graphic Novel 300. I remember being excited about this film because I enjoyed Sin City so much. What I did NOT expect was the type of film I would see. Snyder literally took a comic book and created it in motion form. In 2007, we had only seen the Spider-Man Trilogy and X-men Films in the modern era. With Robert Rodriguez creating Sin City, it felt like a film adults could watch that happened to be based on comics. With 300, it was something else entirely. Zack created action scenes never before seen. And he did so with a $65 Million dollar budget.
If you had told me that a film with unknown characters based in an alternate universe would be my top comic book adaptation, I’d scream lunacy. How could anyone possibly make characters based off of Batman, Superman, & other DC characters entertaining? Zack did. And in doing so, turned me into an extensive Watchmen fan, both in film and comics. Even back in 2009 when the film came out, it was ahead of its time.
The incipient emergence of Superhero movies dominating theaters wasn’t fully fleshed out. It was a team up movie without solo films. I had zero knowledge on what I was watching but I left the theater a changed man. I walked to my truck in the parking lot and said to my friend “What the F*** did I just watch?” And I mean that in the best way possible. I was in awe of what I just witnessed, and Zack did that on an estimated $130 Million dollar budget. Of course, with the Directors cut, the film became my top adaptation but was also still not what Zack originally intended.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
Zack Snyders first adaptation to be completely animated proved that he could work in all areas of cinema. Creating a full computer animated film while still maintaining Snyders aesthetics was impressive. Thinking back on the computer effects in 2007 and even when it was released in 2010 is astonishing. The stylistic approach that Snyder imbued into the film carried his unique approach to an animated feature. I can also appreciate that even on an $80 Million dollar budget, Zack stretched it to create a magnificent film.
It wasn’t until 2011 that Zack was able to create a film based on his original ideas. When the film was originally released, many saw it as a male fantasy for the male gaze. Little did they know that it was actually a commentary on how women are treated in film. And a critique of geek culture’s sexism and objectification of women. Throughout the film, Snyder makes it quite evident that Men have little regard for the Women and rule with an iron fist.
It’s no surprise that with the hidden meanings and many layers, this would be our first experience of the Art Zack could create. Looking at his previous works, he incorporated a comic book flare with action pack scenarios reminiscent of his first 3 films. He did all of this on a budget of $82 Million. While, yes, this was his original concept, Warner Bros. still controlled just how much was in the film. The directors cut is still a better film, just as his Dawn Of The Dead and Watchmen director cuts were.
Man Of Steel
What can I say that I haven’t already said about this film? Zack literally changed my view on the Big Blue Boy Scout. And seeing one of my favorite directors join my favorite comic book characters was a dream come true. I had been a Batman fan my whole life. And with this film, Zack changed all that. From the adult themes and the serious take to the amazing score from Hans Zimmer, this film was next level. Part of the reason was the increase in production cost.
Zack was given $225 Million to make a Superman film that audiences would actually care about. That’s not a slight towards Superman Returns, but when’s the last time anyone talked about it? Even today, Man Of Steel is brought up in conversation and that’s partly due to the follow-up film. But again, this was a story rooted in deep mythology that had been told with various interpretations. And Zack still figured out a way to make it his own while capturing the essence of the character.
Batman v Superman
This film, for me at least, is my all-time favorite film. When I say I’ve seen it over 200+ times, that’s not hyperbole. There’s only so much to be said but from its inception, Warner Bros. had their hand in it. From wanting to stop the backlash of the ‘destruction porn‘ bloggers had issues with, to making sure the audience knew anywhere the heroes were fighting was uninhabited. And yet, Zack still managed to create a modern classic. With all the vitriol that mounted up against the production, it still performed amazingly well for a budget cost of $250 Million. But the amount of studio interference paid a heavy toll. With Justice League already well into production and ready to begin filming, no one could have seen the chaos Zack would enter.
I shouldn’t have to talk about this film. We all know what happened. So what I’ll say is judging by every single film Zack has made, almost all were an adaptation or heavily manipulated by the studio. And once the Justice League film comes out, I mean the REAL one, then we can witness what his true intentions were. Until then, we have no idea what was all planned. We didn’t even know when Zack would be returning to make a film. That was, of course, until he announced it on Vero.
Snow Steam Iron
He created a short with his iPhone and made it look and feel cinematic. That’s all. That’s the entire point.
Why Netflix Makes Sense
Many forget that Army Of The Dead was the next film to follow-up Dawn Of The Dead. And looking back on Zacks first film, we should have seen this possibility. It’s a full circle move that could reestablish what the director is capable of. And what makes this next film much different from the first one? The landscape of cinema. I had Netflix back in 2004 and remember having to send off my DVD and wait for my next queued up film to arrive. To think of streaming wasn’t even a concept for me. But now, in 2019, streaming is where auteur filmmakers go to thrive. It’s also where critics and bloggers see their demise.
I had no idea what it meant to have creative control on a film. But throughout Zacks career, it’s clear to see that he’s never created something without holding back. That’s partially due to the fact that studios have reputations to adhere to. They have media outlets that will condemn any and all who don’t listen to their opinions or cater to their whims. And in the past 5 years, we’ve seen a horrible trend when it comes to filmmakers being attacked personally. Now, with Netflix, he’ll be able to unleash his full potential without the worry of critics or bloggers. And he’ll be doing it all on a $90 Million dollar budget which is why I highlighted each budget for his previous films.
Media & Bloggers
It’s no secret. For whatever reason, critics and bloggers on Twitter seem to attack Zack and his films for virtually no reason. He’s beloved by any and all who have ever worked for him. He’s even nice enough to engage with his fans on Vero like me who constantly berate him about Justice League. But he never speaks ill-will about anyone. Never has been accused of any harmful or pedophilic humor. And he definitely is courteous towards those who have wronged him.
Now, maybe the vitriol was because he was part of Warner Bros. and creating unique DC Films. When the critics and bloggers are praising Ant-Man And The Wasp as Marvels best sequel, and Infinity War was just released prior, is eye-opening. It’s clear that they consider Marvel the premier place for originality and any and all who aren’t that studio shouldn’t even try. How else could I explain to see almost EVERY single blogger that has criticized Zack since 2013, all of a sudden say they’re so excited and happy for him on his next film? The best thing is they won’t have any effect on Army Of The Dead because they won’t be able to influence the audience like years past.
The Directors With Netflix
Zack joins an already impressive line of directors that have created award-winning films for Netflix. That’s not even mentioning the very talented actors and actresses that litter a plethora of original films and shows. The Oscar-winning directors include Damien Chazelle, Joel and Ethan Coen, Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo Del Toro, and Martin Scorsese to name a few. When you see talents like Oscar-winning director and writer Ben Affleck, as well as Will Smith and Andy Serkis in original films, things become a lot more interesting.
Netflix has proven that they’re a Director Driven studio by allowing films like Polar, Apostle, What Happened To Monday?, and Bright to be made. Speaking of Bright, David Ayer was able to create the world he wanted with no restrictions. The outcome? One of the best original films in 2017. With a budget of $90 Million, the same amount for Zack, he showed what he could create when not catering to a studio only wanting to make toys and happy meals. I can only imagine what Zack can do.
Within the past few years, Netflix has shown that they can generate impressive, original content. And with Alfonso Cuaron gaining much-earned notoriety for his film, Roma, Netflix will be seen differently, forever. This won’t be a studio for films of the past. This, along with Amazon Studios, will be the new definition of a cinematic experience. And Netflix has had a limited release for some of their films so it’s still possible to get that cinematic experience. But imagine being able to witness an Oscar-winning film directly in your home without any influence from failed filmmakers bitter at others that made it.
On the subject of the Oscars, are they really that important now? Just look at how many Disney nominated films there are compared to the rest of the competition. I realize they own a majority of the market but still, it’s odd. When the Oscars announced a ‘Most Popular’ award, it was clear to see what type of influence Disney was having on the selections made. Just look at Black Panther being nominated for ‘Best Picture’. The quality just isn’t the same anymore.
Who Will Zack Use?
Probably the most interesting thing I’m looking forward to is who Zack will cast for his next film. Every single film he’s ever created has had a tremendous cast. Even with his repeat crew of Cinematographer Larry Fong and Production Designer Patrick Tatopoulos, Zack picks amazing talent to work with. Now he gets full creative control. For Man Of Steel, he wasn’t able to use Larry Fong because the studio didn’t want to take the chance. For Justice League, he wasn’t able to change anything to the script unless approved otherwise by the studio.
This next feature, he’s the architect. Anything he wants to shoot or anyone he wants to use will be his sole decision. Will he be able to convince Junkie XL to compose a bombastic score? Does he use a completely new crew of talent he’s never worked with? Will he use some of his previous cast that now has a history with Netflix already? With this much possibility and anticipation, Zack Snyder is ripe for the new era of cinema. His film debut was made about Zombies And in the same way, his next film will be his first debut of Zack Snyder Unleashed, with Zombies. A renaissance man of film if there ever was one.