Zack Snyder’s cut of The Justice League drops on HBO Max today! Perhaps you’ve heard about it? I, like many, will be spending this weekend drinking in the four-plus hour version of this story, and I couldn’t be more excited. Next week I’ll be giving you my take on the D.C. Extended Universe (DCEU). But for those that want a deeper dive behind the man who is bringing us this cinematic buffet, let this week’s column be your guide!
This week I’m looking at five films Snyder made that aren’t a part of the DCEU. There are diamonds and there are rough, but each is equally enjoyable if the right mood strikes. On to this week’s binge!
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
About: This was Snyder’s first feature-film effort, a re-make/sequel of sorts to the films made famous by George Romero. In fact, this film was made from a script credited to Romero and James Gunn, who went on to give us Guardians of the Galaxy. It has a decent cast, including Sarah Polley, Mekhi Phifer, Ving Rhames and Ty Burrell, with the action mostly taking place in a mall. If you’re into zombies, this one isn’t bad. You can see where Snyder was heading, anyway.
About: This stylized action film is based on a graphic novel. It features Gerard Butler and Lena Headey, focusing on 300 brave but doomed warriors from Sparta and the battle that made them famous. This is also the film that, arguably, made Snyder famous. It has a hardcore legion of fans. I’m not among them. Truth be told, I intensely dislike this film. But if you’re into the original story, and an excess of violent content, this is for you.
About: This time Snyder tackled another famous graphic novel, one that sit’s on Time Magazine’s list of the 250 greatest American novels. This is an incredibly faithful re-telling with some minor story changes. A lot of the look comes right from the source material, which some saw in a critical light. Not me, I loved this film when it was released, watching it four times in the theater, including a midnight screening. (Remember when the midnight premier was a thing?) I still love it. The performances are strong, the look and mood is great, and the story, while dour, draws me in every time. This is peak Snyder to me.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010)
About: If you prefer your Snyder animated and more kid-friendly, I present Legend of the Guardians. This one is based on the novels from Kathryn Lasky and, I guess, shows his softer side. The voice cast includes Sam Neill, Joel Edgerton, Anthony LaPaglia and Helen Mirren, but this one is a dud. I recently re-watched it to see if I was being too harsh. Spoiler alert, I wasn’t. But this one is on HBO Max, too, in case you need some filler.
Sucker Punch (2011)
About: This was Snyder’s last effort before diving into the DCEU. It’s a long, strange and sometimes fascinating film that has become polarizing. There are a lot of people that hate this movie, and I get it. While I don’t love it, the film fascinated me. I can’t say I totally understand it, but I liked the visuals and some of the action. Scott Glenn always makes me happy, and he delivers some lines that, even a decade later, I can remember by heart. Maybe I’m a sucker, but this one grows on you over time.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.