Most recently, Zack Snyder has been known as the initial architect behind the first incarnation of the DC Extended Universe, but he’s been directing Hollywood features for 15 years – some are good, some are not so good, and a couple are great. Snyder’s movies are as divisive among audiences as they are among critics, so his Rotten Tomatoes scores tend to be a little up and down.
He’s not the kind of director who bothers too much with critics, since his movies tend to do well at the box office either way and he makes them for the fans, not for the reviewers. So, here are Zack Snyder’s movies, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
8 Sucker Punch (23%)
Sucker Punch is the only film directed by Zack Snyder that wasn’t adapted from some previous source material – it was based on the director’s own original idea – and it was also his worst-reviewed film, at least according to Rotten Tomatoes. Snyder described the film as “Alice in Wonderland with machine guns,” which tells you everything you need to know.
It’s about a woman locked in a mental institution who escapes the orderlies’ abuse by imagining it into a brothel and then teaming up with some fellow prostitutes to battle demons and monsters in different fantasy realms. 23% doesn’t sound so surprising, does it?
7 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (27%)
After turning Superman into an angst-ridden, Ayn Rand-inspired shadow of his former self, Zack Snyder continued his quest to disservice every DC Comics icon with Batman v Superman, in which he introduced the Caped Crusader into the mix armed to the teeth with guns and murderous tendencies.
Batman v Superman suffers from the same problem as Iron Man 2 – it gets too bogged down in setting up a wider universe of movies and a handful of sequels to really be a great movie in its own right. Plus, Jesse Eisenberg’s ridiculous overacting as Lex Luthor botched yet another comic book icon.
6 Justice League (40%)
Zack Snyder left the production of Justice League to be with his family following a personal tragedy and the film was finished and almost completely reshot by Joss Whedon. In the years since, fans have been clamoring to see the “Snyder Cut,” which it has been estimated would cost around $30-40 million to finish.
If circumstances were different and Snyder had been able to make the film his way, it might have been a very different story and it might not have such a crummy score on Rotten Tomatoes. Snyder’s version had evil Superman, time travel, a real character arc for Cyborg – it could’ve been great.
5 Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (50%)
A lot of fans struggle to even remember what this movie is called, particularly since it came out around the same time as DreamWorks Animation’s Rise of the Guardians. It was an unusual kind of movie for Zack Snyder to make, since it mainly targeted kids and it was a heartwarming animated adventure about owls.
For all intents and purposes, he did a pretty good job of telling the story, and you can still tell it’s a Zack Snyder film, given the fact that it has a much darker tone than the average children’s ‘toon. Unfortunately, its predictable plot lets it down.
4 Man of Steel (56%)
By all accounts, Man of Steel is actually a pretty good movie. It has some fascinating visuals and, to an extent, a darker take on Superman made for an interesting moviegoing experience. Its main problem, especially for DC Comics fans, is that the Superman we’re given in Man of Steel is not the Superman we know and love from the source material.
He’s mopey and angsty and trying to figure out his destiny. The true Superman knows his destiny: to be a hero and to save anyone and everyone he can, with a smile on his face. Man of Steel simply bungled that.
3 300 (60%)
Zack Snyder’s fictionalized and very bloody take on the Battle of Thermopylae was adapted so faithfully from Frank Miller’s graphic novel that he used the comic book itself as a storyboard. 300’s use of slow-motion effects in its action scenes, as well as oiled-up, muscular men wearing nothing but a metal codpiece and a sheath, made it prime fodder for parody.
The visuals are far too saturated and overly color-graded (it’s distracting after a while) and the film was controversial for its depiction of disabled characters and Persians. The movie’s mixed reviews didn’t affect its performance at the box office, since it had a record-setting opening and went on to amass over $450 million worldwide.
2 Watchmen (64%)
HBO is attempting another adaptation of Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel Watchmen this year, but frankly, Zack Snyder already kind of nailed it. It had long been considered to be “unfilmable,” but Snyder felt like taking on the challenge and he delivered an R-rated superhero movie containing a rape scene that cost over $130 million to produce and was almost three hours long – even today, that’s practically unspeakable.
So, the fact that it even exists is pretty impressive. Like the graphic novel, Snyder balanced the narrative’s two parallel timelines deftly, while every actor in a major role was perfectly cast. The main downside to the movie is that it helps to be familiar with the comic before going into it.
1 Dawn of the Dead (76%)
Zack Snyder’s best-reviewed film on Rotten Tomatoes is also his very first one. Dawn of the Dead, a remake of the zombie-infested George A. Romero horror classic of the same name, was Snyder’s directorial debut, and it’s surprisingly great. Drawn from a script by Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, it took the same basic premise as the original – a band of survivors hole up in a shopping mall – and ratcheted up the insanity a few notches.
It’s not as thematically strong as the original, which critiqued consumer culture through the lens of swarming masses of the undead, but it is just as enjoyable as a gory romp.