Hero Complex: Zack Snyder’s Simple, Flawed Film Formula

  • David Schroeder

    The Watchman is actually one of my favorite comic book movies mainly because it was so gritty and dark. I didnt know it was Zack that directed it. If I would have I probably would have hated it. The Dawn of the Dead remake was a disappointment and the filtering in Man of Steel gave me headaches. Let me concentrate on what I want to look at and don’t force my perspective. All of his movies have focused on forced perspective and for that I hate his work. I dont care that the nose guard is off-set in the Spartan helmet for side shots and I don’t care the amount of hours wasted on Supermans suit! Give me a story and give me depth. I didn’t pay for flat, repetitive, blurry, CGI riddled, over filtered crap. What also blows is the masses are going to over rule the facts its over played because the bandwagon is so damn big. That’s why I rely on the original critic reviews. It will get washed out by the masses.

  • Pedro Saez Williams

    Critics are being way to harsh with this movie. And I do think there is a perfectly good explanation for this. It is not a “conspiracy” and, no, Marvel/Disney is not paying them off. The reason I think this is so, is because the historical reaction to Zach Snider films from audiences vis a vis film critics serves as a very clear example of the threat that the availability of constant polls of aggregate general opinion such as IMDB and Trip Advisor present to the traditional role of the aesthetic commentator (i.e. the critic).

    This is, consumers do not have the time and money to sample everything offered by the market and therefore rely on the opinion of their peers and experts to aid their economic decision-making. Before the advent of the Internet and the presence of polls, movie goers had only two sources of information to inform their choices on the matter: word of mouth and film critics, and only film critics had access to mass media (as polling that would be necessary to accurately capture a clear sense of the aggregate opinion of the general public that already seen the film was a material impossibility). Now, not unlike all sorts of stake holders in the arts or creative industries, film critics are particularly apt at judging the quality of products that follow and/or adhere to familiar and established standards. The thing is that aesthetic standards are always changing, and are very much determined by the times. As anyone familiar with the music industry will tell you, having a sense of these changing standards and the precise direction they are taking is extremely hard. Music professionals for example, have historically only been able to identify a “movement” until this is already well underway: rock, punk and grunge serve as particular examples. In this sense, it is not unusual for film critique (in aggregate terms) to completely fail to predict what the audience response to a particular movie, style of film maker will be. Before social media, however, it was easier for them to influence the market. Today, if they fail to tap into the collective unconscious and thereby fail to predict the aesthetic standards upon which a film (or any other sort of cultural product for that matter), a style or the work of a particular film maker will be evaluated by the general public, it becomes clearly evident. The aggregate opinion of film goers will always triumph in the end, as this is what ultimately determines the aesthetic standards of the time, and thereby the standard of the critics themselves. Today you can choose between informing yourself with both, and critics lose power as result. Snyder films make this painful evident for critics as a class.

    In the past, if they could not predict, they have always then tried to direct or influence. It is imperative for them to have impact or reaction, as their texts become redundant otherwise. In this case, they have failed to predict on various occasions, and so, they are now trying (possibly not even consciously) to direct and influence public opinion with reviews that may be a harsher than “usual”. Every time Snyder, or any other film maker, creates a film that is successful for the same reasons critics did not like it, it becomes a threat to livelihood of film criticism in non-specialist mass media.

    If film critics have not relation whatsoever to the behavior of mass consumers their space in media directed towards general audiences is challenged. This is not to say that they stop serving a purpose as film experts, but they do not longer serve the purpose of aiding consumption choices, which is the prime reason non-specialist publications such as newspapers (or other mass media outlets) hire them.