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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: Is it fair to call ‘Watchmen’ director Zack Snyder “visionary”?

With no big stars with sellable names to splash across posters, Warner Bros. is counting on director Zack Snyder to sell Watchman to those who may not already be familiar with the comic. Warner Bros. isn’t using Snyder’s name, of course — because that isn’t any better known than those of the cast — but the ads and posters are connecting him to 300: “From the visionary director of 300,” almost all of the promo material for the film reminds us.
This is the thing, though: Zack Synder has only three feature films on his resume. Two of them — 300 and now Watchmen — are adaptations from graphic novels that are visually extremely faithful to their sources. The third, Snyder’s first film, is Dawn of the Dead, remake/reboot of one franchise from a genre that has been getting a lot of play overall lately.

If there’s “vision” involved in all these films, it is borrowed — it was handed to Snyder to execute, less so with Dawn than with the other two movies, but still. Now, I’m not saying Snyder’s not talented: it obviously takes talent to transfer someone else’s vision to another medium and do it well, which Snyder has done. But the “vision” involved in these films is not his.

Am I wrong? Is it fair to call ‘Watchmen’ director Zack Snyder “visionary”?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)

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