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Zack Snyder ‘doesn’t get the overreaction’ to his ‘weirdo’ films-Tori Brazier-Entertainment – Metro

The filmmaker defends his first Rebel Moon film as ‘not that controversial of a movie’.

Zack Snyder ‘doesn’t get the overreaction’ to his ‘weirdo’ films-Tori Brazier-Entertainment – Metro

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‘The reactions to my movies tend to really be these big… overreactions,’ Zack Snyder begins carefully when asked if it ever gets tiring defending his movies in interviews from the polarising reception they often receive.

The 58-year-old filmmaker is chatting to me in a fancy London hotel ahead of the premiere on Netflix of the latest instalment in his sci-fi space opera franchise, Rebel Moon.

It’s this point of our chat where the director is most obviously choosing his words with caution, as an otherwise very open and responsive interviewee – a journalist’s dream – who warmly greeted me by promising he’d been saving all his best answers for our allotted time. We’ve never met before, but he’s on top, friendly, form.

The second part, titled The Scargiver, follows hot on the heels of the first Rebel Moon, which debuted in cinemas a week before heading to the streaming service in December.

It’s part of a lucrative first-look deal Snyder cut with the platform in 2021, with Rebel Moon – Part One: Child of Fire, reportedly boasting a $150million (£120.7m) budget.

However, the film did not fare well with critics, although plenty of his loyal fans were delighted with both its overload of action and Snyder’s trademark visual style and flare being present and correct.

Sofia Boutella returns as heroine Kora in Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver (Picture: Netflix/Clay Enos)

Director and co-writer Zack Snyder has acknowledged his movies tend to provoke ‘overreactions’ among critics and fans, which leave him confused (Picture: Getty)

It’s not the first time his films – everything from Watchmen, Justice League and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to Sucker Punch – have faced backlash.

‘We were talking about even just [with] Rebel Moon – Part One. I’m like, it’s not that controversial of a movie,’ he adds of the criticism that filled column inches and social media forums last year.

‘A lot of people have this crazy reaction to it. And I’m just like, “I don’t get it! I don’t get that reaction.” So yeah, I just think that in the zeitgeist, I’ve just found this weirdo spot, you know, and it is what it is. I’m not mad about it, but it just is what it is.’

‘It just causes this conversation that is like…’ he trails off.

Self-perpetuating, I suggest? ‘It really is!’ he agrees.

However, he’s very grateful for his passionate fanbase, laughing: ‘I thank God for my fans because they’re very – they go get out there and take care of business, if they have to.’

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For Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver, the audience jumps right back into the action following Kora’s (Sofia Boutella) supposed slaying of villain Admiral Noble (a scenery-chewing Ed Skrein) at the climax of the first film.

She and her motely crew of allies (including Michiel Huisman, Djimon Hounsou, Bae Doona and Staz Nair) return to her adopted home of Veldt to celebrate – but of course we’re only really just gearing up to the big centrepiece fight now. This is the element that Snyder identifies being proudest of in the sequel, balancing the ‘complicated dance’ of ‘intertwining’ elements in the climactic battle.

With an abundance of spaceships, droids, laser-blasters, bounty hunters and – yes – in this one, even lightsabers, the Star Wars comparisons have come in thick and fast. That is, after all, how Rebel Moon started its life, as a pitch to Lucasfilm over a decade ago.

Snyder reckons it’s a struggle to get away from Star Wars in the genre anyway though.

‘You can’t have spaceships landing and guys coming out and firing guns, without you thinking, “Oh, it’s like [Star Wars].”

Rebel Moon’s comparison with Star Wars is hard to avoid says Snyder, considering the franchise’s monster success (Picture: Netflix)

The film’s ensemble cast of fighters, hunters, farmers and semi-robots, featuring (from L) Doona Bae as Nemesis, Ray Fisher as Bloodaxe, Staz Nair as Tarak, Michiel Huisman as Gunnar, Boutella as Kora, Charlie Hunnam as Kai, E. Duffy as Milius and Djimon Hounsou as Titus (Picture: Netflix/Clay Enos)

The new Netflix franchise actually famously started off as a pitch for a Star Wars movie (Picture: Lucasfilm/Fox/Kobal/Rex)

‘They’ve cut such a wide swath through sort of all sci-fi – now with the TV shows and all the amount of movies they have – they’ve gobbled up so much iconography, that it’s really difficult to not have that comparison,’ he argues.

But for him, he’s confident his upcoming director’s cuts of the two Rebel Moon movies, scheduled for the summer, will help.

‘The difference becomes a lot starker because of how adult those are,’ he shares of the upcoming R-rated versions, where Snyder’s vision most comfortably fits – and where his intention for Rebel Moon originally was.

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‘The director’s cuts are the movie I wrote,’ he says, claiming they draw ‘a very insane comparison’ as a ‘grown-up version’.

An interesting facet of the tamed-down PG-13 versions of Rebel Moon (12A for us in the UK, although the first was still classified a 15) – something which Snyder initially labels a ‘problem’, before backtracking – is it’s ‘really earnest’.

Aside from Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver, we’ve also got the director’s cut releases for both movies so far arriving in the summer (Picture: Netflix/Clay Enos)

Snyder made his name, and firmly established a lot of his stylistic hallmarks, with 300 in 2006 (Picture: Warner Bros)

‘It becomes really serious, and that’s fun for the trauma because it makes everything really real. But I think in the R-rated versions you’re gonna see it’s much more – the tropes become more self-aware and it’s a little bit more fun, even though it’s way more violent and insane, you know what I mean?’

So far, so classic Snyder.

‘It’s over the top, so you get to go, “Oh, I see!” a little bit more,’ he adds.

Snyder has really made director’s cuts popular as a filmmaker, thanks to his well-received retake on Justice League in 2021 after he left the original project to be with his family – alongside his producer wife Deborah Snyder – following his daughter Autumn’s tragic death in 2017.

This time, he’s built the director’s cuts into his contract.

‘Making a giant space movie, the economics say you can’t really have an R-rated version because we need the biggest audience to see the movie – and this allows me to sit down and write a crazy movie that has no business existing.’

He praises the streamer’s approach to his Rebel Mooniverse.

‘Netflix, in their wisdom, was like, “Well, we have a way to make that movie exist” – the crazy version – “and the way you do that is you give us something we can sell that is consistent with your vision, but that broadens the audience – maybe two hours would be cool, maybe PG-13 would be cool… What do you think?”

The filmmaker has popularised director’s cuts, having had success with his re-do of Justice League in 2021 (Picture: Warner Bros)

‘And I go, “If I do that, then I get over here, just whatever I want?” “Yes.” “Okay!” It’s a good deal – I mean, for me it is,’ he says.

Not every fan or filmgoer is keen about Snyder’s pre-planned two bites of the cherry though – will we still be fussed in a few months’ time? Nothing is confirmed yet, but Snyder has suggested an August release approximately six hours’ run-time between the two new cuts. 

But for Snyder, the opportunity to have complete creative freedom over these versions – and have them in the ‘same pipeline’ – was on offer too tempting to turn down. Even if he can’t get the officially confirmed performance numbers to bolster his claims of outstripping 2023’s box office behemoth Barbie in terms of eyes on the film, as he suggested on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast in March.

‘The thing about Netflix that’s amazing is when I release the director’s cuts, it’s in the same pipeline as this, there’s no difference. Whereas if I had done this as a theatrical film, and then wanted the director’s cuts to exist, I don’t think I would have gotten a theatrical release at the same level – it just doesn’t make sense, especially if the movie had already been out.

‘But I think in this case, it’ll be a much more interesting experiment because everyone will have access to them.’

On the topic of more Rebel Moon, the Dawn of the Dead director has already shared that a third part is possible (and even partially-written), should the viewing figures support – although today he seems to be hinting that we should prepare for Rebel Moon – Part Four as well, and maybe even beyond.

We may well get more than the heavily hinted at Rebel Moon – Part Three (Picture: Netflix/Clay Enos)

Villainous Noble actor Skrein and lead actress Boutella at the London special screening for The Scargiver (Picture: Getty)

Nothing is confirmed yet however, with Snyder simply saying thatonce they have ‘a complete picture’ of how the franchise has performed with fans ‘we are absolutely prepared to make more of these movies’.

‘From a story standpoint, there’s plenty more to do,’ he continues, before revealing: ‘We were talking about if you made another Rebel Moon movie, would the audience be like, “Well, don’t we get two? Because I think we always – it seems like we always should get two of these movies? Whenever you make a movie it should be two, because, otherwise, what, we’re gonna make one? You’re going back to one? That’s weird.” So, these are the kinds of things we’re talking about!’

Regardless of how many Rebel Moon movies we end up with, Snyder and his co-writers Kurt Johnstad and Shay Hatten have already discussed an endpoint.

‘We have a huge outline that takes us all the way to a battle maybe at Moa [one of the planets that makes up the Motherworld] at the end.’

It feels churlish to speak with Snyder and not mention his wife and producing partner, Deborah, 55, who has produced all of his films since 300, after co-founding Cruel and Unusual Films (since renamed The Stone Quarry) together in 2004, alongside their producing partner Wesley Coller.

Their partnership is reminiscent of that of husband-and-wife team Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas, another director-producer duo who were recently garlanded with Oscars for Oppenheimer – and with whom the Snyders worked on 2013’s Man of Steel.

Snyder and his wife Deborah Snyder make a formidable filmmaking team (Picture: Dave Benett/WireImage)

What is the greatest plus and negative of having consistently teamed up both personally and professionally over the past 20 years?

‘The biggest positive of course is that we are just joined at the hip, and we’re really each other’s allies and each other’s kind of confidantes and each other’s protectors,’ Snyder says easily.

He’s also aware of the attractive package they over to employers and a studio.

‘You get a lot of bang for the buck with that, because we just never stop working!’ he laughs. ‘I think that’s probably the biggest challenge too, is that we are just always, no matter what – even on our anniversary dinner – we’re talking about the movie or whatever.

‘“We should really take some time away from the business…”’ he chuckles, likely parroting advice the couple has been given over the years, even perhaps to each other before wryly admitting: ‘That’s not a thing.’

Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver is out on Netflix on Friday, April 19. Rebel Moon – Part One: Child of Fire is available to stream on Netflix now.

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