Slo-mo Snyder directs first original

Sucker Punch among week’s feature debuts

Here’s what we know about Zack Snyder. The man loves slow motion. Loves it. In 300 he proved that a story’s potentially racist undertones won’t keep young all-American men out of the theatre as long as you’ve got sexy Spartans with glistening abs running at each other very slowly. Or having orgies with hunchbacks. Very slowly. Have either of those two things in your movie — slowly — and you’re guaranteed a hit with young male audiences.

Snyder’s next project was Watchmen . Fans of the comic book pretend it doesn’t exist. All the people who bought the comic book two weeks before the movie opened and pretended to be fans have most likely forgotten it was ever made. But it proved that Snyder knew how to shoot violence and he stuck to an ambitious slow-mo vision that was completely loyal to the visual world laid out in the comics. It might not have been the right vision but at least it wasn’t school of Bruckheimer shaky-camera nonsense.

Then came an animated movie about owls. Owls are hot right now. Legend of the Guardians was decidedly not.

This weekend Snyder’s latest directorial effort Sucker Punch hits screens. It’s the first time Snyder is directing an original story and with a budget of $85 million it looks like a huge risk. Among the main cast Vanessa Hudgens is the only real household name and she’s mostly famous for sending naked photos of herself on her cellphone. And then doing it again. And again.

Why does any of this matter? Because Snyder’s been tapped to bring the next reincarnation of the Superman franchise to the big screen and if Sucker Punch is a hit he’ll likely be granted the freedom to bring a distinct vision to that faltering franchise. But if it bombs Snyder’s last legitimate hit will have been 300 and Warner Bros. may have to reconsider how much artistic control they give him over the Man of Steel.

Fortunately for Snyder the only other wide release this weekend is Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. When we last checked in on our wimpy pal Greg we thought things were looking up. Well it turns out his brother’s still a jerk. Mayhem almost certainly ensues hopefully in slow motion.

Limitless won the box office last weekend and got all-round great reviews. When The Hangover Part 2 debuts at No. 1 later this year it’ll likely confirm to the world that Bradley Cooper is a bona fide star. And then we’ll be stuck with him. And it will be awful.

Honestly I thought Ryan Phillippe had retired from making movies and was living out his remaining days just being beautiful. I was wrong. He’s in The Lincoln Lawyer and when I checked what he’d been up to recently it turned out he’s actually made a pretty decent career for himself. Not great but he’s the most successful of the four lead actors in I Know What You Did Last Summer . That counts for something. I’m not saying it’s a reason to see The Lincoln Lawyer I’m just saying Ryan Phillippe still exists.

Rango is an unqualified hit. It likely has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Alfred Molina voices a character called Roadkill. But in an ideal world that’s exactly the sort of thing that would make a movie a hit. Not Bradley Cooper.

In its opening weekend Paul actually made money. Hopefully this sends a message of hope to all the middle-aged British geeks out there that if they stick to their vision and make two critically acclaimed but financially unsuccessful films a major motion picture studio will fund a third film and they too can become stars.