Being one of a collection of movie directors whose work I particularly like and why. April Fool's! Snyder is on my list of worst directors!
Best known for: Dawn of the Dead (2004), 300 (2006), Watchmen (2009), Sucker Punch (2011), Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Most emblematic: BvS
Widely considered the best: 300
Most underrated: Sucker Punch. I don't think people are talking about how terrible it is ENOUGH.
Personal favorite: 300, I guess. Maybe because I haven't seen Dawn of the Dead, I dunno.
First one I ever saw: 300. In theaters: Man of Steel.
Favorite actors: No cast seems to work twice for him unless forced to do so by a franchise.
Recurring themes and tropes: Comic book adaptations. Debunking the concept of selfless heroism or proving its futility.
Elements of style: Visual storytelling. Slow-mo, painterly shots. Super-obvious soundtrack choices. Image appropriation. Violence, sometimes ill-judged or amorally presented.
Reputation: Objectivist. Drinking deep at Christopher Nolan's troth. Infuriating to comic book fans for wrong-headed comments made in promotional material.
Appreciation: Zack Snyder isn't so much a film director as he is a scrapbooker - and that in no way should be taken as a dig against people who enjoy scrapbooking. While I can appreciate some of the images he crafts for the screen, most of these images are taken from other sources. In 300 and Watchmen, he clearly recreates comic book panels, slowing time down so we can appreciate that's what's happening, and to some degree, he does this kind of thing in his later DC movies. If he likes an image, or a sequence from another film, or a piece of music, he will try to incorporate it into his film. And there's nothing wrong with that on the face of it. Plenty of directors pay tribute to the works of art they love.
In Snyder's case, however, that's about all he does. His movies come off as collages of vaguely familiar scenes and pictures pasted together into a mess that screams for its editor to be taken out into the courtyard and shot. Either we get the feeling that we've all seen it before - in the original comics or in Chris Nolan's adaptations - or at its worst, the pacing is completely off, the narrative flow disjointed. With great directors who we could accuse of excessive homage, their culture is usually of high enough a level as to make those tributes clever, quirky, only spotted by more knowledgeable audiences, or evolved into something new. But Snyder is a mainstream guy with mainstream tastes (really?? your favorite comics are Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and The Death of Superman? How original) and worse, a mainstream understanding of the material he likes. By which I mean he's a passable reader who apparently doesn't really "get" the source material or its importance, and appears to have not thought about subtext or character motivations. And so we get one of the densest, most allusive comics ever written, Watchmen, done up as a series of plot points. Where it and TDKR (and even TDOS) are end game stories that act as comments on/contrasts of previous stories, he STARTS there.
Obviously, many of his films' problems lie with the writers, but his interest in molding stories doesn't make him ask (or answer) any questions that resolve plot, theme or character. In certain doses, this creates pleasant ambiguity. With him, only confusion. In some ways, I think Snyder's worse than, say, Michael Bay, who just as equally is a studio stooge who was turned into a blockbuster brand, because he has delusions of artistry. And some people buy into it. Oh, all the pretty pictures! It IS ambiguous! A thinking man's comic book movies! Maybe. But all I see is a man misunderstanding the appeal of the properties he's working with (clearest in his media interventions, because again, it's hard to derive themes from the work itself), practicing unclear storytelling, and stealing cool images from others without improving on them.
But how do YOU rate Snyder? My takedown is a little extreme for humorous effect (in the day's spirit), but I haven't said anything I didn't actually believe.