ARMY OF THE DEAD Review; "Zack Snyder Makes Zombies Cool Again But Falls Into Bad Habits Along The Way"

ARMY OF THE DEAD Review; "Zack Snyder Makes Zombies Cool Again But Falls Into Bad Habits Along The Way"

Our review of Army of the Dead is finally here, but what does Zack Snyder bring to the table in his first post-Justice League movie? It's hit-and-miss, but definitely a whole lot of batsh*t crazy fun...

Army of the Dead is Zack Snyder's first movie since Justice League, and it's fair to say his return to the zombie genre following 2004's Dawn of the Dead delivers a combination of both his best and worst qualities as a filmmaker. Inconsistent storytelling and plot holes are rife here, but Snyder's signature visual style and what proves to be an undeniably enjoyable, if somewhat bloated, trip to Las Vegas go some way in making up for that. After battling Warner Bros. over his vision for the DC Extended Universe, this is Snyder fully let loose, and it's clear he's having an absolute blast. Chances are, you will too. 

Following a ragtag team put together to travel into the zombie-infested Sin City and retrieve $20 million before it's destroyed by a nuclear bomb, Army of the Dead delivers on its premise, even if heist movie fans are likely to be disappointed by what proves to be a relatively straightforward job. However, it's when things inevitably go wrong that we really start to have fun, and the zombie action in this movie never disappoints. There are heaps of blood and guts for fans of the undead and plenty of inventive ways for them to die; most impressive, however, is Snyder's ability to make those "smart" Alpha zombies work on screen, and that certainly helps freshen up zombies after years of watching them do the same old thing each week in The Walking Dead. Given free reign by Netflix, the director delivers some killer visuals, a great soundtrack, and some moments that will have you on the edge of your seat watching through your fingers. There are some decent scares too, despite the focus primarily being on action. 

Army of the Dead's cast is definitely a mixed bag, with Dave Bautista the clear standout. With more backstory than the movie's other characters, the actor is given a lot to play with and makes the most of it to deliver an emotional, badass performance. Ella Purnell, Nora Arnezeder, and Ana de la Reguera are all terrific, while we're definitely excited to see more of Matthias Schweighöfer's German safecracker in that planned prequel movie after watching him in action here. Omari Hardwick is another fantastic addition to proceedings, though we can't help but wonder why you'd give his character such a badass weapon, only to have it primarily used by another character to cut a hole in the wall rather than showing him mowing down zombies. Tig Notaro is just plain bad, unfortunately, while Theo Rossi and Garret Dillahunt end up playing the same characters we've seen them do countless times before (on the plus side, they do them well).
 


You don't watch a movie like this one for the plot, but the inconsistency in the quality of storytelling is definitely problematic. Some of you may consider this a spoiler (though Snyder has talked openly about it in interviews), but as the movie progresses, it becomes clear that some of the zombies are, uh, robots. It's teased throughout and not directly addressed by the characters, but just as it feels like we're getting a big reveal of some sort...it never comes. For reasons we can't quite fathom, the director just threw this idea in there and did nothing with it, while a sequel tease - and we'd very much like to return to this world - falls flat given how tacked on it feels. It also doesn't help that the movie feels 100% grounded in reality one minute but, more often than not, something then happens is utterly ludicrous and borderline sci-fi.

That makes Army of the Dead something of a weird experience, though not one it's hard to recommend. If you don't think too much about the familiar pitfalls Snyder falls into (perhaps the robot zombies will remain a random, unanswered question similar to Man of Steel's open pod), then you'll be left with an action-packed, bloody, and often extremely stylish movie that helps breathe some new life into zombies. You'll never look at a tiger the same way again. 

Zack Snyder makes zombies cool again in Army of the Dead, but falls into bad habits along the way. Dave Bautista, however, steals the show, and the movie is fun, dumb, and wacky enough to make this a franchise we hope to sink our teeth into again. 

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