Army of the Dead (Action, Crime, Horror) (2021)
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: Zack Snyder, Shay Hatten, Joby Harold
Stars: Dave Bautista, Ana de la Reguera, Omari Hardwick, Tig Notaro
When hired by Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), owner of the Bly casino on the Las Vegas strip. An assortment of mercenaries led by ex-ass kicker Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) enter the zombie conquered city in an attempt to break into a vault, with only ninety-six hours until the president intends to launch a nuke to wipe out the zombie bastion that was once Las Vegas.
After a foray to direct an assortment of DC universe films, among those the critically acclaimed ‘’Justice League Snyder Cut’’. Zack Snyder is out to film a brand new creative venture featuring a casino heist during a zombie outbreak.
Both creative and utterly ridiculous, ‘’Army of the Dead’’ envisions a rag-tag group of mercs wreaking havoc amongst the ruins of this once great city, featuring several iconic structures created solely for the film, such as the Olympus and Bly casinos. Unlike many other IP’s featuring reanimated corpses, Snyder still manages to bring some creativity to the ghoulish trope. While most interactions between the anti-heroes and fiends are your classic shambler zombies, there’s also a narrative around more evolved, seemingly intelligent versions of these familiar monsters, which seemed almost reminiscent of the Uruk-Hai in the ‘’Lord of the Rings’’ movies.
The primary idea of this diverse group coming together to perform a daring mission isn’t entirely new, perhaps most recently seen in David Ayer’s ‘’Suicide Squad’’. From the very beginning, you’re likely convinced it’ll be improbable for any of the characters to survive, and you’re probably right in making that statement while ready for the campy rollercoaster ride to come. Much like properties such as ‘’Godzilla’’, ‘’Rambo’’ and most video game movies, you know to leave most expectation of a sensical plot at the door.
In terms of visual effects, ‘’Army of the Dead’’ does a brilliant job of blending immense CGI models with real-life sets and actors. Not just the VFX but also the makeup department has gone above and beyond to create an undead universe unlike anything else, with different levels of degrading flesh implemented in what can be described as one of the goriest scale measurements in cinematic history.
If Zack Snyder’s latest project reminds me of anything, I’d have to draw a comparison to properties like ‘’Zombieland’’ and the ‘’Dead Rising’’ videogame franchise. Neither of these fail to entertain, but once everything is said and done, ‘’Army of the Dead’’ doesn’t quite have enough gusto to reach the next level. Its balance between traditional drama and B movie camp falters at a multitude of moments, not creating an entirely coherent picture. With less of the serious tones and more campiness, it might’ve improved, but at the same time, you leave wondering if the script has enough substance to retain some semblance of distinctiveness even at that point.
It’s not the acting, effects, or directing. Most people would appreciate this effort in a sub-genre that doesn’t need much embellishment to attain a large audience, but in my humble opinion, Snyder’s latest ode to zombies doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Certainly entertaining, but it doesn’t quite pack the punch it needed.