It has been a week since the Netflix release of Army of the Dead! A big congratulations to the movie on becoming the number one most viewed film globally for Netlfix last week! That being said, I might not need to say this but for the sake of formality, this is a SPOILER review.
I am personally not a crazy lover of the zombie genre, but I am a huge supporter of Zack Snyder. So, here goes the good and the bad for Army of the Dead!
First Fifteen: I am rarely 100% in on a Snyder project. There is usually a good handful of elements in his stuff that just don’t work for me. We’ll get into those. Yet, at the same time, there is ALWAYS something in his movies that just completely blows me away. In this film’s case it would have to be the opening fifteen minutes.
We have this opening sequence with the army transporting “Zeus” before the accident leading to his escape and invasion of Las Vegas. We then get a wonderful (and bloody) montage of the zombie infection spreading across iconic Sin City. Not only is it a well executed montage depicting the spread of the pathogen, but it introduced the main characters of the film (with no dialogue!) and creates a mini movie within a movie. There is a beginning, a middle, and a tragic end. Completely brilliant.
Aware that one of the prequel projects will be an anime series that dives into these first fifteen minutes, as well as other elements leading up to the movie’s plot, this introduction did a fantastic job of pitching that project.
Tig Notaro: My first encounter with this talent was a segment she did on Sarah Silverman’s Hulu series. From there I was hooked and had to go looking for more material. Her web series of trying to figure out who celebrities are and her stand-up special quickly became some of my favorites. Her role in Army of the Dead is no different. She is just this great comic relief and delivers an amazing performance.
Yes, I am aware that she had to shoot all of her scenes after the movie was already shot due to the removal of an actor that had her role. Considering that challenge I still think they managed to pull off something decent with her placement in the movie. Likewise, she was able to deliver a great comedic performance.
A part of me thought, eh she’s the comic relief, I’m sure she’ll get taken out early in the movie so the editing probably wasn’t as big of a challenge… LIES. She was there until the very end of this thing!! Loved it.
Brutal: This is a zombie movie. What do we want from the walking dead? GUTS. Snyder delivers on this 100% More so, he manages to still tell a character driven story without it being engulfed by the white noise of zombie violence. It’s well balanced from beginning to end.
Fun: One thing that Army of the Dead has going for it out of the gates is the fact that it’s a film that belongs to one of the most fun genres of movies. We’re not looking for Academy Award winning performances or plot. We’re looking for an entertaining time and Snyder deliver it. The soundtrack, the characters, the action, and even some of the ridiculous elements are great. As said at the beginning, I’m not a big zombie movie guy, but of all I have seen this is easily one of my favorites. There is comedy, there is heart, action, tragedy, and a great setup for other projects that we know are confirmed.
So Snyder: If you are specifically a Snyder fan you’re going to find him in just about every frame. There’s jacked beautiful bodies, signature slow-motion shots, plot points that leave you scratching your head (no shade!), and a f*** ton of explosions. If all else fails, if you love Snyder’s work, this movie should be no different for you.
Some Fuzzy Choices: To each their own! Personally, the consistent use of the blurred background was very distracting for me. It minimized the scope in many of the scenes. I am aware this was a movie with just $90 million, but it was felt at times. Primarily in the fact that the principal outside scenery was used on several occassions and Vegas streets governed by the undead were pretty much empty…
I’m sure the blurred background was a creative choice, but it just didn’t work all that well for me in some places.
Motivations: This is a common Achilles Heel in some movies; character motivations seem to make no sense other than the fact that the plot needs it to be. I am personally not someone blaming Ella Purnell’s Kate on the fate of the team, but her setup from beginning to end did feel very forced.
Bautista’s character’s emotional anchor was his daugther and the plot needed to find a way to have her present throughout the film. How? Get some dumb asses to sneak back into the zombie governed city for cash. I can understand Kate’s anger with Lilly’s (Nora Arnezeder) actions, but to the point that she makes herself responsible to go in herself to rescue them? She risks the lives of the very people that went into the city with her by going off on her own to find them? I just don’t know about all of that.
Also, Chambers, my girl, why would going BEHIND that POS be the way to make sure he doesn’t do anything fishy!? Honey, no! From the moment she said that it sounded more like, “I need you to go in front of me so you can betray me in order to spark this epic death sequence.”
I digress! Again, this is a zombie movie. It’s fine. However, I am being as unbiased as possible.
Missed Opportunities!: While on Chambers… Snyder seemed very cognizant of zombie movie tropes and throughout the film made very conscious choices to either lean into them or lean away. One in particular where I REALLY wish he had leaned away was with Chambers’ (Samantha Win) fight sequence. From the beginning of the silence stabbing to crashing through the window this woman showed she was a FIGHTER. She was epic. She was badass. She was dead…
The trope of the internal villain among the group betraying someone to cover his ass is so common! I would have loved to see her break through the glass, kill those suckers, and catch up to the group to expose Martin (Garret Dillahunt). It’s a nit pick! I’m not taking points off for this but felt it was worth mentioning.
Guys, overall I give Army of the Dead a solid 3 out of 5 potatoes!