Army of the Dead (2021)
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: Zack Snyder, Shay Hatten and Joby Harold
Actors: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighofer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Garret Dillahunt, Raul Castillo, Samantha Win & Tig Notaro.
Music: Tom Holkenborg
Production Company: The Stone Quarry
Budget: $90 Million
Genre: Zombie / Horror / Heist / Action
Themes: Zombies, relationships, heist, team, underdogs, action, smart zombies,
Army of the Dead is a zombie heist film that brings nostalgia from 80s horror mixed with 90s action movie plot that produces a seriousness to its satire. The colourful visuals and music notoriously linked to Las Vegas, match the characters and bizarre story. Dave Bautista is joined by an array of unique actors, with director Zack Snyder who bring a comic book feel to this Netflix release.
Zack Snyder is all over the internet right now, with his recent release of Justice League, the fans are smitten and are demanding more! The more interesting request is for the release of Snyder’s cut of Suckerpunch. I can’t imagine it could get any clearer from a re-release, and honestly, I am prepared to be wrong so #ReleaseTheSnyderPunch. I digress though, Army of the Dead is a really fun film that has a wicked sense of humour that I didn’t know Snyder had.
It’s a goddamn zombie tiger! That’s crossing the line!
I’m not a Snyder aficionado, I just know I have always admired his visual abilities. The mise-en-scene has never been an issue for Snyder. But personally, story structure and empathy towards his characters are. While this film had a good story structure, the empathy towards the characters were lacking.
We follow our main protagonist Scott Ward (Bautista) who is hired by Bly Tanaka (Sanada) to retrieve the money from his casino before the city is nuked by the government. And It’s no surprise the reason why they want to nuke it is because of the raging zombie problem within the make-shift wall that surrounds Las Vegas.
The tone of the film is set up from the beginning with a quirky opening sequence reminiscent of Watchmen and Shaun of the Dead. The story tells of how Las Vegas becomes the mecca for a zombie civilisation. When Scott Ward has his crew they embark on their quest, but not before his estranged daughter joins the team. The characters are cliché but not disappointing, mainly because of the opening sequence preparing the viewer's expectations.
Everything we did, all those people we saved, look what it got us. But what if, just once, we did something just for us?
It produced an interesting feeling of nostalgia even though it still felt like an original film. As mentioned previously, I believe the nostalgia came from various places. Firstly, the dialogue and mixture of characters reminded me of the heist films of the early 2000s like the Italian Job or Oceans 11. Also similar to the more ridiculous of the Fast and the Furious films. The bad-ass women were similar to the 80s horror stars who “have seen too much” like Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis. The steely faced hero who says very little but has a heart of gold like in 90s action films with Keanu Reeves and Bruce Willis.
In a strange way, this film was comforting and easy to watch with its spectacle overshadowing a lot of the content. With this being said, three-quarters of the way through I started to lose interest. It was also the part of the film that slows down towards the epic finale. And the ending of the film was great. It wrapped up all the storylines, the final girl survives but at great costs, and the classic scene of “is it actually over?” Which leaves it open for a sequel if they choose to.
I thought I’d fucked that up… forever.
Forever is a long time.
It wouldn’t be a Happy and Tragic review without talking about the visual choices and in this case, there are two elephants in the room. The depth of field and Peters’ character. The shallow depth of field was an odd choice. It seemed to be more of an experimental choice rather than a story-motivated decision, such as claustrophobic or dream-like scenes. It wasn’t too distracting and had sparsely felt jarring- which means it worked this time, but I hope he doesn’t do it too much in the future.
The other interesting visual element was Tig Notaro’s character Peters. She was added in later, via green screen for a few scenes due to the allegations towards Chris D’Elia that made him leave the film. It actually worked out in the end because Peters was a great character but was noticeable that there were very few interactions with her which hindered her potential. A side note though, her costume also looked like a mixture between Ghostbusters and Top Gun, which I’m not mad at.
Overall Army of the Dead is an entertaining ride from start to finish, with a small intermission that doesn’t linger too long before the big action-packed finale. It’s hard to be picky with a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and when it comes to Snyder films, this is one of my favourites. Visually stunning, with the exception of the shallow depth of field which felt experimental rather than a story-driven choice. The film was fun and is added to yet another great Netflix film which proves they know their platform and audience.
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Poster images were found through: www.impawards.com
All opinions are my own and factual information is found through IMDB or Wikipedia.