Thursday, May 20, 2021

Army of the Dead - Review

 After months and months of Zack Snyder hearing his name in the news with the long sought after debut of the famed Snydercut, the director returns to the world of the undead with Army of the Dead. His first venture into the zombie world came 17 years ago, with a remake of George Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead, but instead of adapting someone else’s work into his own style, Snyder takes an original, over the top approach to his newest film.

After a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries, lead by Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), takes the ultimate gamble by venturing into the quarantine zone for the greatest heist ever.

First things first, this is a Zack Snyder film, and the man has made a name for himself with his action prowess and the ability to make the visuals in any of his film unique to his exact style. Army of the Dead nails one of these assumed aspects of a Snyder outing, utilizing all the bombastic action and over the top zombie killing you could ever want. On the other hand, the visuals can only provide so much when the genre you’re playing in has been done to death (no pun intended). So instead of adding too much unnecessary visual flair, and very limited slow motion, Snyder messes with the idea of zombies, crafting a world that’s fascinating in its structure and history rather than just the mindless eating machines everyone is used to.

That’s not to say Army of the Dead is some pillar of excellent story telling, quite the contrary in fact. The narrative is far less important than the scenario that actually places the characters into the apocalyptic, wild world of Las Vegas. And yet, Snyder and fellow writers Shay Hatten and Joby Harold, try so desperately to tell a story with some meaning in the middle of their testosterone fueled action flick, and subsequently bloating the runtime to an unneeded length of two and a half hours.

Regardless of the story or characters themselves being unable to captivate on their own, the performances behind it all are at least fairly entertaining. Bautista capitalizes on the opportunity to lead an action film, showing off his capabilities and comfort around set pieces and fight scenes. The rest of the cast fills in very hollow one note characters, but they all do it well, serving their purposes excellently on their way to the finale.

In the end, it’s safe to say there won’t be any internet campaigns for an extra cut with this one. From its opening moments to the closing credits, every inch of this film is unapologetically Snyder, for better or worse. The visuals and gore will do enough to satisfy the zombie film fans, while the characters, hollow as they are, capture enough attention to fill in the action and inevitable death scenes that follow. With the success of Snyder moving away from comic book properties to zombies, maybe this won’t be the last time he takes a trip to the world of the undead.

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