Army of the Dead
Army of the Dead (2021) movie review
Army of the Dead follows a group of mercenaries, led by Dave Bautista, who have to break into a Las Vegas casino so steal $200 million. Also Las Vegas is totally overrun by zombies. The film, written and directed by Zack Snyder, was released on Netflix this past weekend to initially strong audience reviews. However those reviews have seemed to come down to line up with the mixed critical consensus. Why the mixed feelings from critics and audiences? Because it’s a Zack Snyder film, that’s why.
I went into Army of the Dead with not high, but at least positive expectations. Rachel didn’t watch it at all. Yeah she made the right call to be honest. Its not terrible. Actually I found a good deal of the film fairly entertaining! But the questionable character choices that build throughout the entire film and ultimately lead to the terrible third act really make Army of the Dead a hard sell when there are so many better zombie movies and/or heist movies you could watch.
First thing that caught my attention that something was very wrong here were the robot zombies. No I’m kidding. It was before the robot zombies…
Despite a truly wonderful opening credit sequence that manages to set up the story, tone, and characters for the film perfectly, I couldn’t help but notice that I hated the cinematography. Sure enough, Zack Snyder and his lack of self-control shot the film like a first year film student would have: with tons of close ups and an infuriating use of shallow depth of field. Will this bother anyone else? I don’t know. Did it bother me? Yes. Almost as much as the robot zombies.
Speaking of zombies, they were defiantly one of the most interesting aspects of the film. First, I love that there are different types of zombies. I know we’ve seen that before, but something about the way this film treats its inspirations really worked. They also offered a threat without always being your usual mindless horde threat, which did feel more unique than other zombie films that tried to raise the stakes in this way. That said, the stakes definitely could have been higher. The most important thing on the line were the lives of the protagonists, and I didn’t care about most of them.
To the talent’s credit, this isn’t a problem with the acting. Everyone in the film does a good job, especially Bautista, who makes a pretty solid lead in this film. Also Tig Notaro was way too good to be a last minute replacement! But in the end I just did not care about the characters! Everyone feels like they are either a very flat zombie movie cliché or they have something missing in their character development. Chain saw guy never uses his chain saw. Like, why not? Plus the film banks hard on the relationship between Bautista and his daughter, who doesn’t need to be there. Not only do I not buy the emotion that the story goes for, but her inclusion also really breaks the film in a lot of ways.
I think the entertainment value this film offers will come down to the individual. I know that feels like an easy way out, but it’s true. If you are fine watching an overly long movie full of really confusing character decisions that doesn’t pack a punch but kills some time, hey it’s not a bad watch. And for a good chunk of the runtime, I was indeed mindlessly entertained! But the second you start to think, the whole thing falls apart like the house of cards that it is. So should you give Army of the Dead a shot? Only if you need to kill time and you don’t think too hard. Other than that, it’s not really worth the time. 5/10.
So Army of the Dead? Did you see it? What did you think? And what is your all-time favorite zombie film and why? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, let us know what we should talk about next!
-review by Ryan Prince