Army Of The Dead Review
Zombies have evolved The zombie genre has changed, as have Zack Snyder. In 2004, his chic, exciting debut -an adaptation from George A. Romero's Dawn Of The Dead -it announced the debut of a unique blockbuster voice and the rebirth of the undead that had been dormant for a long time. (This time, they're able run!) After a long time in the dark, washed out super-soap show of the DCEU It's refreshing witness Snyder return to his passion for his first love through this fun romp of a genre mash-up that allows Snyder free with his most joyful indulgences just as he does his most sinister exuberances.
He's not a dally. The first blast occurs at about three minutes and, from there, it's a torrent of uninhibited gunfights and gore. The opening sequence — not many films can create slow-motion, balletic opening sequences in the same way or slowly as Snyder is able to establish the story's premise. In it, an outbreak of zombies engulfs Las Vegas, the capital city. Las Vegas, with all its negatives (strippers, Elvis impersonators, Liberace-style performers, a leopard) that are destined to hunt for the brains of all time.
With some hints from Escape From New York, it's not an entirely novel idea — it was created last year, in actual, Train To Busan sequel Peninsula was inspired by a similar 'heist and zombies' idea. It's not without flaws as well: following his nearly four hours Justice League cut, two-and-a-half hours could seem like a reasonable amount of time however, there are some slow-moving problems. After the rollicking opening scene it's a bit clumsy in the introductions as the film scrambles to introduce its massive cast.
Army Of The Dead is most enjoyable when Snyder gets into the fun and has moments of pure fun.
There's just not enough space to include every one of them. It's enough to say that, in the tradition of horror, you shouldn't be too cozy with any of the characters. However, credit must be given the role of Dave Bautista as the battle-scarred Scott who gives an edgy battle-weariness ("Yeah it's likely that we'll end up dying," he admits in the opening sequence) and together with Raul Castillo, and Omari Hardwick contributes to keep Snyder's testosterone limit. Kudos also to Tig Notaro, who's late appearance as a helicopter pilot who eats cigars is an absolute highlight.
The film isn't devoid of clichés. A lot of the characters seem to be taken from the Aliens collection and range from the quiet private to the dangerous company man to Nora's Vasquez-like hero, while the safer-cracking scene has the feel of Danny Ocean. However, sometimes the tropes are the most enjoyable part: watch a golden-hour scene of gear-up with a flashing cover of 'Bad moon rising and an action scene at a gambling establishment, punctuated by dollars soaring in slow-motion, like were directed by John Woo.
Army Of The Dead is the best when Snyder is able to enjoy the fun and offers himself moments of pure fun. When he attempts to explore more emotional terrain like the repetitive guilt-to-redemption storyline that focuses on Scott and his daughter who is estranged from him which is played with aplomb by Ella Purnell — we get a sense of the weight of the run time. When the film is dragged down it's hard to tell what's happening under the bonnet also; Snyder's take on Dawn the satirical slant of Romero's zombies has been masked. When the bullets begin flying and the flesh of zombies explodes, it seems like Snyder is doing precisely what he's aiming for and that promise from early 2004 returns to focus.