Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead
review by Bobby Blakey
Before Zack Snyder took over the Spartans or the DC Universe he dived head first into the world of the undead with the 2004 remake of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. I think that film kicked all kinds of ass and was hoping we would get more in the genre from him. Now I am getting my wish with his latest film Army of the Dead starring Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana De La Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Garret Dillahunt, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo, Huma S. Qureshi, Samantha Win, Richard Cetrone, and Michael Cassidy. Could this bring something new to the genre with Snyder’s vision or will it be a heist not worty dying for?
Army of the Dead follows a zombie outbreak that has left Las Vegas in ruins and walled off from the rest of the world. When Scott Ward, a displaced Vegas local, former zombie war hero who’s now flipping burgers on the outskirts of the town he now calls home, is approached by casino boss Bly Tanaka, it’s with the ultimate proposition: Break into the zombie-infested quarantine zone to retrieve $200 million sitting in a vault beneath the strip before the city is nuked by the government in 32 hours. Driven by the hope that the payoff could help pave the way to a reconciliation with his estranged daughter Kate, Ward takes on the challenge, assembling a ragtag team of experts for the heist. With a ticking clock, a notoriously impenetrable vault, and a smarter, faster horde of Alpha zombies closing in, only one thing’s for certain in the greatest heist ever attempted: survivors take all.
Snyder has dove head first into the zombie world again, but this time brought his own spin on them and new kinds of fun. Of course there are the usual elements you expect in a zombie flick, but new twists and turns with their behaviors and abilities. Not since 28 Days Later have I seen such a drastic change to the zombie trope and I love it. I have no doubt there are other zombie films that have changed things and not saying everything here is totally original, but the way it is handled stands out as something fresh that the genre needed.
The cast is fun to watch and all look to be having a great time. I love watching Bautista do his thing and he continues to grow as an actor. He is a great front man to this flick, but was surprised about how much of an ensemble it actually is. If anyone is out of place to me it would be Tig Notaro, who does a good job it just felt off. I am sure this is more due to the way she was brought in to replace Chris D’Elia and having to shoot all her scenes on a green screen.
I love the looks of the zombies and using Vegas as the starting point offered up so many fun undead characters complete with a zombie Tiger that you see in the trailer. The film kicks off with plenty of action and after some down time to get all the characters together and prep for the mission dives right back in and never lets up until the very end. It offers up tons of great kills and blood galore that will no doubt satisfy the gore hounds out there.
I had a blast with this one and with talks of this being the beginning of an all-new zombie universe from Snyder, I hope it finds the audience it deserves so we can return ASAP. If you love ass kicking zombies and the crazy characters that take them on then check out Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead streaming now on Netflix.