It’s been a few minutes since we had our last zombie treat, isn’t it? Well, Zack Snyder has returned with his latest film Army of the Dead to sate our appetites.
With an ensemble cast lead by Dave Bautista, Army of the Dead hopes to give moviegoers something fun as well as frightful. Army of the Dead is about a team of specialists brought together to break into a Las Vegas vault containing two hundred million dollars. The catch? Las Vegas is the centre of a zombie kingdom. The team has approximately a day to get in and out before Las Vegas is nuked and the zombie scourge is eradicated.
You son of a b***h I’m in
What Snyder does well in this film is putting together a compelling and surprisingly emotional story. Bautista portrays Scott Ward as an emotionally broken man. He has lost a considerable amount when you first meet him and Bautista is giving a solid performance. He sells his personal tragedy well. I was reminded of his role in Bladerunner 2049 and this role reminded me of how great he can be.
Surrounding him is a captivating team. Highlights include Matthias Schweighöfer as Dieter. He is the team’s safecracker and he is hilarious. Schweighöfer plays the character as a savant with safecracking, everything else though that is required for this job he is terrible at and Schweighöfer makes him so magnetic as a character. Another character alongside Dieter is Omari Hardwick’s Vanderohe. He is a soldier that has run with Ward for a long time. Hardwick plays him as a warrior poet and his back and forth with each character, especially Dieter is brilliant. He has a particular monologue in the middle of the film and I adored it. You’ll know it when you see it.
The cast as a whole is brilliant. Especially Tig Notaro who was given the fascinating task to replace one of the original cast members due to serious allegations that arose after production of the film had finished. Her character Marianne Peters is a ball-busting, snarky piece of crap and I loved her. An aspect that made it so interesting from a film students point of view is that she is not in the film with the rest of the cast.
He removed the original actor and then replaced him with her. She then shot her scenes separately from the rest of the cast. If you do not know this going into the film you might just miss it. Snyder has worked some cinematic magic with Army of the Dead and I loved it. The technical feats he achieved to showcase a new twist on the zombie genre and marry it to the heist genre is remarkable.
There is also a fascinating backdrop to the zombies that sadly is barely touched upon in the film. There is a terrifying zombie hierachy with a hulking king at the top. His presence looms over the team as they try and reach their treasure.
A gore-geous treat
Snyder has crafted a gory mess of a film. It is splashed with vibrant colours. Snyder utilises the landscape of Las Vegas well. He also utilises crafty tools to incorporate a sense of terror in this film. Each of the characters, save for Dieter, are highly competent in zombie-killing but they’ve never been in such unfamiliar territory. One such scene has the team sneaking through a building of sleeping zombies. The only way they can get through is by using glowsticks to light their way among the hordes.
It’s a tense scene and highlights how smart each character is. I have to say that the film doesn’t fall into the majority of tropes that a zombie film or a heist film can fall into. No one makes a stupid mistake that you scream at, if a person is compromised they figure out the best way to try and ensure that the rest don’t fall. Most important of all no one believes they can save someone who has been bit. This trope is so annoying and it was impressive to see this did not happen.
My main issue and it’s a big one is that the film had a definitive end, and then it keeps going for another ten minutes and those remaining minutes undermine in my opinion the originality that Snyder and his team had built up until this point. It will likely be a point of contention for many people. I at first thought it was quite funny but on reflection, I feel it comes off as sequel bait which is completely unnecessary in my opinion.
Either way, Army of the Dead is a bonkers new addition to the zombie genre. By injecting it with some heart and humour in equal parts with the horror Army of the Dead will be a lot of fun for a lot of people. It is out on Friday, the 21st of May on Netflix.
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