Sunday, May 23, 2021
Zack Snyder returns to his zombie roots with Army of the Dead, a typically bloated, sometimes slow affair that, nonetheless, delivers the goods if you are a zombie genre fan.
Just as his Snyder cut of Justice League didn’t need to be 742 days long, this one didn’t need to clock in at nearly two and half hours. This film could lose 45 minutes and, I’m sure, be more watchable at that. He really needs to be a big boy and say goodbye to his unnecessary footage in his flicks. The struggle is real for Snyder when it comes to the editing room.
Alright, time to stop whining and talk about some of the good things in this move. For starters, the Las Vegas setting is a lot of fun. It’s become a sort of prison for the walking dead as the U.S. has quarantined the city after a zombie outbreak. A mobster gets the bright idea to put a team of mercenaries together and have them enter Vegas with the intent of breaking into a vault and stealing a whole bunch of money before the city is nuked into oblivion by the government.
Leading the group is Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), a former soldier reduced to frying burgers after his last mission. He needs the money, he has some zombie fighting experience, and he has some pals who can help get the job done, including badass Maria Cruz (Ana d la Reguera) and snarky helicopter pilot, Marianne Peters (Tig Notaro).
The film plays out as a hybrid of any zombie film you’ve ever seen (running zombies, walking zombies, smart zombies, dumb zombies) and Ocean’s Eleven. The zombie carnage and gore are fairly well done, and the special effects creating a devastated Vegas are okay (some sloppy CGI in places). While Notaro provides some laughs, Bautista is asked to play it straight and serious, and that’s a mistake. The film could’ve used some more dark humor, and Bautista is certainly capable of getting laughs as he has proved in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. His work her is a little flat.
Army is not as good as Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, a great film that helped kickstart his career and paid nice homage to George Romero. He does add a couple of cool things to the genre, including a zombie tiger (a former Siegfried and Roy employee) and a zombie queen.
Letting Bautista cut loose with some more humor, and a major editing session to cut down on the running time, could’ve qualified this as a very good zombie flick. As it stands, it’s passable mayhem that should’ve been better.