Director: Zach Snyder
Writer: Zach Snyder
Staring: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera, Omari Hardwock
Streaming: Netflix
Release Date: May 21, 2021

Zach Snyder is back. Following up on the success of his version of Justice League (screw that final Joker sequence though), Snyder has dived back into his bag of slo-mo and stylized tricks with Army Of The Dead.

Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a small band of mercenaries are hired to take a risky gamble and pull off 200-million-dollar heist amidst the flesh-eating terror that’s invaded the strip. Dave Bautista plays Scott Ward, the leader of the gang of misfits. Among the recognizable faces alongside the rising action star are Ella Purnell, Theo Rossi, and Garret Dillahunt.

I did not know going into the movie that Tig Notaro was hired as a replacement for Chris D’Elia following the sexual misconduct accusations set upon him in June 2020. Snyder and Netflix spent millions of dollars to replace D’Elia and for the most part it was…kinda seamless? It is obvious when watching the movie that she was alone for a long time on top of the roof. Otherwise, credit to Snyder and the editing crew for inserting her into the principal photography seamlessly.

Any who, back to the movie.

Army Of The Dead starts out with a very colorful opening title sequence that sets up the exposition for the movie. We meet some of the major players and more importantly we are introduced to this alpha male zombie who becomes the main antagonist. This alpha king (played by Richard Cetrone) plays a focal point for many different…unanswered reasons.

Okay, before harping on the aspects of Army Of The Dead, let’s touch on the parts of the entertainment that are commendable.

The visual effects of the zombies look great. In particular, the look of the queen (you know, before she gets beheaded) is great and credit to Athena Perample for really embracing the Andy Serkis Gollum crawl. The zombie tiger as well, I mean that is unique. Also, the pure savageness of one of the Tiger’s kills is a top-three moment in the movie. That is where Synder and Army Of The Dead work best together, when there is action to be seen and it’s an entertainment spectacle.

Where Army Of The Dead struggles is in its story…shocking right? It’s not even the main story that is bad. It’s the side pieces, the tangents that act as anchors. Before I start complaining in the paragraph below, I do understand that this movie is a launching point for a “franchise” worth of zombie content. They wanted to leave threads to dangle. My take is that these threads get tangled in the escalator and cause the whole thing to jam.

SPOILERS

What on earth is up with the zombie baby storyline? It was there just as a trigger for the king zombie to get mad and then go after the humans. It felt just thrown in like a convenient plug-in rather than a evolutionary development which could have carried an entire story line.

Okay, a zombie got shot in the head and it exploded like a robot. Why? This is obviously setting up for something that involves government interference or infiltration. But again, just thrown in with no explanation.

What happened to Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada)? The conclusion we get to his story as the mercenary employer is him hanging up the phone? That’s fulfilling. NOT.

One thing that has stayed consistent for Snyder between Justice League and Army Of The Dead is a bad closing credit scene. How predictable was it that Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick) was bitten by a zombie and he’d be the reason the infection would spread? Very, very predictable.

Alright, end of the spoiler section…and frankly complaining section as well.

A tip of the cap to Dave Bautista for again thriving in a movie role where he is a badass but with a human side that is allowed to be shown only in little snippets. He has really stepped into the role of humble hero quite nicely.

While he is stereotyped as a code-breaking nerd, the depiction of Dieter by Matthias Schweighofer. He is having fun with it, and Dieter has the direct comedic relief effect that makes a movie Army Of The Dead palatable.

Simple put, Army Of The Dead is an enjoyable action movie that is perfectly adequate but has its many flaws. The violence is great when it is able be seen easily without straining, but the story has many holes. If you are not a snob for wrapping things up tightly in a bow (like I am), then you will enjoy this bloody mess. If you need closure, then entertainment is possible but reverence is far away.

STANKO RATING: C- (2.5/5 Stars)

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