Movie Review: Army of the Dead (Snyder, 2021)

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Movie: Army of the Dead

Production Company: The Stone Quarry

Director: Zack Snyder 

Producers: Deborah Snyder, Wesley College, Zack Snyder 

Scriptwriters: Zack Snyder, Shay Hatten, Joby Harold

Main Cast: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer

Release Date: May 14th 2021

Running Time: 148 minutes

Certificate: 18

Introduction 

Now with Christmas just around the corner, what better way to welcome it than by reviewing a gory zombie movie: Army of the Dead? And no I didn’t pick this because I want to leave the Christmas film reviews for December….. Anyway, Army of the Dead is exactly what it looks like, a massively overstuffed zombie film full of violence, big weapons and more violence with a sprinkling of Bautista in there for good measure. So maybe it’s a perfect example of an overstuffed film for Christmas. So enough with my weird analogies, let’s get into the review of the film.

Synopsis 

Army of the Dead follows retired mercenary and now burger chef Scott Ward (Bautista) as he and a team of mercenaries are hired. For what I hear you asking? To retrieve $200 million from a safe in zombie infested Las Vegas. The only problem is that there’s a very short window to get the cash and to get out again. This is because the military is going to fire a nuke at Las Vegas. And I haven’t even touched on the whole time loop, zombie tiger or helicopter crashes but that’s for the analysis. Anyway, as you’d expect there’s a lot of sound and fury with zombies killings in all manner of violent ways including chainsaws, guns, knives and also helicopters. But anyway, enough with the synopsis let’s get into the analysis portion of the review now.

Analysis

Dave Bautista’s Performance in Army of the Dead

To begin my analysis of Army of the Dead, I’m going to discuss Dave Bautista’s performance as Scott Ward. Now when you realise Bautista turned down The Suicide Squad to work on Army of the Dead you’d probably think what’s wrong with that decision. And honestly as much as part of me loves Army of the Dead but I do agree with the sentiment. Case in point he actually manages to make the audience feel slightly emotional about his death at the end of the film.

Now that is enough of a testament to his performance in the film. Anyway, he does also live up to the billing of a lead character in a zombie film with him murdering a bunch of zombies in funny ways. Just take the shots of him gunning down zombies or where he teases that he’s going to use the massive chainsaw on the zombie tiger. Anyway, Bautista does also manage to generate some sympathy for his own screen daughter as you can tell Ward does care for her from the amount of two shots of the pair of them.

Universe Building in Army of the Dead 

Continuing my analysis of Army of the Dead, I’m going to discuss the universe Zack Snyder is clearly trying to set up. Now by this point, there’s been a prequel, Army of Thieves, released and a sequel, Planet of the Dead, in development. It’s very clear Zack Snyder is definitely still invested in Army of the Dead’s universe. Now this is definitely evident in the film as Ludwig Dieter: the crew’s thief. Why do I say this?

Because he’s literally the main character in the prequel film: Army of Thieves. However, there’s also more potential world building. This is thanks to the fact that the next film is literally called Planet of the Dead. This more than implies several zombies survived the nuke and thus will restart the apocalypse in the wider world rather than just Las Vegas. Besides who can’t wait for Army of the Dead 2 with even more stupid zombie killings.

Visual Effects in Army of the Dead 

To conclude my analysis of Army of the Dead, I’m going to discuss the film’s visual effects. Now the most obvious place to start is Tig Notaro’s Marianne Peters. So why am I starting here? Well, simply put she was literally parachuted into the film after some very serious allegations were revealed against Chris D’Elia. And while it was a necessary change, it does look hilarious because you can tell Bautista and Notaro were never in the same studio at the same time during their interactions with each other. But in a weird way that adds to the weird insanity of the film in a way.

Anyway, I will give credit to the VFX team on Army of the Dead because they weren’t allowed any access to Las Vegas casinos. So naturally this led them to use all manner of technology to photograph the entire outside of the buildings. For context this took 12 days in order to construct it in the film. Now for an overstuffed Netflix zombie film that is remarkably impressive work. Also, the fact that the VFX team modelled the zombie tiger off a tiger in Carole Baskin’s sanctuary is just another weird fact about this film. Honestly it’s impressive the lengths the VFX team went to in all honesty….

Summary 

To summarise Army of the Dead, this is a ridiculously overstuffed, violent and nonsensical Netflix Zack Snyder zombie passion project. While the insane runtime will put some off, for Snyder’s diehard fans this will more than hit the spot. And that’s before the sequel and anime series eventually launch. Who knew Netflix loved Army of the Dead so much……

Overall Rating: 6/10 – Reasonable 

Target Audience: 18+

Content Warning: Mild Sex and Nudity, Severe Violence and Gore, Severe Profanity, Mild Alcohol Drugs and Smoking, Severe Frightening and Intense Scenes 

Recommendation: Yes