So, Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead is finally out on theatres in North America and on Netflix in the rest of the world. And so far, the movie is receiving a lot of positive reviews and applauds for getting most of it right. And by my reckoning, all that praise is well deserved. Here is my Army of the Dead review and why it is a fresh take on another zombie apocalypse.
Army of the Dead review: a breath of fresh air in Zombie movies
What I liked
So, let me make it clear – there’s a lot more to like in this movie than to not like. And the very first film that sets Army of the Dead is its premise.
Unlike other movies that depict the zombie apocalypse, this movie handles it in a unique way. Instead of a virus engulfing the entirety of humanity, the US army was able to contain the zombies within the confines of Las Vegas. Furthermore, they weren’t just mindless zombies. Well, there were but not all of them. The majority of them were shamblers, who would basically smash their head in walls if they got the heat signature of human flesh. But, they were being controlled by Alphas, a sentient type of zombies who were meticulous and thoughtful in their thinking. In fact, they would readily make deals with humans through human sacrifices. They wouldn’t mindlessly kill everyone and even had some insane rituals.
And all of that was captured with some really great visuals as well. For most of the film, the CGI did not feel sketchy and the movie usually took benefit from special effects, great costume design, and excellent sets. The post-apocalyptic look of Las Vegas was also quite immaculate, giving Army of the Dead a very aesthetic look. But what made the movie really watchable was the characters.
While watching this movie, I was really happy for Dave Bautista. Throughout the years, he has played characters who have mostly been comic reliefs, like Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy. However, the real geniuses knew that he had some real talent when they saw him play a replicant in Blade Runner 2049. In those brief minutes, you saw what Bautista could really do. And Army of the Dead built upon it, trying to make this journey an emotional one for Bautista’s Scott Ward. Moreover, other characters like Ana de la Reguera, Omari Hardwick, Matthias Schweighöfer, and others bounced quite well off of it.
And the reason for that was some decent dialogue writing, which showed that the movie didn’t really take itself that seriously, with some well-crafted jokes at appropriate occasions from time to time. Tig Notaro, who had brief interactions in the film, was actually quite enjoyable because of her wit and jokes. We all know she replaced Chris D’Elia, but she did a terrific job and a lot of it is because of her decent delivery and her well-written dialogues. That shows how well-written the movie is despite giving some characters bare minimum screen time.
What they got wrong
Despite the praise, Army of the Dead is not a perfect movie by any means. It has its fair share of flaws that cannot be ignored and may even prove to be detrimental to the movie overall. And the one thing that irked me the most was Scott’s daughter Kate Ward, played by Ella Purnell. And she made some quite ludicrous decisions throughout the movie that had a profound effect on all the characters.
Characters losing some brain cells
*Spoilers* First, she selfishly tags along with the crew to save Geeta (Huma Qureshi) when she could have stayed back and protected her kids. And instead of assisting the crew, she became more like a liability. In the end, she was quite literally the only surviving crew member out of all of them, even surviving a helicopter crash! In fact, her decisions resulted in the death of numerous characters, which actually brings us to another flaw in the film.
For the sake of plot twists and a tragic ending, I believe Zack Snyder may have gone a bit too far. For those who have watched the movie, I’m talking about the elevator scene with Ana de la Reguera. That felt a bit unnecessary when it could and should have served as a good character arc for our main protagonist Scott. But instead, Snyder chose to go the chaotic route and, it felt a bit deliberate.
The runtime and ending
And because of that chaotic ending, the movie’s run-time crossed the two-hour mark by quite some distance. In fact, it was touching close to 150 minutes, which has been a problem with most of Snyder’s films. You can make a case for Justice League, but not Army of the Dead. This movie could have been edited to the two-hour mark. *Spoiler* – And the ending with Omari Hardwick was so stretched. There was no need to show us how he bought a jet and made it out of Las Vegas (or what was left of it) and found the bite mark on his arm.
All in all, I’d still say Army of the Dead was an enjoyable watch. After a very long time, we got a fresh take on a zombie apocalypse that didn’t explicitly focus on gore and macabre sequences. Instead, we got a well-shot and well-written but light-hearted action movie that made the movie worth every second of our time. And so, in my Army of the Dead review, I’ll give this movie a pleasant 7/10. Let us know in the comments what you think.