The Screen Room
Army of the Dead (2021)
I haven’t been excited about watching a new film for ages! In fact there have only been about three I’ve been looking forward to this year and that’s A Quiet Place Part II (due for release 3rd June), Ghostbusters: Afterlife (hopefully November) and this one:
Army of the Dead (2021)
I shared the trailer to this movie a little while back and it looked awesome! It was finally released on Netflix last Friday but I was away so had to wait till Monday to watch it.
I have mixed feelings about it and I’m about to tell you why.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s written and directed by Zack Snyder (the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, Zack Snyder’s Justice League) and stars an ensemble cast including Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Ella Purnell (Maleficent), Tig Notaro (Instant Family) and Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine) among many others.
This is what it’s about according to IMDb:
“Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries take the ultimate gamble, venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted.”
The 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead is my favourite zombie movie of all time, so when I saw that this was written and directed by the same guy I got excited.
I don’t suppose my high expectations helped but I have to admit, I was a really disappointed with it.
I’d been told by a friend that the movie starts off slow and doesn’t get going for a while and I was fine with that. I like it when a film takes the time to establish the story and the characters before it all kicks off. However, the slow start dragged and I didn’t feel it made the best of the character development. I also felt that the movie was “trying to please” right from the start.
I'm guessing Zack Snyder is a fan of the band, Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine because he’s used one of their tracks in both of his zombie films (their version of Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness” is one of the best things about the Dawn of the Dead remake). I couldn’t help but feel though like it was playing on the familiarity of Snyder’s previous zombie outing, much like belated sequels do by playing on the nostalgia of the original. That could just be me being overly critical though.
There were a few eye-roll moments at the beginning too, when in the opening scene we see a bunch of totally incompetent soldiers (who, of course are in charge of transporting a highly dangerous and valuable biological weapon) failing at their one single job and allowing it to escape, thus starting the zombie outbreak.
I found a lot of the characters annoying in an “everyone’s got to be quirky these days” kind of way, and I found Bautista’s character’s daughter annoying and unsympathetic. Her reason for not speaking to him for years was because he didn’t comfort her after her mother’s death. Waaaah!!
Something I hate in movies is forced humour, and unfortunately this film is full of it. It's totally unnecessary in a film like this and as a result, feels like it's trying way too hard to be funny. The jokes and dialogue in general are pretty ropey through most of the movie which just adds to the list of things wrong with it.
Finally the good....
So after a rocky start, I did begin to warm to some of the characters, and once the pace picked up I found myself enjoying it rather than picking holes in the story.
Visually the movie looks really good and Dave Bautista really shines. He probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves, but he’s actually a really versatile actor and without a doubt the best thing about this film.
As much as I didn’t think I would, I quite liked the different take on the zombies. Typically in movies they’re either slow or fast, but generally they just want to eat your brains. These, as they state in the film are “smarter, faster and organised”, and there’s a hierarchy. I thought that was pretty cool and it added a bit more threat to the situation.
Over all, by the time the end credits rolled I felt fairly entertained but I was left with an unsatisfied feeling like they didn’t make the best out of a good idea.
I’ll definitely watch it again and no doubt I’ll enjoy it more the second time around without the high expectations I went into it with on the first watch.
I read on Wikipedia that two prequels, a film entitled “Army of Thieves” and an animated series called “Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas” are scheduled for release on Netflix.
I apologise for dissecting the film. I hate when critics do that. I know it’s all entertainment and escapism but unfortunately it committed a few unforgivable movie sins that often annoy me. I just can't help thinking that it could've been so much better had a few minor things been different.
Seen it? Let me know what you think.