‘Army of the Dead’ movie review 

Michael Tracey, Reporter

Audiences have one week to catch Zack Snyder’s zombie heist “Army of the Dead” in select theaters before it releases on Netflix, May 21. But is it worthwhile to see on the silver screen? I wouldn’t say it’s Snyders best, but as far as zombie flicks go, it rules. 

Viva Las Vegas! “Army of the Dead” showcases all the mayhem you would come to expect from a Zack Snyder zombie film. Snyder, who directed, produced, and wrote the story — and shows no sign of pumping the breaks. The opening sequence is a solid piece of entertainment and gives you an understanding of the world he is building. A military convoy gets into trouble, and the “package” they’re transporting gets released onto Las Vegas, then the “zombie wars” ensue. The military and their mercenaries put on a last-ditch attempt to save the remaining survivors before they barricade the undead into the Vegas city limits. Making it more of a zombie outbreak film than a zombie apocalypse since the rest of the world isn’t infected.

Containing the outbreak within Las Vegas is somewhat of a success, and after a few years, mercenary Scott Ward, played by Dave Bautista, is asked to return. Only this time, he’s getting an enormous payout. Bly Tanaka, played by Hiroyuki Sanada, hires Ward to lead his hand-picked rag-tag team of mercenaries and recover $200 million in his casino vault before the military drops a nuke on the city within 32 hours. A simple in and out, right? 

“Army of the Dead” stumbles in its story and doesn’t add anything significant for the zombie genre. Yes, the zombies are more intelligent, faster, and well organized, but it’s all too familiar. The portrayal presented here is reminiscent of the 2007 Will Smith blockbuster “I Am Legend.”  As entertaining as it might be, hardcore fans of the zombie genre looking for Snyder to reinvent the wheel or add something new will be disappointed. If anything, he hits the car in full throttle and takes his hands off the wheel. Snyder is having a lot of fun, but the film has too many subplots sporadically woven together. Besides Ward and his mercenaries, a lot of the characters introduced were also forgettable. 

Photo courtesy of Netflix

For the group of mercenaries, there were a couple of stand-out performances when it came to comedic relief. Comedian Tig Notaro played a sarcastic helicopter pilot, Marianne Peters, who eased the tension with her banter. German actor Matthias Schweighöfer was quickly the most enjoyable performance. His character, Ludwig Dieter, was a hilarious kind-hearted man, not equipped to fight the undead. However, his skills in safe-cracking were too valuable to pass up for Ward’s recruitment. 

Netflix is confident in the audience’s reaction to Dieter. The streaming platform already has a prequel on the way called “Army of Thieves,” with Matthias Schweighöfer himself helming the project as director and producer. Filming has wrapped, so expect “Army of Thieves” to release by the end of the year or early 2022. 

Photo courtesy of Netflix

“Army of the Dead” shines in its pulse-pounding action sequences that make up for most of the wrongdoings with its narrative. Dave Bautista was a solid pick to play Scott Ward. He truly is an outstanding action star, utilizing his brute strength from his wrestling history in the WWE. I could watch an entire movie of just Bautista killing zombies. His choreographed action scenes are that good and enough of a reason to go another round on Netflix. 

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Snyder does an incredible job mixing practical and visual effects. The lust for blood and gore throughout the film’s lengthy two-hour and 28-minute run time is exceptional. “Army of the Dead” has great moments of bombastic zombie violence that will leave many people entertained even though the film most certainly overstays its welcome. 

Rating: 3 out of 5 Spinnaker sails.


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