The newest Netflix original film brings the once again popular director Zack Snyder back to what really put him on the map, zombie movies. Snyder made a name for himself with his 2004 remake of Dawn of The Dead, not only upping the level of gore and frenetic violence from the original, but the scare factor as well, making his zombies fast moving and vicious. The trailer for Army of The Dead promised even more of this, it promised me an epic Vegas Heist with a zombie apocalypse in the background. And we certainly did get this, I guess I was just expecting a little more. Which is a weird thing to say, considering the movie is two and a half hours long.
That is really my first complaint with this movie is the run time, which I should have expected. Being a Netflix movie and considering Snyder’s recent, enormous success with the release of his cut of Justice League, it’s safe to assume Snyder was given full creative control over this project. As such, we’re treated to literally ten minutes of opening credits set to an overly dramatic tune showing us a montage of the zombies siege of Vegas, as well as some of the best action sequences from the trailer. Even featuring our main characters in the montage before they’re even introduced in the movie. The why on this is never explained so I take it as a director taking complete advantage of having full control.
From the credits were introduced to our cast of characters for the film, led by Dave Bautista. I have to note that Bautista does well here, I’m not saying he’s some superstar dramatic actor but he proves capable of being the leading man in an R Rated action movie for the second time (Final Score) and we have long missed that kind of action star. Bautista’s character Scott Ward is flipping burgers in a diner when he is approached by Mr. Tanaka, a Las Vegas Casino owner who offers him fifty million dollars to break into the vault in his casino and bring back his money, before the military drops a nuke on the city to contain the zombie uprising. From here we’re shown another quick montage of sorts introducing the crew that Ward gathers for the mission, including his daughter Kate. The crew consists of what I presume are Ward’s old war buddies, a chain smoking pilot named Peters and a safecracker named Dieter. The character of Dieter is written to be entertaining and eccentric, but to me he mostly came off as annoying and cringeworthy.
As soon as the characters get to Vegas, the movies potential shines through as immediately one of Ward’s crew, Lilly, or The Coyote, downs the token jackass of the crew to leave as a sacrifice to the zombies. She describes Vegas as ”their Kingdom” and we see The Queen zombie, accompanied by a zombie tiger, which is fucking awesome, to claim their prize. World building is something that Snyder’s movies usually do well, and this is no exception. We’re shown a world where people know zombies exist and where some of these zombies are just as organized as we are. Snyder shows us two classes of zombies in the slow, easy to shoot ones and then the fast ones, called Alphas. The Alphas are basically a zombie version of the I Am Legend vampires, quick enough to even dodge bullets up close, and all serving the new King and Queen of Zombie Vegas. Snyder made these Alphas faster than their Dawn of The Dead counterparts, and smarter, all the way down to how they fight. The concept of this world and the Alphas Kingdom is awesome and it leaves us wanting to see more of it.
Lets be honest, the main thing we watch these types of movies for is the violence and the gore, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint in those departments. Snyder proves once again that he can film an action scene with the best of them. The action scenes are frenetic and brutal, but we never find ourselves missing what’s going on in the fast pace, and there is PLENTY of gore throughout the movie. I guess my only complaint with the action is there’s not enough of these types of sequences for a 2.5 hour run time. Ward’s crew doesn’t make it to Vegas for a full hour into the movie and the final battle kicks off with just around an hour left, then ends with about a half hour left so we can spend 20 minutes setting up a sequel in what could have been a nice, quick post credits scene. All in all, I’d probably give it a 6.5/10 stars. The movie is good, the gore is plentiful, the action sequences are badass, the concept is amazing, there was just something lacking from all of it. I enjoyed two viewings of Army of The Dead by now, and my biggest disappointment is I know it could have been something epic, and not just an above average zombie film.
Check out more of The Generals movie take on his "Sundays with the General" show every week and if you want more takes on 'Army of the Dead' make sure to check out our guys over at Budhole as they give their critique of the film.