Army of the Dead Movie Review
Zack Snyder has come a long way, for better or worse, since his 2004 feature-length debut Dawn of the Dead, an exhilarating remake of the George A. Romero classic. In Army of the Dead, Snyder returns to his roots with an explosive, action-packed, and gory send-off that largely lives up to expectations.
Though weighed down by an unnecessarily long two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Army of the Dead is a lot of fun for all the reasons that make zombie movies. The plot is simple: a group of mercenaries is hired to break into a quarantined Las Vegas to extract $200 million from a casino vault before the U.S. government drops a nuke on the city to kill the thousands of zombies trapped inside.
The catch: not all of the zombies are mindless flesheaters.
Though Snyder tends to be a love-him-or-hate-him kind of director, he’s the kind of filmmaker that knows how to do action and do it well--and is arguably at his best with straightforward and R-rated genre fare. The Dawn of the Dead remake is one of the best zombie movies ever made, and while Army of the Dead doesn’t quite offer the same lean, ruthless, and humorous storytelling that made that one so effective, it still has plenty to offer.
The affable Dave Bautista headlines the largely no-name cast, and serves as a charming, zombie-killing protagonist. Despite the lesser star power, the rest of the cast is highly effective, making for a rewarding ensemble. Tig Notaro, who was added in post-production to replace the disgraced Chris D’Elia, is a standout, while Matthias Schweighöfer is more than amusing.
More importantly, Army of the Dead has several well-staged zombie action sequences and a healthy dose of over-the-top gore. While Snyder doesn’t take full advantage of his Vegas setting--aside from a darkly funny opening credits sequence, the film is largely humorless--he more than makes up for it with loads of blood-and-brain-splattering violence.
Sure, the movie could have and should have been 30 minutes shorter, but Army of the Dead is a brutal, bloody, and well-made zombie action flick.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.