Army of the Dead ★★★
Starring Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Matthias Schweighöfer, Tig Notaro
Off the back of the cultural phenomenon that was Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Zack Snyder has released his next feature incredibly close to his last. And similarities can be made between the two, as length really does matter in this zombie flick.
Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, the city is shut down and a group of mercenaries attempt a zombified casino heist. Leading the pack is former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista. In the same bracket as John Cena and Dwayne Johnson, Batista is yet another pro wrestler turned actor trying to make unique decisions in the world of action and comedy Hollywood blockbusters.
But Bautista’s choices have been more interesting, with a stellar performance in Blade Runner: 2049 and hilarious ones as Drax in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that trend seems to be continuing here.
There is an emotional backbone to this character that although is a little thin, adds more to Bautista’s performance, making it more real and relatable. He is great as the lead in this film, and as good as the supporting cast are around him, there are too many of them to relate as profusely.
In some ways, the inclusion of ten major characters makes for a more unpredictable plot. At no point can you guess who may be zombified next or equally who may make it out alive at the end of the 148 minute run time, and that adds to the blood-dripping suspense. But this is also often it’s own downfall, as so many of these characters are meagrely written, making for ten underdeveloped characters, as appose to say five very well-written ones.
That being said, the film does well to keep each of its character's appearances at an equal runtime; with each significantly glorified, it's in their backstories that a lot is left to be desired.
Concepts were understated, and the name is rather misleading (I wouldn’t call them an army) but this was an enjoyable watch with slightly jarring cinematography that somehow fitted Snyder’s gloomy style. A zombie tiger is one of the more obvious uses of CGI in the film and that is creepily designed, one character literally exclaims “that’s crossing the line”. This film knows it’s stupid and knows how fun it can be, and for the most part doesn’t hold back on that. But I’m not sure anyone asked for a 2 and a half hour long zombie heist film; especially when it peaked in its’ magnificent opening credits.
A blood bath of zombie guts and melodramatic performance, but full of more action, slow motion and more runtime than you could throw a severed head at.
Army of the Dead available now on Netflix