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Army of the Dead ★★★



Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi and Matthias Schweighöfer

Released: 21st May 2021 (Netflix)

In 2004 a young director dared to dream and re-made the George A. Romero classic Dawn of the Dead. During a time horror films were being re-booted, this was probably the most credible and brought a lot of attention to one Zack Snyder. Between half-naked Spartans, animated owls, and a four-hour symphony of Justice, the director has returned to his roots with the zombie genre.

Army of the Dead is the beginning of a new canon for Snyder with Netflix. With an anime and prequel film already announced, the director is planning something quite large and of course. Army of the Dead is set after a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas. A group of mercenaries takes the ultimate gamble by venturing into the quarantine zone for the greatest heist ever.

Going into the visual carnage of Zack Snyder’s mind is always a blast. Army of the Dead is a clusterfuck of wrath, gore and free-flowing narrative. When Snyder goes down his own creative path, the world breathes a sigh of hesitance (never forget Sucker Punch people). He seems to have many ideas, but he can never fully execute everything, and when he has source material, he is outstanding. Within this realm of zombiedom, he flourishes, and the freedom the Netflix gods allowed him is the key to Snyder’s Valhalla.

As the sunsets on reality and Suspicious Minds plays in the background, the world we once knew is gone. There is enormous scope and scale within its visuals, and for a film with such a lengthy runtime, the aesthetic allows the narrative to flourish and grow nicely. Snyder enables you to get into the skin of this story and grow to understand the characters. The cliché characters are always the same within heist cinema, but this group of mercenaries feel fresh and reinvigorated.

The refreshing angle of Army of the Dead is the heist/zombie hybrid. This is beyond gory and has some very impressive zombie kills that will satisfy any horror fan. The inventiveness of the creatures is unique, and their mannerisms fit the momentum of the film. As the horror aesthetic thrives, the heist aspect is nicely layered between the blood and guts. While this element isn’t to the levels of The Town, it actually is a fun ride. The obstacles in front of this gang of misfits never entirely go down the usual metaphorical symbolism that Snyder is well known for. But you can tell he had a lot of fun making this film as there is a lot of energy pulsating from the screen.

While Army of the Dead flows easily through its runtime, it does falter at some stages. Snyder tends to fixate on certain moments, and it takes a while for him to re-introduce the rhythm of it all. Anyway, enough bad-mouthing the great man! There is a lot of heart inside this odyssey of blood and money, and that is Dave Bautista. The supporting actor is at the forefront here, and damn, he can hold a movie. His charisma goes beyond the screen, and Snyder gets the best out of him. Matthias Schweighöfer’s performance also stands out. His character, Ludwig Dieter, will star in the prequel film called Army of Thieves. Snyder enables him to have some stand out moments, and it’s evident within the film why he will star in the next instalment of this potential franchise.

For any Snyder fan, Army of the Dead will leave you grinning like a Cheshire cat. It’s great to see him flourishing in his post-DC era, and hopefully, the seeds he has planted here will allow this crazy world to grow.

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