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Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead (2021) - Directed by Zack Snyder

"You all keep talking about the city like it's their prison. It's not. It's their kingdom."

Haven't seen Sucker Punch, haven't seen Justice League, haven't seen the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Fully aware of what Zack Snyder's style is, fully aware of what to expect from Army of the Dead, fully willing to watch his movies and not blame Snyder for sticking with his style. I'll bet a lot of Snyder fans wanted him to do another zombie movie after he managed to do (what I hear is) a great remake of a great zombie movie, so with one big "what the hell" and a couple taps on a phone, I found myself in the ruins of Las Vegas.

Army of the Dead is a testosterone-ridden bloodbath of fancy direction and lots of atmosphere, lead by my personal favorite professional wrestler, Dave Bautista, as he's hired to go to the ruins of the city where the zombie apocalypse started: Las Vegas. As Vegas is contained in the hopes of preserving humanity, he and his team of badasses, including his estranged daughter, have to get to a casino vault in the 96 hours before Vegas and its zombie populace get bombed from the sky! But there are a couple minor situations along the way. One, the zombies have alphas who are smarter, stronger, faster. Talk about six billion dollars. Two: one of their own teammates is planning on killing them off.

First, lemme get this clear. About the plot... it's Aliens. This action-horror movie is zombie Aliens. A bunch of tough-ass misfits have to go into hell and back to do a job and kick ass before a big kaboom. And if that's not enough for you, there's the total Vasquez ripoff with the red bandana and the tough-bitch attitude, there's the shady guy who goes behind people's backs, there's the vain guy who screams like a girl (with the only difference being he's a locksmith instead of Bill Paxton), and the parent-child subplot. And if that ain't enough for you, the helicopter pilot is almost literally the same pilot from Aliens.

Having said that, I had a good amount of fun. Despite the fact that it's a little too long for a zombie movie, clocking in at 2:28, the bombast is just fine. Some people criticized the level of build-up before we get to the action. Me, I say, "so what? You call Aliens an action movie and there's no action until the second half!" I'd say Army of the Dead was better about handling that. The action is well worth the two-and-a-half hours. There's realistic direction, great moves, lots of guns, scenes that make you excited, scenes that make you hurt, and scenes that make you go "WHOA!"

The cast members all know what they're doing. Dave Bautista might be the only serious big name in the movie, but everyone else was just fine as well. Normally I don't like the "screams like a little girl" character, but Matthias Schweighöfer's performance as Dieter, the locksmith who never killed a zombie in his life, was surprisingly realistic, even the parts where he screamed like a little girl. I really liked Nora Arnezeder's performance as Lilly the smuggler was too perfect. Every time she spoke, she felt born for the part.

And I'll hand it to Snyder, he knows how to treat cheesy scenes in a serious manner. I'm willing to bet that throughout his catalogue, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. But it typically worked for this movie, especially when it came to the extra plot points pertaining to "zombie culture" that we almost never see in zombie movies, such as the Alphas and the romance between the king and queen of them (hey, animals know romance, too). I would've found myself disappointed if any other director had done it, but Zack's sense of atmosphere helped make the cheesy scenes succeed.

Well, I'd say for another piece of Zack Snyder style-over-substance, Army of the Dead succeeded on its focus to entertain. It's a very busy movie despite its absence of depth, and I'd recommend it for anyone who wants some good action or a "different" zombie movie. It's not Train to Busan, but I'd recommend it.