It's 2021, and shooting a zombie in the brain is still fun. Throw in a little Dave Bautista, a dash of mindless action, and a bit of slo-mo, and you have Zack Snyder's latest Netflix flick, Army of the Dead.
Army of the Dead starts with an intriguing plot. Zombies have overtaken the strip of Las Vegas, which is now an abandoned, walled-off city. A mysterious Hiroyuki Sanada reaches out to Dave Bautista, a retired marine now flipping burgers, to assemble a team for a heist. Their mission: to break into a vault in LA that's housing billions of dollars in cash and get it out.
Bautista assembles a smart team of veterans and breaks into zombie-infested Las Vegas. This is when we are introduced to the three types of zombies: Zeus, who's the leader, the alphas and the shamblers. Zeus is the mysterious leader who creates the alphas, stronger, smarter, faster zombies, who in turn raise an army of the dead by biting regular people and turning them into shamblers, who are regular, mindless walking corpses. There's also a zombie tiger, which is, well, a tiger. It's revealed that Zeus, who will remind you of the Night King from Game of Thrones, actually has a mission: to create an entire zombie kingdom.
We expected a typical, Snyder style, dark and broody, very serious zombie movie. To our surprise—and our pleasure—it was actually very refreshing, both as a Snyder film and a zombie flick. Unlike typical heist movies, Army of the Dead doesn't end up on a feel-good victorious note either. The movie tends to not take itself very seriously and plays to its strength. There are still a few unnecessary slo-mo shots, a few pointless mythical elements, and maybe the run-time of nearly two hours and thirty minutes is a bit too long—everything that will annoy a Snyder critic and intrigue a fan. So there's that fine balance.
The plot of the movie is handled well. The action sequences are a treat to the eyes and Junkie XL's score doesn't disappoint, as always. What does disappoint, is Snyder's attempt to turn it into a franchise, with a hinted sequel and a slated prequel animated show. What could have been a fun, solo action flick, now risks being stretched out to the point of obnoxiousness in typical Hollywood style.
Army of the Dead is super fun to watch. Put it on your Thursday night watch list and you won't be deprived of good entertainment. But perhaps the biggest takeaway from the movie is that Zack Snyder has finally decided to part with his dark colour palette.
And in case you were wondering, Netflix has confirmed that this is the 'Snyder Cut' of the film. Phew.