Nearly twenty years after the release of Dawn of the Dead, Zack Snyder returns to the zombie genre with Army of the Dead. This is his film, his vision, completely unbridled. From the action, humor, heart, and VFX it’s the revival that this once overdone genre needs.
Directed by Zack Snyder, Army of the Dead has a large cast of characters that the audience is introduced to quickly. Starring Dave Bautista, Huma Qureshi, Tig Notaro, Ella Purnell, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ana de la Reguera, Omari Hardwick, Nora Arnezeder, Matthias Schweighofer, Garret Dillahunt, Theo Rossi, Samantha Win, and Raul Castillo.
Scott Ward played by Dave Bautista is tasked by Bly Tanaka, played by Hiroyuki Sanada, to put a team together to enter the now zombie ravaged city of Las Vegas. The team is to retrieve two hundred million dollars that is inside a vault located in “Bly’s Las Vegas” . There is a short amount of time to get this heist completed. Scott without much hesitation puts together his team consisting of a code cracker, helicopter pilot, and some familiar faces from Scotts past including his daughter Kate Ward, played by Ella Purnell.
There are many storylines that are intertwined within this main outbreak, and heist story. At no time does it seem too much, and each story is given attention. Within the main plot there’s stories about a father and daughter reconnecting, characters wanting to redeem themselves, and the power of greed mixed with politics. There are many moments in this film where you forget it’s all taking place in the middle of a zombie outbreak, especially interactions between Scott and Kate. The heartfelt moments land well, and at times break your heart.
Once the team makes it into Las Vegas that’s when the movie ramps up the stakes, and the team is faced with many deadly challenges. As the team learns more about these zombies, and how they operate the more dire the stakes become. The zombies aren’t all mindless. Some are more adept than others, faster, stronger, and smarter. Throughout the film you learn that they have a hierarchy system, all led by Zeus, played by Richard Cetrone. These zombies pose an immense threat to this team, more-so than they anticipated and it sets up for some pretty intense fights.
The action really sets this zombie flick apart from others. There’s air strikes, bombs, and fist fights between humans and zombies. And in this film when there is action, there is gore. There is no shying away from the blood, and literal guts. It’s twisted, and at times shocking. With faces being ripped off, heads detaching, and more headshots than you can count. At times when you think the fight is over, it’s not, and it has you on the edge of your seat wondering who will make it out alive.
The VFX really brings the gore, action, and even characters to life in this film. Outside of having to recreate Las Vegas as an apocalypse hellscape, the digital adding of a character is done seamlessly. Tig Notaro plays Marianne Peters, whom had to be added into the film after shooting had wrapped due to a recast. At times it’s almost unbelievable that she wasn’t on set with her costars filming alongside of them. Even in shots where Peters is talking directly to other characters it seems as if they are staring right at each other. If you hadn’t known about the digital adding prior to watching the film, it would’ve went unnoticed.
Overall, Army of the Dead is a film that will have you laughing, gasping, and crying. It’s a multidimensional film that leaves the audience wondering about what happened before, and after the events of this film. And with a handful of related projects in the works, along with the cliffhanger ending, Netflix has set itself up to make the next great zombie franchise.
Watch Army of the Dead in select theaters now, and on Netflix starting May 21st.