Army of the Dead (2021)
Zombie. Heist. Movie.
It’s everything I never knew I wanted, but absolutely needed.
ZOMBIE. Heist. Movie.
It’s like peanut butter and jam! But you know, with more undead grossness.
Zombie. HEIST. Movie.
It’s like Christmas in July except it’s currently May and also nothing like Christmas.
Pictured: Zombie. Heist. MOVIE.
Okay, to say I was excited for Army of the Dead (2021) may be considered an understatement. I love heist movies, and the only way to make zombies interesting anymore is to change the context of the zombies, and damn… what a fun way to do that!
Now, of course, this is a Zack Snyder film, so even without the Las Vegas setting, this is already a gamble. The man has a history of understanding philosophy like any well-read 14-year-old boy. His run at Superman movies with Man of Steel (2013) to Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021) is a testament of how faux deep he is, especially when you stack it up to his more personal films, like Sucker Punch (2011).
This isn’t to say that those movies are bad, they just aren’t subtle, and aren’t as deep as we all thought they were during puberty.
Zombie films in particular are known for their satire on modern times. George Romero’s Dead series is known for it’s socio-political satire, and as a spiritual sequel to a remake of one of George Romero’s best films, Dawn of the Dead (1978), you might assume that this will have some deep insight on what Zack Snyder thinks of the hedonistic society we currently live in.
You would be wrong.
It’s a zombie heist movie. Zombies means nothing! Go wild! Some of them are robots! Who cares?
Pictured: Nothing matters, but this is cool.
Where it does get surprisingly deep though is the relationship between the lead and his daughter. On a completely serious note, it’s very clear that due to the recent tragedy of the loss of his own daughter, Snyder needed some way to express how that’s affected him. It’s a genuinely touching subplot, even if it does sometimes feel completely hammered in. We are in a zombie hell-scape, about to make things much worse, but the daughter must step in and tell Dave Bautista why he’s a bad dad.
Oh, and also, the movie ends with an acoustic cover of Zombie by the Cranberries, because Zack Snyder cannot go five seconds without reminding you he has the maturity of a 14-year-old.
It’s a zombie heist movie! It has two completely different genre tropes it can tap from… and it manages to drain each well dry.
I’m not saying that predictability is inherently a bad thing, but for something that is such a wild combination of genres, it’s kind of impressive that it’s so damn predictable.
But it’s okay if predictability isn’t your thing, because it’s also really stupid! The entire zombie outbreak comes down to military incompetence and blowjobs. Apparently the specific people who stopped the zombie apocalypse, don’t know anything about the zombies. Some of the zombies are robots. Apparently getting bitten by a zombie will either change you in a matter of minutes, or a matter of hours, depending on how convenient it is to set up a sequel. Every character is somehow capable of nailing every single headshot, even if the character has specifically been set up as having no experience. They don’t even have a training montage, they just have a training shot where they are instantly good at it. You might think that their lack of experience is a set up for their death or something, but not at all, it’s a set up for a sweet little bromance that’s not gonna survive a zombie movie.
Pictured: A better love story than Twilight (2008).
The entire climax hinges on saving one particular woman because her children are outside Las Vegas, alone. They are also trying to get out of the city before a nuke drops, so even after saving her, her children are definitely vaporised by a nuclear weapon. A bit of overkill for children, if you ask me, but don’t worry, the mum dies off-screen as well, so at least we know it was all worth it.
Yeah, it’s pretty sick.
Pictured: Pretty sick.
The idea of having zombies in Las Vegas is instantly going to be a visual masterpiece, unless, of course, you’re Resident Evil: Extinction (2007) and decide to just… be a desert…
The lights, the casinos, it’s all very awesome, and with the cinematography being helmed by Snyder himself, it’s really quite impressive.
Pictured: Quite impressive.
The zombies themselves look overly designed and sometimes kind of cheap. Sometimes, they were even just robots, but on the other hand, there’s a zombie in a cape on a horse with a helmet, so who the hell am I to complain?
Pictured: Zombie with a cape? Hell yeah!
The gore effects are just stupidly over the top. At no point is it scary, it’s Evil Dead II (1987) levels of hilariously gross, and I’m pretty sure that’s what they were going for anyway.
And of course, I cannot go past the technical achievement of completely removing a sex pest and replacing him with comedian Tig Notaro. Visually, the effect itself is seamless, but her performance is lacking the charisma and chemistry that would naturally occur when talking to actual people.
Pictured: Seamless integration.
Do I have to repeat that it’s a zombie heist film? Because I will, if I have to. Don’t make me do it!
Pictured: A fun movie.
Nah, but seriously, it’s not as fun as I would expect a zombie heist film to be. My expectations were not met, but it’s still a real fun time. I don’t think the characters are nearly as vile as Zack’s previous zombie venture, Dawn of the Dead (2004), but some of them are pretty annoying. I didn’t feel bad when any character died, but I wasn’t hating the film either.
Pictured: just a zombie robot, nothing to see here.
The film was a bit slow, especially to begin with. Which is weird, because it seemed to introduce characters pretty quickly with no characters actually being developed, but it was just done in a really slow way. Hell, my favourite was when one character decided to bring two people unannounced for the heist, only to have one bail instantly, and the other be the first victim of the zombie eatings.
Pictured: This guy's character, is that he has a circular saw, and that it is cool.
Did I mention the zombie robots yet? Yeah, that was weird. You’d think you could explain everything in two and a half hours, but zombie robots is something they just want to show you and ignore.
Oh, also, it begins with a Richard Cheese cover of Viva Las Vegas by Elvis. Richard Cheese got a huge career boost from having his cover of Down with the Sickness being my personal favourite scene from Dawn of the Dead (2004). And seeming he is legitimately a lounge singer in Vegas, if this movie didn’t begin with a Richard Cheese song, I would have rioted. Luckily, it did.
Pictured: Don't worry, Dick Cheese is back.