“Army of the Dead” / Z-View

Army of the Dead (2021)

Director: Zack Snyder

Screenplay: Zack Snyder & Shay Hatten and Joby Harold.

Stars:  Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera, Omari Hardwick, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Garret Dillahunt, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo, Huma Qureshi and Richard Cetrone.

The Pitch: “Zack Snyder wants to create a zombie movie to be a tent-pole for other movies, animation and who knows what.  The first film will be called Army of the Dead!”

Tagline: Always Bet on Dead.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Las Vegas has been overrun by zombies.  The city has been walled off by the US government and is set for nuclear destruction in 48 hours.  The clock is ticking…

Scott Ward is former military.  Most of his team survived the zombie outbreak in Vegas when they were sent in to save high ranking government officials.  Ward was given a medal for his efforts.  Now he flips burgers in a diner.  So when super-rich Bly Tanaka offers Ward $50 million to put together a team to enter the city and get $200 million from Bly’s casino vault, Ward accepts the offer.

Ward brings together his crew: former members of his military squad plus a helicopter pilot to fly them out, an adrenaline junkie, a safe cracker and a “coyote” who knows how to get into the city. Odds are they will all die, but the team agrees the risk is worth the reward.  Tanaka provides them with schematics of the safe, weapons and his security captain who will go along to make sure that they don’t run off with all the cash should they survive.

As the team moves into the city they learn that not all zombies are created equal.  Some are fast moving, with the ability to think and communicate with the other zombies.  They don’t talk and there is almost a hive mentality about them.  Also, not everyone on Ward’s team has the same outcome in mind.  There are plot twists and betrayals.  Friendships form, relationships are tested and most will not survive.

I really liked Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead.  The action starts immediately.  The opening scenes hint at how the zombie apocalypse started and how deadly the zombies are.  Snyder uses the credits to creatively show the fall of Vegas.  This is definitely a Zack Snyder movie — if you’re not a fan of his work, you probably won’t like this.  If you are a fan, then there’s a lot to love.

The cast is excellent.  Because there are so many characters, each with a unique personality, it is important to get the right actors for each role.  Several standout: Bautista, Purnell, Hardwick & Schweighöfer, Rossi, Dillahunt and Notaro shine.

Snyder isn’t just making a movie, he’s creating a universe.  There are two Army of the Dead prequels in development (one animated!) and there is the possibility of a sequel.  Snyder doesn’t give us all the answers — instead he provides us with enough information to fill in the blanks. There are nods to other movies (Aliens, Planet of the Apes, etc.).  The soundtrack is excellent.  If you’re just looking for a fun ride, Army of the Dead provides one.  However, if you like to look deeper into the film. there’s a lot there to discuss.  Were those UFOs in the opening credits?  What about the robot zombie?  What was it doing there?  Where did it come from? (And the exposition of the robot is so subtle, I missed it on the first viewing.)  How did the first zombie get created?  And THAT ending!!

Are there nits to pick?  Sure.

There’s a character that does things that are stupid.  Yet, I would argue that they are consistent with what we’ve seen from her.  Also, if the hero did the same thing (which he does), we’re okay with it.

The length of the movie.  It clocks in at 2 hours and 28 minutes.  Some people have complained about the length.  I thought the time flew by.  I was entertained and didn’t think it was too long.  In fact I’m looking forward to more time in that universe.

A character survives something that should have killed him.  There are a couple of explanations to that, but to discuss them here would be to give too much away.

The team doesn’t seem overly concerned with the clock ticking down the the nuke.

I believe that all of these quibbles can be explained.  I loved Army of the Dead.  I’ve seen it twice and liked it even better the second time.