ARMY OF THE DEAD (2021) Reviews and overview

 

‘Always bet on dead’

Army-of-the is a 2021 American action horror film about a group of mercenaries who attempt a heist in zombie-infested Las Vegas.

Directed by Zack Snyder (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Watchmen; Sucker Punch; Dawn of the Dead, 2004) from a screenplay co-written with Joby Harold and Shay Hatten.

The movie stars Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Ana De La Reguera, Theo Rossi, Huma Qureshi, Omari Hardwick, Tig Notaro, Hiroyuki Sanada, Garret Dillahunt, Matthias Schweighöfer, Raúl Castillo, Nora Arnezeder and Samantha Win. Produced by The Stone Quarry’s Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder and Wesley Coller.

Reviews:

“Occasionally, it achieves a Grand Guignol grandeur […] Concerned almost exclusively with the power of his images, Snyder often neglects momentum, and his action scenes have more baroque swagger than excitement. But the stacked cast (led by Bautista, that slab of empathetic strong-man sensitivity) underscores the uncommon humanity of the material this time around.” AV Club

” …a fun piece of escapist entertainment that remains engaging throughout its two-and-a-half-hour runtime. Snyder rarely gives into his worst instincts here. There’s minimal slow motion, and the action rarely eases for unnecessary sentimental moments. Instead, the director expertly stages thrilling set pieces that involve lots of bullets and appropriately shocking gore.” CBR

” …there’s no economy of storytelling here. If you want to mash-up zombie movies and heist movies, that’s fine, but both of those genres tend to be fairly fleet-footed in their storytelling, and Army of the Dead never maintains much momentum. Instead, it comfortably goes through the motions and Snyder never has much interest in upending his tropes until the very end of the movie…” Collider

“Zack Snyder movies tend to be divisive for myriad reasons. But regardless of how arguably successful or unsuccessful Snyder is at telling stories and handling characters, one thing he can usually be relied on to always do well is deliver impressive technical polish […] Shockingly, that’s not the case with Army of the Dead at all. Objectively speaking about visual value alone, Army of the Dead looks bafflingly terrible.” Culture Crypt

“It may not be great, but it’s also an inspired and enthusiastically thrilling work from an oversaturated genre that’s usually just as lifeless as the zombies themselves. There’s also more optimism, less angsty edge, and multiple women kicking ass that also suggests Army of the Dead, while not Zack Snyder’s best film, is a gauge for his continual positive growth and evolution.” Flickering Myth

“Both a prequel and an anime series are already in the works, which the film hints at without ever really justifying. We may be living in the superhero age, where films can longer be films, simply chapters in some larger vision – but all these ideas and ambitions muddy Army of the Dead when they should be amplifying its simple pleasures.” The Independent (UK)

“The film may be an over-the-top concoction of assorted genres, extremely bloody violence, and an increasing sense of spectacle, but it also, somehow, possesses just enough of a wounded, sorrowful heart to give the excess a sense of purpose. It’s not too much, obviously. There is, after all, a zombie guard tiger…” Mark Reviews Movies

” …Zack Snyder’s Zombie Heist Film Is Big, Dumb & Boring …a bland, humorless addition to the genre. As such, fans of Snyder’s work will no doubt want to check out Army of the Dead, and those intrigued by the premise may want to give it a shot. But Army of the Dead is by no means a must-watch zombie or heist movie…” Screen Rant

“It’s all very exhausting, and at 148 minutes, Army of the Dead more than overstays its welcome. It also tries to shoehorn in a few clumsy emotional moments at the last minute, and throws in a few twists and turns as well, but none of this works […] There’s a certain fun to be had in Army of the Dead, but it’s the mindless, ugly fun that you wake up the next day regretting.” Slash Film

” …even more than Snyder’s 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, feels assembled from bits and pieces of other, superior pop-culture touchstones. It’s less roiling than World War Z, less ingenious than a good Ocean’s film, less all-for-one inspiring than Guardians of the Galaxy. Yet it has a pleasing brawn and sweep, and you get caught up in it. As meat-and-potatoes escapism, it’s good diner food served with extra ketchup.” Variety

Army of the Dead isn’t bad to the point of unwatchable. When it does give us action it’s well done. There are also some good suspense scenes such as when the team tries to get past some sleeping zombies. It also delivers some impressive gore including a brutal mauling from the walking dead tiger. It even hints at some Romeroesque social commentary, but leaves them undeveloped as well. Given the cost of the film, and the ideas it raises and squanders, Army of the Dead ends up being thoroughly underwhelming.” Voices from the Balcony

 

“There’s enough gore, mayhem, and decay in Army of the Dead to make for a satisfying zombie-movie experience, and while it’s the best film Snyder has made since his last of the Dead, it’s also one that continually hints at the more satisfying work it might have been. The director goes all-in on spectacle, but his script is a pair of threes.” The Wrap

Release date:

Army of the Dead will be released on Netflix on May 21st 2021.

Background:

The Netflix-backed movie marked Snyder’s return to directing after a family tragedy meant that he left Justice League in 2017, with Joss Whedon doing reshoots and finishing post-production. According to industry insiders, Netflix specifically identified the zombie project and sought it out from previous owners Warner Bros., which might set a precedent for the studio selling other projects to the online streaming service.

In an interview in The Hollywood Reporter Snyder previously stated: “I love to honour canon and the works of art, but this is the opportunity to find a purely joyful way to express myself through a genre. It will be the most kick-ass, self-aware — but not in a wink-to-the-camera way — balls-to-the-wall zombie freakshow that anyone has ever seen. No one’s ever let me completely loose [like this].”

He added: “I love big action, I love big sequences. My movie brain starts clicking around and I was like, ‘We need to be shooting this now!’ Constructing these sequences really fired me up.”

Army of the Dead universe:

Variety reported that an untitled film prequel and an animated series relating to Army of the Dead are in development at Netflix. Shay Hatten, one of the writers of the screenplay for Army of the Dead, is writing the prequel as well as the animated series.

The prequel will be directed by and star Matthias Schweighöfer and will follow his Ludwig Dieter character from Army of the Dead.  Meanwhile, the animated series, Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas, will focus on the origin story of Dave Bautista’s character and his rescue crew during the initial fall of Vegas as they confront the mysterious source of the zombie outbreak.

Snyder said: “I’m incredibly excited for the opportunity to partner with Netflix again as we expand the ‘Army of the Dead’ universe with both an international prequel, as well as exploring the visually dynamic world of animation. It’s been a great collaboration and we are thrilled that Netflix sees this as big of an IP as we do.”

Zombie tiger in Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead (2021)
A zombie tiger!

At a press event to reveal the official trailer (below), Zack Snyder revealed more about the film to Bloody Disgusting and others:

“It’s kind of a genre-busting movie. It knows what it is, and it allows there to be a little bit of that kind of dry humour. Visually, it does the same thing. There’s a funny aspect to it.”

“Zombie animals were going to be part of it. The only creatures immune from the zombie virus are birds. We have two categories of zombies in the movie. The Alphas and the Shamblers. Our Alphas are the evolved version of zombies, they’ve taken another step. They’re much faster, and we kind of treat them like wolves… they’re sentient. They kind of fight in packs and kind of have a pack mentality.”

army-of-the-dead-netflix-vanderohe

Release date:

Movie-goers will be able to see Army of the Dead a week earlier than its Netflix debut on 21st. In a surprise announcement, the movie chains Cinemark, iPic, Landmark, Alama Drafthouse, Harkins, and Cinépolis (about 600 theaters) have all announced that they will be showing the movie for a one-week run starting on May 14th.

Justin McDaniel of Cinemark said:

“Cinemark is excited to work with Netflix on our first wide release and provide movie lovers the opportunity to see Army of the Dead in our theatres across the U.S. Zack Snyder fans will love seeing the action in an immersive, cinematic environment with larger-than-life sight and sound technology.”

Main cast and characters:

Hiroyuki Sanada … Hunter Bly
Dave Bautista … Scott Ward
Ella Purnell … Kate Ward
Garret Dillahunt … Martin
Ana de la Reguera … Cruz
Nora Arnezeder
Samantha Win … Chambers
Theo Rossi … Burt Cummings
Michael Cassidy … Sergeant Cassidy
Omari Hardwick … Vanderohe
Tig Notaro … Marianne Peters
Matthias Schweighöfer … Ludwig Dieter

Filming locations:

Albuquerque, New Mexico (refugee camp)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Showboat Atlantic City, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Technical details:

148 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78: 1
Audio: Dolby Atmos

Budget:

$90 million (estimated)

Official trailer:

Teaser trailer:

 

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