Double feature: Click here to see another take on the film, from Mitchell, InReview’s owner and editor-in-chief.
Zack Snyder, most famous for his 2004 remake of gather legendary George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead,” put his fingerprints all over an original piece which released earlier this month. The premise of “Army of the Dead” is pretty simple: a group of characters get offered a whole lot of money to enter a quarantined, zombie infested Las Vegas, break into a casino’s money vault, and bring back what they find.
And unfortunately, the adventure ends up being mostly a flop. It does some things well, but is overall not really worth the huge investment of two hours and 28 minutes.
Such strong sentiment demands equally strong reasoning. So, here you go, let’s start off with what this movie did well:
The zombie tiger
This thing just exudes pure awesomeness. This sort of thing has Zack Snyder written all over it. This thing is vicious and very well designed. You can just tell the very moment you see it that it’s going to be responsible for some character’s death. The fact that it ends up killing off the movie’s most hated character just makes it all the better. While it would definitely have belonged better in more of a horror setting, it still fits in quite well here.
Choreography is pretty strong in this one. Slow motion scenes are, for the most part, well captured. The scenery to fight scenes is cliched, but aesthetically pleasant. A nifty shootout in a casino, a close quarters brawl inside of a moving helicopter, plenty of explosions and, of course, just the right amount of gore and graphic violence to give it the perfect amount of edge. Definitely don’t let your kids watch this movie, but adult eyes can definitely appreciate the fight scenes in this one.
Notaro plays the role of Marianne, the crew’s helicopter pilot. She is an absolute riot, even if her degree of humor is somewhat out of place for a movie like this. She will probably be viewed as the movie’s best character. That’s mostly because the rest of the cast is mostly rotting garbage, but it’s at least worth noting that she did a very good job in this one. That’s especially the case when you consider she was a super late addition to the cast. She wasn’t even going to be in the movie until after it was produced. She was added in virtually following the firing of actor Chris D’Elia, who was originally going to be the actor for the role.
A blessing in disguise, no doubt.
Unfortunately, that’s about it. Let’s have a look at what the movie does wrong:
The movie is way too long, and pacing is very poor
At times, it seems like there is a long loop of baseless dialogue, walking in a straight line, and a general long block in between action sequences. The movie is two hours and 28 minutes long, and it would’ve been far better to cut that in half.
Characters act unrealistically strange and/or idiotically
“Hey guys, we just got word that the place we’re in is going to be nuked by the government in less than an hour. It’s all good, we’ll just chill out for the next 45 minutes and make small talk.”
That’s more or less what happens when the crew catches word that the government plans to drop a nuclear bomb where they’re at. There’s no tension, everything moves too slowly for what is definitely a massive threat. In no way does anyone seem to fear for their lives or even show a little bit more hustle.
That’s not it, though: as the crew is traveling through the casino, they encounter a large zombie resistance. Here, Maria (Ana de la Reguera) gets into a shootout with more zombies than she can handle. She runs out of ammo and is taken to the ground while the rest of the cast seems to just watch her struggle. Eventually, the zombies win, and apparently there’s “nothing we can do!” so they shoot her and leave her to die. Yeah, there’s nothing we could’ve done, as we stood there and watched her do all the work by herself the whole time…
The strangest occurrence of character idiocy, unfortunately, comes when our tiger friend claims it’s only kill in the movie. Here, Martin (Garret Dillahunt) has betrayed the team so he can get to the helicopter on the roof and getaway, leaving them all behind. He announces his intent to do this and then… goes to the streets? Why? He announces that he knows where the helicopter is, so having kicked his friends to the curb, why does he head to the streets? Here, he gets mauled by the zombie tiger, which is good and fun, but it makes no sense. It feels rather forced.
Unrealistic events were created for the purpose of making tension in the movie
Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) gets onto the helicopter and travels across Las Vegas to pick up Kate (Ella Purnell) and take her to safety. Somehow, zombies running around in foot get there just as he does, creating a final encounter as he tries to get them out before the place gets nuked. At no point where zombies ever established to be anywhere near as fast as a helicopter. They move slightly faster than a normal human being. This scene was forced to the max, and it’s not the only time this happens.
Overall, there really isn’t much meaningful action
Dull pacing, poor characters for the most part and immersion breaking unrealism really takes away the edge this movie should’ve had. Never is the viewer made to feel on the edge of their seat, or anywhere close. This is a very niche movie that you’ll only want to even think about sitting through if you like zombie movies. Otherwise, you’ll never make it to the end; you’ll get bored and turn on something else.
Overall, I’d give this a grade of a D. It fails to captivate the viewer, especially for how long it is. Only watch this if you’re a big zombie movie lover and have nothing else to do.