Directed by Zack Snyder, Army of the Dead follows a crew of mercenaries into a zombie quarantine zone in Las Vegas for a casino heist.
Zack Snyder is back with another zombie flick since his debut and it’s not better than his first attempt. I did like Army of the Dead enough to have a good time, but I also wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. There are maybe two or at most three scenes that I remember vividly. Everything else is subdued by a very incoherent plot and some very forgettable characters. Being Zack Snyder’s film, it still sounds and looks amazing. There’s some wonderful CGI, an amazing monster design, exciting gore, and great stunt choreography. All in all, this is the Zack Snyder we’ve all known so far, strengths and weaknesses included.
The movie’s plot is by far its weakest element. I get that mindless zombie fun probably doesn’t need a good plot, but mindless zombie fun isn’t generally more than 2 hours either. Running at nearly 150 minutes, Army of the Dead runs for far longer than it should. It starts off okay, then proceeds to lose all tension and excitement, and limps to the final act which is probably the best part of the movie. Even though there’s a heist in the film, there’s barely any planning that goes into the heist. Characters that have no experience in zombie encounters somehow manage to survive impossible situations. This film is not meant to be taken too seriously. That’s clear from Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas” in the beginning, right after a tense sequence. And “Zombie” by The Cranberries after a tense ending.
Apart from the main heist, there is a subplot involving a mother and her two kids that feel it has no place in the script. Without characters to care for, the entire subplot feels like it exists just to create unnecessary chaos. The chaos leads to consequences that ultimately have no emotional impact whatsoever. Enjoying Army of the Dead requires overlooking a lot of logic and plot holes and unfortunately, there’s not a lot beyond that.
It’s fun though
The gore and action are great. All graphic scenes are center frame with no awkward cuts to, well, cut corners. Be it Dave Bautista going on a rampage or an unusual zombie monster going ham while devouring some poor soul. It’s all there in front of your face and it’s fun and hilarious. The entire second half is where the movie is at its best despite the ending feeling completely unnecessary. It’s not the strongest ensemble because of a lack of well-written interactions between all of them. But there are enough pairings and interactions between specific people that it still feels organic. After all, they do meet on the day of the heist.
Army of the Dead can be a fun watch for its CGI, graphic violence and thrilling stunts. However, it doesn’t justify its long runtime, which is made worse by its silly plot, making it unworthy of a recommendation but not a regrettable watch.