It’s been quite a year for Zack Snyder with his version of Justice League finally being released and the buzz surrounding his return to the horror genre. Army Of The Dead acts as a bit of a fresh take on the zombie genre, giving us a mixture of The Walking Dead and Oceans 11.
Surely by now we’ve all got our emergency plan sorted in case a zombie apocalypse happens. However, imagine a world where zombies are a thing, but you don’t have to maintain complete silence as you peek around corners, carrying a shit load of weapons in a back pack as you scavenge about for food. Here instead, the zombies have been contained in Las Vegas with a wall built around them, with plans set in motion to let off an explosion to get rid of them all. The opening credits show the zombie take over in Vegas, played out to a cover of ‘Viva Las Vegas’ and is fantastic. It’s almost comical and proves Vegas as the perfect setting. However, as the movie gets into full flow the tone really changes, becoming much more serious, which is a bit of a shame as a few more scenes like this would have been a lot of fun.
Army Of The Dead draws in comparisons to heist movies such as Oceans 11 as the main plot sees Scott Ward (David Bautista) approached by Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) to break through Vegas walls, fight off the zombies and retrieve millions of dollars from a casino safe, before the city is blown to smithereens. Scott hand picks a team who have specific skills needed to help him out. This brings in a fabulous cast including Omari Hardwick, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo and Theo Rossi, who always plays the bad guy so bloody well. With Scott’s team being quite large, there are complexities between each of them which are interesting, none more so than Scott and his daughter, Kate (Ella Ward).
There are different ranks of zombies and the group known as alphas aren’t actually that far removed from humans. They’re creepy as hell and have screams which would haunt your nightmares. But they also have personal relationships and emotions which we don’t always see in other zombie movies. Let’s just put it out there too, they’re a little bit sexier than the usual form we see them in and maybe this is due to their almost vampire state. The zombie tiger is fantastic and you’re practically teased right up until the end waiting for him to pounce – when he does, it gives you one of the best scenes from the entire movie.
Snyder shows off his signature movie making direction, with use of slow motion, great action scenes and deep and meaningful dialogue. Moments of gore made this worth the R rating. There were also scenes which were reminded me of The Last Of Us and the use of The Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’ was genius!
Zombies are always a winner and this movie is made interesting by giving it a plot which isn’t solely about escaping their threat. However, the film could have benefitted from a little more slapstick styling – like we see at the beginning (and even more Theo Rossi) – but Zack Snyder succeeds in giving us an entertaining, apocalyptic and gory tale.