‘Army of the Dead’ offers entertaining zombie-killing with fresh spin on genre


Army of the Dead promotional poster. Credit: Metacritic

Sometimes movies don’t have to offer intriguing themes, great writing or complex characters to be entertaining. Acclaimed action director Zack Snyder’s new Netflix zombie flick “Army of the Dead” is a perfect example of this. The film begins with a tense action scene that ultimately sets up the intriguing premise: Zombies have taken over Las Vegas and a team of mercenaries must break in to collect casino money and escape before the city is destroyed by the U.S. government.

The plot of the movie is intriguing in itself. Adding a heist plot instantly hooks the audience and puts a fresh new spin on the zombie genre. The opening action scene and the following montage are amazing and possibly the best part of the film, so they operate as hooks to keep it from getting dull. Once the action starts around 40 minutes in, the rest of the film is a zombie slugfest where boredom is nearly impossible.

The characters in “Army of the Dead” are not groundbreaking. Still, they are serviceable enough to make the viewer care about them. The leader of the group, Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), has an interesting relationship with his daughter Kate (Ella Purnell), and their story explores well crafted themes of parenthood and guilt. Additionally, Nora Arnezeder’s Lily/Coyote is a standout character that has more distinct traits as compared to the others. Other than those examples, most of the characters in the film are one dimensional. They are often reduced to a single defining character perk that plays with their role in the heist crew. Dialogue is choppy at times, giving blatant exposition or cheesy one-liners, but it does not hinder the viewing experience too much.

The technical aspects of the film are top-notch. The score is used effectively to add tension and dread to the suspenseful scenes leading up to action, and the gleeful songs on the soundtrack are great at adding some gallows humor to the gory action scenes. The editing is passable as well. The cinematography of “Army of the Dead” is amazing, as Snyder’s visual creativity is on full display throughout the movie, especially during the opening twenty minutes. The silhouettes of characters are often placed in front of colors clashing and the bright lights of Las Vegas are on full display. The computer generated imagery is not perfect, but it is passable.

The most important aspect of it this film’s viewers is the zombie-killing action, which is delivered satisfyingly. The gunfire is unique and well choreographed, zombies are threatening and are often effective in hurting our characters and the action is always filmed in wide shots where the viewer is not confused by a shaky camera or quick cuts to hide bad stunt work. This film delivers perfectly on the action, cementing Snyder as a fantastic action director.

This film is not for those looking for complex themes and deep character work, but those who enjoy bombastic action and epic visuals entertaining them without having to think too much will thoroughly enjoy Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead.”

Grade: B+