• Sat. Oct 29th, 2022

Army of the Dead is an over-the-top zombie gore-fest

May 21, 2021

Director Zack Snyder doesnt do things by halves. Hes what you could call a maximalist filmmaker, someone whos probably never had the thought, is this too much?.From the ripped, blood-splattered bodies in 300 to Michael Shannon’s guttural (some might say constipated) scream in Man of Steel, Snyder has made a career of over-egging a spectacle.
And there’s nothing more over-the-top than a casino heist during a zombie outbreak. Army of the Dead is so gory and gross, it wouldn’t be overkill to call it vomitous.
The screen is splashed with bile, blood and decomposing bodies in various states of dismemberment – it would be ill-advised to pair a viewing with anything edible, unless you want it to come back up.
Marvel star Dave Bautista leads a large ensemble cast that also includes Tig Notaro, Theo Rossi, Garret Dillahunt, Ana de la Reguera and Omari Hardwick as a crew hired to extract $200 million from a Las Vegas casino vault.
RELATED: Dave Bautista wants to be more than an action star
But this isn’t some Ocean’s 11 suave charm-fest and the obstacles aren’t CCTV cameras, elusive passcodes and a vengeful Andy Garcia. And there are certainly no pine-shaped air fresheners, though the olfactory senses would’ve greatly benefited from one or two.
In their way are tens of thousands of the undead, including an elite band of alpha zombies who are apparently smart, organised and have emotional ties.
To get to the vault and back out, former mercenary Scott (Bautista) assembles a team with a safe cracker (Matthias Schweighofer), a helicopter pilot (Notaro), a coyote (Nora Arnezeder), a couple of trigger-happy influencers (Raul Castillo and Samantha Win) and some fighters and sharp shooters (Hardwick, de la Reguera).
RELATED: Amazon’s cash splash in Australia
Complicating the mission is Scott’s estranged daughter Kate (Ella Purnell), who insists on accompanying her dad so she can go look for a friend (Huma Qureshi) who disappeared behind the walled zone.
Plus, the clock is ticking, with the government due to nuke the whole city imminently.
That Las Vegas would be ground zero for a zombie outbreak is perfect analogy for the unthinking voraciousness for something that exists only to consume.
There is a lot going on and a lot of the story strands are superfluous, and the movie fumbles anytime it wades into some emotional territory. Army of the Dead is trying to ground the story with character work but, honestly, it’s not necessary.
Because what anyone is really here for is the zombie killing action, and on that score, Army of the Dead has you sorted. There are visually imaginative sequences with an astronomically high body count. Before he moved into the superhero realm, Snyder’s first feature was a zombie movie so this is familiar ground for him.
Zombies will be obliterated – shot up, blown up, torn up and smashed up. The deaths are creative, and they are eye-popping. You will have a permanent “ye gods” look on your face – and especially when Sean Spicer pops up in a cameo.
Because it’s Snyder, so many of these action set-pieces will be done in slow-motion and they will be set to prosaic needle drops such as “Bad Moon Rising”.
And also because it’s Snyder, the movie will see opportunities to be funny and wry and leave it on the table. Earnestness is built into every Snyder movie, for better or worse.
But, if nothing else, he knows how to craft a stimulating visual tableau and he knows how to put on an extravagant show.
Rating: 3/5
Army of the Dead is streaming now on Netflix
Share your movies and TV obsessions @wenleima