Amartya Acharya’s review published on Letterboxd:
𝐍𝐚𝐦𝐞 - 𝐀𝐫𝐦𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐞𝐚𝐝
𝐃𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐫 - 𝐙𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐒𝐧𝐲𝐝𝐞𝐫
𝐑𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 - 148 𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐬
𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦 - 𝐍𝐞𝐭𝐟𝐥𝐢𝐱
This movie is directed by Zack Snyder, story by Zack Snyder, screenplay co-written by Zack Snyder and even shot by Zack Snyder. That’s a lot of responsibility for creating what is essentially a popcorn munching zombie flick.
Army of the Dead suffers from the problem most Zack Snyder movies have - its length, an overblown 148 mins. For a movie so dedicated to flesh eating monsters, a dystopian future and a heist set in said dystopia, this movie is way too long without any of the social commentary or even horror associated with the genre.
Since this is very much a Zack Snyder movie, the visuals are spectacular, the song choices during set-pieces and action scenes are very incongruous and yet very much a part of Snyder’s oeuvre. From the opening scene showing the rise of the zombie infected las Vegas, played to the tune of Elvis’ Viva Las Vegas, to the ending of the movie background scored by Cranberries’ “Zombie”, subtlety isn’t the strongest point here. The world building is imaginative, even though it is a remix of other zombie movies - from the classic Romero Zombies, to the faster and agile zombies of 28 days later, all under the leadership of an intelligent advanced zombie - this is a remix which works primarily because of how insane this remix sounds like, and yet as a world building it is different, even though all of it comes at the expense of the horror tone of the zombie genre.
The action too is neatly and stylishly shown. Over reliance of CG and slow motion aside, the Netflix budget and the R rating ensures that there is plentiful of gore. The issue is in the non-gory moments, those emotional character beats which Snyder thinks are important parts of the story, but all it does is drag the story down primarily because said moments aren’t exactly the most nuanced or unique. Bautista as leader Scott Ward does far more with the material that he is given, even as in the past years he has shown himself to exhibit far more range than you would from a wrestler turned actor. The other pieces of the ensemble are all decent. The women are depicted as archetypes and yet exceedingly capable in the action sequences. That is one of the main reasons why Army of the dead should be watched.
It is the homecoming to a genre Snyder had touched on 17 years ago, a revamp of that zombie movie with a new flavour. The movie would have worked far better if only he managed to get his portentous self seriousness out of the way and allow himself to maintain the irreverent fun tone he shows in parts throughout the movie . I mean if you think that Snyder showing a zombie tiger is him not having fun, I don’t know what to tell you.