matt qt’s review published on Letterboxd:
I decided to try to forgive my grudge against Zack Synder in preparation for watching Snyder’s new 2 and a half hour film, Army of the Dead. This grudge originated from me having to sit through three hours of the abomination that was Zack Snyder's Justice League. I couldn’t even finish it, or else I would’ve rated it 1/10 and had some strong opinions to share here, but I just didn’t want to torture myself any longer than I already did to finish that movie. In short, I found ZSJL’s characters to be annoying, I found that the pacing was significantly out of place, and the attempts at comedy made me cringe every time. So now, after having a poor experience with Army of the Dead, I can with certainty say that I hate the way Zack Snyder directs movies. I thought that my experience with ZSJL could just be chalked up to my overall distaste for the superhero/comic book genre, but Zack Snyder is just an unskilled filmmaker in my eyes. I know that there are many defenders of Snyder, but I see almost no redeemable qualities in his two films that I have seen so far.
Don’t get me wrong, I did appreciate Army of the Dead more than Zack Snyder’s Justice League, but I ultimately don’t consider either to be enjoyable movie watching experiences. The big reason that many people won’t find these films enjoyable lies within their runtimes. I wonder if Zack Snyder thinks that he is on the same level as a Tarantino or a Scorsese, who can consistently make 2.5 hour+ long films that will still be commercially successful, but he’s not. I get that he has a cult fan base right now, but i don’t see a very wide audience for consistent films of this nature that are as lengthy as they are. As a result, Army of the Dead really tested my attention span. I found my mind teetering on boredom during half of the “high tension” fight scenes. A problem i found was that all of the tension in this film felt forced and artificial. I don’t think their was any moment in this film where I was truly immersed in the experience.
One thing that I hate most about Army of the Dead is how it acts like it’s audience doesn’t have a brain. I’ve heard people say that this film works best if you turn your brain off, and I would 100% agree with that statement. Its dialogue is excruciatingly obvious and one-noted, barely drawing any differentiation between its characters. The acting performances didn’t help on this end either. I found almost every performance in this movie to be atrociously bad, and felt amateur. I get that they are reacting to a lot of cgi, but I feel like Snyder could have chosen more wisely in the casting process. This could be just me, but I don’t want to turn my brain off to enjoy a movie, I want to analyze every bit of it and absorb the information I am being given. Watching Army of the Dead made this process extremely difficult. I found about a one hour stretch during the middle of this movie to be absolutely inconsequential towards the overall story, as in you could have skipped that part and still been completely aware of what was going on in the film’s plot. While not as indulgent as ZSJL, this movie still went a little too long without any plot advancement.
Seeing the constant melodramatic scenes that this movie had to offer became insufferable at a point. These types of scenes felt disjointed from the rest of the movie, and just felt forced and forgettable by the end of the film. I don’t know why action movies like this feel the need to include overly dramatized scenes in their films, it just sends up throwing off the whole tone of the movie and confusing the viewer. I also thought it was really funny how Snyder tried to evoke emotion through the use of slo-mo in this movie. I get that this is one of Snyder’s signature techniques, but the slo-mo was ridiculously out of place, and ended up taking me out of the experience. It is a bold move to have the climax of your film in slo-mo, but Zack Snyder is a bold man, so what do you expect? I found that the film was actually building up some great tension leading up to the climax, but all of that progress was lost when Snyder opted to use slo-mo to show one of the most exciting points of his film.
If I had to speak highly of one thing about this film, it would be its special effects. I wasn’t a huge fan of the creature designs, but I thought that everything computer generated looked magnificent. And as for the zombie designs, there was nothing special about them in my eyes. The zombies did act sort of differently from other zombie movies, but the zombies themselves looked like a blend of Evil Dead and Regan from The Exorcist. It’s not a completely original design, but since the two films I mentioned aren’t zombie movies, Snyder can get away with it. When I was done with Army of the Dead, I thought that it was boring, anticlimactic, and flat, and I barely took any positives from the experience. I now realize that Snyder is simply not my type of director, even though I see that he is so beloved by some of the people that I follow on here. I tried to enjoy this, I really did, but I just came out of it with an endless amount of criticisms and hardly any positives.