Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead ★★

Dave Bautista, trying to outrun a nuclear bomb: “Don’t stop for anything!”
Also Dave Bautista: *Immediately stops for a solid 10 minutes to shoot things*

Dave Bautista, still outrunning a nuke: “WE ONLY HAVE 9 MINUTES!”
Also Dave Bautista: *Stops to have heartfelt discussions about love*

Man, I wanted so badly to like this one, and for the first 15 minutes, I really thought I would. Those opening credits, and the subsequent pitch from the obvious bad guy made for some truly fascinating moviemaking that absolutely does not show up anywhere else in this film. 

This movie has a lot of problems, but primary among them is identity, as it is both way too long and somehow also way too short.

On one hand, this is 1 hour 20 minutes of a flawed but interesting zombie movie rattling around very loosely in a 2 hour 30 minute sack. with endless sequences where people just stop the action cold to barf exposition at each other for 10 minutes at a time. It’s so, so painful, and puts the lie to any idea of this crew working against the clock, seeing as how they so often decide to just chit-chat about Things.

So much of this is an attempt to draw lines around paper-thin characters, and I feel this movie would have benefited enormously from chucking nearly all of it out the window and just sticking to what it’s good at, ie shooting things. 

On the other hand, the movie also throws so many wild ideas into the mix for a single scene or mention and never goes back to them again, and with such frequency that you can’t help but feel like three hours were trimmed from this. 
I mean, there is a blatant reference to the characters being in a time loop, dying over and over again, and with visual proof! And then the movie just…keeps going, never touches back on this, or validates or explores this in any way! I kept waiting for the movie to pay this off, show this to be a surprise timeloop story, but no! 

Also, there are three obvious visual references to some of the zombies being robots? This too is just skated over, never touched on or explained, making for a deeply frustrating experience that I have to believe is Snyder smugly setting the stage for explanations in future films. 

There are so many of these instances of ideas being raised and dropped immediately: there’s even a thing about a social strata for zombies, where there different types but mostly just seem to be there just to mix things up every so often. I hated I Am Legend, but as dumb as that was, it at least had a reason for sleeping / stratified zombies. 

There are so many other things that frustrated me about this movie, not the least of which is the total waste of the setting. This uses Vegas as set dressing, but wastes it. Sure, there’s the one scene from the trailer where it makes use of the setting with slot machine shootouts and such, but that’s it; outside of some background shots, this might as well be a bank heist in zombified downtown Chicago where a zombie tiger escaped from the zoo. 

Also, the fact that the movie was pinned to its very worst character and actor — Bautista’s godawful daughter — made this truly hard to slog through. I think I could have enjoyed this as a busted but interesting genre flick if this wretchedly selfish, unpleasant idiot wasn’t the lynchpin. As fully expected, her idiocy leads to Bad Outcomes and totally ruins the film, even if she’s clearly just the excuse for Snyder to get from Plot Beat A to Plot Beat B. 

I could keep going on, but I won’t. This blowed up some heads real good. And the shots of overrun Vegas looked cool. But that’s it.

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