comrade_yui’s review published on Letterboxd:
by far snyder's worst work. his mythical-poetic attitude applies well to superheroes and spartans, but he can't help but painstakingly create an empty and unwieldy mythology for his undead creatures, stripping away any elegant or simple genre thrills this might have had otherwise. snyder communicates entirely in grandiose gestures and sweeping operatic movements, he's more akin to a great painter than a good storyteller, so why in the hell did he bother to do a heist film that has no actual effort to portray an interesting or intricate heist? there's no delight in process or technique, the stealing of millions of dollars is a minor footnote compared to the seemingly hundreds of listless scenes involving ominous zombie rituals and yelping. his creative team conjures dozens of cardboard characters, bothers to give them all motivations and arcs, stretching this monstrosity out to 2 hours and 28 minutes, and then ultimately does nothing with the mountains of exposition that's heaped upon the audience; for what purpose? this is a zombie film, we know that most of them are going to die by default, so why burden us with endless set-up for shit that's never going to be paid off?
that's not even getting into the camerawork, snyder's efforts as his own cinematographer here end up shrouding 85% of the scenes in wispy out of focus brown and orange dust, you never get a good look at any of the characters or zombie makeup because everything is a blurry as shit washed out dirt-tinted mess, it looks absolutely horrendous, why spend $90 million on a film that ardently avoids any distinct visual identity? this looks like it was photographed as corner-cutting indie drama, a far cry from the slick inky darkness of watchmen or batman v. superman.
and i know you're thinking 'but hey, is the action any good?', and the answer is yes, what little there is that you can see, but it's extremely sporadic, with a particular sin being a cool undead tiger that just lazily sits around for most of the film until snyder's lumbering script decides the badguy needs to be killed. all the setpieces here oscillate between zany gorefests and uber-somber balletics and snyder can't fucking pick a tone to settle on so the whole affair comes across as mostly generic. there's nothing here you haven't seen done better in other films, even snyder's own dawn of the dead had a unique set of aesthetic priorities despite it's low-budget limitations. army of the dead is a watered down exercise in vague textures and lame netflix algorithmic storytelling, and far below the true capabilities of a dudebro virtuoso like snyder.