Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead ★★½

One of my least favorite formulas of the modern blockbuster is the repetitive family dynamic of estranged or troubled relatives being forced to stick together in the face of disaster. Many screenwriters seem to regard this as a sufficient replacement to actual character development, when its embedding in the film usually only serves the purpose of prolonging the runtime, thus also taking away from the effectiveness that exploring its premise without distractions could have yielded.

Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead is one of those movies, and with a runtime of 150 minutes for a rather plotless mashup of the zombie genre coupled with the Ocean's series, its excitement and initial adrenaline rush soon gets lost in Snyder's obsession with exploring every single angle of the story in full detail.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Army of the Dead is the result of a director getting to substantiate his vision, only harmed by an array of plot holes and inconsequential developments. But the result is watchable and enough fun to work as a decent, if overlong high-profile zombie film.

And so, it ultimately comes down to two aspects why I didn't give this a higher rating in the end: First, the cinematography (performed by Snyder himself) really didn't work for me, with all its uncomfortable close-up shots and unappealing coloration schemes. Some scenes look blurry and out-of-focus, which I assume might be due to the post-production inclusion of Tig Notaro (who is easily my favorite part of the film, so I'll forgive that point). And second, I will literally scream if Matthias Schweighöfer gets to be cast in more movies. He is most well-known for his endless offerings of mindless, useless, boring and always-the-same comedies that he has been bombing the German film industry with for years. But even as a supporting actor, his presence is intolerable, and as a whimsical, squemish safecracker in Army of the Dead, he managed to make me roll my eyes out of their sockets. At least the rest of the cast is quite fine; the casting department certainly deserves praise for (most of) their choices here.

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