Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead ★★½

Don’t be fooled by the colourful and vibrant posters — Snyder’s latest offers nothing in the way of striking and memorable imagery. In fact, I’d go as far as to say this has some of the worst cinematography I’ve ever seen from a blockbuster. That opening scene shocked me, with terrible lighting that reminded me of something like AVP: Requiem. When the opening credits then kicked in, I was both surprised and not that Snyder himself did the DoP work. Surprised that he took on the job, but not surprised that he seemingly had no clue what he was doing. This is the kind of film that desperately needs great visuals in order to draw the audience into its world easily, but the excessive soft focus, the murky lighting, the terrible exposure — its painful to look at. That’s not to say that every single shot is bad — most outdoor scenes, in full daylight aren’t half bad, but any indoor or nighttime scene was shameful.

With that out of the way, I guess it’s worth noting that the film still is, for the most part, decently enjoyable. In classic Snyder fashion, it’s never as good as it should be, even when it reaches pretty strong heights. Snyder may be returning to his filmmaking roots with zombies, but he seems to have lost the ability to construct an engaging and compelling film like he did with Dawn. That’s probably because this is an original story and we’re all aware of his incompetency with writing, and his marked inability to create strong characters with personality and clear motivations. One of the most interesting things is how well established the world is amidst the zombies, and he barely explores this, opting more for the fact that this is a Zombie Vegas heist film and nothing more than that. He does make some welcome twists with zombie tropes, where some work and some definitely don’t, because this very often doesn’t feel like a zombie film due to the lack of menace or tension present at crucial moments. Not to mention that it’s far too long for a zombie film.

I appreciated the diverse cast of characters, and can’t deny I found some of their interactions and humorous moments added to the experience. And the action was occasionally thrilling, but for every scene of building tension and well choreographed combat, there’s an attempt to build character that just drags the pacing down. At the end of the day it’s a Zack Snyder film. I don’t know why I expected it to be anything more than fine. And as usual, it’s not consistently bad, but rather has plenty of things I actually love that finds themselves lost amongst a narrative and world that crumbles all too easily.

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