Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead ★★★

Army of the Dead felt a bit underdeveloped from a screenplay perspective, but Zach Snyder’s got visual style for days and overall the movie is super entertaining. I was shocked to see Snyder’s name listed as cinematographer as I had no idea he ever fills that role. I think he shot the hell out of this movie and did some interesting things with shallow focus that I haven’t really seen in a big movie like this before. 

The screenplay does a great job of giving us a group of interesting and diverse supporting characters. I enjoyed the quirks in each of their personalities (special shout-out to my boy, Dieter). However, I do wish the details of the heist itself were better articulated and some of the character and world exposition were a bit clearer. It definitely has a lot of “turn your brain off and go with it,” but I think more specificity in some of the plot ideas could have grounded us a bit more in the story stakes. 

I appreciated the commitment to having an emotional arc rooted in this father-daughter central relationship. After The Woman in the Window and Those Who Wish Me Dead earlier this week, any valid writing for character was a welcome surprise. However, my largest flaw with this film is how Snyder transitions between plot scenes and character scenes. He’s very good at plot beats, and I think he’s capable of landing an emotional beat, but the difference between them is so night and day. I found the move from one to the other to be fairly clumsy; it often feels like we just pause the plot for a character scene with a complete lack of urgency. In the first half of the film while the full team is assembled, you’d have two characters doing a scene while the rest of the team just lingers in the background waiting. Snyder doesn’t even have them doing action, he just puts them out of focus. I wish he had found a better way of interweaving character and plot through the action of the film. 

I think some of the more horror-based sequences could have benefited from a bit more tension. The suspense setups felt like they were lacking specific stakes and it was always pretty easy for me to one-up them in my head. That said, the action genre set pieces are all great. I enjoyed when they fully utilized the Las Vegas setting (especially in the wonderful opening credits). I also really enjoyed the world of the zombies. They’re visually simple (love that they are mostly created with practical makeup and effects!), but they do have more characterization than what we typically see from zombies. Without spoiling anything, this movie could be just as valid from the perspective of the zombie army. 

Despite its shortcomings, I found Army of the Dead to be very satisfying as a popcorn action-adventure flick! 

Big movies are back, baby!!

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