Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead ★★★½

It's pretty hard to screw up a story like this one. Gang of mercenaries hired to sneak into a Las Vegas that is overrun with zombies in order to grab millions of dollars locked in a casino vault. Hey, I'm game! The zombie genre has run its course, in my opinion, so it's hard to come up with a new spin. Snyder and his writing team try, and mostly succeed. Army of the Dead is a fun watch, in spite of Snyder's ambitious overreach.

Snyder seems to be going for an action/horror flick that appeals to a wider audience with attempts at drama, but I don't think the characterizations were strong enough to grab that gravitas that the alleged emotional scenes were reaching for. There is plenty of humor, especially during the opening credits with "Viva Las Vegas" playing. And I guess the soundtrack works as well, with The Cranberries' "Zombie" being the most obvious inclusion.

Some good visual effects, and King Zombie is an interesting idea in theory. Perhaps we can get more backstory there in future entries in this proposed franchise.

The performances here were all suitable for the action that unfolded on-screen, but the characters were all still surface-level only. The character that worked best was the safecracker Dieter (Matthias Schweighofer) and even Dave Bautista held his own as the lead. Snyder' attempts at drama, however, fell flat. If you're going to have a 150 minute running time, you should have plenty of time to develop characters.

That brings us to the most glaring issue: the running time. This is a story that could have been told in 100 minutes and would have had the same impact. It's a solid film that could have been better if it got to the finish line faster. I found myself not caring at all about the recue of the missing women, or of their attempts to escape the quarantine camp. This movie is about money and zombies and shoot outs and gore. Allegedly.

So, yeah, it's hard to screw up this idea. Snyder's ambitions add unnecessary bloat, but the central idea is fun.

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