Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead ★★½

Despite my admiration for Zack Snyder as a filmmaker and his passion for unfiltered creative visions, there is no denying his past works have been scattershot. When he is at his best, his visual storytelling is unparalleled, blending together compelling stories and epic spectacle with films like Watchmen, Justice League, and 300. However, these aspects can oppositely merge into an over-indulgent mess of hollow imagery and awful characterization. Army of the Dead is frustrating, to say the least, playing out like a montage of Snyder’s greatest and worst qualities as a director coming together in full force.

He predictably underwhelms with a plethora of missed opportunities despite the potential, but what was most disappointing was how uninventive and formulaic it felt to most ensemble genre-benders. This isn’t to say that there are enough positive elements sprinkled throughout to make this 150 minute extravaganza a relatively pleasant experience to watch, but is a far cry from being the fresh summer hit Netflix intended it to be.

The rule always goes that a three-hour film can feel like ninety minutes if paced effectively, but Army of the Dead seems to have no concern whether scenes drag on longer than necessary. The main story doesn’t effectively begin until an hour into the two and half hour film yet spends the prior runtime introducing characters that seem relegated to the background of Bautista’s lead character.

The main adventure does shifts gears into more exciting territory (literally), and the fluid action and set-pieces did make up most of the goodwill I had lost. Valentine the Zombie Tiger was an obvious highlight, and while this is not a horror film by any stretch, had a couple of effective moments that felt reminiscent of Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead. The finale went in an unexpected direction that I particularly liked, and while the lack of depth in the cinematography will bother some people, I didn’t mind the choice.

Army of the Dead is Snyder’s most forgettable film to date, and while I hesitate to recommend it when there are so many better zombie films out there, there is still minor enjoyment as long as you know what to expect. C+

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