Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead ★★★

What kids imagine while playing zombie fort in their backyards after binging on The Walking Dead. A dumb horror epic aimed at the audience who haven't strayed far off the Daryl Dixon reservation. Problem is director Zack Snyder utilizes big studio resources well—cutting-edge CG gore and explosions—without offering a single new concept for the zombie connoisseur (or even mildly seasoned).

But that's alright; sometimes familiar is fine, think of Army as John Carpenter and James Cameron cherry-picking their best action-oriented ideas for Capcom's Dead Rising with neither directing. Dave Bautista hams up a glib father/daughter subplot while never disappearing into the role—always three hundred pounds of tribal Beefaroni in tact gear. He's not featured as much as one would expect, but the exorbitant runtime provides plenty of moments for his stronger supporting cast.

Like Snyder's Dawn of the Dead (2004), it's surprisingly character-driven, and only leisurely concerned with its Las Vegas turned Escape from New York-style fortress guarded by a rotting Montecore of Siegfried & Roy fame. Messaging on the immigration crisis isn't new for the subgenre, but dead overlords and their hordes not posing much threat until provoked is seldom seen (edit: Land of the Dead, duh). Aloof government authority viewing the issue as another "patriotic" display not-so-quietly points to the prior administration. Shot pre-pandemic; tension over infection, temporal temperature, and possible overreach is especially eerie now. Watched via bootleg Blu-ray.