Army of the Dead (2021): A Stellar Cast Risk Their Lives Against Zombies in Quarantined Vegas

“Army of the Dead” is directed by Zack Snyder (Man of Steel, 300) and stars Dave Bautista (My Spy, Guardians of the Galaxy), Ella Purnell (Never Let Me Go, Sweetbitter), Omari Hardwick (Kick-Ass, Sorry to Bother You), Ana de la Reguera (Goliath, Narcos), Theo Rossi (Luke Cage, Sons of Anarchy), Matthias Schweighöfer (The Most Beautiful Day, You Are Wanted), Nora Arnezeder (Mozart in the Jungle, Safe House), Hiroyuki Sanada (Mortal Kombat, The Last Samurai), Tig Notaro (Transparent, Star Trek: Discovery), Raúl Castillo (Wrath of Man, Atypical), Huma Qureshi (Gangs of Wasseypur, Dedh Ishqiya), and Garret Dillahunt (The Mindy Project, Fear the Walking Dead). This film is about a group of people living in the future where Las Vegas has been taken over by zombies. These people unite together for one purpose, to get stinkin’ rich. To do that, they venture into Las Vegas, which is now a quarantine zone, to acquire a sinfully delicious amount of money.

I remember during the 2010s there was a huge zombie craze with shows like “The Walking Dead.” To be frank, as cool as zombies happen to be conceptually, I never fell into the rabbit hole of the craze. I mean I like “World War Z,” I like “Zombieland,” but I have not even gone back to watch many of the classic zombie stories. I still have not seen George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead.” Admittedly, horror is one of my Achilles heels as a movie fan. I barely have any entries from that genre in my movie collection and of the genres that I imagine would “cater” to me, it is the one that I watch the least. I’m more of an action fan. I’m more of a comedy fan. I’m more of a sci-fi and fantasy fan. But there was something about “Army of the Dead” that sounded really intriguing. And I say this as someone who skipped the trailers. I just thought between the cast, Zack Snyder at the helm, and the environment, specifically a post-apocalyptic Vegas, it was a recipe for greatness. Now I did not think this would be a masterpiece, but it would at the very least be fun.

And fun it WAS.

I have not seen this movie since the theater last month. Yes, it released in theaters. But it’s also on Netflix if you want to watch it right now. Either way, I will just say, if you want something to watch where you can just shove tons of popcorn in your mouth, I think “Army of the Dead” is your answer. It is a film that, while well-crafted from start to finish, does not always take itself seriously, although I will admit it sometimes has an identity crisis that reminds me of the “Transformers” movies just a little. And for those reasons, it works like a charm.

If you want to know how not so serious this movie actually is, just watch the news segments during the film and listen to the quotes of the President of the United States. I do not want to spoil the film for those who have not watched it yet, but the President, who we do not necessarily see, does something that maybe in the world of this movie would make just a tiny tad of sense, but only to a certain demographic of people that would define themselves as uber-Patriotic perhaps. I don’t know, let’s just say that it is something that plays into the climax of the film and it is one of the highlights without giving anything away.

Going back to what I said about this film being like a “Transformers” movie, I am not necessarily lying. Because it is action-packed, there’s guns and explosions, and unfortunately, the characters, even though they have brief moments of charisma, leave a little to be desired. I did not think about this when watching the movie, but the main relationship between Dave Bautista and his daughter kind of gave me the same vibe of the relationship presented between the father and daughter in “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” In fact, walking out of the movie, and as I reflect on it, I barely even remember the names of the father and daughter when being forced to think about them without assistance from the Internet. The same can be said for all the other characters in the movie as well. I will say, the cast in the film is great, although there were quite a few characters I liked more than others. I was not necessarily a fan of Lily (Nora Arnezeder), as well portrayed as she was, but that has more to do with the plot and how things unfold than anything else.

Although if you want to know my favorite character in the film, I would say that honor goes to Tig Notaro’s character of Marianne Peters. If I have learned one thing in life, almost nothing matters more than a good first impression. And it when it comes to good first impressions, Peters’s first utterances in this film absolutely slap. On top of being one of the more wonderfully snarky characters in the entire film, Notaro did all of her footage on a green screen. For the record, her role was originally going to be played by Chris D’Elia but that changed in the middle of 2020 when sexual misconduct allegations surfaced regarding his name. From that point, Zack Snyder had to redo D’Elia’s scenes with someone new and that someone happened to be Notaro. I had no idea about this until after I watched the movie and I have to admit, having watched the film on the big screen, I did not notice any subtleties of an actor change.

After watching the movie, it is somewhat easier to pick up on this information, but it nevertheless looks nearly seamless. Well done.

In the previous film I reviewed, specifically “Wrath of Man,” I talked about the Johnny Cash song “Folsom Prison Blues” and how effectively used it was in that film. Since seeing the film, I have had little inklings of it in my head. I did not listen to that song much, but this film arguably has an even better use of a song that I do listen to from time to time. That song to be specific, is “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley. I will not say too much other than the fact that this song plays in both the beginning and end of the film, but this once again goes to show the power of a film that can utilize a song to its fullest potential, because if executed right, it can ingrain itself into one’s head, kind of like it did with mine. I often point out the excellent use of film scores, but rarely do I point out written songs made prior to the movie that are then implemented later, and I figured now would be a good time.

In the end, “Army of the Dead” is not gonna win too many awards, it’s not gonna take Best Picture this year. I would be surprised if it is in my top 10 movies of the year in December, but it is a damn good time and one you certainly should check out. I often hear complaints from people who watch the movie that it is too long. Admittedly, I did not experience that fatigue. Maybe it is because I saw it in Cinemark XD and there were certain scenes that really popped that let me keep my chin up, but even though this film is almost two and a half hours, it felt like it was twenty to thirty minutes shorter than it actually was. The movie is just fun and that is all that I could ask for. I might be curious to watch it on Netflix one day, because I remember, speaking of Zack Snyder, when I watched the four hour “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” on HBO Max I had one or two brief pauses in between. I want to know if I would make it through “Army of the Dead” in one sitting, if I would need to pause, or if I would tap out at a certain point. That would be an interesting experiment, but it is not one I plan to do at the moment. Nevertheless, I *really* enjoyed myself with “Army of the Dead,” which by the way, I would now say has one of the more memorable opening credits sequences in film history. It sets the tone, it’s hypnotic, and presents everything you need to know. It was just the start of a straight up good time. I’m going to give “Army of the Dead” a 7/10.

“Army of the Dead” released in theaters on May 14th, although it is unlikely to be playing anywhere near you at the moment. So if you want to watch the film right now, it is available exclusively on Netflix.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for John Krasinski’s brand new sequel, “A Quiet Place Part II.” Just crazy to think, that film was supposed to come out LAST YEAR. I will tell you if it is worth the wait very soon, just stay tuned! Speaking of staying tuned, be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and check out the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Army of the Dead?” What did you think about it? Or, what are some movies that you think are too long? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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