The 340th Review!
Working in news Halloween falls during the November sweeps period, so that means I'm not allowed to take the day off. I have absolutely loved that the holiday has been on a weekend this year and last. It means I get to go trick-or-treating with President Baby and Dear and I love that so much. With the end of the month so close I decided to check out a movie I've had my eye since I first saw the trailer, I'm talking about...
Army of the Dead (2021)
We open with a military transport carrying some type of super-secret container. While they're driving we also meet a newlywed couple that decide to have a little fun while driving. You know where this is going, it ends in a pretty spectacular fiery crash. The soldiers in the surviving vehicles are then quickly mowed down by the very fast and very strong zombie being transported.
After that we're treated to my favorite thing about Zack Snyder movies; an incredible musical montage that catches the viewer up on how we got to this point. He did it in Watchmen and his first zombie movie Dawn of the Dead and they're always so well done and awesome. This one adds a new wrinkle that I thought was really cool. In between cuts in the action they have the main characters standing there either holding a picture providing a little fact about their backstories. I honestly thought it was brilliant. Instead of wasting time finding a way for the character to casually bring up he has a master's degree in conversation, they just show you that fact spliced with them committing extreme violence on a zombie, or someone just bit. I LOVED it!
After the intro, a businessman who is clearly evil offers Big Dave an opportunity of a lifetime; sneak onto the strip, steal 20-million-money from a casino and get out before the US government nukes the city. Next, Big Dave gets a squad together. On the expedition they have to dodge zombies, backstabbings and the cruel realization that everything they know about zombies is wrong.
There are a lot of things I liked about this movie. Normally I'd hate the idea of different types of zombies or them having intelligence, but I thought it was really cool. The dead are split into two categories; the shamblers are the typical zombie we know and love. The other are the alphas. They're the ones who are big, strong, super agile and intelligent. They have a whole civilization ruled by a king and queen of the zombies and all of them act like a hive of bees. I thought it was a pretty fascinating twist on the genre and worked well, even if I thought the king zombie looked stupid and hated the way he looked with his dumb helmet.
Back to things I enjoyed. I loved the group dynamic. Each person in the group is unique and fun in their own way. Even the red shirt (or should I say red bandana) has an awesome last stand that keeps on going long after you thought they were dead. As an aside, I think every team up movie should have one character with a German accent, it really adds to the group. I enjoyed their interactions with one another and because all of them were so different from each other, it made for a lot of fun and funny interactions with the group.
Now, for those of you know me personally, I really don't like getting political. The conversation turns otherwise rational people into raving lunatics. Anyone on late night is unwatchable because things like trying for laughter is a foreign concept and all they look for is "clapter." I also roll my eyes when directors think they're super clever and edgy by throwing their political beliefs or shots at Trump in their movies, but man, this film has some scenes that are hilarious. For one, they actually got Sean Spicer in a role for this movie defending the use of a nuclear attack on Vegas. But my favorite line was an anchor giving a quote from the (unnamed) president. The anchor is explaining the nuking of the city has to be moved up from the fourth of July because Americans thought it would be in poor taste. The quote from the president goes the strike would be, "really cool; the ultimate fireworks show, actually kind of patriotic if you think about it."
Your thoughts on the former commander in chief aside, that line is really funny. Normally I'd skip a movie's political commentary, but I laughed out loud at the line and the anchor's news voice delivering it played it completely straight.
Moving on, I didn't love it as much as I'd hoped. It definitely has its moments, but I felt the second act kind of dragged. It's 2-and-a-half hours long and I wouldn't say it felt like it, but there's a big lull in the action. From the trailers I expected more of a shoot-em-up action horror, but it plays out more like Snyder's Dawn of the Dead with a lot of quieter moments leading to an insane finale. I found myself moving the mouse on my laptop a few times to see how much longer I had left. But shortly after the last time I did it, there was a slow motion shootout with money flying in the background and it finally became the movie I wanted it to be.
It's entertaining enough, but it did the annoying thing in horror movies where one character does the noble and incredibly stupid thing, but manages to succeed anyways. Although I appreciated that, in this one, there's actually consequences to her actions and she's the cause of several deaths but she never dwells on how much death she caused.
As for the final ending, it kind of got ruined for me because I found out there's a sequel so I had an idea of what was going to happen. But still, this movie is worth a watch. Like I mentioned earlier, it's a bit long and it does drag at moments, but it's a lot of fun. The action is awesome, even if some of the camera stuff can disorientating. The characters are unique and each bring a different flair to the group that you enjoy taking the ride with them. Lastly, I love the world where this movie lives. A bombed out Las Vegas is an awesome playground to play around in. Finally, the civilization and hierarchy that the zombies carved out was really interesting and that in itself makes me excited for where they go from here
One final thought, the bad guy uses what looks like an iPhone. I thought baddies weren't allowed to use Apple products in movies?
7.5 Dr. Chainsaws!
Post Script, speaking of fun twists to the zombie genre. I have just the thing! How about you check out my self published debut novel Camping with the Dead available in both paperback and ebook on Amazon! More information is here!
Army of the Dead
2021 | R | 2h 28m | Action & Adventure
After a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries takes the ultimate gamble by venturing into the quarantine zone for the greatest heist ever. Starring: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick