‘Army of the Dead’ Review: Zack Snyder’s Attempt to Humanize the Undead

Credit: Netflix

Starring: Dave Bautista, Hurma Qureshi, Tig Notaro, Ella Purnell, Matthias Schweighofer, Omari Hardwick, Ana dl Reguera, Nora Arnezeder, and so many more…

Directed by: Zack Snyder

Screenplay by: Zack Snyder, Shay Hatten, and Joby Harold

Composed by: Tom Holkenborg

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Letterboxd Rating

Imagine you are on a road trip. Everyone is in their own little world, the driver focused on the road. The friend in the passenger seat controlling the music and keeping the driver company. You’re in the back with another friend, but you’re listening to a podcast. Your friend next to you is talking with their partner and being annoyingly cute, gently exchanging sweet nothings with each other. You look out the window and notice the beautiful landscape—don’t worry, this will all tie in soon enough. You look back in the car and there’s just so much going on. You feel the general excitement that something amazing is about to happen, but then you think about how hot it is and how your friend in the passenger seat hates when the A/C is blasting, so you get frustrated and hot. It’s hard to focus, you try to take your mind off it by taking in the beautiful scenery again, but as soon as you take your mind off the mounting heat, you hear your friend next to talking still to their partner, giggling and they start to take up your side of the car. You’re excited, annoyed, distracted, but still hopeful?

This is how I felt watching ‘Army of the Dead’. It was fun, beautiful, annoying, overwhelming and hot. Zack Snyder has the uncanny ability to just develop a raw, realistic aesthetic within his cinematic worlds. No matter how beautiful Army of the Dead looked, it lacked so much depth in the story and I get it, it’s a zombie movie. Army of the Dead‘s pitfall is in effort it’s attempt to set itself apart from the realm of Zombie films by trying to be a bit more profound, but then maintains this effort by including superficial relationships that make it difficult to feel anything. There was just too much going on, bouncing back and forth between the main character’s love life and the relationship with his daughter, I found myself struggling to find any empathy.

Credit: Netflix

Among the half dozen friendships and relationship you have to sift through, is the “Zombie King” and “Zombie Queen” and this is where things start get weird, but in a good way. You get a glimpse into the society of the undead. Without spoiling key details, you learn a lot about the nature of the zombie culture and society. The King and Queen are just trying to live freely and just find their place in this world and for their own ‘kind’, right? Well, it’s not that easy. Bringing a human element to the undead is one of the most difficult sympathetic connections that many have failed to do in filmmaking—think Warm Bodies. (Although I really loved that one)

Overall, despite the mess the story might have been, Snyder’s ability to create this eclectic zombie world hits it’s mark. Not quite a bullseye, but it’s still fun. No matter how much it might suck sitting in a hot car for hours on end, the excitement being on a road trip, that you’re on the horizon of new, fun experiences out weighs the actual fact that you’re annoyed by being stuck in a car with some of your favorite people. I can see why Warner Bros. decided against Snyder’s film, but I can also see why Netflix gave him the creative freedom to make this film. There’s potential, Zack Snyder might be on the verge of creating a new and fun zombie universe for a whole new generation of zombie lovers.

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