The Reel Review

C-

17 years after his iconic zombie thriller debut Dawn of the Dead, director Zack Snyder (Justice League) is again taking on the undead. In this Netflix horror/thriller, Dave Bautista leads a rag-tag group of mercenaries on a mission to retrieve 200 million dollars from a casino vault deep within zombie-infected Las Vegas, before the military nukes the quarantined city.

Dave Bautista in Army of the Dead.

Based on a screenplay started by Snyder in 2010, the plot is a gorier, more gruesome rip-off of 2020’s equally lackluster Train to Busan spin-off, Peninsula. It even has an almost identical family rescue sub plot. There is, however, a certain sick pleasure in an early montage, watching the zombie destruction of The Vegas Strip, the epitome of American crassness and overindulgence. Go zombies.

Nora Arnezeder and Dave Bautista in Army of the Dead.

Utterly brainless and often exhausting, at two and half hours, Army of the Dead is AT LEAST an hour too long – typical Snyder over-produced self indulgence. The characters are thin, even for an action movie, with Snyder even creating a barely-explained legion of intelligent super zombies. Much of Army of the Dead just makes no sense, even for a mindless action flick. Dave Bautista does a fine job as the film’s hero, as does Nora Arnezeder (Paris 36) as the anti-hero. And Tig Notaro’s deadpan performance as the sardonic helicopter pilot is welcomed comic relief. But somebody, anybody, please – teach Zack Snyder how to edit his films. This is a tedious mess.

REEL FACTS

Left: Chris D’Elia in 2019 on the set of Army of the Dead and right, Tig Notaro filming her replacement scenes.

• After sexual harassment allegations arose in 2020 against comedian Chris D’Elia, Snyder replaced him with Tig Notaro. She filmed all of her scenes solo via green screen and was inserted into the film.

• Dave Bautista turned down an offer to appear in DC comics’ The Suicide Squad premiering in August 2021 in order to work on this film.

• Look carefully in the opening sequence. Snyder inserted a couple of UFOs to pay homage to Area 51.

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