2.5 out of 5 stars
Zack Snyder is a name that comes up in many forums and discussions about Hollywood and the realm of graphic novels. With films like 300, Watchmen and Man of Steel to his credit, the writer and director has established his place in these two worlds throughout his career. Yet, some may forget that he burst onto the directorial scene with his remake of the zombie classic, Dawn of the Dead. Since taking his place back into the director’s chair after recent family tragedies, besides putting his final stamp onto Justice League, he is getting back to his zombie roots with the ‘spiritual sequel’ of his first film with Army of the Dead.
As with many zombie-apocalyptic journeys, the origin begins with combining extraterrestrial elements with military tampering. As an accident occurs on the highway outside of Area 51 in the Nevada desert, events lead to a creature being unleashed on humanity. His blood-thirsty influence quickly moves to the streets of Las Vegas where he bites his way to introducing a zombie hoard on the city. Despite the efforts of the US military and other mercenary warriors, Sin City is eventually turned into a fortress that attempts to keep the undead contained. At the same time, the government must decide the city’s fate.
After all of the options are considered, the decision is made to unleash a tactical nuclear strike on the desert city. With the date looming on the horizon, casino owner Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) approaches the founder of Las Vengeance and mercenary soldier, Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), with a plan. The casino owner needs Scott’s team to liberate $200 million from one of his former casinos with a significant reward for those who survive the operation. They only have four days before the bombing is to occur. This rag-tag team must figure out how to traverse the zombie-filled landscape between the quarantine barrier and the casino. As Scott assembles his squad and works out their plans, they become aware of two critical strategic challenges. One is that the businessman who is financing the operation has other plans for the zombie killers. The other issue is that the monsters within the city have evolved, which all makes things even more difficult than initially planned.
What is quickly apparent with this Synder outing is that he has returned to the pedigree of bloodbaths and graphic violence. With the same methods of Dawn of the Dead and 300, the notorious director pulls no punches or means of killing. He ensures audiences are bathed in blood by seeing every graphic detail of the zombie hoard and those who work to blow their heads off. Elements that will make fans of the genre and the director sing while causing others to convulse uncontrollably as each scene is bathed in buckets of blood.
The familiar comedic banter is interspersed amongst the severed limbs and a multitude of shots to the head. Bautista fills the t-shirt and the role of muscle-bound leader with ease. He proves that he can fire every type of weapon and deliver a quippy one-liner with ease. Yet, he is not alone as Tig Notaro, Ana de la Reguera and Omari Hardwick fill out the team. Each enjoys blowing the undead away all while rattling off hilarious dialogue. Which is all packaged with Micheal Bay-like explosions, logic-defying military tactics and a body count that exceeds any war-time action flick of recent memory.
During any other season in cinematic history, this would have been the perfect film to cap off the summer holidays and has the potential to become a cult classic. Still, this is 2021, which means this zombie epic will be relegated to streaming services worldwide and will be lauded by those fans who choose to reside online. Even though it does pave the way for Zack Snyder to burst back onto the scene in his bloodiest project to date, something his fans will applaud and adversaries will groan about with the familiar tones of the zombie hoard.
REEL DIALOGUE: What do zombie films say about humanity?
What does it mean to be human? It is the existential question that has plagued philosophers, theologians and university professors for centuries. The zombie genre brings forward this concept violently and uncomfortably. The Bible states that we are made in the image of God, which means that God has a special place for us. So, what is the consideration for the definition of what it is to be human? Discuss with your living friends…
Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31