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Army of the Dead (2021) Review

2021 has been the year of the Snyder. Two of his films released in quick succession with his original take on Justice League only two months ago and now his Netflix zombie movie Army of the Dead. Following in the footsteps of JL, Army of the Dead is a Netflix exclusive and one that looks to excite audiences by bringing a cinematic blockbuster right to your living room. Having dabbled in the zombie universe with his first movie Dawn of the Dead back in 2004, Snyder returns 15 years later with a bigger and sometimes, polarising reputation. Following what is definitely his best film in his filmography with Justice League, the expectation has risen for the American director to show that he can be consistent in his work and age like a fine wine. But does Army of the Dead continue this winning trend or is it added to the pile of mediocrity in some of Snyder’s past films?

An original story created by Zack Snyder, this zombie incarnation follows a group of mercenaries led by Scott (Dave Bautista) who are hired to go into Las Vegas, break into a vault and pull out the jackpot that is waiting inside. Sounds easy. The only problem is: zombies…and lots of them! As explored during the opening scene of the film, a mysterious cargo truck crashes near Las Vegas which contains a super zombie that escapes and then wreaks havoc on Vegas and ultimately gets shut down completely by the US government and is a no-go zone. What sounds like what could be a brilliant and inventive idea revolving around zombies, ultimately, and we can’t believe we are saying this, but it’s a bit boring!

Typically from a Snyder movie, you know you can expect one thing, and that’s entertainment. Whether you are a fan of his constant slow-mo scenes or dark, dreary shots of an American flag waving in the wind, you know you will be in for some fun. A film that sets itself up for one that will be full of action and entertainment, lacks it for the majority. Clocking in at two and a half hours, it takes a good hour for the team to enter the zombie area, so it’s slow off its feet straightaway. Although we have a couple of quick moments of fun, the scenes aren’t enough to carry you through the slogfest of a runtime. Snyder is known for his gore and over the top action sequences but it feels like he has toned down massively this time and focused too heavily on the drama aspect of it. If there was to be a film for Snyder to have full reign to go full Snyder, this was his opportunity to get away with it.

Moving away from the negatives, there are some good aspects to it. The idea of the zombies being smarter than your average zombie makes it more intriguing to watch. Especially with the leader of the pack who is absolutely brutal in his kills. The quickfire moments of gore and action are great moments to be had and one particular scene where the group pass by a group of hibernating zombies are great to watch, but these scenes aren’t utilised enough to make the whole experience worth watching again. Although the film isn’t as fun as we hoped it would be, it’s still a damn sight better than the majority of Netflix exclusives that we have had to endure over the years. 

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