Zack Snyder’s new Netflix Zombie action flix Army of the Dead premiered Friday, May 21, on the streaming service.
The film starts with a military convoy outside of Las Vegas that gets into an accident while transporting dangerous Cargo. When the cargo breaks free, the outbreak begins. The Zombies are confined to the Las Vegas area, which is closed off and heavily guarded so that no one can get in. Scott Ward (David Batista) is presented with an opportunity to retrieve a multi-million dollar fortune from one of the casinos inside the zombie quarantine zone. He must assemble a team, bypass hidden traps, crack the safe to get the money, and escape to the helicopter to safety. There’s just one problem: there’s only a few hours to get in and get out before a nuclear bomb destroys Las Vegas.
One of Snyder’s strongest assets as a director is worldbuilding through atmosphere by designing film sets that are aesthetically engaging for the viewer. He also does a fantastic job introducing characters. While It takes a little too long in Army of the Dead, it is fun getting to know everyone and what they bring to the mission.
And 2/3 of the movie really works and is a lot of fun, but…
Wow, the third act is abysmal. With the introduction of Zombie foetus, yes, there is a Zombie Foetus — things go downhill. Snyder lives for excessive storytelling and stuffing as many insignificant details into his stories as possible. Like why is there a Zombie baby? It’s things like this that kill the pacing and extends the runtime way past its welcome. The first act feels like an hour, and the second act feels like an hour, and the third act is 30 minutes, and that’s the film.
The characters are the best part — with Coyote (Nora Arnezeder), Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer), and Vanderhoe (Omari Hardwick) as my personal faves. So much time is devoted to meeting them just for all of them to be killed off in the 15 minutes is so anti-climactic and disappointing.
Army of the Dead feels like a three and half hour movie cut down to two and a half hours because Zack Synder ran out of time and budget. I know there is a better, 100-minute movie in there somewhere, but that third act is unforgivable.