Netflix review: Zack Snyder returns to zombie genre - and delivers with 'Army of the Dead'

Fred Hawson

Posted at May 22 2021 10:10 AM

Netflix review: Zack Snyder returns to zombie genre - and delivers with 'Army of the Dead' 1
A scene from 'Army of the Dead.' Handout

Zombies have overrun Las Vegas so a wall of trailer containers was built around it to confine them and keep the rest of humanity safe. The military was planning to blow the whole city up with a nuclear strike. Billionaire Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) propositioned mercenary Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) to assemble a team to recover $200 million from his casino vault before the city is blown up in barely 30 hours for a hefty $50-million payout. 

Scott first got his old friends and colleagues Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera) and Vanderohe (Oman Hardwick), then invited younger zombie shooters Mikey Guzman (Raul Castillo) and Chambers (Samantha Win) to be in his team. Later he added Marianne Peters (Tig Notario, unnoticeably replacing another actor by special effects) to fly their getaway helicopter, and Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweigh√∂fer) to crack the safe open (and for corny comic relief). 

To get into Vegas, Scott's daughter and quarantine camp volunteer Kate (Ella Purnell) referred him to Lily (Nora Arnezeder) who made a living getting people into Vegas and was familiar with zombie behavior. Kate decided to go in with them to search for a missing friend Geeta (Huma Qureshi). At the last minute, security guard Cummings (Theo Rossi) and Tanaka's bodyguard Martin (Garret Dillahunt) also went in with the rest of the team.

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Zack Snyder's directorial debut was a zombie film, the 2004 remake of George Romero's classic "Dawn of the Dead." Now with his return to the genre where he began, his fans are eager to see what innovations he can come up with, with his own original concept, screenplay and cinematography. As expected, fans will be watching this for the gore factor, and Snyder definitely delivered on this aspect with blood gushing by the gallons in all varieties of kills, be they quick or brutal, including one with a zombie tiger.

This is basically a heist film with a very tight time limit, and a thousand zombies thrown in to add more fun and excitement, and family drama for some balance. While we know that not everyone who went in will get out alive, there was gratification watching double-crossing villains get their comeuppance. 

The lively Elvis bookend songs give a festive Vegas atmosphere, and yes, the Cranberries song "Zombie" had heart. It was a bit long at 148 hours and there were so many stupid character decisions, but there was something to make all zombie fans and Snyder fans happy. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."