army of the dead

Zack Snyder has always been a director that has had his style. That style varying from "300," "Watchmen" and the DC Comics universe has attracted various audiences. Some consider him a master of both style and story, while others find his self-seriousness excruciatingly dull. I'm someone who considers myself smack in the middle, without any real love or loss for any of his work. As someone who's not a fan of his comic universe, his latest return to the zombie genre in "Army of The Dead" made me very intrigued. Our story follows various mercenaries led by Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) as they travel into a zombie-infested Las Vegas. Their goal is to rob a casino in one of the most chaotic heists with a gigantic payoff for all.

That premise of a heist during a zombie apocalypse should tell you everything you need to know about what to expect in the film as a whole. If anything doesn't sound appealing to you, you can go ahead and stop reading now. Our characters are incredibly paper-thin with drama that's very manipulative and forced. We know where their arches are going without any real surprises as to how it will get there. It's rather frustrating due to the over two and a half hour runtime, which you can definitely feel. There's a classic cliche here of the film being style over substance. I really can't deny just how entertaining this film is compared to previous Snyder works.

As someone who's been largely anti-Snyder, my biggest complaint has been the self-seriousness of his films. Especially in films like "300" and the DCEU, those stories are treated like Shakespeare. In "Army," it was alarming as to how much fun Snyder treats this zombie-heist-fueled film. The story is absolutely ridiculous and makes very little logical sense as to why characters do certain things. Having seen the film in a theater, I had an absolute blast watching the ludicrousness from start to finish. Think of this movie as the equivalent of a child mashing together zombie and soldier toys. In no small part, a large amount of this is thanks to the cast assembled.

Dave Bautista has become a large sensation over the years, becoming known for his role as Drax in "Guardians of the Galaxy." Here as he leads a group of mercenaries through zombie infest Las Vegas, seeing him melee with hordes of the undead is exhilarating. Watching him navigate the hordes of the undead with a team that includes Omari Hardwick, Tig Nataro and German actor Matthias Schweighöfer. As the team's "safe-cracker," he steals just about every moment he's on-screen. Once we see him and the team, their interactions and dynamics were thoroughly entertaining. 

"Army of the Dead" isn't going to be a film that wins you over after you watch it. There's a larger-than-life quality here that lets you understand that this is a cartoon. It's ridiculous, insane and downright stupid, but it can be quite entertaining if you want it to be. We even get to sympathize with the zombies, and while it doesn't work, you can still admire the ambition. Besides just paper-thin characters and an illogical final act, if you want something to turn your brain off to, this one fits the bill. My only real regret is that more people won't have a chance to see it on the big screen to get the most fun out of it.

Rating: 7/10

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