Army of the Dead is a 2021 American horror action drama film directed by Zack Snyder, with a screenplay he co-wrote with Shay Hatten and Joby Harold, based on a story by Snyder. The film had been in development hell at Warner Bros since 2007 before being picked up by Netflix in 2019. Army of the Dead marks Zack Snyder’s first new film since Justice League and the release was accompanied has been accompanied with the attendant hype from the buzz over The Snyder Cut and so on.
From our perspective, we had mixed feelings about Army of the Dead when it was announced. While we were pleased that Snyder would be directing a new film, we were wary about the chosen subject matter, as we have never been fans of the zombie horror genre, as by now, it has been done to death. Of course, Snyder cut his teeth with the zombie horror genre with debut feature, Dawn of the Dead in 2004.
This remake of the George Romero classic, had a James Gunn screenplay, and zombies that were fast and strong, unlike the original shambling variety. Feted since as Snyder’s best movie, following Dawn of the Dead would find Snyder diving deep into comic book adaptations with 300, Watchmen and of course, the DC Extended Universe. Thus, Army of the Dead represented Snyder’s first foray into an original story since Sucker Punch, and we all know how the critics felt about that!
But back to our antipathy for zombie flicks — that prejudice somewhat kept our expectations low for Army of the Dead. Think of zombie horror as the ultimate horror trope of contemporary times. It almost seems as if nothing new can really be said about zombies by now. What could Snyder do that would make Army of the Dead more than a glorified B-movie?
Unfortunately, not that much. While the visuals and action sequences are amazing and up to the usual Snyder high standard, the characters and plot do not quite pass muster. The characters are two-dimensional and under-developed. Most of the characters are interesting on a superficial level but that characterisation never gets deeper. Obviously, the casting will be praised for its diversity quotient but nothing much else.
The plot itself, is unremarkable with several flaws challenging the suspension of disbelief. But that might be inherent in both the zombie and the heist genres, which Army of the Dead attempts to inhabit, with predictably mixed results. Which is a disappointment as the opening credits sequence and much of the early parts of the film demonstrate promise.
In addition, Snyder and co take risks by presenting a segment of their zombies – the alphas – with human characteristics, some that defy logic, if logic can be applied to a zombie horror film to begin with! While overall, we think that the attempt is successful, this only works if one does not dwell too much on the concepts being proposed!
Overall, Army of the Dead is a fun action movie with compelling visuals but hollow content wise. At its worst, it is clichéd and stereotypical and certainly not a concept to build a franchise on, which seems to be the case judging from the end credits scene. One can expect that this will simply add belief to the cause of the anti-Snyder haters.
Story-wise, Snyder and co could have done better and in the final analysis, Army of the Dead is a throwaway B-movie, nothing more nothing less.
Now streaming on Netflix.
… still there’s more …