FILM REVIEW - Army Of The Dead
By The Masked Medic and The Meticulous Marauder
Here at TheMaskedMedic.com, we’re always looking to do new things and give you guys something different. So without further ado, here is the first joint review by our two authors; The Masked Medic and the Meticulous Marauder. Picking a film that we both were interested in watching is never that much of an issue, but we wanted it to be a film that people were talking about at the moment. The Marauder likes horror films, and I don’t. However, when we heard about ‘Army of the Dead’ on Netflix, I agreed to watch it as a fan of Zack Snyder’s work.
‘Army of the Dead’ on the surface seems like your classic gory zombie flick, however, it combines other genres within itself to give us something different. It tells the story of a world in which a zombie outbreak starts in Las Vegas leading to the US Government creating a wall around the city to keep the zombies in. Much later, Scott Ward, a former mercenary is approached by a businessman named Tanaka who wishes for Scott to form a team and retrieve $200 million which is sitting in the vault of a casino in Las Vegas. Although it seems like a suicide mission, Scott forms a team and gets to work. However, we learn that his reasons for doing this are to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Kate, who left after Scott killed his partner, her mother when she turned into a zombie. To complicate things, Kate may be the only person who can find a way for the team to get into the city as she has been working as a volunteer, looking after refugees outside of the city. When she finds out that one of her friends has ended up inside the walled prison, she joins her father’s crew to rescue her. Once the team are in, it turns out that there are two breeds of zombies; normal zombies and Alphas. The Alphas run Las Vegas and the team will have to be very careful to avoid them. Can the team get to their bounty and change their lives forever? And is there just one bounty to be gained? You have to watch it on Netflix now to find out!
The Masked Medic
Okay so let me start with the acting. Dave Batista stars as the leader of this group of mercenaries/bandits. Previously I’ve only seen him in Guardians of the Galaxy and obviously WWE. Personally, I was fairly impressed with his nuanced performance of a character that on the surface doesn’t seem particularly deep. I think he has a chance going forward to really start to take on different roles which challenge his art. Some of the other members of the team, Vanderohe, played by Omari Hardwick and Maria Cruz, played by Ana De La Reguera were also known to me. Hardwick played the lead role in renowned TV drama, ‘Power’ and De La Reguera was ‘ENCARNAAACCIIOOOONN’ in ’Nacho Libre’. I had to get that in there. The standout performance however was Matthias Schweighöfer as Ludwig Dieter. He was hilarious and the character’s interactions with Vanderohe made the film so much more enjoyable for me. I’m excited to see him in the prequel film that Netflix is also producing! The one point I will make though is that I’m glad Ben Affleck took the Batman role, because as much as I like Matthias, not sure he would’ve been able to pull that off! Haha! For the most part, the acting wasn’t bad, but a few characters felt out of place to me.
So, as stated earlier, horror films are not really my style, but I did find this film manageable. It’s mostly because it does combine several genres and although the zombie aspect of the film is scary, it’s not what drives the crux of the movie. In fact, there are moments where it seems that the zombies being there are just a hindrance rather than the actual challenge! I think there were some certainly interesting themes explored in the film, and despite the majority of the script being fairly basic, certain dialogues caught my attention, especially those about being in a potential time loop. I go crazy for that kind of stuff! I am a massive Zack Snyder fan, enjoying much of his DC Comics work, but also ‘Legends of the Guardians’ and also the unforgettable, ‘300’. This film is very typical of his style with very over-the-top visuals and use of slow-motion but also a lot of subtleties in the script and scenes to be picked up on. If you like cool references to spot, then you’ll enjoy finding the Easter eggs in this one!
In terms of cinematography, I thought many different aspects of the film were done well. Firstly was the CGI. Tig Notaro who replaced Chris D’Elia had all of her scenes shot separate from the rest of the cast and she was inserted in. At no moment in time did you notice that and personally, I think that’s incredible. Where was this technology when we needed to digitally remove a moustache? Ahaha! Also, Zombie Tiger? Such a cool concept. The camera work was also largely well-executed, however, there were certain scenes where the focusing on each character looked slightly blurry. I’m assuming that this was intentional, but it wasn’t my favourite thing! On to the music. Zack worked again with regular collaborator Junkie XL to produce the soundtrack. In some scenes it contrasted starkly with what was happening in the film, again most likely intentional, to create a sense of incredulity. Overall, this film was more than your traditional zombie film and I’d be interested to see what happens with its expansion with a greenlit prequel and animated series coming out on Netflix soon!
The Meticulous Marauder
So in terms of actors, I had heard of quite a few of them however I hadn’t seen much of the collective filmography. Dave Bautista was, of course, was no stranger to me after watching every movie in the MCU and Ana de la Reguera I had seen many years ago in Nacho Libre but more recently depicting Elisa Alvarez in Narcos. The casting was done well enough with a lot of diversity, yet I’m not sure if that many characters were needed. The last-minute switch of comedians was a good shout, Tig Notaro played her part well and I don’t think we missed out on anything with Chris D’Elia being replaced apart from scandal. The acting varied in quality in my opinion, some actors I thought really embodied their characters however some performances were subpar in my opinion. I feel as though Bautista’s performance was the best and most realistic, but additionally, the combination of Omari Hardwick and Matthias Schweighöfer’s characters blended nicely allowing both performances to elevate each other. On the other hand, I felt that some characters were unnecessary and forced, primarily Geeta and Burt.
Zombie movies aren’t really my thing, primarily because they seem like the most likely possibility of a horror movie becoming a reality that being said I’m never one to turn a scary movie down. I’ll be honest I found most of the movie predictable, ending included. That doesn’t necessarily mean I thought it was bad, I feel as though Snyder was able to pull on a few different movie concepts and tie a neat, bloody bow. The perfect way I can describe the movie is a balanced mesh of Zombieland, Triple frontier and Oceans 11, so the concept wasn’t original but it was well executed. As the movie progressed, each new problem encountered easily blended in and the story proceeded naturally. The number of issues faced wasn’t infinite but they did escalate in terms of intensity which kept things interesting. Despite me liking the movie overall, I didn’t like the ending. I expected it, but there’s a sort of hurt you feel when all your favourite character dies, in this case, I mean, it wasn’t even just the people I liked. I didn’t see the point of that, but it nicely left a cliffhanger which could easily mean a sequel that I would end up watching. By the time the film had finished, I was definitely more intrigued about the backstory so I’m glad the prequel has been green-lighted. Also, a few scenes left me confused and wanting more in terms of the evolution of the zombies and the hierarchy depicted, so any further productions explaining that, I would definitely watch.
Now I was glad there was an elevated gore and blood factor because I mean, it’s a zombie movie, what would be the point if I didn’t see blood squirting out of a couple of characters carotid arteries. Generally, I thought the cinematography of the entire movie was decent, however, I think what was exceptional was the replacement of D’Elia with Tig Notaro, in fact, I had no idea she was digitally added until I was told so hats off to the CGI team.
Music choices were a bit odd in my opinion, they felt unnatural but maybe that was the point, Snyder tends to think of the details precisely and most likely had a vision which he encapsulated for it to be put in the movie, so although I didn’t love the film’s score, I can respect it. Overall I think it was a good zombie movie and I will most likely watch any potential prequels and sequels arising. There were definitely aspects of the movie I wasn’t a fan of, primarily the ending, but that was entirely personal because my favourite characters died so you can say I’m bitter. Moral of the story, if there are available unclaimed millions in a vault surrounded by zombies, leave it alone.