Army of the Dead Is a Refreshing Take on an Oversaturated Genre
It’s Ocean’s 11-meets-World War Z
Zack Snyder’s latest release is a welcome reprieve from stale zombie flicks on Netflix—considering the last one I had the unfortunate chance of watching is the insipid The Dead Don’t Die starring Adam Driver and Bill Murray. My expectations were endlessly met, especially with the 300 and Watchmen director’s distinct vision of a zombie war with superior alpha zombies and a group of everyday mercenaries.
It’s Ocean’s Eleven-meets-World War Z with a money heist underway, but with intelligent zombies mighty capable of thought and emotions—and for others, the occasional slumber.
The last zombie film I watched was excruciatingly dull. So by the time I got five minutes into Army of the Dead, I already felt like I got a feel of the entire thing—jampacked and undeniably gory. So gruesome (says the film enthusiast whose favorite movies include Silence of the Lambs and Se7en) that I almost gave up altogether. Thankfully, I didn’t. Disclaimer: This isn’t your ol’ family-friendly zombie film. Don’t watch with the kids!
A zombie outbreak—all because of a newlywed couple’s *thirst*—leaves the city of Las Vegas in shambles. With the American government’s nuclear plan to wipe off the city and with it, exterminate the harrowing “shamblers,” a casino boss (Hiroyuki Sanada) approaches a former zombie war hero, Scott Ward (wrestler-turned-Box Office superstar Dave Bautista), to break into a zombie-infested quarantine zone and commit grand larceny.
Ward assembles a group of ragtag experts. The team includes a shooter-slash-love interest (yes, Sister Encarnación in Nacho Libre), a wiseass pilot, a safecracker AKA the essential German comical relief and more. He prepares his unconventional crew for the heist of a lifetime. The catch: the alphas, a horde of supreme zombies—incredibly toned, terrifying and almost god-like—who claim the quarantine zone as their kingdom and Valentine, Siegfried and Roy’s lost zombified tiger (and Joe Exotic’s worst nightmare).
Army of the Dead is, not surprisingly, action-packed with the occasional deep-seated family drama. Still, there’s social commentary mixed in, which heavily relates to the present climate. See, for instance, building a wall to contain people, the need for a temporary health clearance to take up space and abusive persons in authority. It mirrors modern-day America with the ongoing debate over building a wall at the U.S. southern border to keep “illegal” immigrants from entering the country.
In an interview with ABC News, Snyder shares, “I felt like to really do the genre correctly, social commentary is at its heart and at its roots.” Bautista adds, “If you really read into it, you’d see a bunch of people who are from all over the world of very different colors who are kind of banding together just to survive.”
Army of the Dead is a refreshing take on the oversaturated genre and may even be the greatest zombie heist film of all time. It’s original and terrifying (many thanks to layers of gruesome special makeup effects). Want more? Watch the 28-minute special Creating An Army of the Dead only on Netflix.
Stream Army of the Dead on Netflix.
Photo Credit Netflix
Art Alexandra Lara