Army of the Dead Review: Good Old-Fashioned Gruesome Fun

Army of the Dead

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Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead released on Netflix today and I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed it on more levels than I imagined.

WARNING: This post contains minor spoilers, but nothing that will ruin the main point of the film.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me a nice, gory zombie flick, but Army of the Dead turned out to be a bit more. Yes, the gore was top-notch — I mean, seriously impressive — but there’s one aspect of the plot that turned out to be refreshing: the intelligent zombie kingdom.

We got a glimpse of these organized, strategic undead in a trailer for the film back in April, but I guess I was expecting something similar to those creatures in I Am Legend. Instead, these reminded me more of the Orcs in the Lord of the Rings movies. And that was a fun surprise.

Army of the DeadAs explained early in the film, inside the quarantine zone there are two types of zombies: the feral fast zombie you’d expect to see and a group with a sense of intellect and strategy that actually rules over this “undead kingdom.” The undead king and queen would allow humans to pass through their land if a suitable sacrifice was given.

But the main storyline revolves around a rag-tag group of mercenaries, each with their own special skill set, who get together one last time for that big heist. You’ve seen that plot a million times before, so I’m not spoiling anything there.

With a movie like this, you’re not watching it to find out if they’ll be able to crack that safe code or get past the security system. Of course they will! But the grab here is HOW this group of misfits will join together to steal that big payload. And there might be a lesson in there somewhere along the way, too, or something.

One of the biggest questions I had after watching the trailer was why they were trying to rob a casino in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Who cares if you can steal $200M when the world is ending?

Well, the whole world isn’t ending. The zombie outbreak has been contained to Las Vegas, where officials have built a wall of shipping containers to keep the horde inside.

The government wants to eliminate these zombies by dropping a small nuke on the entire city of Las Vegas, but a man named Bly Tanaka needs to retrieve his $200M before the bomb hits. So, of course, he hires Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) for the job.

The classic heist formula mixed surprisingly well within a gore-fest zombie movie, but I was also surprised to find a bit of a love story thrown in for good measure. It’s no The Notebook, but the twisted romance aspect was actually kinda… sad.

Other positive points for the movie include the soundtrack (could there ever be a more hauntingly perfect use of the late Dolores O’Riordan’s voice than at the end of this film?), the cinematography (duh, it’s Zack Snyder), and subtle humor, but the visual effects were what really kept my eyes glued to the screen. And despite the laughably cliche characters and dialogue, the acting was actually quite good.

Army of the Dead Horde

Overall, I would recommend Army of the Dead to anyone who doesn’t mind a shallow story in their intense action film. I would also recommend it to anyone who likes to see creative and bloody death sequences. This film does not disappoint on either level.

Army of the Dead released in theaters on May 14 but is now available exclusively on Netflix.

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Shawn has been infatuated with the post-apocalyptic genre since he wore out his horribly American-dubbed VHS of the original Mad Max as a child. Shawn is the former Editor-in-Chief at Joystiq's, creator of the Aftermath post-apocalyptic immersion event, and host of the Through the Aftermath podcast for over 11 years. He currently resides on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere with his wife and four children.

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