Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Netflix Picks: Army of the Dead

Zombie films are not my thing, which is weird since there was a time when I used to watch The Walking Dead a lot to the point that I was pissed when people shared spoilers of the latest episodes. My tastes and interests have changed in recent years, but not enough that I wouldn’t be curious about the movie Army of the Dead, which was on Netflix. 

Co-written and directed by Zack Snyder, who is more known for his work on DC superhero films Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, this movie is labeled as a “zombie heist film” starring Dave Bautista. In the movie, Dave Bautista plays Scott Ward, a leader of sorts of a group of mercenaries who are hired by Japanese businessman Bly Tanaka to recover his $2M from a Las Vegas casino basement, which is locked in an uncrackable safe called the Götterdämmerung. According to Tanaka, the money has been insured and reimbursed to him, but recovering the money before a nuclear bomb is dropped in the zombie danger zone would mean having an untraceable amount of cash at their disposal. As survivors of the danger zone and all being in need of the cash, all the members of the crew agree to join him. Among this group is the character of the safecracker Ludwig Dieter, who is featured in the prequel film Army of Thieves. 

As expected with any zombie film, there are a lot of zombies, a lot of shooting, a lot of killing, and a lot of blood and gore. As with any zombie concept, if you are bitten, you are infected. The only way to kill a zombie would be to hit them in the head, right at the brain. Cutting off their heads wouldn’t be enough, as you would only get an undead zombie head that way. 

A new zombie thing (for me, anyway) that was featured in the movie was about alpha zombies. If you were bitten by one, you are a different kind of zombie. Apparently, alphas are stronger, smarter, and more civilized than the regular “I-only-want-brains” kind. The movie shows the main alpha has some sort of kingdom and hierarchy with the other alpha zombies. Another thing that they showed was that the alphas could reproduce, which makes me curious about what they could do with that concept if there are spin offs or sequels to the movie in the future. The part where animals were also turned into zombies (and alpha zombies at that) was also new to me. 

One of the things that made me want to watch this film was to see Tig Notaro replacing Chris D’Elia. According to news reports, D’Elia had already filmed his scenes in the movie when sexual misconduct allegations against him came out. Producers decided to replace him with Notaro, who mostly filmed with an acting partner using green screens. I thought that was so interesting and I kept watching Notaro’s scenes closely to see if I would notice the difference. For the most part, I didn’t and even in those scenes where you could tell, I think Notaro did a good job acting via a green screen that you’d ignore it and enjoy the scene as it is. 

As expected in any zombie movie, most of the team ends up dead at the end, which is frustrating because it just left me feeling, “what’s the point?” once the credits started rolling. I was frustrated about that, honestly. But then if you are there just for the action and the blood and gore, then it was a movie that lived up to those expectations. There was also that twist that (SPOILER) Tanaka had sent other teams to retrieve the money before and that he was actually sending teams so that his people could attempt to get a sample of the alpha zombies in an attempt to reproduce them for the government (?) as weapons. Again, another concept that I would love to see explored further if there were sequels. After all, the movie did start with zombies being transported from a government black site, which probably means that they were man-made zombies. 

Would I watch the movie again? Probably not. But if you like zombies, action and all that blood and violence, then you might enjoy this one. 


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