Army Of The Dead (Netflix)
Starring Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo, Huma Qureshi
Directed by Zack Snyder
To watch heads being blown off(in slo-mo with brain particles showering a queasy confetti on the screen), jaws being ripped off and limbs being severed with atrophied severity, requires nerves of steel. Considering the craze to view Army Of The Dead I suppose Covid has got us there already. Insensitivity is the new mantra for survival. Corpses of loved ones are left to their own devices. We mourn in isolation. We wallow in solitary grief.
In many ways Army Of The Dead is an unintentional metaphor of the pandemic. It shows victims dying horrible deaths and being helped to the other world by their loved ones , the contagion level being so high it is best to slay rather than grieve.Next bed , please.
This Zombie movie trope used to be fun for some back in the time in 2004 when Znyder made his directorial debut with Dawn Of The Dead.
Those were the daze! Now given the circumstances I am not too sure bringing us a flamboyant gut-wrenching(literally) film about zombies is not a case of biting off more than they can chew, if you will excuse the distasteful pun. Znyder derives great pleasure in watching the zombies devour on human flesh, chewing the meat to the bone.
Speaking of which , this 2 ½ hour marathon of mayhem could do with some of that: meat on the table. For a human-versus-zombies tug ‘o’ war the plot is skeletal , perhaps in keeping with the overflowing supply of skeletons(which look like they have seen better days) strewn everywhere . There is also a tiger with an unknown skin ailment which could do with a bath.The direction is selfcongratulatory with a look-ma-no-hands kind of childlike glee. Snyder has gone berserk with the mayhem, breathing a heavy congested air into every frame as the characters try hard to preserve a touch of the humane in the riot of barbarism.
There is a father-daughter reconciliation story between Dave Bautista( more wooden and brainless brawn than Sylvester Stallone) and his cute daughter Kate(Ella Purnell). There is a distinctly camp German safe-cracker(Matthias Schweighöfer) forming what seems like an emotional bond with Vanderohe(Omari Hardwick). There is Ana de la Reguer looking Mr Bautista straight in the eye right in the middle of the mayhem to say, “Why do you think I am here?” And then perhaps knowing our hero’s IQ level, not waiting for an answer to say, “It’s because of YOU!!!”
Everything has to be spelt out in grisly detail. Between the swirl of blood and the bursts of backchat there is little room for any kind of plot development.
The actors ham through the cheesy lines relying on a limited repertoire of expressions that range from startled to stumped. Whether these expressions are for the camera or for what the actors are made to go through for the camera, we will never know. Also unknown is why this “army” of characters decides to travel to Los Angeles to retrieve money from an abandoned casino when the the city is clearly taken over by zombies .
Maybe these characters are adventurous. One woman in the team the pilot Marianne(Tig Notaro) keeps smoking her cigar while the zombies feast on her colleagues’ heads. I don’t know if the violence is meant to be funny. While the savagery goes on uninterrupted smoky songs play in the background. One of the songs goes, ‘Don’t go out tonight, it’s bound to take your life.’
Don’t say you were not warned.