Zack Snyder liberates himself from superhero glumness with zombie heist flick Army Of The Dead

State what you will about the overblown rock-video opuses of Zack Snyder, however the male does know how to open an image, does not he? The director of some of the dourest superhero movies of the last years has, if nothing else, mastered the lost art of the opening credits sequence – a talent he flexes as soon as more at the beginning of his palette-cleansing brand-new movie, the action-horror hybrid Army Of The Dead. Through his signature design of near-tableau, Snyder depicts the fall of a Las Vegas overrun with evil spirits.

A Liberace impersonator is feasted on by his dancers. A parachuting soldier floats helplessly into a crowd, his billowing chute becoming a canvas painted bright red. Dropped bombs swallow up the strip in gorgeous plumes of blue and orange.

All this carnage is, naturally, set to the paradoxical tune of an Elvis cover and stamped with hot-pink text, producing a pageant of doomsday excess, a Sin City actually taken in by sinful appetite. It might be the finest initial montage to a Zack Snyder movie because, well, the Johnny Cash end-of-the-world blur that began the filmmaker’s first feature and last see to the zombie armageddon, his Dawn Of The Dead remake. The title and screeching primary tourist attractions imply otherwise, Army Of The Dead is not an extension of that earlier motion picture, tonally or narratively.

Snyder has slammed together an ecstatic pop-art genre pastiche, all familiar parts slathered in an appealing blockbuster polish.

This is a brand-new kind of Snyder cut – fleet and nearly breezy, even at a typically extended 2 1/2 hours. Just in the context of a profession swallowed entire by the superhero-industrial complex could Army Of The Dead look small in cost, ambition, or runtime. Snyder’s spectacle stays outsized, the volume of the hazard teased by the title and understood through panoramas of brimming streets.

Worried practically exclusively with the power of his images, Snyder frequently ignores momentum, and his action scenes have more baroque swagger than excitement. In a manner, this B-movie on an A spending plan gets closer to the values of George Romero, the godfather of zombie cinema, than Snyder’s actual, hyper-adrenalized remake of Romero’s work of art. Turning Vegas into a fallen kingdom, its towers of glamour and vice emptied out, a minimum of ostensibly remembers the satiric function of the multi-tiered shopping mall of Dawn Of The Dead, even if Snyder does not pull hard enough on that thread.

His characters are a multiracial, multicultural ensemble – a new generation of marginalized Americans (some of them immigrants), similar to the ones that occupied the early, finest entries of Romero’s decades-spanning franchise. And if these are not the deepest heroes, they are still starring in a Netflix zombie flick about veterans delegated rot by their country and with scenes set within a violent internment camp in the desert. That the film does not belabor or over-stress its political conscience is vintage Romero, in the best sense.

It has a big cast, however Army Of The Dead never feels overstuffed the way Snyder’s other 2021 team-building exercise did.

It moves, Snyder bounding with interest and little pity through clichés of his mashed-up video-store fare, like the minute where he walks us through with a snappy illustrative flood of images, how the break-in is supposed to unfold, which is to say how it will not. Army’s general adherence to convention makes its discrepancies stand out. She is shrewdly acknowledging what really keeps Army’s heart thumping.

Mostly, however, Zack Snyder just appears to be having authentic fun. This not likely freedom from that mode even hints at an auto-critique, putting the king of the dead in a cape and helmet, like some lurching refugee from a category that has entered innovative rigor mortis. What we are seeing, under the flash of names, is a wrap-up of the so-called Zombie Wars.

Invaded by a virus-spreading escapee from Area 51, Vegas belongs now to the dead. It has been walled off, like the New York of Escape From New York. This is the war-zone Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), a veteran of the bloody dispute, accepts reenter at the request of a wealthy client (Hiroyuki Sanada).

The objective: retrieve almost half-a-billion dollars locked inside an impenetrable vault on the top flooring of a deserted casino.

Due To The Fact That every One Last Job needs a team of bantering specialists, Ward assembles his own unclean dozen/Oceans near-dozen. The roster includes old war-buddy-and-maybe-more Cruz (Ana de la Reguera); self-described “helicopter man” Marianne (Tig Notaro); excitable German safecracker Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer); Reddit-famous headshot champ Guzman (Raúl Castillo); hardened French smuggler Lily (Nora Arnezeder); obligatory slime-ball tagalong Martin (Garret Dillahunt); trigger-happy Chambers (Samantha Win), whose red bandana remembers a certain James Cameron space marine; Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick), who, uh, brings a big saw; and Ward’s separated child, Kate (Ella Purnell).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *