Having recently stitched together the mangled remains of his Justice League movie to endlessly loud fanfare, director Zack Snyder is turning his attention to a more traditional form of reanimated corpse with the release of Army of the Dead.
In an unprecedented move, the film will release in 600 theaters this week in advance of its Netflix premiere on May 21. Typically, the streamer only releases its originals in a limited amount of theaters in order to qualify for awards. The thinking with Army of the Dead — which is definitely not courting The Irishman or Roma's audiences —is less about scoring statues than appeasing Snyder's rabid fanbase.
Army of the Dead is a return to Snyder’s roots. The director’s big-screen debut was 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, a remake-in-name-only of the George A. Romero classic that pitted a group of survivors against of hordes highly symbolic zombies in a mall. That film, written by Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn, boasted an all-timer of an opening and established Snyder as a kinetic stylist capable of electrifying even the most work genre tropes, for good or ill.
Army is a spiritual successor that finds Dave Bautista, Matthias Schweighöfer and Tig Notaro among a group of mercenaries trying to pull off a Vegas casino heist during a massive zombie outbreak.
Based on the trailer, this is the most Zack Snyder zombie movie possible, a 150-minute kitchen-sink fist pumper featuring smart zombies, half-decayed but fully functioning tigers, undead Elvis impersonators, extensive slow motion shots of ripped men shooting large guns, quips, gore, explosions and a makeout session between two reanimated corpses.
Early critical reactions are in, and by and large those who have seen it are all in for the film’s mix of ridiculous violence, humor and heart, many calling it Snyder’s best effort to date.
Collider’s Perri Nemiroff praised the film’s commitment to “zombie mayhem and carnage” while singing praise of the film’s assembled rogues.
Eric Italiano of BroBible, meanwhile, said the film, like many Snyder’s offerings, is a bit too long. But unlike many of the director’s works, it leans hard into being fun.
Tech Radar’s Tom Power went so far as to call it Snyder’s “finest work to date.”
While Sean O’Connell of CinemaBlend hailed it as Snyder’s “funniest film to date” while praising it as “legit terrifying in multiple spots.”
Scott Menzel praised the film all around, but particularly the opening credits… something that has long been a strong suit for Snyder, from the electric Dawn opening to Watchmen.
And Insider’s Kristen Acuna dropped a quote that’s sure to rile up Snyder’s DC universe fans by stating that this is essentially a better version of Suicide Squad… with zombies.
All in all, things are looking positive for Army. We’ll know more as reviews continue to trickle in and audiences weigh in May 14.
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