It was about 20 minutes into Zack Snyder’s new film, Army of the Dead, that I realized, this film needs a prequel. Then as the film unfolded before my eyes, I realized, this film needs a franchise. And as soon as I came to those realizations, it dawned on me that we in fact are getting just that! And I couldn’t be happier…
Army of the Dead is filled to the brim with built in lore that begs to be explored. The film itself represents a mere snapshot in what is a tapestry of wacky and ridiculous events. And while the film leaves you satisfied on the story that you are given, it kindly invites you to ask for more.
One of the most impressive concepts that Snyder displays in this film is the ideas of catharsis and subversion. The film is very self aware and self referential of the genre its operating in, but not once do you feel like there aren’t any stakes. If anything its that self referential nature that makes you feel like all bets are off. Any character can bite the dust at any given moment, and any thing can happen at any given time.
The film follows the normal tropes you’re accustom to in zombie flicks, but flips it on its head to provide a fresh experience. And the zombies themselves are a huge reason for that. The intelligence and organization of the “alphas” leave you in a state of constant fear on how our heroes are gonna make it out alive. (And spoiler alert, pretty much none of them do.)
The films opening sequence sets the stage for an all out zombie war. With our main heroes blasting zombie brains one after the other. But what proceeds is more of a slow burn heist film. At face value, this was a bit disappointing, but then I found what was actually happening to be much more interesting.
The films genius is how personal it makes the zombies. Early on in the film one character is sacrificed to the zombies in an attempt to show respect for the “law of the land.” Because the zombies have taken what was once their prison and made it their home. And later on the big twist is that the government never cared about retrieving the money in Las Vegas, but instead retrieving the head of the zombie “bride”. This drastically changes the tone of the film, because up to that point, things were going surprisingly well. (barring a few losses along the way)
But after Martin(the government appointed member of the team), slices off the head of “the Bride”, that sacrificial “covenant” that was done in the beginning of the film goes out the window and the fight becomes personal. And to add insult to injury, not only is the zombie king, Zues’, bride dead, he soon finds out that so is his unborn child…
And while I don’t want to waste time giving a play by play of the movie, lets just say he doesn’t let them quite get away with committing such an act.
The heart of the film is with the main character Scott Ward, and his daughter Kate, played by Dave Bautista and Ella Purnell. Having lost connection with his daughter due to the death of his wife, (which is a scene that brought me to tears I might add) he regretfully allows her to join the team of mercenaries so she can rescue her friends, and in this Scott hopes of rekindling what was lost between himself and his daughter. And on top of this, Scott finds himself rekindling his relationship with an old friend, Maria, played by Ana de la Reguera. Who throughout the film forms a romantic connection to Scott, hoping to jumpstart things after they complete their mission. But lets just say that plan takes a turn for the worst as quick as her head does when Zues snaps it.
That is just one of many scenarios that result in a massive swing of emotions. And that’s what makes this film great. And while some may feel there’s a lot to be desired with the relationships of the characters, with them getting minimal development between each other, I think that’s sort of the point. And don’t get me wrong, you definitely feel for each character, but as far as their relationships with each other, much of the development is done off screen and revealed in conversation. And the point is for the audience not to get too attached. And this is where Snyder blends catharsis and subversion perfectly.
And by the end of the film when the only living characters are Kate and Vanderohe (Omari Harwick), you get the feeling that the film is telling you to “move on” because they got something else in store. Its reminiscent of Evil Dead where each sequel will have a different cast and carry a different tone with it. And I think that’s what Snyder is going for. Look no further than his DC arc: Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League are all vastly different and offer different experiences. And if Netflix decides to greenlight sequels, which I’m sure they will because they’re smart enough to strike when the irons hot(unlike a certain company..), Snyder will employ the same strategy.
And the awesome thing is, there are already spin offs on the way. So if you’re hungry for more of this world, you wont have to wait long. Coming soon is a live action prequel focused on Matthias Schweighöfer’s character Dieter, called Army of Thieves, which is also being directed by him, is a romance story that delves deeper into his history as a safecracker. And not only that there is an animated prequel series on the way as well called Army: Lost Vegas. Which will likely show how we got to the point of where we are in Army of the Dead with the Zombies being quarantined, where they came from, and why the military decided to do with them.
All I can say is that I’m hyped to see where this universe goes. Whether we go back in time to see how Las Vegas fell and became zombie infested or whether we get a sequel to see where zombified Vanderohe ends up, I’m all in on this mythology that Snyder crafted and I can’t wait to see more. Many have been wanting Warner Bros to #RestoreTheSnyderVerse, but maybe we were looking at the wrong company to do it. Netflix has their own “Snyder Verse” and there’s no need to restore it… It’s already here!
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