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Army Of The Dead Non-Spoiler Review

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Soothsayer

In September of 2019, I wrote a fake review about Army Of The Dead and what the nay-sayers would write. In it, I spoke about how Zack would make you feel more empathy for the zombies than actual humans. In my satire, I was half-right. This film, Army Of The Dead, does make you empathize with all the characters. But it also gives way to what more could possibly happen in this sprawling world created by the director.

It’s been over 5 years since I’ve seen a Zack Snyder film in theaters. What’s interesting is that this was the first time it was pure Snyder through and through. By that, I mean, it never felt oddly paced or edited. It also never felt like things were missing. In fact, I’m fairly certain things were deliberately left out for the prequels to fill in. And the genius that Zack is, it was things that wouldn’t have added to THIS film plot-wise, but could easily fit within a different contextualized story.

Army

What can I say about Army Of The Dead without giving away spoilers? Not a lot. But I can say the chemistry between the main cast felt wholesome and authentic. Throughout the film, I felt conflicted because I knew SOME people had to die, I just couldn’t pick who. Zack creates a world where the morality line is skewed. That’s partly why the characters feel genuine. Because I can relate to almost all of them.

Even in the third act of the film, as the “ticking bomb” becomes evident, Zack continues to give the characters time to shine in their own personal ways. That’s one of the masterful ways he builds suspense within this genre-defying film. I can’t count how many jump scares were in Army Of The Dead because I barely remember them. The subversion Zack achieves is actually in the way everything unfolds with the tension. He plays with the tropes we’re accustomed to and does a 180.

What Works

The human element mixed with the zombie element is very intriguing. It gives a dynamic that I don’t think has been seen in a film of this genre. Sure, zombies exist and yes, they killed a bunch of people during the outbreak. But this isn’t Game Of Thrones and the zombie hoard is marching to capture all of America. In fact, there’s no evidence that ANY zombies have broken out or even attempted to escape their newly found Kingdom since the walls went up. It makes you wonder if left alone, would zombies and humans co-exist in some fashion?

The action in and of itself is more personal. There are no “splash-page” shots. Just beautifully crafted framing and cinematography. Speaking of, the thing that makes this Zacks film is his use of the dream lens that gives focus and depth not seen in these types of films. There isn’t a shot or sequence like Leonidas mowing down the Persian army, but the action is photographed so differently that it feels more intimate. Because the depth of field is so drastic, you get emersed with what’s happening on-screen and feel a part of the uncertainty that could happen at any moment.

What I’m Waiting For

I’m usually the person that can listen to the score before the film comes out. This time, however, I was able to see the film before the actual score was released by Tom Holkenborg. I’m not sure if it was deliberate, but this is the first time I couldn’t hear many instruments used. Tom is a drummer and therefore incorporates drums heavily into his score. But for the life of me, I barely heard anything. And I’m the kind of person that listens to the music to see if it’s a character of its own. So that might be why this film is different in that area. That’s not a negative, it’s just different.

It’s not every day you watch a film and you’re first thought when it ends is: I want to watch what happened BEFORE this film. Zack Snyder achieves that. And in the biggest ways. Sure, you’re left wondering what might happen when it’s all over. But because you’ve had time to watch all of these characters develop, you’re left grasping for the past. I completely understand why Netflix would greenlight TWO prequels even before Army Of The Dead came out. They must’ve felt like me and wanted to dive deeper into all of these people we saw in this film. Imagine that? Zack made a film about the end of this world he’s created (in relative terms) and constructed it in such a way that it makes you want to rewind everything. That’s spectacular.

The Line Is Crossed

Army Of The Dead feels like a renaissance of Zack Snyder’s career. Call it an Epoch of Time: Before Justice League & After Justice League. There’s no going back. Zack was able to create his own world and shot his own film how he imagined it. He’s also not a newcomer to this industry. He has 10 films under his belt. The freedom he’s now experienced with Netflix after constantly having Warner Bros. limit his creative ideas is audacious. I can’t fathom Zack making another tent-pole film unless it’s his own Intellectual Property, and Warner Bros. turned down Army Of The Dead. They’re toxic towards Zack anyways but that’s another story.

I’m not speaking for Zack or Debbie, but people tend to work with others they enjoy working with. Netflix seems like the perfect home for the kind of things they have in store when it comes to original ideas. Army Of The Dead is a magnificent film that captures the tension and mixes it with subtle humor perfectly. Zack Snyder, in and of itself, is a brand now. Some studios see that, while others don’t. It’s why the confidence from Netflix is abundant. They know the kind of Director they have on their hands. Zack has created a Universe that leaves you wanting more. And if this is the new Era of Zack Snyder films…I’m all here for it.

Father // Senior Editor // Co-Host for The Reel in Motion Podcast @TheReelinMotion // Male Feminist // Unapologetic Snyder Enthusiast // Xbox X

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