Army of the Dead

We have reached a new milestone in my comfort level with the world: Popcorn! I’m not typically much of a popcorn eater (thank God, given how many movies I see), so 90% of the time I get some it’s because it was free. 99% of the time, I don’t even finish it (unless it’s those super tiny kids pack bags). Between masks and germs, I hadn’t expected to want popcorn any time soon. But then my lunch at home beforehand wasn’t particularly satisfying, and I knew I was in for a 2.5 hour movie, so I figured I should spare the five bucks to have a snack. Besides, I was gonna be in the giant XD auditorium with minimal people. Happy to report that I did feel safe and comfortable snacking. Less happy about how dang salty that stuff is and that I didn’t bring enough water to counter.

But yeah, Army of the Dead. Netflix made a deal to release it to select theaters early. Of course AMC didn’t wanna play nice with a streamer, so I went back to Playa Vista. Something that I missed was watching the crowd as they come in for a typical “guy movie”, and recognizing that I’m part of the very low percentage of girls there. I think we were outnumbered 5:1, and I was the only one there alone. This tracks. And amuses me to no end.

If I’ve said it before, I’ve said it a million times. Zack Snyder does well with style, but substance no so much. For a zombie movie, that’s totally fine. Even for a half zombie half heist movie, this is something I’d trust him with. If his Dawn of the Dead remake is any indication, this would be perfectly in his wheelhouse.

Right so there’s a zombie outbreak centered around Las Vegas. We have a Zombieland-esqe opening sequence that shows the last few humans leaving the city as it’s walled off, leaving the undead to shamble about inside. All is well and good until Dave Bautista gets hired to pull a heist from a casino within Zombie Vegas. Oh, and Zombie Vegas is gonna get nuked within hours of the job being done. Come to think of it, that’s actually a bit more plot than you typically get with this sub-genre.

It was certainly the fun type of movie you wanna see on the big screen. Lots of gore and action. Coulda used more humor, but like with my namesake film, music was used very creatively to liven things up. The Vegas setting provided a lot of fun, combined with the heist, gives Army just a bit of an edge to differentiate itself. I don’t know that it’ll go down in history as memorably as Dawn tho.

The characters were the wrong point for me. All of them were larger than life personalities, who played off each other well. Even the ones who you knew weren’t long for this undead world had strong moments to shine and earned their death battles. My favorite character kept changing every five minutes. The silly German safe cracker, the bad ass Latina, the mysterious coyote. But let’s be real, my favorite was always destined to be Tig Notaro’s snarky helicopter pilot.

A bit of backstory. Tig wasn’t originally meant to be in the film. Her role was originally held by a male comedian who got Me Too-ed and (rightly) turned on by the industry. So they pulled a Christopher Plummer and recast the role after filming had been completed. Rather than bring the full cast back in, they did very technical green screen reshoots to insert her in. The result was the most badass and beautiful butch lesbian we didn’t know we were deserving of. If you’re watching closely, you might notice a few slight indicators, but I’d wager that if you didn’t know what went down, you wouldn’t pick up on it. So kudos to Zack and crew. And to Tig, whom I’ve always adored.

As I stated, if you can see this in a theater, it’s worth it. But given the runtime, Netflix might not be such a bad idea either. Snyder needs to learn how to kill his darlings and cut down run times a bit, but the overall result was pretty solid.

Army of the Dead – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n