Warning: contains spoilers.
I love a good zombie movie. Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead doesn’t really fall into the category of a good zombie movie but it’s still entertaining nonetheless. Plus it has zombies. Only some of them are robot zombies. Some are some kind of semi-intelligent zombies. And some are your average, living dead type zombies. There are zombies for everyone, even a zombie tiger. Yes, a tiger! I’m guessing it was an exotic pet that a zombie somehow managed to get into its cage if it was caged and then survived long enough and got close enough to bite the tiger. Perhaps it took a lot of zombies to take down the tiger. You would think so.
The problem with this film is that the plot has so many holes you’re left wondering if a zombie had been munching on it. But if you manage to put that all aside, then you’re left with the weird King type zombie who is able to raise zombies that still possess some sentience, and he even makes a Queen. He even has a name – Zeus. And let’s not forget the zombie horse that I’m not sure where it came from as most of the film is set in Vegas – do they have a lot of horses in Vegas? But I digress.
So, the basic story is that the military is transporting Zeus from, well I’m not sure where from, but they manage to let him free and die in the process. Zeus then runs rampant in Vegas which the Government quickly wall off to seal them in and then plan to nuke it. And that should be the end of the story. Except. of course. it’s not. Dave Bautista plays a former mercenary who gets talked into going beyond the wall with a hastily assembled team to retrieve a load of money left in a safe by a rich casino owner. Except that’s a cover for the real story which when you find out what that really is, you can’t help but wonder why the very rich dude didn’t just ask in the first place as he’s offering so much money – bring back the blood of a sentient zombie. It would have saved a lot of hassle.
The main character is Scott, played by Dave Bautista. Bautista is one seriously big guy. I mean huge. When he plays Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy he is obviously still huge but he’s an alien so I don’t think it’s out of place that he looks huge. When you see him actually play a human, you can’t help but be awed by his size. So if you ever want to wander into a city with zombies then you might want a guy like this on your side. But even he can’t save most of his crew from getting eaten or bitten, depending on the zombie. It would, of course, be boring if everyone survived, that’s just not how zombie films work! And let’s not forget that his daughter has decided to tag along to save some random woman who just kind of disappears at the end so you never actually find out what happens to her.
I think the purpose of the whole daughter subplot is there to show character development but it actually fails miserably as there really isn’t any. We learn that Scott had to kill his wife (or whatever she was but she was the mother of their child) after she turned zombie and was trying to eat their kid. After that, Scott found it hard to talk to his daughter as he felt guilty, as you do, and thought his daughter would hate him. Turns out she resents him more for not ever talking about the whole killing her mother incident. So they get to kiss and make up in the process of killing zombies. And there’s your character development and the reason why we have to have the daughter along who doesn’t bring anything to the story and does the annoying, cliche thing of running off on her own to save a complete stranger.
There are some films that are so bad that they are good. I don’t think this qualifies. Maybe Snyder was trying something different with sentient zombies as zombie films have been done to death (pun intended). I just don’t think it’s the right approach to making something different. Keep the zombies as non-thinking, flesh-eating monsters and do something different with the characters trying to survive. Just look at 28 Days Later – the way the story was told made for a truly excellent film though we’re not meant to think of the ‘zombies’ as actual zombies for some reason. Shaun of the Dead is another brilliant zombie film that stands out from the rest. So if you’re expecting another classic zombie film with Army of the Dead then you’ll be disappointed. If you can switch your brain off for the long 2.5 hours that this film drags on for, then you’ll probably be mildly entertained. Leave all expectations behind, and you might even enjoy it.