Army of the Dead: Five things we’re excited to see in Zack Snyder’s zombie epic
Whoa! That Army of the Dead trailer was absolutely bonkers, and we mean that in a good way. There was crazy action filmed in director Zack Snyder’s patented slow-mo style, bikini-clad zombie women, muscle-bound heroes, and zombie tigers; all scored to a beautiful rendition of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.” Obviously, there was plenty to unpack, but we managed to whittle all of those elements down to a list of five things we’re most excited to see in Snyder’s crazy zombie adventure.
Zack Snyder Unhinged
About a month ago, a little movie called Zack Snyder’s Justice League arrived on HBO Max and, by all accounts, was a smashing success. However, fans of Snyder may note the, ah, distinct lack of batshit insanity typically found in most of the controversial director’s films. Oh sure, Justice League is an incredible experience and one of the great superhero pics released over the last several years, but it also features Snyder more or less playing by the rules to deliver a fairly straight-forward action epic light years removed from the extremely decisive Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Army of the Dead, by contrast, looks like a full-blown, 150-percent Zack Snyder-not-giving-a-shit, action-packed, zombie extravaganza that isn’t afraid to dive headfirst into bizarro territory, ala Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead and Watchmen. Judging by the trailer, AOTD could very well end up as the Zack Snyder equivalent of Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II*, aka the film where Bay, starting from the critical and commercial failure of Pearl Harbor, truly stopped giving a shit and began making films his way, for better or worse.
One look at AOTD’s credits, in which Snyder is seemingly listed in every category save for makeup and hair design, is enough to convince us the man has had it up to here with the studio system and opted to tackle this project alone. In other words, AOTD won’t be another studio-mandated version of a much different film. There are no alternate cuts or compromises. This is Snyder’s movie through and through. So, get ready for a weird, violent, testosterone-fueled ride through a fully realized SnyderVerse, one that pulls no punches and could give two shits about your disdain for slow-motion eye candy, chiseled heroes/villains, in-your-face religious symbolism, or overtly macabre imagery.
Go, Snyder! Go!
Thinking, Organized Zombies
The big twist in this particular zombie flick is that, rather than deliver the same mindless, brain-eating walking dead-ers we’re seen countless times before, Snyder one-ups even World War Z by presenting a zombie horde that not only moves fast but thinks and … feels? Unless we misunderstood that image in the trailer of two zombies lovingly pressing foreheads together — maybe they were trying to crack a nut — this group of walkers has a little more juice in their veins.
These zombies promise to up the ante in their respective genre in more ways than one. As one character mentions, these decomposing a-holes are organized and presumably led by a former stripper/Queen with a knack for military tactics. Hence the title: Army of the Dead. Without a leader, these corpses are just mindless idiots, capable of being blasted to bits by Daryl Dixon’s missile launcher. Still, under a mindful tactician, they become a powerful weapon that could wipe out the planet.
Again, this is the type of wrinkle that makes Snyder Snyder and has us giddy at the prospects of an AOTD universe.
Bautista and the Gang
We’ve long loved Dave Bautista, but the big guy has yet to score a role truly worthy of his acting chops, Guardians of the Galaxy be damned. Here, finally, the actor gets a kick-ass leading role that does away with corny “Thor is an angel” jokes and, at first glance, appears to capture the dramatic side he teased during brief cameos in Spectre and Blade Runner 2049.
If that weren’t enough, check out that killer supporting cast: Garret Dillahunt, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Raul Castillo, Tig Notaro, Theo Rossi and Ana de la Reguera, all of whom get their own spotlight moment in a trailer full of great moments. If Justice League showed what Snyder could do with a rag-tag team of superheroes, imagine how much fun he’ll have with this muscle-clad motley crew.
Junkie XL’s Score
The MVP of 2021’s blockbuster season thus far has been Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL. The composer’s score for Zack Snyder’s Justice League is right up there with some of the best action scores of the last decade, while his music for Godzilla vs. Kong represents 85% of why that wacky monster flick works as well as it does.
AOTD is Holkenborg’s third and final score this year, but if it’s even half as badass as those aforementioned works, we’re in for a mighty treat!
Zack Snyder has never been shy about his love for wanton destruction. Whether it be Superman punching Zod through skyscrapers, or Rorschach cutting some poor goon’s hands-off with a chainsaw, Snyder pumps his movies with so much mayhem it’s no wonder audiences stumble out of the theater feeling shellshocked. And that’s precisely why we love him.
As stated above, with AOTD, Snyder is making his movie his way; and you can bet your bottom dollar the action scenes will feature enough gore, blood, explosions, dismemberment, beheadings, knifings and shootings to make films like High Tension wince. The trailer only shows off a snippet of the wild action we’re about to feast on and teases a crew packing firearms galore, chainsaws, knives, machine guns, something that looks like a flamethrower (at the 2:10 mark), and a baseball bat adorned with nails — all presented on a massive scale unlike any we’ve ever seen for this particular genre.
Oh, and we’d be remiss not to mention that friggin’ zombie tiger because you can never get enough zombie tigers.
Army of the Dead is set to hit select theaters on May 14 and Netflix on May 21.
*That’s not to say AOTD will stoop to the same level as Bad Boys II, which is a humungous turd of a film — albeit a glorious, breathtaking turd that is as endlessly watchable and quotable as it is shockingly reprehensible. Suffice to say, AOTD will hopefully grant Snyder the creative freedom to do what Snyder does in the same way that Bad Boys II finally allowed Bay to unleash pure unadulterated “Bayhem” in the best way.